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Biography - Alan Kline

The date was March 13th 1944; the U.S. was continuing their air offensive against the German aircraft industry which started in January with the loss of 60 out of the 650 American aircraft used in the first raid, the Russians were on the offensive and had pushed the Germans back to positions they had occupied in early 1941 at the start of the German invasion, the Americans were fighting in Italy on the eastern front  and the planned Allied landing on the coast of France was less than three months away.  In the west we were  engaging the Japanese in the Marshall Islands and Burma, while here in the USA, just two days before my 18th birthday I was standing in line at the Bus Terminal in Philadelphia waiting to get on a bus to the Navy Boot Camp in Bainbridge Maryland to begin my service training. When, from the rear of the line comes this very large Marine Sergeant, pulling people out of my line and forming them up behind him, as he approaches my location I felt a pull on my arm and I raised my enlistment papers and started shouting “you can’t do this to me, I wasn’t drafted, I enlisted in the Navy and that’s where I want to be”. The Sergeant looked at me and said “get back in line”, which I did and upon its arrival I got on the bus to the Navy Boot Camp to begin my two years, two months and seven days service in the Navy.

My experience in the Navy turned out to be great and some might even say it was an all expense tour of almost three quarters of the way around the world. It is true we did travel east to Tunisia on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, west to Shanghai, China, south to North Borneo and north to England and Japan. My Tour was paid for by Uncle Sam, plus with sea duty pay I also received $72 per month for expenses, but, you must also consider the one thing that could mess up this life of bliss was that we were traveling in oceans that were also hunting grounds for enemy submarines and aircraft, I consider myself very lucky that it didn’t turn into a disaster. I say lucky because I had nothing to do with it, no acts of bravery on my part, I did a few dumb things when I was on liberty but, mostly I was just there for the ride. Of course I would have a more interesting story to tell if I had not been lucky, but I have managed to live with that.

I'm in the Navy

After less than one month training at Boot Camp I was given a nine day leave and when I returned to Bainbridge I was promoted from apprentice seaman to Fireman Second Class and sent to a Machinist Mate Training School at Norfolk Virginia. I spent four months at the school learning how to operate various machine tools including a turret lathe where I spent most of my time turning out metal hand wheels. Upon completion of the course I was promoted to Fireman First Class (same as 3rd class petty officer or corporal in the army) and sent to New York city, Pier 92, where on August 27th 1944 I went aboard my ship, the USS Enright DE 216, a Destroyer Escort, mainly used as a convoy escort ship for defense against enemy submarine attack.

I was assigned to the number 2 boiler room as my duty station (where, along with number 1 boiler room, the steam is generated to run the ships steam turbines which in turn rotate the ships propellers). We worked at our duty station in shifts of 4 hours on and 8 hours off, the other 4 hours during the day we did cleaning and maintenance of the equipment in the Boiler Room.  

My first trip was for gunnery practice in the North Atlantic off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire.

For my battle station (when the ship is in action) I was assigned to the 3 inch gun mount as phone man.  I considered this a pretty good job, I was phone man, I gave the gun crew their firing orders, of course I really only repeated what the officer on the bridge told me to say. My career as a phone man on the gun crew  didn’t last very long, during my first session as phone man I heard and relayed the “commence firing” orders to the gun crew but, after the gun started firing I didn’t hear anything else. After a short while I saw an officer come off the bridge and down two ladders to the deck I was on. The Officer came over, cupped his hands over his mouth to form a megaphone and shouted “cease fire”. At that point it didn’t matter if I heard the order or not because the gun crew heard it and stopped firing. The officer removed the ear phones from my head and sent me to sick bay to get my ears checked.  My next battle station assignment was assistant loader with the 40 mm crew; it was my job to retrieve the clips, each containing four 40 mm shells, from the storage area inside the barbette shield surrounding the gun mount and hand them, one clip at a time to the gunnery mate, loading the gun. I continued working with the gun crews as my battle station assignment for the rest of my time on the USS Enright. My duties varied from adjusting sights on our main three-inch 50 caliber gun to loader on the 20 mm and 40 mm antiaircraft guns and I got a lot of fresh air and experiences I might not have had if  stationed somewhere else.

On September 5th we joined up with nine other Destroyer Escorts to provide protection to 43 merchant and troop ships headed for Cherbourg, France. The ten escorts were positioned in the form of a V, with five escorts on each side of the convoy. The main purpose of the Escorts was to protect the front and sides of the convoy from submarine attack and keep the subs from getting inside the screen. Once the convoy passed, the submerged submarine could not catch up and attack from the rear, unless it came to the surface where it was subject to being fired on or rammed by the ships in the screen. The submarines of that era were driven by diesel engines while traveling on the surface but, when under water they used battery power which limited the underwater speed to 9 knots (10 miles per hour), The escorts could go 20 knots but, we traveled in a zigzag evasive pattern to ward off a torpedo attack which lowered the convoy speed to less than 15 knots.

The escort ships had sound detection systems, similar to a radar system that would send sound waves down to the bottom of the ocean which would bounce off any hard surface and return a signal to the detection system on the ship, the time interval between sending the signal and receiving its return would indicate the depth or range of the object and if it was a sub, a large fish or wreckage would be indicated by the strength and characteristic of the return signal. From this information a good operator could usually determine what the object was. The USS Enright had several contacts during the trip and although we did not see or have any indication of destroying a submarine, our attack was very spectacular. The ship that made contact would pull out of the screen and head toward the contact while hoisting a large black flag with white crossed bones on the main mast and blasting a very loud Klaxon horn (the other ships would move up to fill in the gap in the screen). The Destroyer Escort had depth charges (55 gallon drum filled with explosives and containing a pressure sensitive fuse) stacked on racks at the stern and mounted on K-guns on both sides of the ship. As the attacking ship approached the target it would start to discharge the depth charges into water from the racks and K-guns as it traveled over the targets location, the resulting explosions would erupt the ocean around the ship as it continued dropping charges until the convoy had past. The ship would then abort the attack and return to its position in the convoy. We continued this until we safely arrived at Cherbourg, the destination port on the coast of France.

We did not stay in Cherbourg but, instead went across the Channel to Portsmouth England. As we entered the port we hit a buoy and damaged one of the ship’s propellers, requiring us to go into dry dock for repairs. The repairs took several days so, I was given a day off to visit England and I decided it would be a good time to visit to my Mom’s family.  My brother, Ray (photo on right) was stationed with the 64th Aerodrome Squadron based in England at the time and knew my Mother’s family very well.  Shortly after I arrived at the London train station they had an air raid and it was necessary for me to spend several hours in the air raid shelter waiting until the all clear signal was given. By now it was late in the evening and I didn’t arrive at the London's North Finchley Station where my mother’s sister, Mrs. Ellen (Nell) Fitch, lived at 25 Limes Avenue until after midnight, this was the last stop for the train and it was about to head back to London. I did manage to call my Aunt before returning to my ship which by now was out of dry dock and preparing to set sail for the States. We had a safe return trip with no surprises and when I arrived on October 3rd 1944.  I was given an eight day leave. My friend, John Bender was also home on leave at the time and we bar hopped together. I also met a young lady named Ann Davis from north Camden, NJ at a dance and we went out several times during my leave.

My friend, John Bender

My Dad


Mom and Her Sailor Boy

 My Sister Janette

After I returned to my ship we sailed north for gunnery practice off the coast of Portland Maine, My General Quarters (GQ) duty was now sight setter on the 3-inch gun, I don’t remember what that involved but, it sounds better than assistant loader. We traveled south to Norfolk, VA to meet our next convoy and on November 1 1944 headed for the Mediterranean Sea port of Bizerte, Tunisia in North Africa. The trip took 21 days and was about the same as the previous convoy; we did not have liberty in Bizerte but, did manage a couple of hours in the seaport town of Oran in Algeria. On our return to the States we refueled at Ponta Delgada in the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. As we first enter the port the buildings on the beach resemble one large fort but, as we approached you could see that they were individual buildings painted to resemble a fort. We left the Azores and headed for the States arriving at New London, Connecticut on December 1st. We practiced evasive tactics with submarines until late January, then to Boston Harbor where we entered the shipyard for conversion to an Auxiliary High Speed Transport (aka APD), a Destroyer Escort modified to carry 150 troops in addition to the crew members. Rumors had it that after completion of the modifications we were headed for the Pacific Ocean.  The crew moved off the ship to shore barracks during the conversion and I got assigned to the spud locker which meant that I prepared potatoes and other vegetables for the meals, it also allowed me go into Boston every evening and take dancing lessons, meet girls, go skating, meet girls or anything else I wanted to do including meeting girls. Because there were plenty of them around and their boyfriends were overseas. I also got several eight day leaves to go home. On one of these visits home I called up a friend I had met at the Gloucester, MA skating rink during my pre-Navy days and asked her if she would go skating with me. Honey was engaged to a soldier who was serving with General Patton’s Army, agreed to join me and said her sister would come also. I borrowed my dad’s car, met Honey and her sister Terry at their home in Cramer Hill and drove to the skating rink. Terry was not a skater and I had to hold her up most of the time we were skating together so, naturally I got tired of this and spent most of time skating with Honey. This did not make Terry a happy girl because when I took them home, Honey went into the house and as I tried to kiss Terry she jumped back and said “if you want to kiss someone, kiss my sister, you skated with her all night.”  I figured that this girl is mad and I will probably never see her again. Little did I know that Terry Frances Chapman would become my world.

On March 13th 1945 I celebrated my first year in the Navy and on March 15th, my 19th birthday and we moved back on my ship, now the USS Enright APD-66. I was still assigned to the No. 2 Boiler Room but, my duty station had moved up to tending the Boiler. This was not a promotion but, only a little more interesting work assignment. Other than that my duties remained the same, including my Battle Station assignment where I would be getting plenty of fresh air on the gun deck during our planned trip to the Pacific.


Terry (left) and her sister Honey (right)       Ray and friend Dee, 64th Aerodrome in England


John Bender on Kiska Island, Alaska   Joseph Melchiore

We left Boston on March 28th 1945 and proceeded South to Norfolk, VA and on to Miami, FL conducting training engagements with American submarines and aircraft along the way and arrived at the Panama Canal on April 17th. We went through the locks to Balboa Panama then up the west coast to San Diego, CA and west to Pearl Harbor, HI.  On May 7th 1945 Germany surrendered, the war was over in Europe and the USS Enright was boarding an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) for practice beach clearing operations on several islands in Hawaii. The UDTs were used, during an invasion to clear the beaches of mines and other anti invasion structures before the invading forces arrived. The training as well as the actual beach clearing was done at night. The APDs were constructed for use as the” Mother Ship” to support the teams during an invasion. We were too late for use during the invasion of Okinawa but, probably would be used for the invasion of Japan. It was our job to take the team close to shore where they would launch inflatable boats to get to the area to be cleared. We would remain in the area until they returned and were secure on board our ship. We did this for about two weeks and after having our last liberty in Hawaii, boarded 150 passengers and joined a DE to escort a group of Navy Transports, APAs, west to Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands.      

Eniwetok is seven miles long and less than one mile wide. It is the largest of 15 islands that form an atoll or narrow ridge of land that encircles a large body, or in this case 600 square miles of ocean. There are many atolls in the Marshall Islands and thousands more throughout the Pacific. The islands making up the atolls are the tops of very steep mountains extending from the Pacific Ocean floor.

Our location on the globe is now eleven degrees north of the Equator and eighteen degrees west of the International Date Line as we leave Eniwetok and head northwest to Ulithi Island another atoll in the Carolina Islands. We went ashore on a small island in the atoll. The island had a fence separating the troops from the natives of the atoll who had come to the island to sell their wares to the troops. I bought a few things and mailed some money home at the post office on the island.

We left Ulithi and headed north to the East China Sea and on June 11th, 1945 arrived at Okinawa, an island in the Ryukyu Chain which is located between Taiwan (Formosa) and Japan. Okinawa is 66 miles long and 3 to 10 miles wide, the Allies invaded the island on April 1945, first with 180,000 combat troops, 368,000 support troops and 1320 Navy Ships, it was the largest amphibious operation in the Pacific during the war. We joined up with other escorts on Picket Duty in the East China Sea protecting the ships in Naha Harbor from submarine attack and stayed in the area for the rest of June. Enemy planes were in the sky day and night, they were either out of our firing range or being engaged by our aircraft. The dog fights at night were very spectacular, we were usually at battle stations and from my position on the gun deck I could see the explosion when a plane was hit and the sky light up as it fell into the East China Sea, it appeared that the pilots went down with their planes. While we were refueling in Naha Harbor we witnessed a Kamikaze plane fly into an Landing Ship Tank (LST) that was docked just across from us, the plane hit the massive ramp doors on the Landing Ship and fell into the water. Our closest encounter came when an enemy plane flying behind an American aircraft , to avoid detection, dived on us, flew over our mast and dropped two bombs which straddled our ship and exploded in the water, one behind our stern, the other forward of our bow. From my “front row seat” at my battle station I could see flames coming out of  what was probably the plane’s exhaust, thinking it was hit I shouted out, “we got him” several times as the plane flew over. The USS Enright’s guns had not been fired.

We were all very excited about our close encounter and how lucky we were, no one mentioned my shouting and I certainly didn’t, but lucky we were. During the 3 month Okinawa campaign the Navy lost 36 ships and 368 were damaged, most from enemy air craft and submarines. The subs were in the area, our sonar detected them, one enemy torpedo exploded in our ship’s wake, and we dropped plenty of depth charges, killed a lot of fish but, as far as I know no submarines were killed, so I guess we were even.

Organized and most mop up fighting was completed by the end of June 1945 but Okinawa was still being attacked by enemy aircraft until Japan’s surrender in mid August. We left the Picket line on July 1st to escort a communication ship to Leyte in the Philippine Islands and arrived there 3 days later, just in time to celebrate the 4th of July with the ship anchored in the harbor, having turkey and fresh churned ice cream for dinner. Food wise the Navy had it good.  The next day, July 5th 1945 the organized fighting was over and the Philippine Islands were declared secured. Mop up operations were still going on in the southern islands near Borneo until mid August

We stayed in the Leyte area for two weeks enjoying going ashore on the small islands in Leyte Gulf for swimming and beach parties. On one Sunday they held boxing matches aboard the ship. I entered and lost by a decision, we used big boxing gloves, nobody got hurt and it was fun.

We left Leyte and joined up with a destroyer and seven LSTs and headed north back to Okinawa. While still in the Philippine Sea we picked up a submarine contact and started dropping depth charges around the contact area. We continued patrolling for the Sub until the next day when two destroyers took over the task and we headed north to join up with the convoy. When we arrived at Okinawa it was under a severe typhoon, Naha Harbor was closed and we joined other ships to ride the storm out at sea. During that evening one of the ships got hit broadside by a very large wave which caused it to roll seventy degrees and take sea water down the stack. When this cold sea water came in contact with the superheated steam drum it caused an explosion. I don’t know how much damage the explosion did but, it could have killed members of the fire room crew.

After the storm we returned to Naha Harbor to refuel and pick up another convoy for escort back to Leyte. Things were warming up now and the fleet was getting ready for the invasion of the Japanese Islands. We left Okinawa heading south and when we were one day out picked up another submarine contact in the Philippine Sea. The sub was probably not a threat to our convoy and we were the only escort so, we stayed with the convoy and arrived at Leyte Gulf on July 24th. It turns out that six days later, July 30th an enemy sub torpedoed and sunk the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea.

By that time we had already been given another assignment and were heading south to the Southern Islands and Borneo to deliver mail and passengers. We stopped at Lloilo on the Isle of Panay; Puerto Princesa on the Isle of Palawan; Cebu on the Isle of Cebu; Zamboanga on Mindanao and finally Brunei Bay In Borneo. We did not go ashore at any of these places but, island people came out in boats selling their wares and diving for coins. One evening we were approached by a covered boat and the man on board flashed a light inside the covered area revealing a beautifully decorated woman dressed in a red and gold long gown and invited us to slide down the anchor chain for a good time.

We made one more mail run to the same islands and while on that trip the Air Force dropped the “A” bomb on Hiroshima, August 6th and on Nagasaki, August 9th. On August 15th the Japanese agreed to an unconditional surrender. The Japanese surrender took a while to spread to other countries still engaged like China and Russia, also, there were still submarines that did not get the word so, we still traveled in convoys and maintained war alert.

On August 21st we joined a 5 inch DE to convoy two Auxiliary Ships to a position 300 miles south of Tokyo where the Fleet was assembled waiting for orders. When we arrived we circled the area for two days and then joined the DE for the return trip to Leyte. On the first night out we hit another storm and had to cut our speed to seven knots. Storms occurring between Leyte and Japan happen often and are very bad. If you head into the storm too fast the bow will rise out of the water and then slam down causing a heavy shudder through out the ship. This is very damaging to the ships structure so you slow down and the ship rolls side to side. We had been traveling back and forth in the area for almost three months so most of us got used to it, but a few including some of the mess cooks never did. You see some awful sights while waiting in the mess line for your meals during a storm.

The official signing of the Japanese surrender was held on board the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay at eight am Sunday morning on September 2nd 1945. We were in Leyte getting ready to leave for Manila, where we would join a convoy and head north to Japan. The last time we had liberty in any city was the middle of May when we left Pearl Harbor, so we were hoping that this four month streak would end soon. Well it didn’t in Manila when we picked up the 27 LSMs (Landing Ship Medium) and headed north to Japan, arriving in Tokyo Bay on September 17th. A storm had hit the area so we continued north to Sendai on Honshu Island. We went ashore several times for beach parties on small islands in the area, on one of our shore trips, after we played ball and finished our two cans of beer four of us took a stroll away from the beach. As we walked back into the island you could see that people lived there because many of the hills had been terraced to provide flat plots for gardens, as we continued we came across a small village. A group of women standing around talking noticed us as we approached and immediately went into their houses or what looked like grass huts. Pretty soon about twelve or more men came out of the huts and came toward us. Naturally we were not armed and it didn’t appear they were, we stopped walking and waited for them to come to us. It turned out that one of the men had been a radio operator on a ship that had traveled between Japan and San Francisco and could speak English. We were invited to his home which was a well constructed woven grass exterior building, served tea, talked a while and then returned to our ship. We were pleasantly surprised that they had been so friendly because we had no idea what was going to happen when they started to approach us. Approaching this village had been a dumb thing because although I don’t think any of us would have done harm, they didn’t know that and just two months before we had been bitter enemies. We continued to see this friendliness by the Japanese as we made our way around the island of Honshu and back to Tokyo Bay and our first liberty in a town or city since we left Hawaii.

Tokyo had been cleaned up since the bombing. Whole city blocks were void of buildings but, the rubble had been neatly piled up at the end of the block ready to be taken away. We passed General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters and as we were crossing the street he came out of his quarters and drove off with his driver.

We had been in Japanese waters for five weeks and it was time to move, so we joined two other APD’s, APD-65 and APD-72 for our trip back to Manila. We had good weather all the way and the three ships played follow the leader doing all types of turns and maneuvers, this was tough on the fire room crews but we enjoyed the challenge and tried to keep up. I was too far down in the hole to have any association with the ship’s Captain or any of the officers but they seemed to know what they were doing. We had a well run ship, there was no bullying from the people in command, they just expected you to do what they asked and we did. We were kept busy but, still had time off for beach parties, movies or shore liberty when possible. The crew responded positively, worked hard and effectively, the ship was ready. When we were requested to go somewhere we went and the best part we came back. The Chief Water Tender was my main point of contact and I kiddingly asked him when he was going to give me a second class rate. His answer was that I would not make a pimple on the rear end of a water tender, but to my surprise shortly after that I was offered the rate. I turned the offer down after I found out that the rate was frozen and that I would probably be transferred to another ship and remain in the area when the USS Enright returned to the States.

We arrived at Manila Bay on October 31st and stayed two weeks working on the boilers in the fire room and on liberty in Manila. The city, the largest on the island of Luzon suffered a lot of war damage. It had been occupied by the Japanese from December 1942 until February 1945. They were starting to get back but there was still a lot of clean up to be done. We could count the masts of 20 sunken ships within a one mile radius of our anchorage. I think it was while on liberty in Manila that several of us decided that we would play “real navy” and have a couple of beers and go find a cat house. I don’t remember how we found it but it was on the water front and in a not too friendly area. We paid to enter the building, walked down a  hallway and each of us entered a separate room.  As I entered my room I saw what appeared to be an old, very hard looking, naked woman sitting on a bed. She didn’t speak English but, motioned for me to come over, I won’t give you any more details, it will probably bore you to death, I know it did me. When I left the room I put a big grin on my face, went outside and told my friends how great it was.

We completed our work on the boilers and boarded 150 passengers for a trip to Shanghai China. We headed to the East China Sea where on two occasions our radar picked up floating mines, which we destroyed and arrived at the Navy base on the Whangpoo River in Shanghai the day before Thanksgiving (see photos below).

We stayed four days, had one liberty which I enjoyed riding in rickshaws all over the down town area. For our return to Manila we boarded a group of interned Philippine musicians named Loupes Band.  On our way to Manila we made an overnight stop at Okinawa where the band entertained us with a concert .            


The USS Enright (APD-66) Docked In Shanghai


Enjoying A Rickshaw Ride in Shanghai

Loupes music was high brow compared to what we were used to from the ship’s PA system. One song still sticks in my mind, One Meat Ball by Hoagie Carmichael, I think the lyrics were “you get no bread with one meat ball.”  It really got my moves going. After leaving Okinawa, we had to go 180 miles off our course to pick up two sick Navy men off a ship in the Philippine Sea. As we returned to course and approached Luzon Island a sea plane came out, landed on the water and boarded the sick men for delivery to the hospital.

After our return to Manila we discharged our band passengers and took on 200 high point men that were returning to the States for discharge. Yes, we were going home. We were scheduled to make fueling stops in Eniwetok and Pearl and arrive in San Diego just before Christmas. As we came out of the San Bernadino Straights into the Philippine Sea we hit another storm which slowed us down for three days until we refueled in Eniwetok. As we were heading east to Pearl and while working on my cleaning station I discovered that a section of the ship’s haul had rusted out and sea water was seeping into the boiler room. The hole was above the water line and not an immediate problem, I notified the duty officer and he relayed the information to the captain. The decision was that the ship’s welders would make the repairs rather than go in to dry dock and delay our return to the States. The ship’s welders made the repairs when we got to Pearl and we arrived in San Diego on Christmas Day three days less than eight months after we left.

We left three days later, went south to Balboa Panama and east through the Panama Canal and up the east coast of Florida and in to the St. Johns river to Green Cove Springs, just south of Jacksonville where we tied up to a group of DEs and APDs already being decommissioned and preserved for future wars. I worked on the USS Enright for four months and then a group of us now high point men departed by train to Lido Beach, Long Island New York where I was discharged on May 20th 1946 to end my two years two months and seven days service to my country.

I was lucky and can actually say that I enjoyed my time in the Navy but now that my duty was finished I was more than ready to get on with my life as a civilian. I had very little money saved, barely enough to buy a used car, maybe a very old used car and I did not have a High School diploma, but I had several things going for me, namely, I was just 20 years old and did not consider being without savings or a  High School diploma a problem. I knew that I could live at home and my Navy severance pay was twenty dollars a week for one year, enough for pocket money. I had graduated from Vocational School as a draftsman before joining the Navy and my work experience and training qualified me to be an apprentice in a machine shop. Not many twenty year olds had this much going for them so I felt that I was in great shape for my future. Since I had a diploma from CCVS in drafting I chose that field for my job search. My dad bought me a new suit and also paid me an hourly rate to help out at a house he and Ray were building in Mt Ephraim, a small town south of Camden. So, I had a new suit, a few extra bucks in my pocket and with the aid of the want ads in the news paper found a job at the Riverside Metal Company in the drafting department of their Watch Case Division. My job was to make manufacturing drawings of watch cases from metal models and artist conceptual sketches and add the necessary details to insure that the watch components fit correctly inside the case. For this very important sounding task I received less than seventy five cents per hour, when the federal minimum hourly wage was raised to seventy five cents shortly after that I got a raise.

About that time I bought a 1936 Dodge, used cars were expensive because during the war years the auto industry only made military vehicles. The 1946 model was probably the first new car produced since the war started. My Dodge had been used as a taxi and had a lot of miles on it but it ran good and I could usually fix anything that went wrong with it. So, I had my first job and my wheels to get there.

My 1936 Dodge Ray, Mom and Tina



I made another career move in August of 1946 while at work when I noticed another draftsman getting ready to leave; I casually asked what he was doing that evening. His reply was that he was going to Drexel University, in Philadelphia to register for the fall term at the evening college. I had never considered going to college before but since the VA would pay for it and I had the time available, I decided at that moment to go with him. At that time the Drexel Evening College only offered an Associate diploma, they later changed to offering a Bachelor’s Degree; they did offer the necessary High School courses to cover what I had missed. The classes were three hours each and I attended three nights each week for three semesters a year summers off and received my Associate diploma in Mechanical Engineering in June of 1955 and my Bachelor of Science Degree in June of 1957. In those days most of the Defense Contractors provided college tuition to employees, they also had the best paying jobs and most interesting work so that is where I went when the VA stopped paying my tuition.

I was still going out with Ann Davis, a girl I had met at a Catholic dance when I was home on leave from the Navy. We usually went dancing, that was until one evening she phoned and told me that she could no longer go out with me because I was not Catholic. Well, this took me by surprise, I didn’t realize it showed, we had never talked about religion before and I wasn’t sure that this was the real reason for the dump. I liked Ann, we had a lot of fun together and having attended Catholic mass in the Navy I didn’t think it was that much different than my church but, I was not ready to get serious and probably a little miffed besides, we stopped dating. I was just dumped because I was not Catholic so what do I do, I started going back out to Catholic run dances, I liked Catholic dances, they had four intermissions and you could buy beer.

I kept busy with work, school, home work and I usually went out on weekends. My sister-in-law Tina took me on as a project, she said that I drank and cursed too much, so to give little more class she set up dates for me with her friends and I guess I was not ready to take on any more responsibility because they fizzled out. That was until the fall of 1947, it was a Saturday evening and several of us decided to attend a dance in Pennsauken, a small town that I would pass on my way to work. We had been there before and it was put on by, you guessed it the Catholic Church. Things started to liven after the second intermission and it was about that time that I noticed this girl that I recognized as someone I had met before. I figured that would be a good conversation starter and walked up to her and said “I know you”, I was going to ask if she remembered me but before I got the words out she looked at me and said “oh no you don’t.” Well, this ended the conversation but I suddenly remembered who she was, this was Honey’s sister Terry and she was still mad at me from the skating rink. This set me back for a while and later when I asked her to dance, she answered “yes if you quite hopping around when you dance”. This conversation was not doing my ego any good but I must have loved it because I danced with her the rest of the evening, I noticed while dancing that Terry kept pressing on my shoulder to remind me not to hop around when I started to feel the music. I called Terry the following week for a date and she told me to call back later for an answer. When I called later I expected that the answer would be no but, to my surprise she said yes, I think her sister put in a good word for me. Although I did not overwhelm Terry with my charm when we met at the dance it was the beginning of a very happy life together. We got married eight months later in June of 1948. Yes, I turned Catholic and we were married in her church.

Because of my work during the day, attending college classes three evenings a week and homework requirements our dating during my courtship of Terry Chapman was limited to weekends. Two things stand out in my mind during this time; one was my first dinner at the Chapman house. Terry’s mother, Florie was very outgoing and her father, George an engineer for the railroad was on the quiet side. We talked and joked a lot with Florie during the meal, I felt right at home because my family did the same. Before we finished our desert George jumps up and starts taking the dishes into the kitchen and washing them. Everyone at the table ignores what’s going on and continue talking. After completing the dishes, George comes back in the room with a broom and starts sweeping the floor. Other than raise their feet to allow him to sweep no one pays any attention to George who is sweeping away, mumbling under his breath about the #%xx$# people sitting around talking all day. After the sweeping is completed every one left the table, George came back in the room with a deck of cards, sat down at the table and said “let’s play cards.” Terry’s dad was an entirely different person with a deck of cards in his hand, very outgoing, in complete charge and when you played against him you had the feeling that he knew every card that was in your hand.

The second fond memory involved the Chapman’s front porch.  Florie’s father who retired after owning a store in Philadelphia occupied the front porch during the day and it was where we would sit in the evening after our dates. Just about the time that we would get into some very serious “making out”, George, who worked the evening shift, would arrive home making a lot of noise coming up the porch steps as he entered the house. He would look us over, mumble something, and head up the stairs to report the situation on the porch to Florie. If there was anything at all out of order Terry would hear about it the next day. I guess Terry was a little miffed because she was getting all the blame, it didn’t seem to be a problem to me. I guess we had other options but, we continued to use the porch.

I don’t remember when we got engaged, I know I didn’t do anything spectacular, we just sort of agreed to do it. My boss at the Watch Case Company was in the jewelry business and I asked him to get me a ring. He bought me a real nice one with a nice size stone for seventy five dollars, Terry loved it. When she showed it off at work, one of the girls told her it had a yellow spot, this wasn’t one of my better days, but then again it wasn’t my worst one either.

Well, the day finely came, our wedding day. I had already converted and we were married by her parish priest. Terry’s mom and a group of the church women cooked the food and held the reception in the Church hall. My Dad brought in a keg of beer and we had a great time. Terry’s sister Mary was her maid of honor and my friend John Bender was my best man, they did a great job helping us join together for a wonderful future together. That was the best day of my life and the worst was on April 7th 2005, the day she died in a helicopter on the way to the Hospital in Jacksonville, after playing a round of golf and an evening of Mahjong with her lady friends two days before.


George Chapman (father-in-law), Terry and Mary Chapman (maid-of-honor)






Maid of Honor: Mary Chapman

Best Man:  John Bender





Back row:  Buddy Chapman, Ray Kline, Al Chiddenton, Edna (Chapman) Rich, Joe Chapman, Sis (Chapman) Purdy.

3rd row:  Next; My Mom, Ray’s Tina, Buddy’s Millie, John Bender, Terry’s Mom, Honey (Chapman) Chiddenton, Joe’s Ellie

2nd row:  The Groom, The Bride, Mary Chapman, Janette Kline, My Dad, Terry’s Dad.

Front row:  Joe’s kids; (Kathleen and Dotty) and Sis’ kids; (Frances and Ann) 







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