Molly Graham: This is our third interview with Harold Musselman for the Rutgers Oral History Archives. The interview is taking place on July 16, 2014, in Washington, New Jersey. I'm Molly Graham.
Mohammad Athar: I'm Mohammad Athar.
MG: Can you tell us about any relationships or friendships you formed in the Army?
Harold Musselman: Oh, yes, a lot of them because our whole outfit got together after the war. We had Army reunions every year, usually down around Tennessee or someplace like that. This past year was the first year that we didn't have an Army reunion because there were only seven of us left. I had a good friend, Fred Wetzler was a Jewish boy from up in Connecticut. He was a piano player. Every time we'd find a broken-down piano someplace, he'd play "Boogie Woogie" [by the Glenn Miller Orchestra] for the boys. I heard from him every year until he passed away a couple of years ago. There were pretty close relationships between all of us. When you have over five hundred men, you're going to meet some of them that are closer than others. That book she published …
MG: This is the DVD.
HM: She [Carol Musselman Kain, Harold's daughter] brought it out this morning. It's one the granddaughter--she was in college and did this as a senior project. It's an overview of World War II. He was in C battery; I was in A. She interviewed individuals down through there.
Carol Musselman Kain: The whole package is there.
MG: That's great. This is helpful. Who is Clarence Whitworth?
HM: He was one of the fellows in the outfit.
CMK: His daughter is the one that did it. I thought it was his granddaughter, but his daughter's name is what's on there.
HM: He was out of C battery.
CMK: Well, the map at the back of the book was the A battery map.
HM: Well, yes, it is. But, at the same time …
CMK: It was the same.
CMK: Behind the map then is a list. There's two pages of maps because they fit side by side; it was a big map. That lists the route that they took through Europe and how far distance-wise. That came from another one of the guys, Andy Donovan; he put that together. It shows the path that these guys walked or rode in trucks.
MG: That's incredible. It looks like the total is 1,736 miles.
CMK: Yes. That's what it was.
HM: We traveled all over the place. Every time they wanted heavy artillery, we were on the road again.
CMK: That's why one of the guys that was part of Gem Vac that since passed away, we always kidded Charlie that the reason why he was so short is because he walked across Europe and wore his legs out. [Editor's Note: Ms. Kain is referring to a veterans group that gathers at Gem Vacuum, Inc. in Glen Gardner, New Jersey.]
HM: We rode across.
CMK: Charlie nicknamed dad "Peashooter" because the howitzers were so big. That's dad's nickname, "Peashooter."
HM: Each half of each gun weighed thirty tons. Each shell weighed 365 pounds. That was just the shell part. Then, a powder charge was put in behind the gun to propel it when it went off.
MG: Can you reflect on this map and the journey you took?
HM: It's hard to know what to say. You just don't remember every place that you were there. Sometimes you'd go down the road; you'd go through some village in some town. They'd wave to you. But you just kept right on going, to wherever we surveyed the gun position and fired from there. I'm still in contact with the widow of my section sergeant, Bertha.
HM: She lives out in Tennessee. Her husband passed away. She came to the Army reunions, and he did too until [he passed away].
CMK: Well, the widows would come to the reunions, even after because they'd been coming for so long that these were just good friends. The families developed friendships among the battalion and then the kids and the grandkids. The first one I ever went to, I was fourteen. That was my introduction to Charleston, South Carolina. Little did I know, I would end up back there for five years. [laughter]
HM: Actually, the different places we went through--I used to think in terms of--what was that story of the guy that piped all the mice or something out of the town?
CMK: The Pied Piper?
HM: Yes, the Pied Piper. We went through the towns where the Pied Piper had been, but the town, you looked up and there weren't any roofs on the buildings. We just passed through the town, you could look up and see walls but no ceilings.
MG: Can you say what happened to the ceilings?
HM: They disintegrated when the shell hit them. There was nothing there. They were blown to pieces, as they say, when a bomb hits you in a house. You see pictures of it in Asia or Europe now what happens to all those communities over there when a bomb hits them. It's a damn shame that those people can't live together. They've been fighting each other over there for a thousand years because they say, "You don't go to my church? I'm going to get rid of you." That's it. We had the preacher, two weeks ago in church, said--we're Presbyterian--he said, "Why do you go to the Presbyterian Church? Why are you a Methodist? Why are you a Catholic?" Right down the line, he said, "What makes you that?"
CMK: He started out as a Baptist and became a Presbyterian. He was a Baptist minister, wasn't he?
CMK: Jim. He grew up Baptist. I know that. He ended up as a Presbyterian minister now.
HM: Those are questions. Well, Army chaplains, we had one that would come around, but they didn't ask them what congregation they went to. If somebody wanted to pray, that was their onus. The chaplain would have a service once in a while.
CMK: I think a good example of a chaplain in a unit, even though it was off of M*A*S*H, was Father Mulcahy. I remember him saying something about somebody who was of another denomination. He said he was doing a Jewish wedding or something like that. They didn't just stay doing Catholic. They serviced all the men and women. It didn't matter what denomination they were. They were educated in more than their own religion to be able to satisfy the needs of the troops.
HM: I would say that one of the closest fellows that I had in the service was this Jewish boy from Connecticut, Fred Wetzler. He's the piano player. We always used to laugh about it.
CMK: Your tent buddy.
HM: Yes. We always used to laugh that his mother had a contract with some store up there. Every so often, he'd get a package from home that the store had made up. As soon as his package came in, he had a lot of buddies [laughter] to see what was in that package. We used to laugh about it because when it was his turn to go on guard duty, he'd gotten up in the middle of the night and you'd hear him rooting around through his box there for something to snack on before he went on guard duty. [laughter]
When you read about some of these things that happened there, we destroyed the city of Aachen, Germany, in one night because every British and American artillery piece was aimed at that city. It went on all night long. It was constant fire. At the same time, when we were in that position, we were on buzz bomb alley. Those were the flying bombs that the Germans had. Each one of those carried a thousand-pound warhead. When they shut off, you wanted to hit the ground because a concussion traveled a long way over the ground. It wasn't something that you could stand up to. That thing would swat you just like that.
Those are the things that led up to the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans, at that time, had hidden their tanks and everything in the woods so that nobody thought that they were going to attack. Apparently, there had been some contact, but they overran the 106th [Infantry] Division and took I don't know how many thousands of prisoners of American boys. We had been moved out of our position in front of the German lines prior to the Battle of the Bulge starting, but we almost lost our C battery because it was left behind when we moved up to Roth, Germany. That's in this …
CMK: It's in the history?
HM: Well, it's in the picture, showing where we were, Roth, Germany, at that time. We took an eight-inch rifle outfit with us from some other outfit. Our C battery, which the fellow wrote in this book here, they had gotten out by a cavalry recon [reconnaissance] outfit, a tank outfit got them out, and we got back with them. That was the winter of ten below zero and two feet of snow. We didn't have the clothing then that they had later on in Korea that had developed down the line. I sent home to my mother and asked her to get me a pair of boots from L.L. Bean, the rubber bottoms, the leather tops. The manager of the JC Penney store in Stroudsburg, who I had worked for before I went in the service, asked who they were for. She told them for me. At that time, in World War II, you had to have a ticket in order to buy a pair of shoes or anything like that. He didn't even want one. They just packed it up and sent it over to me. I was really one of the privileged ones to not have frostbitten feet. I had dry shoes. But I did freeze my fingers. A lot of guys, not just in our outfit but other outfits, they got trench foot. They lost toes and feet at the time.
That was the period of time when the Germans attacked. They overran--I don't know what outfit it was, but they lined up five hundred GIs and machine-gunned them. It was the Malmedy massacre. [Editor's Note: Mr. Musselman is referring to the Malmedy massacre, where soldiers of the First Panzer SS Division summarily executed eighty-four American prisoners of war on December 17, 1944, near the Belgian village of Malmedy. Most of those killed belonged to Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion.] A couple of guys crawled away, and that's how they found out about what had taken place. But the SS were no good. The German Army were SOBs [sons of bitches], that's all. After that, there weren't too many German prisoners taken. They disappeared going back toward the rear because the infantry, when they found out about this, they disposed of Germans down the line. That was the winter of the Battle of the Bulge.
After that, we had to fire on some dams that the Germans had up there on the Roer River that the Air Force had been trying to take out and they didn't have much luck. But they put our guns on them, and we had an observer. He was up there in a P-51 plane, riding as an observer and calling directions, "You're up. You're on them." Boom, boom, boom. When the dams were destroyed, the Roer River was flooded. It held up the advance of the Army for a long time. Once the river was down, the crossing was done into the North German Plain. At that time, we were attached to the British Army in the north because they had divided up the troops during that period of time. We were taken out of the First Army and put into the Ninth Army and never knew where we were going to be. It was just a case of you were on the road again. Willie Nelson. We never knew where we were going to be because any time they wanted heavy artillery, we were on the road again.
After the Battle of the Bulge, we crossed the Roer River and were in the North German Plain. Winter was really over by that time because we were on the move. From there, after we crossed the Roer, we moved up to the Rhine River, and it was there that we had an observation post. We could look over into what they call the Ruhr Pocket, where the German industrial center was. We could see Germans walking around through there. Then, we got fire missions over there.
We crossed the Rhine River with those big guns floating on pontoons. There were guards on the bridge with rifles to shoot anything floating down the river because they never knew whether it was a floating bomb or what. We got across there to a little town called Bochum, Germany. We sat in there. In the meantime, the American Army had crossed at the Remagen Bridge upriver. The German general that was supposed to have destroyed it didn't get the job done. We got tanks and everything across. In the meantime, while they were going across, we put another bridge below it because the upper bridge collapsed finally then, but we had armor and everything across.
CMK: How did you get those big guns across the river?
HM: You saw the pictures, right?
CMK: I know. But the thing is with all that tonnage crossing on these …
HM: Well, they were pontoons.
CMK: I know. I understand that. I know what they look like. But that's a lot of weight.
HM: Yes, thirty tons apiece.
CMK: On those pontoons. [laughter] It must have put enough pressure on it; maybe they went down and hit the bottom. I don't know.
HM: No, they floated.
CMK: Still, the idea of that much weight on those pontoons.
HM: Well, at the same time, when you were on the road, if there was a ditch or something like that, the engineers on the bridges just wheeled them up and stuck them right across. Now, just a minute. You listen. When the flood of '55 took place down here on the Delaware River, and the middle section went out of the …
CMK: Of the bridge?
HM: … Of the bridge down there. The Army engineers came up with their …
HM: No, not pontoons. This is when they had the bridges, and they just rolled them up and put them there. People went across that bridge for a long time, down there in Phillipsburg. These things have been used all over the place.
CMK: Well, I understand that. But I'm just looking at the ratio of the size of a pontoon versus the weight of the guns.
HM: I don't care. You put more pressure on water and stuff like that, it'll only go down so far, and then you go. We went across. But they didn't let every piece out on the …
CMK: No, they didn't put everything out at the same time.
CMK: But the Germans didn't see this happening? Obviously not.
HM: Yes, they saw it happening, but they were taken out of the picture by artillery, by bombs, and everything else. When we traveled across the North German Plain, the Air Force at that time was flying P-47s. They carried five-hundred-pound bombs. When you went up the road--the North German Plain was a sandy soil--you could see where the bombs had hit and some of them didn't explode. They were there along the road when you were going through. You just kept on going and hoped that all of them weren't on a timer or something. We went through many an area like that, where the bombs didn't explode when they came down. So, that's the story from Bochum, across the bridge into Bochum, Germany. We were in that position like that. This one time, they came over. An infantry outfit wanted to borrow our trucks. I was sent along as an assistant driver because we went over to where the infantry was over there, and they loaded us up with a truckload of infantry. From then, we started for the Elbe River across Northern Germany. You just kept on going. If they came down on you, strafing or something, they said, "Just keep going." We said, "What if you run out of gas?" They said, "Pull over to the side of the road, and they'll drop the gas." And they did. They dropped cans of gas off. They dropped cans of gas to you, and you went as far as you could with that amount of gas until you ran out again.
Anyway, we traveled that way up the road. We passed farms where displaced persons had been sent there by Germans to work the fields. We got to this one town. We had orders not to destroy any more villages because they were trying to head for peace if they could. But this one town we got to, the mayor came out and said they would surrender. In the meantime, a bunch of SS in this one farmhouse set a barn on fire with displaced persons inside. They machine-gunned them if they came out. A couple of them escaped and told us what happened. Well, they were never asked to surrender. An artillery piece was brought up--none of ours but the smaller ones--and they blew the house to pieces with the Germans inside because they weren't going to give them a chance to [surrender].
We hauled the infantry as far as they wanted us to take [them], and then they turned us loose. Here we are, a convoy of trucks with drivers, not knowing where we were. We started back and ran out of gas. In the process of going down the road, a German anti-aircraft unit came up out of the woods and surrendered to a bunch of truck drivers coming down the road. [laughter] We ran out of gas, and we sat there on the plain until some military police came along. We told them we were out of gas and couldn't get back to our outfit. So, they said, "We'll see about getting you gas."
In the meantime, a bunch of fellows out there on the North German Plain were shooting jackrabbits and stuff like that to feed on because we didn't have food. I can still remember this one guy. He was from out in North Dakota. He was used to hunting jackrabbits out there on the plain. Man, he could pop those things off like you wouldn't believe. He was a POW [prisoner of war]. He was brought back to us. When the military police came, they brought a bunch of Canadians who had been captured at Dieppe in the early phases of the war. '42 is when the Dieppe raid had taken place. These guys had been captured, and they had been with the Germans from the beginning. You wouldn't believe--we saw where those fellows had been in shackles and the sores on their necks. The Germans had kept them as prisoners. [Editor's Note: In August 1942, Allied forces raided the German-occupied port of Dieppe, France. The purpose of the raid was to show Allied commitment to opening the Western Front, gather intelligence, and improve morale. The raid convinced the Allies that they were not ready yet for an invasion of France.]
From there, they put one of those Canadians in each truck, cabbed with us, and we went back down the road. I can remember we ran into a British convoy that was coming toward us. We flagged them down and told them we had these Canadian boys. Their officer came over, and he said, "Take them right over to our convoy. They'll be back in England in an hour or two," because they flew them right out and back to the hospitals in England.
We finally did get back to our original outfit so that they could move because they didn't have any--their trucks and everything had been taken away for this other duty. Finally, our outfit moved up on the Elbe River. I'm trying to think of the name of the town. I can't think of it. It was in firing position against the Russians. When the war ended, I stood at the Elbe River and watched the German Army surrender. They came off the walkway that came across the river and threw their gear into a pile of material. We had a jeep with two drivers in it. They led ten thousand of those German prisoners back to Stendal Airfield, which was where the Germans had gas. They had planes. They didn't have any pilots. They had been flying their pilots with fifteen-year-old boys. They didn't have a runway there, but they used to go out on the Autobahn and take off on the Autobahn when they did fly. That was the end of the war. While we were in one position, we crossed over a canal or something. We hit a German warehouse over here. It was full of clothing and wine and everything else that they had scavenged from France and other places that they had stored in the building. So, our boys had a ball there.
CMK: That's where your binoculars came from, isn't it?
HM: Up there along the river. At that point, I had 532s and two lugers. A couple of other guys were there, and they had these binoculars. I swapped them a luger for a couple of binoculars. That's where you get your souvenirs. The Navy guys were always looking for fellows from the front because they could get souvenirs. That was the only way that the Navy fellows could get them because the guys would bring them back from the front and swap them off.
That was the end of our combat section. Then, from up there in North Germany, we were ordered to move down to Ludwigsburg, down in South Germany, to an area where they were breaking up the outfits. That's where we ended up, down in a German Army barracks. We were put on duty down there at Gardner Railroad Bridge, so that they didn't do any damage to that. You looked across the river, and you'd see all these beautiful vineyards and stuff going up the sides of the river. We had to monitor--you might say "monitor"--guard the displaced persons that were in the German barracks. We had to keep them inside because they'd go out and raid the German farmhouses because they didn't have any food and stuff like that. They left them there, they put them on trains, and they were sending them back to Russia. The people were jumping off the trains and committing suicide because they didn't want to go back to Russia. As a matter of fact, the Russians would kill them anyway because they were working for the Germans. It became a case of--you worked for the enemy and we're going to get rid of you. You've got that going on over there today between the Ukraine and the Soviets. During World War II, Ukraine and Russia, that was all one country. I don't know what kind of deal was worked out where the Ukraine and Russia were split the way they did. Around the Black Sea, that was the oil deposits and stuff like that, that the Germans fought like mad to keep that. We had planes flying out of North Africa that were bombing them on a regular basis. I think we got one fellow down at Gem Vac, that he was flying in one of those bombers that was shot down.
CMK: We've got a few new ones in there. I haven't really sat and talked with some of these new-to-the-group guys. They're not young men at all.
HM: He was down in the water, and he was picked up. They sent us down to Ludwigsburg. I've got pictures. Our crane was out there tearing up their German air raid shelters and trying to get them some food. The Germans didn't have any food left. We were there, and then orders came through to break up the outfit. Because we were in a survey section, which you might say is a specialized unit, we were loaded up and sent to Reims, France, to tents back there. I've got a picture of one fellow with his hand on a German statue in Ludwigsburg.
CMK: Is it in with all your pictures?
HM: Yes, it's in there.
CMK: What I was thinking about, I know my brother scanned--all his pictures that are in this book--my brother scanned all those one year at the reunion. We went to Wal-Mart. So, he's got them on a DVD somewhere.
HM: He doesn't have that picture.
CMK: Is that in the case?
CMK: Let me go snoop around. My brother's coming home Friday. So, if I can talk to him before that, maybe we can get a duplicate copy of that.
MG: That would be great.
CMK: I'll look.
HM: Anyway, we were sent back to Reims, France. They were going to send us back to the States for rehab before they were going to send us over. The Japanese section was still going on. We got back there to the tent, and this colonel was in there. He said, "You guys are not going back to the States with the outfit you were supposedly assigned to." It was an engineering outfit. We said, "Why not?" He said it was a Black outfit. At that time, segregation was in full swing in the Army. So, we were reassigned to a unit right there, and all we did was pull guard duty on PXs [post exchange] and places like that. It was from there that I got my seven days in Switzerland. Before that, another fellow and I …
CMK: Is it in here?
HM: Yes, it's in there.
CMK: The first picture on top--this will give you a much-needed visual.
MG: Yes, it's hard to imagine that going over on a pontoon.
CMK: They go in two parts. It traveled in two sections. They had to take it apart. What'd they do? Take the cannon end off? The cylinder end? What about in here?
HM: No, it was down there. The whole thing came out there, and the trail unit was down near the trail.
CMK: This whole thing came off?
CMK: The whole thing came off, and the trailer went on a separate …
HM: Before you put that in position, the gun crews had to dig a five-foot recoil pit under the barrels because when they came up in the air like that, they had to have someplace to go down. So, they recoiled down in there. Underneath the trails, there were pits dug on each side through there and planks were put down there, so that when that thing recoiled, it went up in the air just like that.
MG: Can you say what it was like to fire something like this?
HM: I wasn't firing it directly, but I was the forward observer, sending directions back to our headquarters, where they gave the gunners the direction where to fire.
CMK: He was the advanced party that went ahead to find the Germans.
HM: No, we didn't go ahead. We went up there in an observation post. We had an observation post up there, spotting German targets. The information was passed back to the fire direction center, which was headquarters. Then, that was passed down to the gun crews to tell them where it was supposed to go. There's a better picture of that same thing. That was at Roth, Germany, December '44. This is the original picture.
CMK: The little bitty one. My brother had them [enlarged].
HM: This is what that looked like when the gun was taken apart. Those were the tires. Each one was Earthmover tires. There were six of those on each one. That's the crane that was used to swing it into position. When we were shipped back to Ludwigsburg, this was in a motor pool. All these guns were lined up. We sat there so that--I don't know what happened to them, whether they were sent back to Belgium to some factory and melted down. They never took them from Europe over to Korea for that war over there. There are better pictures of them. They were lined up down in Ludwigsburg. That was the crane operator, Jack Edwards.
MG: Had the war ended at this point?
HM: The war was over in Europe, but the war in the Pacific was going hell-bent over there. You've read about the battles on Okinawa and all these other places like that. They pretty well licked the Marines there. This was my sergeant sitting outside of a pup tent in a hole in the ground. He was given a battlefield commission over there. The second lieutenant sent him back for a physical. Even though they were in combat, he had to get a physical examination. They found he had a spot in his lung. They sent him back to the States because of TB [tuberculosis]. He ended up for a year out in Colorado at some Army hospital out. There was a picture …
CMK: That's the one that's in the living room.
HM: That was my section, right there.
CMK: Yes, I showed them the bigger version of that before. That's Wetzler right there.
HM: While the Battle of the Bulge was going on, they sent all of our equipment--we had to take it in a trailer and take it back into the border region between Belgium and the Netherlands so that it wouldn't be captured by the Germans if they got through. This was another one of the fellows in our section; he was our truck driver, Harold Brown. He was coming to our reunions until a year or two ago. This was a little Belgian farm girl. People don't realize how those people lived over there. The cattle were down in the basement, and they lived on top of them. Anyway, you wondered what happened to these [villages]. Well, that's what happened to the villages. There was nothing left to them. There was a bridge across the river; it wasn't there anymore. That was the Autobahn that was left there. In order to get around there, you had to go through the woods with the equipment. Here's something that I try to get across to people--this is the Lorelei. There's the song written about it in German, "Die Lorelei." The mermaids on the rocks used to lure the boatmen onto the rocks. Have you heard that song? [Editor's Note: Lorelei is a four-hundred-foot high slate rock on the bank of the Rhine River in Germany.]
MG: I don't think I have.
MA: I've heard the song.
HM: [Singing] "In spite of the Lorelei singing upon the rocks," and that's where the boatmen would rock and then they'd raid them. Well, we've got something almost identical in the shape of that right up here in the Delaware Water Gap. If you get a picture of the Delaware Water Gap, you'll see almost that same …
CMK: The shape of the river going through it.
HM: … The shape of the river. That was on the Rhine River. Now, this was one of those bridges we had to guard so that they didn't blow them up anymore. This was in Ludwigsburg. We had guard duty on that thing. There's pictures of the vineyards up on the side of the mountain across the river. My daughter worked a long time putting these things together.
MG: It's very nice.
HM: From here, I got the seven-day pass into Switzerland.
CMK: What's the picture with the guy leaning against the German statue?
HM: I'm looking for it.
CMK: Is that in here?
HM: I'm looking for it.
CMK: Unless it's in the box beside the chair. I don't know.
HM: It was old King Ludwig's castle. It's got to be someplace. This was in Reims, France, where the surrender took place. We always called it the schoolhouse. We passed a lot of history in a lot of ways. In our travels from the north down to southern Germany, we stayed at this castle, and on the wall of the castle, there was a whole engraved plaque. That was where George Washington's ancestors came from. The names were all engraved on the side of that building. A lot of guys didn't take that into consideration when we went through there. What was her name? There's the Joan of Arc statue in Reims, France. I've got pictures of stuff that a lot of guys didn't even consider. This was the cathedral at Reims. In World War I, the windows had been destroyed in battle. In this war, the French took the windows out of the cathedral, and they hid them someplace. When you went up to the thing, you could see the windows were being put back into place. I got into this cathedral, and there was a stairway. I was up the walkway up along the top, a little narrow walkway going up the side. But you could really see what things were going on. There's a Joan of Arc statue and there's canal boats. By the way, canals are something that people don't think about. But over there, it's still widely used for transportation. They're navigable. I've often thought it would be a nice trip to take through there. I'm trying to see if this picture is in there. It must be in one of the other places.
MG: I'm curious about what made you take so many photographs. Did you know these were important moments to preserve?
HM: Well, for me as a teacher, it was significant because there were several of us teaching at the same time that were war veterans. That was our pup tent. It was a foxhound.
CMK: Literally, a pup tent.
HM: She had a litter of pups in there. The guys named them Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, and Allen. [laughter] One of the pups came back to the States in a backpack and sailed onboard the ship. You weren't supposed to bring any, but officers brought their dogs and everything else.
CMK: Didn't you say that by the time they got back to the States, they had to bring him off on a leash, though, because he was too big for the backpack? The guys would take from their meals and feed the dog.
HM: That was where the treaty was signed.
CMK: I don't know. My sister put this together. You were going to something. Was this to take to Gem Vac or a school trip?
HM: I don't know.
CMK: Or One of the roundtables or something. She put this together real quick.
HM: That was a picture of your mother, which was sent to me overseas.
CMK: Which one?
HM: She was still in college when that was taken.
CMK: She started college after you, right, and then ended up finishing before you.
HM: She finished and had taught two years by the time I got …
CMK: In fact, three of my college professors, who were young teachers when my uncle was a professor at the college, wrote the college history. Lo and behold, there's a little teeny tiny picture about this big in the margin of one of the pages. It's my mother in the college history, because when she went through, it was 350 women and a handful of men.
MG: Where was this?
CMK: East Stroudsburg State Teachers College at the time.
HM: It's East Stroudsburg University now.
CMK: They did that in '73. By diversifying their curriculum, they got more money from the government to do that. She said they had some oddball courses. They did first aid. They had some kind of a cooking class that they made them take, almost like survival courses, in addition to everything else. The scrap food from the cafeteria went to a local farm, which happened to be Dad's great aunt, right up on Smith Street. [laughter]
HM: Well, Brown Street is where the hospital is, and Smith Street went across.
CMK: His name was Brown Smith. The house is still there on the corner. But all that land, of course, was sold off, and now they have the Fine Arts Building in there. There's a street named for my uncle that taught at the college.
HM: There's the route that we took from where we landed in Scotland, by train, down in the Midlands, between Birmingham and Coventry.
CMK: Yes. She's got that map in there, too.
MG: You covered a lot of ground.
CMK: That's almost nine times the Appalachian Trail.
MG: Not to mention all of the elements you're battling along the way--combat, cold weather, hunger, and homesickness.
HM: As I said, the fellows learned survival tactics. The best way to keep warm was to dig a hole down in the ground, put a pup tent over the top of it, and try to get an empty artillery shell or something and make a stove out of it. People don't realize our commanding officer for this outfit was Wallace Wade, who had been the football coach at Duke University. Our one officer became the college president of California State College, out in Pennsylvania. That was lieutenant--I don't know.
CMK: I don't know. This one, I don't know.
HM: Well, he was a firing officer on the guns. He came back, and he went there. Our aerial observer went back out to Pennsylvania. He was a Pennsylvania Dutchman. He became the secretary of a school district out there.
CMK: Any of the guys go back to bootlegging? [laughter]
CMK: They went back to it?
HM: One fellow came down to our meeting.
CMK: That's right. He brought you some moonshine.
HM: He brought a quart jar. He said, "Now, I'm going to show you what real moonshine is." He said, "It's not bathtub liquor." He gave us a little sample of each one, just as smooth as anything and just as clear. It looked almost like water. But the one guy in the outfit had on his service record, his occupation: bootlegger.
CMK: Now you can go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and they have a moonshine distillery as a tourist thing, but there's all different flavors of moonshine now.
HM: That's why I say every time we moved to a different outfit, we got a different Army insignia on the side like that.
CMK: You needed Velcro back then to keep--I knew guys who did that as a joke. They would get promoted, and they'd do something and they'd lose the stripe. The one time the guy got busted, Velcro it off right in front of the CO [commanding officer], right there. I think he got knocked down by another one just for being belligerent.
HM: There were some outfits down in Italy, they used to say, there were some sergeants down there--they had two bunches of sergeants. When they were on the line, they were one sergeant. When they went back on relief or something like that, another bunch of sergeants took over the outfit, and these guys went on a spree.
HM: The pictures of where we traveled over, you can see we had mileage.
MG: I'd love to hear you talk about the end of the war, how you found out about it, and how you felt.
HM: Well, I was glad to get out. They offered me five thousand dollars to stay overseas and send me home for a couple-day furlough back in the States, but then I had to go back to Germany to serve in the army of occupation and I said, "No way." I said, "I'm going home," and that was it. I got home before Christmas, December 5th, or something like that. In January, I went back to college and finished up at that time, so two years. But at that time, we went to summer school and everything else. We didn't waste any time with it because I guess we were so glad to get out of that thing that you didn't think anything about it. Some guys didn't do anything. They just loafed around, and they became a pain in the neck as far as the community was concerned. There were a bunch of us at the college that went right back to school. One of my neighbors was a P-47 pilot over in Europe, and he went back to college. He was called back up because we got into some of those other battles over there in Europe and other places. So, he went back to school and finished up his--I don't know. He was a captain or something like that. Durant his name was. His father or grandfather was in World War I. So, this guy came right on through. There's one of the most important papers.
CMK: Honorable discharge. Well, this one right here, the DD 214, the discharge papers. That's your military life history right there in a nutshell. It doesn't have a lot of the details in them, but it has the important stuff.
HM: And your fingerprint was on it. So, we'd always say, "Well, if they want to fingerprint us, so what? They've got it already." It's there.
CMK: Ours were on separate--they did the whole handprint and all that stuff. But in the first four years I was on active duty, I think I was investigated at least three or four times for different security clearances and all. Plus, I had White House access. The White House does their own investigation.
HM: They didn't get quite everything that was there, but they had most of it.
CMK: You graduated college in '47, right?
CMK: Then they got married in August of '47, August 20th and from there went to Maryland for the first joint teaching job.
MG: Before we talk about that, can I ask about your furlough in Switzerland and what that experience was like?
HM: Well, before you crossed the border, they put new uniforms on us. So, we were clean.
HM: If you needed a haircut and everything like that, they gave you a haircut. You were crossing from France into Switzerland. Those are Swiss pictures in the back.
CMK: Well, I know. I'm flipping back to the beginning of the Swiss pictures, and then I'm going to pass the book over. This is the beginning of Switzerland here. There's three pages.
MG: It's a big book.
HM: My wife's people came from Meiringen in Switzerland originally.
CMK: Meiringen and Guttannen.
HM: Guttannen is where the hotel is still today.
CMK: It's family-owned.
HM: Because your Uncle Billy was over there, and he went to those places. Her grandfather came from Switzerland. They were clockmakers over in Switzerland. I don't know why, when they got over to this country, they went in the mines outside of Scranton, Taylor, Pennsylvania.
CMK: The family clock is somewhere up in …
HM: They can't find it.
CMK: The one that hung in the house in Taylor, that was my great grandparents' house, my brother has that clock.
HM: It's still around. They're genuine cuckoo clocks. The original cuckoo clock, before it was taken over by the Black Forest people, the pendulum was on the outside. It swung back on the outside. When the Black Forest people took over the manufacture of those cuckoo clocks, then they went inside.
CMK: Which is what's in the living room here. When I went to Germany, I bought one there and then through the Navy exchange catalog, you could order that kind of stuff. So, this is the one out of the catalog, I think.
HM: That was the original Black Forest people. It was an interesting experience traveling through Switzerland. When you first entered, after they dressed you up and cleaned you up and everything else, then they put you on the train, and they gave you the itinerary where you were going to go. There's one place I always remember. We passed this one village down at the bottom three times, going up the mountain, because it was going up, through the caves, and back out again, winding up the mountain. When you got up to the top, the train crew had to get down. Probably before you got up there, you wound your way up the mountain. It was a cog railway. They stopped, and you could hear them put the gear down through there. They wound you up the mountain until you got up to the top. When you got up there, they opened a door on a tunnel, let the train go in, and they closed the tunnel up again until you got to the other end, they opened it up and let you out. That's so the cattle, which roamed free up on the mountains there, didn't get in the tunnel.
It was an interesting experience to see these things. People said, "Why didn't Switzerland get involved with the war?" Well, if you looked out those windows, and you weren't supposed to take any pictures of it, it was barbed wire all over the side of the mountain. The Germans weren't about to attack Switzerland because the Swiss had guns back in the mountains. Their airfields--the side of the mountains opened up, planes took off, and they landed right inside there. You didn't see any airfields outside. This one man I was talking to in a restaurant was an officer in the Swiss Army. He told us about some of these things. Every Swiss man was issued a rifle and ammunition. To this day, they still do it. They have to shoot so many rounds of ammunition in target practice every year. It still goes on. They're defensive, but they're not fooling around. Going through restaurants and stuff like that, they were very well equipped with what they had. My wife's grandmother had been a cook in one of the boarding houses or restaurants over there before they came to the States. She came before her husband.
CMK: Before they got married, yes.
HM: They were married in this country. I don't know whether they were engaged.
CMK: She chased him until he caught her. She came over with her mother. My great-grandfather was not actually one of the ones doing the clocks. He worked in a sawmill in Guttannen, which is where my great-grandmother came from. To get to the mill, you had to go past where she lived and across a bridge, where the family would get water from. She would see him coming. Even if there was water in the bucket, she would dump the bucket and go to the river to fill it so that she could see him. She came to America first. So, that's why she chased him until he caught her. We have the marriage certificate. We always called it the Old German Church in Taylor, which is actually a Lutheran Church, but it's all in German still. It's beautiful. It's very floral and ornate and absolutely gorgeous. I don't know if that's in here or not, in the photo album. Fortunately, my brother, being the kind of individual he is, preserving pictures, there are four of these photo albums around. Dad and Mom had the original, and each of us siblings has a copy of it. If something happens to one, we still have documentation.
HM: My father-in-law, he couldn't afford to keep [my] wife in college on a soldier's pay. So, he joined the Navy. He was forty-five years old when he joined the Navy in World War II. He was a machinist on the Lackawanna Railroad at the time. So, he went into the service as a machinist mate.
CMK: I didn't know that was why he enlisted, to keep Mom in college.
HM: He said he couldn't afford to do it on a soldier's pay.
CMK: Went in the Navy instead.
MG: To keep his wife or daughter in college?
CMK: His [Harold's] wife, to keep mom in college. Although there was someone who had--in order to get her into college, it was one of those--he went to one of the teachers at the school, and he said that whoever he spoke to, said …
HM: You can't afford to.
CMK: No, someone else had said that. Someone from the school said, "If you have enough to get her in the first semester, the rest will come." Somehow it does. But it was someone else who told my grandfather, "You could never afford to do that." Nobody told my grandfather that because it's like, "Bet me. Bet me I can't do that." But I didn't realize the piece about--he was forty-five when he went in.
CMK: At the same time, Dad was in the Army. He was quite a character, my grandfather. They were not supposed to have any cooking implements or anything like that in their workspaces.
HM: Well, they dropped canned goods down in the bilge onboard ship. When the labels came off of them down there, when they went for them, they never knew what they were going to get.
CMK: They had mystery meat. One time, they were not on the ship. They had them housed at a farm or something. They got stranded somewhere. They weren't supposed to have any beer or anything like that. Well, the farm had a well. So, they put the beer into the well, dropped it down when people came around and did their inspection, and after everybody left, then they had their cold beer. [laughter]
CMK: Hey, they're sailors.
MG: How did your wife feel about both her father and her future husband in the service at the same time?
HM: Well, we got along fine. [laughter] He was in the Pacific onboard a destroyer. I was over in Europe.
CMK: How did mom feel about it?
MG: Was she worried about you both?
HM: Well, I don't know. I got letters from her. But our mail, coming back from Europe at that time, was V-mail. It was a little sheet like this. That was all you were allowed. You had to go through a censor. If he didn't like what's there, he blacked it out. To get a letter from home, maybe six weeks later, you might have got a copy of it.
CMK: That can still happen on a ship. Well, now everybody does emails and all that. But when I was on sea duty, if you wrote letters--another Navy friend of mine said, "Number your letters on the back, so that when they get to the other end, people could open them in sequence," because the mail might not go off for a couple of weeks. The longest we were at sea without touching port anywhere was twenty-eight days. You didn't touch dry land. There is such a thing as cabin fever. [laughter]
HM: Not only that, but you never knew--some of the stuff coming from Europe--the guy might be dead before it ever got to the family.
CMK: The military might have gotten their telegram to the parents before the last of those letters showed up. So, here, all of a sudden, they're getting a letter from someone who wrote it when he was alive. But when they get it, it's posthumously, which can really tear up a family because it's like bringing up old wounds that soon afterward.
MG: Yes, that's tough.
HM: Now, if you go down to Delaware today--you know where Dover, Delaware is? Right off there is that airfield where they bring in all the bodies [Dover Air Force Base]. It's quite an eye-opener to see those planes up there. Here's a guy walking across the wings. It's like an ant going across the sides of those planes.
The biggest we had in World War II, you'd see flights of maybe five thousand bombers going over at one time. You know the contrails you see? The sky would be just covered with those contrails going across. The Germans were pretty good with their anti-aircraft, too. Every so often, you'd see one of them come down. Some of them managed to bail out. Others just didn't make it. That was all.
The British had a pickup system going in the English Channel. If their fighters got shot down, these guys bailed out, came down, and they had boats down there picking them up, bringing them to shore because seventeen, eighteen, nineteen-year-old guys were defending Britain in World War II. It's hard for people to understand that the towns in England went through a lot. There was nothing left in some of those places like that. The British took down all road signs. I know I had to go with a lieutenant one time; we were going after some supplies someplace. We stopped to ask somebody for directions. They were reluctant to say anything about it because they didn't know whether you were a spy or not. That's the way it was over there. They took the road signs down. You either had a map, and you knew where you were going, or you just didn't get to it.
CMK: Or you didn't go. [laughter] After Germany bombarded London and the surrounding areas--when they moved the children out, they moved them not just out of the city to the farms. They came to Canada. Kids came to the United States from England to get them away from the wars.
HM: We saw more red-headed kids up in Scotland. They moved up from London. "Got any gum, chum?" [laughter] That was their famous thing. The guys shared. They'd throw the gum out for the kids.
MG: What were your duties from the end of June until you eventually went home in December?
HM: Well, our outfit was broken up. We were sent back to the replacement down there in Reims, France. We were supposed to be signed up for this other outfit to come back to the States. This colonel was a southern boy. He said, "You're not going." He said, "You're going to be assigned to me here," and we were. I had a detail for guarding PXs, stuff like that, guard duty. That's what kept us going until they decided what they were going to do with us. They eventually sent us back to the States, but we went with a different outfit. I came home with fellows who had been in North Africa. They had gone from there to Italy and all up through there. We came home on a point system. I don't know, I had seventy-nine points or something like that. Some of those guys had over five hundred points. They had been in North Africa and came up through that area.
People don't realize that the invasion in Europe, D-Day, that we had had a D-day in Africa and several places like that. The British had been pushed all the way back to Egypt. There, [Bernard] Montgomery's boys held the Germans off across the desert, and they fought their way through. We had some bloody battles in North Africa. As a matter of fact, as I said, we had the hell kicked out of us at the Kasserine Pass. An American general [Lloyd Fredendall] got shipped back to the States because he goofed up on a defense of that pass. Then, from North Africa is when they were flying those bombers over to the Ploesti oil fields. They were bombing those things up there.
I'm trying to think how many years ago it was they found a bomber down in the desert over there; it was in perfect shape. No crew, no nothing like that. Apparently, the crew had bailed out or something like that, and the plane just had enough gas to get over there, and it had landed. But that was not too many years ago that they had found that. It was out in the desert. From there, all those little Italian islands and everything in the Mediterranean, we had to bomb those and attack them. We got back into Sicily, Italy. After D-Day in Europe started, then we came in through Southern France and those other areas up through there. That was the Seventh Army that came in up there. There were a lot of different aspects of this. When we invaded Africa, we were always afraid that the Spanish would stick their nose into the fight over there. I've got the history on [Dwight D.] Eisenhower. He directed the attack from over there in Gibraltar during the war. That was the time when the French scuttled their Navy so that the Germans couldn't get it. It was down there in Southern France. Because you still had, you might say, the rulers of France, they were partial to the Germans at that time. They had taken over in France. Any time that bomber guys bailed out and they got down, they would try and get to Switzerland, but they were interned until the war was over. But at least they didn't fly anymore. What was that movie?
CMK: The Sound of Music?
CMK: They didn't climb over the Alps like they show in the end of the movie. No, it didn't happen. That was in the wrong direction.
HM: Anyway, a lot of guys did escape over the mountain into Switzerland, but they were interned. So, it became a sanctuary for a lot of guys. There were things that were happening all the time to the fellows and stuff like that. It's hard to imagine. The Germans used a lot of horse-drawn artillery and stuff like that. You saw many dead horses and cattle because they were stepping on landmines. You'd go down the road, and you'd see a sign that said, "Achtung Minen." You'd better stay in the middle of the road because you knew it had been swept by some infantry outfit that was doing the job, but you didn't get off in the ditches. It was just something that you looked out for.
CMK: There was another whole aspect that has been brought up in the movies more recently. Have you seen The Monuments Men?
MG: Not yet.
CMK: You really need to see that. There's another whole aspect of history related to the war that is not common knowledge. It's all the hidden artifacts, all the art.
HM: It was up in the mountains and caves.
CMK: The gold bullion. They go through one part. There's a barrel, and it was gold. They're like, "What's all this?" One of the guys said, "It's teeth." The guy just drops it because they had gone through and from all the dead bodies, they pulled all the gold teeth out. There was a woman, who one of the Americans hooked up with, who I think was French. She took him into this warehouse that was full of everyday things. It was all the things that had been taken from people's apartments.
HM: That was the one I told you about when we went over to that warehouse in Germany. Get that picture out of there.
CMK: I think you showed it to them. The one of all the dead bodies?
CMK: This is when people were taken from their apartments. Other people went in, salvaged it, and put it away. It was labeled [with] the address that it came from and, if possible, the names of the people that had the--it's a Hollywood movie, but it's based on fact. It was very good. It was George Clooney, John Goodman, and Matt Damon, and a bunch of other people in there. It's very eye-opening. They saved so much of it. Was it the Germans or Russians trying to get in there to destroy it? In the meantime, these guys have this map of …
HM: It was up in the mountains.
CMK: One of the guys in the group happened to speak German. He's reading the map. He's like, "No, that's not a town. That's a mine." They were hiding things in mines with all these massive tunnels. It was a silver mine, a copper mine. That's how they found the location of these things. They had captured a group of Germans. One guy is talking to the other, not realizing that this guy knows German over here. So, this one opened his mouth. This one interpreted. "Okay, this is where we go now."
HM: Well, they found it up in the mountains, where Hitler …
CMK: That too. But there were mines that were scattered around Germany. They had to go and try to get there ahead of …
HM: The Russians.
CMK: … The people that were coming in to destroy it. They did a pretty good job of it, from the movie, anyway.
MG: Were you worried that you would be sent to Japan before the war ended there?
HM: When they broke up our outfit, they were sending us back to the States for rehab to join up with another outfit. In the meantime, the war ended.
CMK: Didn't that happen to Cliff Purcell? [Editor’s Note: Ms. Kain is referring to a teacher who worked with Mr. Musselman at Washington High School/Warren Hills.]
HM: He got sent over to the Pacific.
CMK: From Europe, yes.
HM: From Europe. They put all of the equipment from over there in LSTs [landing ship, tank]. They opened up the bows of them, sailed out, and dumped all that stuff in the ocean. I don't know whether our government had some kind of agreement with industry in this country that we wouldn't return stuff back to the States. A lot of stuff in Europe, I'm sure, went into Belgian foundries and other places like that because they didn't have raw materials. Any of the equipment that was steel went right back down for the people to use again.
CMK: I had some Navy buddies who used to go out scuba diving and snorkeling. They were around Navy ships that had gone or small boats, and I think it was near Guam or the Philippines. They could save whatever they found. A lot of times, they'd find dishes and things like that. I did have three; I gave one away. I have two, what they called, watchstander mugs. They're a coffee mug with no handle on it. In cold weather, it was their hand warmer. Now, they used them for dessert cups, probably. But this is my one collectible that's from the past because they don't make them anymore. They went away. These were from World War II. No damage to them at all. Of course, when they get into water, they …
HM: Crust over with salt?
CMK: Well, when they went down, the water cushioned the blow.
MG: When you were finally sent home, how did you get home?
HM: Well, I came home on a converted freighter. It had never been used for cargo. It held five-thousand GIs that were in the hold of the ship. We hoped that the welds were pretty good on it because we hit some rough water coming back. You'd hear it creaking and groaning.
CMK: How long did it take you to get back?
HM: I think eight or ten days.
CMK: That's not bad.
HM: Going over was seven. On the way back, we hit a storm. They'd let you up to the end of the gangway. You know how you always look down for water. We were looking at the waves up here. When we got into the Gulf Stream, because I guess we went the southern route and came up in the Gulf Stream, up to Boston, it was the first time I saw a whale blowing out there. Anyway, we got in the Gulf Stream, and it was smooth sailing. We came into Boston Harbor, and there was a WAC [Women's Army Corps] band playing when we came in. It was a good thing we got in when we did because a storm hit and it drove some of the ships ashore, grounded them in there. We got unloaded and up to Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts before the storm hit.
One of the things that always made me mad--we got up to the camp there. The guy said, "If you've got anything that you want to send home that's government-issued, take it down to the railway express and send it home." Most of us didn't think anything about it, but they were taking all that stuff, throwing it on a truck, taking it down to the dump, and burning it. That was the way the government was getting rid of a lot of things. Anything you had that was government-issue--oh, by the way, before we came back to the States, they gave us new clothing. We had new clothing getting back to the States. The Eisenhower jackets and stuff were not issued until after the end of the war. Up to that time, you had Mackinaws and stuff like that. But the Eisenhower jacket came out at the end. A lot of people don't realize that Eisenhower was outranked by [George S.] Patton and these other generals, before the invasion took place. Then, they made him a full general. But up to that time, I guess when we went into Africa, he was only a two-star or a three-star. Patton outranked him. These were things that people don't realize took place. [George C.] Marshall, who was [Chief of Staff] back here in the States, he's the one that gave Eisenhower the four-star or five-star. [Winston] Churchill also approved his promotion up to that. Montgomery, who was down in Africa, actually outranked the American generals.
MG: Can you say more about how the trip home was different from the trip over?
HM: Yes. The trip going over, we were in staterooms, and there were lines of bunks up and down, roped together, top bunk, second, third, fourth, down on the bottom. You just hoped if you were down in the lower bunk, some guy up there didn't cut the rope and bring it down on your face. Going over, we could take a saltwater shower, but you only had drinking water a couple of times a day when they opened up the drinking because they'd announce when the water was open so that you could get fresh water. When you had as many men onboard a ship as we did, that could be a lot of drinking water. Coming back, the thing I always remembered about it was one of the biggest craps games ever, down in the hold of the ship. There were no restrictions on the guys. They were usually run by the Merchant Marine guys. They had the whole thing set up. They were collecting everything they could.
MG: What was the mood or atmosphere onboard?
HM: Well, onboard, they were …
CMK: Having a good time. [laughter]
HM: They were so …
CMK: A sober good time. [laughter]
HM: The thing that always amazed me, on the way back--we never had fresh milk overseas--when they'd open up the coolers onboard the ship, we had milk. They served good meals, the Merchant Marine cooks. But going over, the British were doing the cooking on the Queen Elizabeth, and there was an awful lot of mutton served. Your grandfather--I talked to him one time--to keep from getting seasick, he said, "Buy chocolate bars." I had a box of chocolate bars going overseas. I didn't get seasick going over.
CMK: We always carried Saltines in our pockets. We did typhoon evasion off of Guam when Typhoon Omar hit three days before Hurricane David hit Florida. We were out to sea. I was one of the few up running around. My berthing compartment was full of people in bed. I was in charge of the berthing compartment. I'm like, "You get sick; you clean it up. You better make it to the head."
HM: I saw fellows coming back like that. The heads, there would be a whole line of them, and there'd be people at each one. That was the way it was coming back. That pup that was brought onboard ship, one of the sailors had stolen it. They found it before we got to land.
CMK: Actually, they had you guys down in the hold of the ship. That's the best spot to be. The lower, the better. There was no option. [laughter]
CMK: Where's your Eisenhower jacket?
HM: It's hanging down in …
CMK: At Gem Vac?
HM: It's still in the bag.
CMK: You need to come and visit.
HM: There's a World War I coat down there, too.
CMK: Yes, but as far as the interviewees--one of the Navy guys, amphibious type, crossed the English Channel seven times on D-Day. He would be an awesome one to talk to.
HM: Probably on either LSTs or something.
CMK: Yes, he was bringing troops over.
MG: After this, I'll get his contact information.
HM: My mother's three stars that were hanging in her window …
CMK: That's down there.
HM: … Is down there.
MG: I'd love to see that.
CMK: It's in a frame.
MG: Can you talk about adjusting back to civilian life after the war?
CMK: When you got home.
HM: I got home before Christmas. I missed three Christmases when [I was] in the service. When I was down in North Carolina, I took KP [kitchen patrol] on Christmas, so the guys could--most of the Southern boys--they could get home.
CMK: They could go home.
HM: So, I'd take the Christmas duties.
CMK: Other than that, go shopping for clothes that fit.
MG: I'm curious to hear more about how you returned to normal life.
HM: Well, you crawled in bed and zonked out. My mother kept college students at home. They were there. So, I had the bedroom. She had one room [for] college boys during the war years. She always kept some food in the refrigerator for them. They did work for her, taking ashes out.
CMK: She still boarded college students until she was eighty-five years old. I think finally somebody said, "Stop." [laughter] It was good because it meant there was always somebody around. Eighty-five is a long time.
HM: At that time, down at the railroad station, they had a canteen down there for troops going through that they would feed them down at the station, the volunteers from the town. She walked a couple of miles to the other town. She was working over in a five-and-ten over there. She worked in there.
CMK: For a long time, yes. She worked at the college.
HM: She walked that distance because we never had a car. My brother sold it before he went in the service. Anyplace we went, we went on a shanks' mare. That's what she always said.
CMK: Growing up, they had horse and wagon or horse and sleigh in the wintertime up at Honesdale.
HM: This was up at East Stroudsburg. The old gent up the street was ninety-some years old, and he was walking downtown every day to buy groceries and walking back up. He was a mason, and he carried tools on his shoulder to go into work because if you had cars and tires, they were all turned in at the beginning of World War II.
MA: Tell me what the reunion with your family was like when you first came home.
HM: Well, the first thing that they said when we unloaded up there, they told me not to call my mother, to call my sister because it might have been too much of a shock. So, I talked to my sister. I got home right before Christmas. It was a welcomed shock because when you're away for three years …
CMK: Wally and Larry weren't back yet?
HM: Wally had been back. One brother was over in Australia for four years. He was a weather observer. He had been back. He was out in Central Pennsylvania.
CMK: You had seen Larry in Europe.
HM: I saw my brother in Europe, but he was working in ordnance over there. I found him. I saw that his outfit, the 911th Ordnance--we were going back for supplies in Belgium, and I said, "That's my brother's outfit. I'm going in to see it." So, we pulled in. He said, "What the hell kind of junk are you driving?" [laughter] The differentials on the weapons carrier were rattling, the bald-headed tires. We'd have flat tires all the time going through rough country. He said, "Pull this over here. We'll give you a new one." I said, "You can't. This vehicle is signed out to a lieutenant, and it's in his name." That was the first time I ran into Larry. The next time was after the war was over, back at Reims, France. When I went to Switzerland, I told him I was going. He gave me some money. He said, "Buy me a watch." [laughter] I did. It cost ten bucks in Switzerland at that time. So, I got him a watch. Other fellows, they found relatives when they found out where they were.
This one time--I've got the picture of the guy from California--when the colonel gave him and myself a jeep with a trip ticket and an unlimited amount of gas, we were going up through Belgium and the Netherlands. That was where I found this high school friend of mine's grave up there at Margraten. His mother worked up at the college. So, I took pictures of it and sent it back to her. This guy from California, he'd been a tanker. Going through Belgium, their outfit had stopped at this one town through there. He had spent the night with a Belgian family. We stopped on the way. They put on a meal for us, and we spent the night there. People don't realize, even to this day, they take care of the cemeteries. That's the Dutch community.
MG: Did anything feel different after having been away for so long?
CMK: East Stroudsburg is spread out, but it's still a college town.
HM: I went downtown to the shoe store down there.
MG: How had you changed?
HM: I was thinner. [laughter]
CMK: The rest of his life, his brother would still call him "fat."
MG: What was it like to see your girlfriend again, who became your wife?
HM: I don't know how we communicated. I don't know whether I made the first trip in the milk train car up to Scranton. I didn't have a car. The family didn't have a car. There was one car at the end of the milk train that was always for passengers. I guess her father said she could be expecting a phone call because he'd seen my name on the shipping list that was coming from Boston. That was the first contact. Then, she came down to school.
CMK: She came down on the train, too, because her father worked for the railroad.
HM: From the railroad station, we walked up the college hill. There were no buses or anything like that.
MG: What was it like to see her after so long?
HM: Well, I gave her a hug.
CMK: Have you ever been up to East Stroudsburg at all?
CMK: There's a restaurant up there that's called Dansbury Depot, which is the site of the railroad station. The town used to be Dansbury. But the train stop was east of Stroudsburg. After a while, they just changed the whole name to East Stroudsburg. So, there's still Dansbury Park. The original Dansbury Depot restaurant, part of it had burned down, but they rebuilt across the tracks from it. It was the old train station.
HM: The trains are still running up there. You go across the river on the Pennsylvania side, through Portland up there, the Lackawanna Railroad is still running. They've tried to get it back across the river this way, but New Jersey, the tightwads that they are, they never put up the money to put the …
CMK: They'd have to put the bridges back up because they took everything down.
HM: But they didn't sell the right of way. The right of way is at the northern end of Warren County.
MG: Can you talk about why you wanted to be a teacher?
HM: Well, I don't think it was because of wanting to. The college town was right there at home. I didn't have a lot of money. I had been in college in the service.
CMK: Well, you had started out going to college before the war.
HM: I just went back and filled in. It turned out that when I got the degree, by that time, my wife and I--well, she wasn't my wife then--we had lines on jobs down in--there was a shortage of teachers around the country. The superintendent from Dorchester County down in Maryland was up there interviewing. I was sitting there interviewing with him. I said, "Have you got jobs for two of us?" He said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, my wife-to-be has a couple of years of teaching behind her." He said, "Yes." He grabbed at the opportunity. So, we both got jobs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We found a house down there, we rented the downstairs of a house.
CMK: They all became really good friends. [laughter]
HM: That's the way it was.
CMK: Mom was raised by maiden aunts and her father because her mother died young. Mom had done two years versus the three to get the permanent certification type thing for Pennsylvania. But Maryland accepted it anyway and took her. So, she ended up with how many more years. Two years down there?
HM: We were both two years down there.
CMK: So, she had four years when they left down there. Then, you went off to State College [Penn State]. That's where he got his master's degree then.
MG: Was that in education as well?
HM: No, it was in wildlife management, biology, out at State College. But when I finished out, jobs were [hard to get]. I had a half-brother who was the principal over in Belvidere at the elementary school. He mentioned the fact that they were looking for a science teacher. In between that, Paul was born. I had an infant son. So, I had to find a job. I came down here, interviewed, and got the job no problem at all.
MG: We skipped over your wedding.
CMK: That was very minuscule, to avoid noses being out of joint.
HM: The only ones at the wedding were the preacher, the organist …
CMK: You and Mom, Grandpa, her father, and his mother, and Jeanie and Larry, the maid of honor and the groomsman.
HM: There were not these big million-dollar weddings that's going on today.
CMK: Well, there was a tidbit thrown in there. Grandpa said you could have the wedding or you could have the money. Even Aunt Mat didn't go. She was mom's mother per se, but she didn't want anybody else's noses to be out of joint.
HM: They were cousins and everything else.
CMK: Yes, because it could have gotten quite big.
MA: When you went back to college, did you use the GI Bill to pay for it?
HM: Yes, it paid for everything, all the way down the line.
CMK: It won't happen that way at East Stroudsburg now.
HM: Including my master's, it paid for the whole thing.
MG: Did you receive or use any other veterans' benefits?
CMK: Not a whole lot else at that point. They didn't have the VA mortgage things. It was, "Here's your hat. What's your hurry? Here's your GI Bill."
HM: I bought a junk car. It was an Oldsmobile. One of the fellows at the college had it.
CMK: What year was the car?
HM: I don't know, '41, '42, something like that.
CMK: There was a time-lapse in the middle. There were no new cars, so you had to go to pre-war cars to get a car until they started manufacturing again.
HM: So, I got that car. I had it out at State College. A guy out there wanted the car. He had a little Willys, something like that. I said I'd swap him. At that time, I was driving back and forth down here during the week to teach and then going back there on weekends. I was getting thirty-one, thirty-two miles to the gallon on that little car. When we moved from out there, I think Peyreks came out with a truck. They had the turkey farm down here.
CMK: To move you?
HM: We had the apartment over on Johnson Street.
CMK: Before you got in here permanently, didn't Mom go up to Taylor with Paul, and you lived with your mother for a while?
HM: Yes, I lived with Mom. I was commuting …
CMK: From East Stroudsburg to here, but Mom was up in Taylor that first half-year.
HM: She was still out in …
CMK: She was still out in State College?
CMK: I thought she moved back up to Taylor to be closer.
HM: Might have been.
CMK: There was a lot of commuting going on.
HM: We shuffled around.
MG: Why did you leave Maryland after two years?
HM: Because I was going back to school.
MG: What inspired you to pursue a graduate degree in wildlife management?
HM: Because I'd been working with it all the time. Fish and wildlife sounds as though you're out in the wilds and stuff like that. What you're doing is working on zoology, biology. I had one prof [professor] out there. He was a botanist for the government down in Central America. He was one of my summer school profs out there. Man, he'd look at a plant like that, and he'd identify things so fast. He was teaching us all that kind of stuff. You just learned. I never forgot old Doc English. He was the prof down there. He came in one day with hunting britches on. He put his shotgun in the corner. He said, "I got a chance to hunt a hell of a good bird dog today, and I don't want any of you bastards out of the parking lot before me." [laughter] That was the way he was.
CMK: Guess what we learned a lot about growing up. [laughter]
HM: These are things that you adapt to.
CMK: Well, didn't that help with your summer job? In the '60s, he was up at Worthington State Forest at the Delaware Water Gap, when it was first taken over by the state.
CMK: That became federal. He was a forest ranger up there for several years. As kids, we grew up, up there, in the summer. Everybody else went to the Jersey Shore. We went to the Delaware Water Gap.
HM: The interesting thing about it was when I applied for the job like that, a Penn State graduate was the boss down at Trenton. When he found out I was a Penn State graduate …
CMK: A Penn State grad.
HM: … There was no trouble getting a job.
CMK: One of the other forest rangers happened to have been a former student of his, whose son I ended up graduating high school with, and his daughter is two years behind, both families lived up there in the summers.
HM: They lived in a tent. We lived in an old farmhouse.
CMK: We all ate meals together. As kids--it was my brother and sister and I and these two--we had the run of the camp--two major rules. One, don't bother the campers. Two, no more than wading in the river, no more than ankles unless there were adults. Those were the basics. When Mom hollered, and you could hear her holler [throughout] the whole camp. She had this yell that I'm not going to repeat. It might take a while for us to show up, but she expected a response. Usually, if it was me with the other two, Beth and Brian, it was calling all three of us. So, we all had to hightail it back barefoot and look out for the gravel on the road. [laughter]
HM: We had some experiences there.
CMK: I went back there. When I was living in Pennsylvania--we were there until 2005--I stopped there in 2002 or something just to see what had changed. Boy, the house shrunk. The road is paved into the campground. Of course, going from a little kid, where the house was massive, to what it is now, it's like, "Oh." The window is a drive-through for the campers to check-in. It's all in the same building. The house is still there. I was talking with some of the current employees. I told them what my background had been here. I said, "My bedroom was upstairs on the front of the house." They're like, "Bedroom?" I'm like, "Yes. This was a farmhouse. We lived here." [laughter] The stove had one burner that worked. The well pump was out front. You had to go out and bring water in the house. The outhouses were down a ways. Our kitchen cupboard was an old Army ammunition case or a workbox of some sort.
HM: A desk of some kind.
CMK: It was a double drop-down thing with all these cubby holes in it. Mom contact-papered everything. That was our kitchen.
MG: Can you tell me your wife's name?
MG: Can you tell me a bit more about her and her background?
HM: I met her in biology class in college, freshman year. They had a policy at the college at that time, Wednesday night dances for the freshmen. Everybody had to go to those dances to get to know each other. Other than that period of time in class, at the Wednesday night dance, everybody had to go. I don't know how I'd describe her. She was a pleasingly-plump individual. By the time we got married, she had slimmed down. Maybe she remembers?
HM: How would you describe your mother's physique?
MG: Well, just tell me more about her, in general.
CMK: Her physique? Look at me, except different coloring. She was built a lot like me. She'd get into things.
MG: What type of person was she?
CMK: As kids, there used to be a farm field. You'd go out, and it would drop off. That was our sleigh-riding hill. Mom would come out sleigh riding. She did Girl Scout camp with us girls. When I was in junior high, tie-dying was a popular thing. There's a picture--I think it was your fiftieth anniversary--June Dudley had sent a picture, and it was my mother with her granny panties tie-dyed. She taught school.
HM: She got into everything.
CMK: Then, from that, she went to being a librarian. She always wanted to be a librarian. Her maiden aunts, who raised her said, "No, that's something that old retired schoolteachers do." Well, mom taught school. What did she do? She ends up working at the county library, which is what she wanted to do in the first place. She loved people. She was an Eastern Star. She was with the church, with the Girl Scouts. Dad did the Boy Scouts thing with my brother. She loved to garden, but she couldn't after a while. She ended up one year with poison [ivy] worse than me. That was the end of her …
HM: She made jelly and everything.
CMK: Canning. I still do that, the jelly and bread and butter pickles. I haven't gotten into dill pickles yet. Not enough takers on that, I don't think.
HM: She was a community person.
CMK: Yes, definitely.
MG: Tell me more about your family life. You have three kids.
HM: Yes, my son was the oldest one.
MG: When was he born?
HM: He was born when I was out at Penn State. My oldest daughter is out in Ohio now. She was born here when we were in the process of building--I built this house. She was born one summer. I was working in the summertime on a milk route. She was born down in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. My son was born in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. There's a Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, but it's spelled different than Phillipsburg, New Jersey. So, he was born out there. The kids used to get the teacher's confusion. They always had to put the records down. They'd say, "Philipsburg, Pennsylvania? You mean Phillipsburg, New Jersey?" "No, "Philipsburg, Pennsylvania." Carol was born in the Hunterdon Medical Center, which was just starting up down there. It was a single building. Now, it's a big complex down there. That's where she was born.
CMK: Is that high school? [Editor's Note: Ms. Carol Musselman Kain is pointing to a photograph.]
CMK: The one on the right was mom's high school picture. This one was about six months before she died.
MG: She's lovely.
CMK: There's one that was back here. The only reason these two are the same is because look at my mom's eyes and my sister's eyes. They both did a rollback. This was younger.
HM: As I said, I built this house.
CMK: This was a starter house.
HM: The original house ended …
CMK: Right here.
HM: Right there.
CMK: That's why this step is here because this was an open breezeway, with all the tricycles and everything else out there. The house was built in '53. So, it's the same age as my sister; that's how we remember. In fact, Mom said they were supposed to put the phones in before my sister was born. Mother was hugely pregnant. Instead, Mom was standing here two weeks after my sister was born, holding the baby, watching them put the phone in. Fortunately, a good friend of theirs, who also happened to be a nurse, who decided one day to come out and check on mom because dad was--I don't know where he was.
HM: Driving on the milk route.
CMK: She came out to check on mom, and she was in labor. It was a good thing. Dottie Matthews did that.
MG: How long did you teach for?
HM: From 1951 to 1979.
MG: You retired from teaching in '79.
HM: I got out at a good time.
MG: What do you mean?
HM: They don't even teach kids history or anything. Everything is on the damn computer. I say "damn computer" because--we were talking about it this morning--they can't even write their own names. You go in the Shoprite; they don't know how to make change.
MG: Can you tell us a little more about your teaching experience? Does anything stand out from your career?
HM: Oh, my lord.
CMK: Yes. Get them on tape because he won't talk about it. I always want the faculty room stories and all that.
HM: There were a bunch of us--Pete Grassi was a World War II veteran.
CMK: "Nip," also known as Cliff Purcell.
HM: Yes, Purcell was. He was in Europe. Tucker was …
HM: … Vietnam. He was a Navy pilot, I think.
CMK: Yes. He talked about flying off the aircraft carriers. Bill Bower.
HM: Yes, Bill was in the Navy in Hawaii.
CMK: Was Joe (Steinhart?) in the service?
MG: Were some of these students of yours?
CMK: No, other teachers.
HM: Teachers. Students? I could go around town here and call roll in church and get about half of them to stand up. I was in a picture in the parade on the Fourth of July. I was standing in the back of an Army half-track with a fifty-caliber machine gun in front of me. A German girl there said her name was Helga. She said, "I came from Germany." Her husband was driving that half-track during the parade. She was back there with me. I don't know where the pictures are right now. Anyway, going down the street, about half of the population was waving because I'd had them in school.
CMK: They're yelling, "Mr. Musselman."
HM: My son-in-law works for Big Lots. You ever see the store? Well, he had his own furniture store when we first married. He was down in …
CMK: It wasn't his own store, but he was working …
HM: No, he had his own store. [Editor's Note: According to Ms. Kain, William did not own the store. He worked in the store on commission].
CMK: When they first got married?
MG: This is Alice's husband?
CMK: Yes. He was working on commission out of that store.
HM: Anyway, JCPenney--he was down in Texas with them. They came through one day and wiped out five-hundred jobs in one day.
CMK: His whole department, pretty much.
HM: Just cleaned them out. They came out of Texas, back up to Ohio. It wasn't long, and he had another job with Big Lots and he's been with them since. He goes down to North Carolina to the furniture market down there.
CMK: High Point.
HM: They have two grandkids and another one on the way. When? I don't know.
CMK: She's got three kids, Craig, Kat, and Phil is twenty-five or something like that.
MA: I was curious about your take on some other moments of American history. What was your perspective on the Red Scare during the 1950s?
HM: McCarthyism? Well, they should have strung him up a long time before the whole damn thing. The same thing we've got going on right down here with [President Barack] Obama. The Black population in Chicago--they've got nothing to do with him anymore. He pledged stuff for them. He never did anything for them. He doesn't want to get around those people in Chicago.
CMK: There was a video on Facebook of a woman from out in either Chicago or Detroit. She's like, "Look in here. Look at us in the neighborhood." Then, he's turning around and wanting to let all these children come in from Central America, some of which happen to be gang member-aged. They're not kids in diapers necessarily. These people are like, "This is an outrage. Spend the money on people here in this country. Don't try to spend the money on these illegals coming into the country."
MG: Can you tell me more about your thoughts on the Red Scare and what living through that period was like? Did it have an impact on you?
CMK: Nothing directly.
HM: Nothing directly. Basically, at that time, a lot of guys were signing up again. During the period of Vietnam--is that what you're talking about?
CMK: Korea. It would have been leading into Korea.
HM: Well, some of the fellows from Europe ended up in Korea. We had some officers that ended up over there in Korea. Of course, that's when China got involved in it. Today, we've got a whole division over there on that international line. There's a lot of boys over there.
CMK: Yes, the Air Force is in Korea mostly.
HM: That's the 25th Division.
CMK: Still, there's a lot of Air Force that's over there. I know that because I've known a lot that have been over there. But, yes, you get the DMZ [Demilitarized Zone]. The U.S. Navy is in the Pacific, Japan. I don't know if I'd want to be over there because there's still problems with their nuclear power plants that they don't talk about.
HM: As I said, the people there have been fighting among themselves for thousands of years. If you read the history on China, there's one section in China--I don't think they even speak Chinese. It's so far back in the hills that they don't even look Chinese. Go back in the history of the Great Wall of China, they don't teach that stuff in school. I don't know anything about India. I know that there's old settlements that they found in the jungles, temples and everything like that. Well, you don't read about the history on them, anything about it. They're there. The fighting between Afghanistan and the others, we're paying for the drugs that they're raising and shipping out of those countries.
CMK: They're not even teaching American history properly in school anymore. They've dumbed it down so much, taking things out of textbooks, which is changing the context of what the material is all about. They say, "Well, we don't need this sentence here. We're taking that out and just remove the whole meaning of the whole previous paragraph." A lot of what we were talking about, the chain of events, go from World War I to II to Korea. I learned that in college. I didn't learn it in American history classes. Well, because it's not American. I never learned world history in high school. I don't know if that's still an option. It might be as an elective.
MA: They still have world history.
CMK: World history? It would probably depend on the school district, too, and the availability of a teacher to teach that. We're missing pieces from Generation X up to now. Get kids off the phones, and you've got to get back into books. They're not doing that.
HM: They were talking about it up in the shop this morning. They don't even teach kids to sign their own names sometimes.
CMK: They took cursive writing out of school. The reason my son learned cursive is because of me. It's like, "You're going to learn it. You've got to learn it." They took it out of the SATs. They don't have the essay anymore because the kids didn't know how to write cursive to write their essay. Whose fault is that? Send them back. Teach them. Then, let them take the SATs.
MG: Can you talk a little bit about your perspectives on the Vietnam War and what those years were like?
HM: Well, a lot of boys were sent over to Vietnam. Then, we had the opposition to the Vietnam War. People don't realize that Vietnam was occupied by France. The French had that for so long, and then they got kicked out over there. Some of the guys down there at Gem Vacuum, the 173rd, a lot of guys were paratroopers. The battle was carried out by helicopters. They didn't have the guns like we had in World War II. Here, they're flying over there and setting artillery pieces down out of helicopters. Then, we had the episode where a lot of people sent their kids to Canada, so they didn't have to serve.
CMK: There were the college deferments.
HM: Not only that but there was the fact that the National Guard shot the college students out in Ohio. [Editor's Note: On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen fired upon students at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine others. Some of the students had been protesting the United States' entry into Cambodia, while others had been passing nearby or observing the demonstration. On May 14 and 15, 1970, students at Jackson State College protesting against racial harassment were fired upon by state and city police, resulting in two deaths and a dozen injuries.] It's a whole different ball game.
CMK: I grew up watching Vietnam on television, on the five o'clock news.
HM: World War II, if you tracked the history of Marines in Iwo Jima, sometimes whole high school football teams enlisted at one time. They got wiped out over there.
MG: When did you have your first Army reunion?
CMK: When did they start? In '62 or '68.
HM: A couple of them opened up down in Florida.
CMK: It was in the early '60s. Then, they started digging around, looking for guys. You started going then probably in '68. They used to bring one of the aunts down to stay with us while these guys would go.
HM: I don't know what year was the first year.
CMK: The first time I went, I know it was in Charleston. I was fourteen when I went the first time. We were down on the Battery.
HM: We were there before that.
CMK: I know that. It was an annual thing. This is the second summer they haven't done it. The group is so small. It's hard to bring them. We came the farthest, I think.
CMK: Now we'd be the farthest. Wetzler used to come from Connecticut. You had one out in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and there was Ohio, but mostly in the South. Crazy bunch of guys.
MG: What was that first reunion like?
CMK: Don't look at me. I wasn't there for that one. [laughter]
HM: I don't know how to describe it. It was just a bunch of fellows meeting for the first time in a long time.
CMK: It's like going back to a class reunion, only more lively, I think.
MG: Can you tell me more about this group of guys and what's maybe unique about forming friendships during the war?
HM: Well, you depended on one another. During wartime, when you're in the service, anything that you did may have caused somebody else harm if you didn't pay attention to it. I often think of the first night in combat. As a survey crew, we positioned the guns. The first night, we went wherever the guns were going to go into position. We surveyed and got all the math and everything done that was supposed to be done. We'd had a report that the Germans were dropping paratroopers. There was a stream. I can still see that. There was a stream going down through here, and we're on the edge of it. They looked across there, and there were white objects over in this field across from there. I thought, "We better dig in." We dug in foxholes and everything like that. We guarded a herd of white cattle the whole night. [laughter] If I'd have known what it was--that's your first experience with that. Well, when the gun came in, you set up and everything; there was no problem. That night, after we were set up in firing position, an ordnance outfit came in, in the dark, and they moved in front of our guns in the night. When we got fire mission, those guys said, "You turned us over in our beds," because of the concussion from the whole thing. That was our first night in combat, as far as keeping your nose clean.
MG: What advice do you wish you received before entering the service?
HM: Well, everybody I ever talked to from World War II [said], "Take your orders, and that's it. Do what you have to do, and try to improve yourself." The first session down in Texas down there, the barracks and stuff like that, we were learning how to dress. We had an old Army sergeant. He was showing us how to put leggings on and lace them up because--what did we know about it? That's the way it was. You went by the others. We had a corporal. Every place we went was on the double. We didn't walk. We ran. That was the first part we went through. I remember the time that the flu was going through the barracks, and I can remember we put shelter-halves between every bed.
CMK: So, the coughing and sneezing stayed where …
HM: It didn't get on each other. We didn't lose any. They kept us there. I'm trying to think who it was from our outfit who got hurt. He ended up in a hospital somewhere. That's the way that was. You just depended on one another. If you could think of anything that's going wrong, a lot of the guys used to laugh about it. We were down in Texas with that first outfit I was with. There's two Red Rivers; the Red River of the North and the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma. On weekends, the boys would slip up into Oklahoma because we were in a dry county. Those boys, on weekends, if they had a pass, crossed the Red and went up into Oklahoma.
CMK: If they got sick, they turned the river green. [laughter]
HM: If you were used to work, there was no problem falling into position.
MA: How do you feel about depictions of the Battle of the Bulge and the European Theater? Do you feel like they're mostly accurate?
HM: Well, the only thing is, during the Battle of the Bulge, we were in fog, clouds. The Air Force wasn't flying. The infantry and everybody else depended on the air. They couldn't fly until after Christmas, into January.
CMK: How do you think Hollywood versions compare?
HM: They can't begin to compare to what the fellows went through. Everything during the Battle of the Bulge--not us--but the infantry got issued sheets to cover up in camouflage. The Germans had camouflage. I told you about the one there, the SS, they were the guys that caused the Malmedy massacre. They weren't given any pity by U.S. infantry when a German was captured. The Third Army came up from down south. "Old Blood and Guts" [Patton] pushed them right through. They said, "How long will it take to get there?" He said, "We'll be there in forty-eight hours," and he pushed those boys up the road. They had to be careful with tanks, slipping off the side of the road in the snow and the ice, but they got there.
MG: Is there anything that we're missing?
HM: I don't know. I guess we've covered just about everything.
MG: I'm curious what stands out to you when you look back at your life and your service in World War II.
HM: Well, my college days, the end of the war, the things that I did, jobs, summers. There are so many different things. As a teacher, you didn't make that kind of money, so you went to work in the summer.
CMK: I think every teacher we knew--teachers hang out with other teachers--they all had summer jobs. That's how our roof got put on one year. I remember Tom Spatz doing the roof one summer or getting the house painted, or him helping other people and working up at Rymon's.
HM: Down there at the turkey farm, I worked down there.
CMK: I was little. I don't really remember him doing the turkey farm. But I remember at the end, after they had shut down the business pretty much, they still had the turkey coops lining the one hedgerow and there were still turkeys in there. But my girlfriend Karen, my first and best friend, when we got bigger, after they closed the store, Karen and I played with the cash register from the store, which was basically an old adding machine with the crank thing here and the drawer popped open. We had the store receipts from the country-fresh farms. Karen went and got the cash register serviced, cleaned, and all that, and the guy had taken the drawer out. He found the cash register receipts with our scribble on it. He saved them for her and gave them back. That's how old I was when he was doing that. Plus, he ran a milk route in the morning before school. You worked helping out on dairy farms around the area, which are no longer--most of them are no longer dairy farms. They're either crop farms and/or beef. They've gone to that. Well, the forest ranger bit. That was a biggie. There's not a whole lot of people who can remember swimming in Sunfish Pond because they don't let people in the pond anymore. It was ice-cold because it was a glacier lake.
HM: Up at the top of the mountain.
CMK: Up on the Appalachian Trail. The summer the Norwegian woman fell--the rocks on the trail are in layers. They're sharped-edged. This woman had fallen and gashed her leg. They had to carry her out of there. She was probably as tall as you guys.
HM: She was a big woman.
CMK: Those kinds of stories. Willard with a Copperhead, they'd mount it right there.
HM: That was a rattlesnake.
CMK: He mounted it, took it home, and hung it on the wall.
HM: It's still there.
CMK: Willard Bodine was a schoolteacher also, at Harmony Elementary School. His wife worked somewhere else before she became a secretary. She worked at a factory. Brian told me this. She was the superintendent's secretary up at Warren Hills for many, many years. That kind of stuff. Like I said, schoolteachers hang out together. We grew up playing with their kids. When I got into high school, going to school, and friends of mine saying, "I hate so-and-so. Don't you?" That's how you learn to act early on. You had to blow it off. They could have been sitting at the table the night before. [laughter]
HM: You remember things like--we had this blind girl in school. She came into classes. She was smart. Your mother remembers her.
CMK: She still is, Chrissy Bungert.
HM: Yes, she teaches.
CMK: Yes, I know Chrissy teaches life skills. Chrissy’s sister, Susan, is one of my classmates.
HM: She graduated from college …
CMK: … To other people who are becoming blind, how to survive in a blind world. That's what she does. The family had a tandem bicycle. So, they all rode bicycles.
HM: Her brother had her on the back of it. Her father had a personal flying machine up there in the mountains. He's sold out now, Jake Bungert. You know these personal flying things.
CMK: Like a private jet thing?
CMK: Probably up at Hackettstown.
HM: No, it was up on top of the mountain over here. But he sold it, and he's not doing it anymore because of his age. But he was a former student of mine.
CMK: The first year of teaching, those students are now eighty, eighty-one years old. I just found Bob Detrick, Dave Detrick--Bob is eighty--Dave's son, Daryl, the grandson who taught Patrick, and Nathan, the great-grandson, four of them did a parachute jump together for Bob's birthday. It was just on Facebook this morning. Steve Alpaugh put it up there. I don't know if it was in the paper. But the four of them went; had never jumped.
HM: It wasn't in the paper.
CMK: It was posted. It was a picture. It says that he's eighty-eight, but he's not. That would not have worked because Dad had him as a student. They've all gone through Washington High School.
MG: What's it like to run into former students? What do they usually say to you?
CMK: [laughter] "How the hell are you?"
HM: "Hi, Mr. Musselman. Glad to see you."
CMK: It's like, "Okay. Who are you?"
HM: Some of them, I remember their faces but not always the name. The first principal I ever had down here was a woman. She was the best boss I ever had.
CMK: Julia Meeker.
HM: Julia Meeker. She was something.
CMK: She smoked like a chimney. They'd be in the office for discipline, and she's in there [smoking].
HM: Julia would catch them smoking …
CMK: She'd give them what-for.
HM: … Three days down the road.
CMK: That was when they could smoke inside. I knew her mostly because of church. She went blind probably around the late '80s. The woman knew her Bible inside out. She knew all the hymns. Especially, she knew dad. She knew voices.
HM: She was there when I was hired. She saw her father and his friends from Lehigh University lay out the Panama Canal on their living room floor. There's a lot of history around here.
CMK: Her sister also was a teacher, Mrs. Ruth Freitag. They believed in reincarnation, which was amazing. They used to love it when the Seventh-day Adventist would come around.
HM: They'd get them in conversation.
CMK: Yes, because for every Bible quote they would say, they would retaliate with something else. [laughter] Somebody told me along the line that a lot of people used to share garden things with them because, especially as they got older, things were not so well off for them. So, the community took care of them, which is what the community should do. They were very smart ladies, both of them.
HM: We've got a group from the church going this week down to West Virginia.
CMK: I would normally go, but because of my back surgery, I didn't get to go this year. But it's southeast of Charleston, near Montgomery.
MG: What's the purpose of the trip?
CMK: Teardown, rebuild--they had been flooded out in that area, so that's a lot of what we go and do, help out, fix up.
MG: Carol, are there any questions you would like to ask?
CMK: No. I'd rather you'd get the guys down there [Gem-Vac Veterans Group].
HM: Show up down there.
MG: I would like to arrange that.
CMK: Just show up. On a Tuesday, just show up. That's your invitation. Show up.
MG: Okay. Is there anything else you would like to add to the record?
HM: I'd probably forget about it anyway. [laughter] No, I don't think so. We just have a bunch of fellows that come in down there.
CMK: The CD that is there, that I gave you, has a lot. That's from seven years ago. I have a questionnaire that I use. It's twenty-nine questions, but one question might have three questions in it. It's very detailed, from the birthdates and the names--then it goes up to 1950. That's as far as we got. Anything beyond that, you've got.
MG: If there's nothing else, I'll turn off my recorder. I want to thank you for your time and your service. This has been a real treat.
HM: Yes. Nice to talk to people and put us on record down there at Rutgers.
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Reviewed by Molly Graham 5/12/2021
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 6/7/2021
Reviewed by Carol Musselman Kain 9/8/2021