It is amazing where the Lord leads us, we never know what the future holds, so we should always count our blessings. I was blessed this morning in meeting a 94 year old gentleman who served in the Navy in World War II. We met at Randy Reed as he and I were getting our oil changed in our vehicles. He entered the waiting room with his walker and a lady who I thought was with the dealership helping him. It turns out she was not with the dealership but just helping a kindly older man. She offered to get him a cup of coffee but he stated he could get his own. After obtaining his coffee he came to the table I was sitting asked and politely asked if he could join me. Of course I said yes and pulled out the chair for him.
As we started chit chatting he mentioned he loved the spring and loved to watch the renewing of life as the trees bud and gardens are planted and start to grow. I asked if he grew a garden and he stated when he was younger he grew tomatoes and green beans and he sold his tomatoes for .90 cents a pound. Of course those of you who know me I plant 80 to 100 plants a year so our conversation took off from there. His favorite tomato was the jet star which I believe is also my dad’s favorite.
I asked what he had done for a living and he replied he retired after 30 years at Farmland Industries. He made paint for the company down on Burlington in North Kansas City. He stated someone should have gone to jail for taking such a good company and bankrupting it. We have seen that with several companies, Braniff Airlines, TWA Airlines, and we have seen it with racetracks, look up lost speedways on facebook.
Our conversation then turned to his house which he has lived in for 65 years. He stated it was better today than when he bought it in 1950. He enjoyed telling me he built a two car garage for the house and the city inspector told him the Jones would have a tough time keeping up with him.
Then our conversation turned to his military career, he was a World War II Navy veteran. He served on a U.S. Navy Destroyer as a radar man. Radar was very new during World War II and he was one of the first to be trained on how to operate it. He was at Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944 as the Destroyer he was on provided bombardment support for our troops landing on the beaches. He was also in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered onboard the USS Missouri. I mentioned Diana and I had recently visited the USS Missouri in Hawaii and how impressive it was that General Douglas MacArthur had 350 airplanes overfly the battleship at the surrender because the Japanese used exactly that many aircraft at Pearl Harbor. He stated he was not aware of that fact but knew there were several airplanes.
He mentioned how tough and great our U.S. President at the time, Harry S. Truman, was in making the decision to drop the atomic bombs. He mentioned it cost several people their lives but at the same time it saved many more people their lives.
This moment in time reminded me of the time I visited Seeburg Mufflers and sat with Clyde Ellis and talked about the early days of racing. These are the times we need to remember, these are the times that are most precious. We all have our memories and we all want to share our memories, this gentleman, and I never got his name but I shook his hand for sharing, made my day and probably vice versa. Maybe in racing we should stop and take the time to listen to an old-timer’s story and maybe we should write it down because as history was seen through this man’s eyes it was a blessing to talk to someone who was there.