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Military Monday: week of 13 January 1943, Texas

Posted by on January 20, 2013

Reporting on military action in North Africa and Russia, Sunday’s San Antonio Express front page reported almost exclusively on the war. [ref]San Antonio Express, 10 January 1943, page 1; digital images by subscription, ( : accessed 20 January 2013), Newspapers and Publications Collection.[/ref]

By Wednesday, January 13, 1943, sixty miles from that newspaper report and 100 times that to Russia, my grandfather enlisted in the army. He was 19 years old. Also on Wednesday, Anne Frank was writing in her diary:

Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of day and night, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes….Children come home from school to find that their parents have disappeared….No one can keep out of the conflict, the entire world is at war, and even though the Allies are doing better, the end is nowhere in sight. [ref]Anne Frank Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, eds., The Diary of a Young Girl The Definitive Edition (New York: Bantam, 2011).[/ref]

Geeky introduced you to Geeky’s grandfathers previously. PaPa was a farmer from Gillett in Karnes County Texas. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, Gillett:

In its heyday between 1910 and 1920, Gillett had a post office, a school, a hotel, a cafe, a meat market, a barbershop, a pool hall, a wagonyard, a cotton gin, a physician’s office, a blacksmith shop, a Woodmen of the World lodge, two general stores, two drugstores, and two saloons. A community church served congregations of Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Cumberland Presbyterians. With the advent of the automobile, three garages were built at the community. Gillett’s population grew to 200 by the mid-1920s but declined markedly during the drought of the 1950s.[ref]Robert H. Thonhoff, “GILLETT, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online ( : accessed January 20, 2013). Published by the Texas State Historical Association.[/ref]

Yes, you saw it here (and there). They used the word “heyday.”

On PaPa’s Separation Qualification Record, “Civilian Occupation” was listed as:

FARMER, GENERAL: Owned and operated 60 acre farm in Gillett, Texas, from Jun 1940 to Jan 1943. Planted, cultivated and harvested cotton and corn crops. Raised livestock, poultry, and vegetables. Repaired fences, sheds, and barns. Operated and made minor repairs to wheel tractor.

PaPa’s highest grade completed was 7th grade (Enlisted Record and Report of Separation says 8 years of grammar school while the Separation Qualification Record indicates 7th grade was the highest grade completed), typical for Karnes County where the median number of years completed in 1940 was 7.4 years.[ref]U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940 Population Volume II, Part 6 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943), page 912; U.S.Census Bureau ( : accessed 20 January 2013).[/ref] According to the 1940 U.S. Census, 55.5% of the labor force was involved with agriculture.[ref]U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940 Population Volume II, Part 6 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943), page 873; U.S.Census Bureau ( : accessed 20 January 2013).[/ref]

This post starts a series of “Military Monday” posts where I follow PaPa weekly from induction (13 January 1943) to separation (17 February 1946). We’ll wind this series down on 22 February 2016. A complete list of all posts in this series can be found here.

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