The Power Of Way Back WhenJan 30th, 2013 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials, Letters To The Editor
The old news in this feature in the Enterprise Recorder stirs memories, usually pleasing to recall. That was my anticipation as I read an item in the January 25, 2013 issue. The lead appeared routine: January 29,1943. Pvt William F. Brooks of Lovett finished training at Aerial Gunnery School and was given the rank of sergeant. From Lovett? THAT’S FRANK BROOKS! The good looking, blonde, blue-eyed neighbor . . just ahead of my sister’s class at Greenville High School, one of those older kids who awed us small fry. Frank Brooks brought home the reality of WWII.
The war in my childhood had been saving tin cans and aluminum gum wrappers, saving enough pennies to buy savings stamps for my filled book to get a war bond ($18 bond would grow to $25), seeing the rail cars full of pine stumps (pine tar for what?), doing without sugar and using white stuff for butter (color came later to margarine) — our every day overshadowed by knowing that one of us was on a Navy ship in the Pacific war zone. BUT FRANK WAS MISSING! FRANK WAS KILLED IN ACTION! Word filtered through my childhood fog that Frank was the gunner in that front bubble on a bomber that had been shot down. The Brooks family’s tragedy ratcheted up our anxiety although unaware of Midway and Coral Sea battles where the carrier Yorktown was sunk and my brother spent hours in the water before rescue. My cousin’s wounding in North Africa had been alarming, bearable because he would be back stateside. It was Frank Brooks who made even a little country kid comprehend how terrible war is.