Wisdom from the WOODS-Memorial Day

May 26, 2015

Wisdom from the Woods is going to take off in a different direction this holiday season. My dad was a veteran of what was named as the war to end wars, but it turned out to be World War I.

Dad served in the Army and fought in France after that country was invaded to liberate it from the German army. I was my dad’s buddy, being the youngest son to survive. I was followed in the birth line by a brother that died right after birth. Then came five girls so that left me as dad’s buddy. I went with him almost everywhere except when he went to work.

Dad never talked much about the war and his time in France. He did say that he saw hated drill sergeants shot in the back while charging. That was about the extent of his comments about the war. I don’t think he was proud of any enemies he might have shot. Mostly he talked about the mud that they had to slog through to get from place to place.

He did talk quite a bit about his basic training and his commanding officer, a Captain Bond. Dad was the best rifleman in his unit and won every competition event against shooters from other units. Capt. Bond always shared his winnings with dad; he said he made quite a bit of money for the Captain and himself.

He was proud of him throwing arm and told about one time there was a grenade throwing competition. Naturally, Capt. Bond entered him as the unit’s representative. They were throwing at a hollow stump to see who could put a grenade closest to the stump. When it came his turn he asked what would happen if he blew the stump out of the ground and everyone laughed as quite a few soldiers had thrown and no one was very close. Dad stopped their laughter by putting his grenade in the hollow of the stump and it wasn’t there for any more competition.

It is easy for me to remember him on this holiday as we were buddies. He taught me a lot about life and how to treat people. One thing he said was that he wouldn’t put up with any man or boy who would mistreat a girl or woman.

Dad always kidded about “They burned down the schoolhouse to get him out of the fourth grade.” He was smart in a lot of ways besides book learning but he insisted that we get a good education. Most of us kids were high school graduates, but none went to college.

We have several graves on out family plot at the local Poplar Bluff cemetery, mom and dad, two sisters, and our son, Doug, who we visit quite often.

Left to right: Daughter Barbara, Charlie Woods, grandson Ron Woods, and sister Kate Porter

Left to right: Daughter Barbara, Charlie Woods, grandson Ron Woods, and sister Kate Porter