My Memory on Mothers’ Day, 2017.
“Mom Said “NO,” Saved My Life, Brought Me 70 Years of Marital
Bliss plus over 40 Great University Teaching Years: My Memory on Mothers’ Day, 2017.” By Franklin Parker, email@example.com
(A True Story recalled & recorded April 27, 2017.)
December 7, 1941. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USA was at war. Next day Hitler’s Nazi Germany, allied with Japan, declared war on the USA. We had two powerful enemies to defeat and a new world to refashion.
Japan’s attack freed USA Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), who had quietly helped Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s bombed and beleaguered Britain since 1939.
Born June 2, 1921, I was then 20 years + 6 months old, a high school graduate working at odd jobs, not getting anywhere. Emboldened by “Uncle Sam Needs You” sign at a Marine Corps recruiting office, I went in. An elderly red-flushed Irish doctor listened to my heart, muttered an O.K., but the marine recruiting sergeant handed me a form: “You’re 6 months under age. Have your Mother sign this release form.”
Mom said “No! Go when you are called.” I was disappointed--but wait till you hear the consequences.
Had Mom signed, had I survived U.S. Marines Parris Island, SC, brutal training, I would have been shipped to front line jungle fighting and likely killed.
In my last high school year, 1938, I was a National Youth Administration (NYA) work-study student, a program FDR started to prepare for the WW 2 he saw coming.
I had some high school electric wiring and radio repair work classes along with the usual academic studies.
I had also studied for a ham radio license, had built my own crystal set with earphones and a receiving antenna, and could listen to local radio station broadcasts on my own homemade radio rig. What fun.
By chance, looking for a job listed in a labor newspaper, I saw an article describing a newly founded NYA trade school opened, free for unemployed youths, located near Eastport, Maine, offering training in sheet metal welding for airplanes and electric and radio courses for communication workers.
I applied by postcard, attended the radio course. My then little known claim to fame was that I set up the standing microphone for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech at this NYA trade school. Wow!
My NYA radio course was later recorded in my selective service punched card system then in use. That got me assigned to the Army Air Force radio code program in Chicago’s Coliseum Sports Building. We marched and drilled plus a lot of did-did-dit-dah (V for Victory) Morse code practice day after day.
Fast Morse code “fists” were immediately shipped out to Army Air Force Control Towers worldwide.
Being a bit slow I was transferred to Army Airways Communications System (AACS), a USA Air Forces branch that, together with Air Force Weather Wing, managed military airfield Control Towers worldwide. Both AACS and Weather had moved from crowded Washington, DC, to Asheville, NC’s City Hall, where I served for most of WW 2.
Voice radio had replaced Morse code. AACS headquarters, having to coordinate with rapidly changing Army, Air Forces, and other military organizations’ regulations—kept a ever-changing updated list of classified and unclassified military regulations.
I was assigned there, was in effect a military documents librarian, not knowing how well this experience would later interlock with my career.
WW 2 ended. I returned to Asheville, studied at Asheville Community College, later the University of North Carolina in Asheville, lived in Asheville’s YMCA in whose swimming pool I met an Asheville-born student attending work-study Berea College near Lexington, Ky.
I liked what I heard, applied, enrolled, stood in food line reading a book, noticed a young girl in tight blue jeans chatting away. I later met her roommate who told the tight blue jeans girl: I met the nicest boy: Franklin Parker, last name just like yours, Betty June Parker.
Betty exclaimed: “That Old Man! I was 25; she was 17, worked in the Labor Office, had looked me up. We sat next to each other in alphabetically seated classes, had adjoining mailboxes, and attended prayer group, church choir, and other functions together.
She finally said: Frank, if going with you isn’t going to lead anywhere--then goodbye. I was floored. I hitchhiked to Lexington, Ky., bought an engagement ring at a jewelry store fire sale.
We married June 12, 1950; taught at Ferrum Junior College, near Roanoke, Va. 1950-52, with summers 1951 and ‘52 taking graduate courses at George Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville. We moved to Nashville for continued Peabody graduate study while holding part-time jobs, 1952-56, Betty earning Master’s degree, I a doctoral degree.
Betty taught or worked during our further moves as I climbed the professorial ladder at Universities of Texas (Austin, 57-64, 7 years), Oklahoma (Norman, 1964-68, 4 years), West Virginia (Morgantown, 1968-86, 18 years), with post retirement professorships at Northern Arizona Univ. (Flagstaff, 1986-89, 3 years), Western Carolina Univ. (Cullowhee, 1989-1994 5 years), total of 40 years of university teaching, moving to Uplands Village (1994-present).
Betty and I have been essentially a teaching-research-writing-lecturing team: 1950-2017, 67 years: have written six books, hundreds of articles and book reviews, given jointly dozens of lectures and talks.
That’s what Mom’s “No” about getting into the Marines led to.
Thanks, Mom, for the beautiful
life you gave us. Rest in Peace. Amen.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org