Sunday, May 24, 2009

Killed in action, 1944

One of my favorite radio shows in the 1940s was a quiz show spoof called It Pays to be Ignorant. A zany panel of “experts” attempted to answer the questions, such as “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” That show comes to mind today because I was just too dumb to stop looking.

For a long time I’ve been trying to track down relatives of my best pal in elementary and junior high school. I’ve visited the house he once lived in on Celoron’s Gifford Avenue, talked to our teachers and rummaged around in Ancestry files. No luck.

Harold Elof Lind was born in Jamestown, N.Y., on July 12, 1923. We lived a few blocks apart in the village of Celoron, population about 700. On frigid January days we shivered together at the top of the bridge over the railroad tracks, wearing belts and badges that marked us as official agents of the school safety patrol.

Harold had gone off to college in Albany after making a perfect score on the New York State Regents exams, and even after Pearl Harbor he was given a draft deferment. Then the European theater needed more men. Harold was drafted and quickly taught whatever he needed to know about tanks. On what turned out to be his last leave, Harold’s parents drove the two of us to nearby Westfield, where we boarded a New York Central train for Albany so we could visit Harold’s fiance. After that we continued to New York City, where we spent a couple of days just poking around. We saw “You Can’t Take It With You” on Broadway and laughed a lot.

Harold was killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge on December 14, 1944.

Each year around Memorial Day I’m especially reminded of Harold, along with others who did not come home from World War II. I had turned to the Internet to try
to connect with anybody in his family, but I found nobody. Today I tried again, because the Internet keeps getting more useful and widens its reach. Today I found a connection and hope to be in touch with a cousin or a friend of a cousin.

It is amazing what you can find when you’re too dumb to stop looking. The main thing is that Harold Lind did not die at the age of 21 and disappear from memory after that.

1 comment:

Sean Kaplan said...

Thank you for writing about my great uncle. The information and stories are insightful and meaningful and very much appreciated.

Sean Kaplan
Ocala, Florida