Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New friends from old memories

From the Post-Journal, Jamestown, N.Y., Sunday, June 7, 2009

By Ed Wall

Eighty years ago I watched my grandpa in his rocking chair devour the Jamestown Post, starting with the headlines and not stopping until he checked out the classified ads. I learned to read at age 4 because I wanted to know what the Katzenjammer Kids were saying in the comic strips.

Many years later the morning Post and its evening competitor merged into The Post-Journal, still printing the news, including births and deaths. I had lost touch with the family of Harold Lind, my 1930s boyhood pal in Celoron, so I wrote to The Post-Journal. I also checked listings with on the Internet. Results were swift.

The Post-Journal letter was read by my pal’s nieces and nephews in Oregon, Delaware and New York. All were born after Harold’s death during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, but they knew about him.

They remember Harold’s parents, Walter and Ruth Lind, as their own dearly loved grandparents. Harold’s brother Warren died many years ago. Lady Lorna was Harold’ name for his little sister, Lorna, whose own children responded to my letter last month. Lorna died a couple of years ago. Her brother Laurel, called Larry, lives with his wife in Indiana. I remember him very well, even though I haven’t seen him in more than six and a half decades.

Larry wrote me that, thanks to the World War II GI Bill, he earned an electrical engineering degree, and worked for a major company. After retirement he spent several years as an electronic circuit design consultant.

"I remember you as my big brother’s best friend," he wrote.

I couldn’t think of a better way to be remembered.

My thanks to The Post-Journal and to all of the Linds, former Linds and near-Linds who have been in touch. Harold and I were inseparable when we were maybe 7 to 10 years old, and after my family moved away we were in frequent touch. We moved, as many did during the Great Depression. My dad, George H. Wall, was pipe organist at the Winter Garden theater and broadcast a daily program on Jamestown’s only radio station at the time, WOCL, but the national money crisis along with the advent of sound movies made it necessary to move on.
While I lived in Celoron with my grandparents, William Sheldon and Della Kinney Olmstead, I had all the children’s diseases that were standard in those days. When the doctor tacked a quarantine sign on the front door one day, allowing no visitors, I was discouraged because I heard nothing from Harold. The explanation turned out to be simple. We had picked up the same disease at the same time and were both quarantined at the same time.

We were both in uniform in 1942 when we spent Harold’s last Army leave, before he went to Texas for tank training, goofing around in New York City. I never saw him again. Harold was the kind of straight arrow, smart and upbeat, who should be remembered, and as Memorial Day approached this year I wanted to be certain he had not been forgotten.

I discovered from his relatives that there’s no chance of that.

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