Friday, December 30, 2011

World War II - More Time in the Pacific Theater

Part III (Start Time: 00:46:11)
   Well, first thing you know, I had high-ranking officers coming to see me from all over the area.  One of first ones was a low ranking general or something, 1 star maybe.  So I finished cleaning his teeth and filling a tooth and he handed me a sack with a quart of whiskey in it and said, “I hope you’ll enjoy this.  I sure do appreciate it!”  Somebody knew that the general was there and wanted to see the dentist.  So the commanding officer said, “I’ll talk to the dentist and see if he can see you.”  And that’s the way he got in, by making a special trip to the dentist, because they [dentists] were hard to find.  And of course he sent us several more bottles of whiskey to see if the commanding officers couldn’t get in.  But of course all of the privates in line, they would let them go ahead.  I said, “I can’t do anything about it!”  They almost had a fight with the commanding officer and they finally stopped, because these high-ranking officers would come in and get ahead of the line.
Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     But you talk about air-raids, when one started off you could hear them screaming for miles. We must have had more than 100 air-raids. We had these logs, mahogany, that were about 2 feet thick, stacked up on top of each other. If you get hit with a 500lb bomb, even if it’s within 10 feet of that thing, you were killed. I think the closest one that came near us was about 100 feet away from my dental office, and it didn’t even go off.  Some ol’ boy said, “Doc, did you know that there was a bomb out here?”  I went out and looked at it and said, “You’ll have to get out because the squad’s coming down to defuse it.” That thing had stayed there all night. It was an anti-personnel bomb about that big around (gesturing to indicate about 6”) and about that long (gesturing to indicate about 18”). It was halfway buried and it didn’t even go off.  Anyone that was within about 30 or 40 feet of it would have gotten injured or killed. It would spread in about 10,000 fragments.
     One night, all of these men were sitting on top of the bunker over the foxhole. They were watching these two airplanes getting shot out over us.  They were probably about 6 miles in the air and we could hear the BOOM BOOM BOOM back and forth. Well another one came down towards us and then a bomb hit within about 10 feet of them and killed 10 or 15 men.  A 500lb bomb…..that was the Japanese.

Did they bury the men there on the island, or did they send them home?

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
       Well, there was a hospital about half a mile from us and they would bring these wounded men in….

You weren’t with the hospital though. You had your own private office.

     Yah, but I still had to go to the hospital for certain things.  The first time I went over there, there were 200 men, shot up, laying on these beds all 18 or 19 years olds and I could see the bandages on all of them. They would bring them in that morning on these big planes, and the doctors would have to decide which ones were going to die and which ones they could ship to the inland hospital 3 or 400 miles away on the big island. When they died, they just took the body back to the United States for burial. But there were some burials out there. I remember seeing crosses……
     The day we got our orders, seemed to me like I lived there forever, but when we got our orders to ship out, oh boy was I glad!!  We were going to get on this ship and they were going to take us all the way to San Francisco and we were wanted to kiss the United States and all of that land. So we got on this ship and we almost starved to death; they hardly had any food. We were on a ship which was the Coast Guard’s and they lived like kings up in there section. There were 700 or 800 of us down there just living off of rice and beans, navy beans. 
     One day I went to sleep in the shade under a blanket.  While I was sleeping the covers had come off and the sun had come around. When I woke up, I had the worst sunburn I ever had. So I didn’t do that anymore.  One day I was sitting there and started to doze away, a 5” gun went off and lo-and-behold there was a Japanese submarine ready to sink us.  The more we shot at them, the harder it was for them to surface.  They had to surface in order to make the shot.  So the captain started zig-zagging all night long.  The next morning, we found out that they had gotten that submarine the night before about 100 miles ahead of us!
     So finally, we got to Hawaii. I bought a 3 pound steak for $1.65 and I couldn’t eat but a third of it but I tried.

 Were many of the men in your company, who you were with on the ship, from Texas and the south?

     Oh yes.  A lot of them were from right around Overton.  We still have our annual reunion every year. I’ve only attended one of them but I get notices every year for it.  About 90% of them are in Texas; Tyler, Overton. I don’t suppose there are but a dozen men left.  The reunion that I went to in Longview, I only knew 4 men who I had been with on the islands.  I was the oldest one there, but they looked older than I did.  Gosh, that was 50 years ago…..

So you got to Hawaii and had a steak…..

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     Well, all the boys got to spend one night so I got out on Waikiki beach and I was going to surfboard. So I got there and I saw this little 6 year old boy out there surfin’.  I got on that board and started swimming to catch [a wave] and man, I just wore myself out and I never did catch one. They had to come out on this big boat with 5 or 6 men to come pick me up (laughing).  I had drifted out to sea…..but I wasn’t the only one.  They had to make regular trips for people that didn’t know how to start that surfboard.
     So when we got back on board the ship, after 2 days on the island, we took off for San Francisco. We got into the worst storm you could possibly imagine. The waves were 50 and 60 feet high.  And there we were, this boat was sideways and I was hanging on, the rudder was broken, and they started saying “ABANDON SHIP……PREPARE TO ABANDON SHIP……”   The benches, where we ate, had stairs to go up to the deck.  I finally got down in to the benches and as the ship would turn like this (indicating a capsized position) I would hold on……  There’s no way you can get out of a ship. It’s no wonder that everybody goes down with a ship because there’s no way you can get out of there.  So these two men undoubtedly fought their way to the stern and rigged a rudder up so that they could guide the ship back into the bay.  Just before the storm started we were about 4 or 500 miles out of San Francisco. 
     But we looked up one day and this old boy said, “Man, look!” There were 3 or 4 submarines surfacing and the captain sounded the alarm and men started running around everywhere.  We were almost home and we saw those submarines and we knew that they wouldn’t miss us and they were gonna get us.  Everybody had their jackets on, and they were all praying out loud (looking at the sky with his hands folded in prayer).  We had been all that way, been gone all that time, and there we were, all of us were gonna die at the end.  This all happened before that storm.  But as it turned out, they had already sunk us, we were already dead!!  They had surfaced to tell the captain that they had already gotten us!  They were practicing their runs under water.  

These were American submarines?

     Yah, they were practicing on us. After that, the next day is when we got into that storm. I never did get sea sick.  I think we went over there with 1200 men and we came back with 700 on the ship. When we got to shore, all of these fellas got off the boat and just lay down on the dock. Boy were they happy to lie down, me too, I was happy too (smiling)!
     They shipped me to some camp, in San Francisco, and this whole bunch, all of these officers, they put us there.  We all had our packs and a big bag that had all of our clothing in. So when we got to this camp, this old boy, who was the commanding officer, told us where to put it. We just threw them in there, in a room that was this big.  How in the world we were going to ever find anything was beyond me.  Of course you had your own name tag and number on it but nobody knew each other. One man might have been with another fella and he wouldn’t have known his last name from Adam.
     Anyway, since I had the lowest seniority, as far as longevity was concerned, they elected me to receive all the men that came back when they were done with their leave. I went out and said, “You can’t do that, I’m not a line officer.”  The head of the camp said, “Son, this is war, and we can do anything we want to.” He said, “You go down there and make arrangements for those fellas to have a place to live when they come back in the next week or two.”  Well then, when they started back, they would find out who was in camp and they would want me to give them an extra leave because I had the authority to give them extra leave. So I got suckered in on about 8 or 10 of them and gave them an extra 15 day leave. Of course, they all finally got back and the commanding officer said to me, “If you were a line officer I would have court martialed you but since you are a dentist.....I’m glad you did.” (laughing)
     So that’s when the whole outfit finally got back down to….someplace…in California. They went down about 3 or 4,000 miles and reorganized. They separated the older men, and the younger men and they all started training before going to Okinawa. 
       They transferred me to some place near Santa Barbara [Goleta]. They had 5 dentists, about 20 other doctors. The strangest thing was, the head officer of the whole thing, he was a captain, or an admiral or whatever, but he was a FOOT doctor of all things!!  We were busy there. Some would get orders to be shipped overseas, and one boy said, “I’ve been over three times and I’m not going! I’m not going!” He lay down in the middle of the hallway and said, “I’m not going.” So they sent him to the psychiatrist and in about a week or 10 days he came back and they gave him orders to ship out and he lay down on the floor again and said, “I’m not going!”  He never did go back either.

He’d been over there 3 times?

    Yep, and there he was getting an order to go back a fourth time. He was a corpsman. I said, “You’re an experienced man.  That’s the reason why they want you to go back over there. ” He said, “No, I’m a Jewish man and they hate Jews.”   That’s when I found out that they were discriminated against just like the blacks were.

These memories, shared by Richard Paul Monaghan, 1909 - 1996, were video taped in 1991 by his daughter, and transcribed in 2010 by me, his granddaughter. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Being A Dentist on Guadalcanal

PART II (Start Time: 22:46)
      Anyway, we took on back. And about the time we got back with all of these fellas, I had orders to report to the main office before we left.  I got up there and [they said] I had to gather supplies…well, what do you mean, ‘supplies’?  Well, they don’t have any dental equipment on Guadalcanal. That’s where we were going, you see.   So I gathered, what must have weighed a hundred pounds or more, reels and this and that.  I had 4 or 5 candy bars I stuffed in there too. They flew me with a general, he was a 2-star general, and he and I were the only passengers.  He was only allowed 30 pounds in his pack and so he looked at mine, which weighed over 100 and somethin’ pounds, 190 pounds maybe. He thought it was full of whiskey!  So when I opened it up, I asked him if he would like to have a candy bar. He grabbed it and said, “I’m sure glad you opened that trunk up because I knew you had it full of whiskey (laughing)!” It couldn’t have weighed that much!! I’m sure he was wondering how in the world I had all the authority to move that.
Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     So when this general and I finally got to Guadalcanal, we landed and you never saw such a bedraggled bunch of marines and junk around there. I stood around, and some of the smart ones came up to me wanting a dollar from me because I was across the date line. They took all the money I had, I think I had $17.  But they had to sign their name to this thing. I had all these names on this dollar bill every time they would take a dollar. Well about that time, the biggest bomb I could IMAGINE went off.  I know it blew away [everything], I thought it was gonna blow my head off! And these marines just kept walking around, didn’t care a bit, and I said, “What in the hell was that?” He said, “Oh they’re bombing those palm trees over there to make a runway for an airfield.”  Boy I’ll tell you (smiling), it wasn’t but 5 minutes and that bomb went off again. It was dynamite, that’s what they had. But talk about makin’ some noise!  When they would blow one of those palm trees up, it would take-off in the air.
Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
      They finally got us down to that tent where I was supposed to go and they wanted to know where 14th Seabees were.  So that old boy said, “Well I don’t know! They’re out in the jungle somewhere.”  He had to call two or three fellas to find out where my company was. One said, “Oh they’re way down on that end of the island about 15 miles; they were building an airfield. That night they said, “Well there’s no place for you to sleep except in a foxhole.” So they put me in this tent and I said, “Where’s the foxhole?”  and he said, “Oh it’s in there.”  I looked down there and it was shin-deep in water. I said, “You mean you don’t have a better one than that?” He said, “Don’t worry, you’ll get in it (laughing)!” So the next morning when it was daylight, I looked out there, and I was about half or three quarters of a mile from the camp.  So I picked my satchel up, walked out of the tent, and I was in a block-long, and a hundred feet high, 500 pound BOMB. If they’d gone off, I would have never had to worry about it!

What was it, an ammunition storage place?

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
(Nodding his head) An ammunition storage dump.  Those things were that long (gesturing to indicate about 20”) and this big around (gesturing to indicate about 6”).  I guess they were 5 or 6 inch mortar shells, or whatever they were, I never did find out, but boy was I glad to get out of there! They finally got me in a Jeep and took me down the way, no signs, nothing but mud & junk all through there.  This old boy said, “Well I’ve never been here but if we stay on this road we’ll get there.”  Boy what a rough trip that was.  Just ankle-deep to knee-deep in mud; they had a four-wheel drive. After 2 hours we finally got to this point.  The captain took me around and introduced me to the officers, there were about 5 officers and about 900 men.   
Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     The other dentist that had been there got sick, and he was gone so there hadn’t been a dentist there in about 2 months.  They showed me what they had and I said. “No wonder the dentist….. well there’s nothing here to work with. You have to tell me where the supply depot is so I can get something to make a dental office.”  There were all kinds of camps there, and nobody knew…… The dentists there had just gotten out of school and they didn’t know what to do.  So I finally got down about 6 miles to some big supply dock. So I started to ordering the drills, the machinery, and everything like that. And finally [when I got the supplies], the drill they had, had this pumping thing that you had to pump with your foot to make the drill go.  I said, “I’m not gonna….. Y’all are bound to have some sort of machinery so that I can make this thing go around like a regular dentist’s [drill] has.  He said, “Well yeah, we got some old washing machines. I don’t know where they came from because they are out there in the jungle about a half mile away.”  We took the washing machine motor and made a wheel on it and this is the way I got the only mechanical drill on the island!

What a story!

     Anyway, as time went on, after a month or two, it was so hot, and the bugs were so bad that it was just unbelievable!

How did you protect yourself from the bugs?

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     I was in a tent with another fella and we had screens. And the lizards would be matted solid on the screen every morning. Of course, they were all eating bugs.   The place where you had to go to use the toilet, they had a 4-foot ditch filled with diesel oil around this latrine. When you went over that little bridge, you had step about 2 feet so they wouldn’t crawl over.  You had to make that step over this little place to get to the latrines. Every 2 weeks, they had to clean the whole thing out and put more diesel oil in the ditch.  There were so many bugs, that they would crawl over each other’s backs and then they could get into the latrines.  Just imagine a 4-foot [deep] ditch with all those bugs. You could look up in the trees and the parrots were eating these insects by the THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS, you just wouldn’t believe it.

It’s hard to imagine that….

     You couldn’t grow anything on account of the bugs. The only thing the bugs wouldn’t bother is, strange enough, a tomato plant. So everybody started growing tomatoes.  Everybody had a tomato plant. So everybody [in the 14th Seabees] started coming around, since they’d been there longer than everybody else, and they would be selling them for 50 cents a piece (laughing)! They would have to put a guard on them to keep people from stealing ‘em all; it was funny!!
     Of course, being a dentist, they let me have this [inaudible], to show other dentists how to get this equipment and show them what to get so they could build their own office. So I got 3 or 4 dentists started.  By the time I got to my office, I would see as many as 100 men lined up in front of my office waiting for the dentist. I had started at 5:00 in the morning, at daylight, and by 9 or 10 o’clock it would be so hot that you would have to quit.  Each man had a day off and he had no place to go so he would stand in line.

There weren’t any liberty cities close by, huh?

     No, there was nothin’!!

There weren’t any natives?

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     I didn’t see any natives; they were out in the woods.  Of course I did get to see some natives after I’d been there 2 or 3 months.  We had to go and build a radar station on the other end of the island, must have been 25 miles. About 40 of us went out there, and talk about throw-up, that’s one time I got sea sick. We went down to this island, and there was a corpsman – that’s the one that helps the doctor. When we got to this place, these natives looked something awful. They built a place where they took a bath; they didn’t have clothes.  They built this barrel up there [gesturing above his head] and filled it full of water. Then they pulled this thing [gesturing to indicate a chain or rope] and they would take a bath. These natives would get around, maybe 40 or 50 of them, and get so happy to see.……and everybody wanted soap to wash because these natives had sores all over.  So the corpman thought, “Well I’ll get some methylene blue and these natives will be lined up wanting me to doctor them.”  So he would take a quarter of a teaspoon of methylene blue and put it in water and it would make it turn real blue. He would put a big cotton swab in there and dip it in the water and paint each one of them when they would come by with their sores. Then they would give him shells. Man, I’ll tell you, he had more shells than he knew what to do with!  But I got my picture of the whole thing with this native….I think you got that picture?

Yes, I have that picture.

     That was the only place that the chief had a [?house]. Where we started, these natives couldn’t wear clothes because the bugs would get on you. When we wore a shirt, the regulated ones, you had to tie it tight so that the bugs wouldn’t get down your shirt. These natives never took a bath. They would build a lean-to and 20 or 30 of them would sleep under this lean-to.  Well after 4 or 5 days, the bugs would be so bad that they would move down to another place they had a shed built. They would sleep on these palm leaves with their excretions and all…..I don’t see how they lived like that. But anyway, they all chewed beetle-nuts. I saw one child about 3 years old running around and everybody in that whole place was just so happy that they had one child out of about 20 people. His mouth was RED with the beetle juice running out of his 3 year old mouth, and his teeth were just black from the beetle juice. It sounded just like they were taking crack I guess!!


     Imagine never taking a bath….

Didn’t they go swimming in the ocean?

     No. They were barefoot, and the coral out there was so bad that there were only 1 or 2 little places where they could rake it in.  The most precious thing they had was a pair of shoes. If one person had a pair of shoes, he could walk on the coral and pick up all of the shellfish to eat. 
     The thing that got me was how those bugs were so thick. They were so bad that they would rotate between these lean-tos every week because these bugs ate up everything! There were beetles, ants, roaches, but I guess ants were the big thing. The thing is, that all of these insects would clean the place, excretions and all. That’s the way they kept it clean. All they had to do was to get some palm leaves, and cut them off the trees. Everybody had a shell that they could cut with, if anybody had a knife, boy that was something!
     While we were there, this boy had to go to see on a baby that was being born. He said, “When I got down there, they were using a big old oyster shell to cut the cord.”  They didn’t even have a knife or anything for that. So he said he was really impressed with how that baby was delivered.

The corpsman saw this?

     Yes, but he said the children didn’t live long because of all the disease and the bugs.  If a native ever lived past 30 years of age he was an old, old, man. All they had was karo roots to eat, I guess there were 2 or 3 types of bugs that they could eat, and coconuts.

What about the wildlife? Were there any monkeys or anything?

     They had one called a rat; a native rat. No, the bugs killed all there was except pineapples, they grew wild, and tomatoes. When they introduced them, the bugs wouldn’t touch them.

It was a strange plant.

     Yah, it was, but if you planted cantaloupes or watermelon, they ate it all. 

What was the appearance of the natives?  Were they black also?

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     Oh they were ugly, the natives. We had real natives, another island had Polynesians. Guadalcanal was one of the wild places.

They were more like New Guinea people?

     About 50 or 60 years before that, no 100 years ago, they went in and cut all the timber, about 2 or 3,000 acres of mahogany. None of this had grown back and you could see 1,000 or more acres of right out……

You mean they had just clear-cut mahogany off of this island?

     Yes, about 100 years ago and it hadn’t even grown back yet, because nothing but big things were cut. You could see it gradually encroaching.

Who had clear-cut it, the French?

     I guess…….somebody had.  The reason why all of the natives died was because they had no immunity to measles. It killed almost everybody there; it was a terrible thing. Before the war, you were not even allowed to come on the island unless you were quarantined yourself. But of course the war stopped all that.  If anybody had measles, they died because they had absolutely no immunity. They had a lot of syphilis, that’s the reason why their nose was so curved in.
     Before that, they would have raids from one island to the next, of cannibalism.  That was in 1919 when the last cannibalism was recorded.  These natives would come in and kill them, and eat them. That was hard to believe. Of course the only people that had any churches were the Catholics. I got acquainted with a priest.  The priest couldn’t have been more than 40 years old. He had been there seventeen years in that area travelling from island to island. He could sit there and tell us stories that were just out of this world about how the natives were and how they had tried to arrange everything.  He was the one that was telling us about the cannibalism.
     I hadn’t been there but one night when they showed me where my tent was. I was getting acquainted with my bunk mate who was about 4½ years older than I, and he was an engineer of some sort.  He went out and showed me the foxhole. I said, “What sort of noise do they make?” He said, “You’ll hear, you don’t have to worry.  It’s just whoever gets in a foxhole first.” His was only about 20 feet from mine and the first few nights, I was the first one in every time. Sometimes there would be 10 or 15 men in the foxhole and you would see the air raiders coming up about 5 miles in the sky and every once in a while we would hit one. But these 5” air craft guns, man, they made noise.  They would also put an airplane up there and drop a magnesium bomb. When it would go off, they took pictures of everything. I guess that is the loudest noise I have ever heard.  It lights up everything just like a flash of light for 100 miles in every direction.  That’s when they took reconnaissance pictures.   
Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
     We had Pilipino natives to wait on us and I walked about a hundred feet to my dental office. I would get there just about daylight and they would spend their day off waiting in line. When they heard I had a motor on my drill, well they all came to me, it would only take about 4 minutes. The other way took about 30 minutes to drill a hole.  That mechanical device made out of the washing machine really worked.
     Everyone wanted to be the assistant to the dentist because there wasn’t any hard labor to it. Each assistant I had lasted only about a week. He would go back and say never again!  I’ll go back to drilling on the river. They didn’t realize that there was so much book work.

These memories, shared by Richard Paul Monaghan, 1909 - 1996, were video taped in 1991 by his daughter, and transcribed in 2010 by me, his granddaughter. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Remnants From the War

This is the second installment of a three-part series of transcriptions from a 90 minute interview with Richard Paul Monaghan, conducted by his daughter in 1991. Paul Monaghan was a Lieutenant Commander serving in the 14th Mobile Construction Battalion (also known as the 14th Seabees).

PART I – Start Time 0:00:22
Today is  November 14th 1991 and I’m sitting here in Willow Park, Texas with my father, Dr. Paul Monaghan and we’re gonna think back to 50 years ago, to what’s known now as ‘Pearl Harbor Day,’  in 1941.  And where were you that day Daddy, when you heard that we had been bombed by the Japanese?

     Well, I was eating breakfast, at 7:00 in the morning. Everybody got around the radio and started a lookin’....and a talkin’ ……and oh my what [are] we gonna do….. So over the radio they started collecting all the men to tell ‘em who can come [volunteer] and how to volunteer.  I volunteered in the Navy.

How soon after ‘Pearl Harbor Day’ did they start callin’ up men and did you volunteer?

     Oh it was in February. I was in Dallas [Texas] havin’ my [dental] examination.

Well now, let’s go back to ‘Pearl Harbor Day.’ Were you in Overton [Texas] when you heard that?


You were practicing dentistry in Overton [Texas]….

     I had been [practicing dentistry] for 8 or 9 years.

What was the climate, the atmosphere, of the world’s state at that time?

     It was a surprise….

It was a surprise?

     Oh yeah.  Nobody thought that they would bomb Pearl Harbor.  The war was going on on the other side of the world. We were in it, but we never thought that Japan would get into it.

Did anybody think that we would be going to war with Germany though?

     We were going to [go to] war with Germany. We were going to [go to] war with everybody it looks like…after the Pearl Harbor [incident].

After Pearl Harbor, but previous to Pearl Harbor, what was the atmosphere? Were we concerned about what was happening in Europe or was it just a distant news story?

     Sure [we were concerned]. No [it wasn't distant] – it was just like…it was terrible! Everybody was just scared to death that [the Germans] were coming over here. All of our ships had been sunk, quite a few of them had been sunk already in the Atlantic.

By the Germans…but we still wouldn’t go to war, we wouldn’t activate our forces until [after] Pearl Harbor was bombed. Then they started activating all [of] the [U.S.] forces, and getting ready for war.

     Well, then they really got in high-gear. But we were really going by 1941, we were over there [already]. See, they were fightin’ over there in ’39, in Germany. That’s two years if I remember right.  And of course, everybody volunteered. 

R P Monaghan, DDS
     So when I went to the examination for my physical, I had no trouble.  Then they went to the [psychological examination] and the first question he asked me, he says, “Do you have any friends?” I said, “Well I’m a Dentist, I don’t guess I do…(laughing).” He got a big laugh out of that. So it wasn’t but a month or two and I had orders to report to Pensacola, Florida. I hadn’t been there but a week or two and they were givin’ us yellow fever shots.  And man….everybody got sick. 2,000 of us got these yellow fever shots and boy that really made us sick.

It was almost as bad as having malaria….

     And then as time goes on, more and more dentists came in and they were all real young dentists, hardly out of school.  And there I was, an old man already to their estimatin’. I was 35.

At this time, when you were 35, you left your mother there, in Overton [Texas]. Is that right? Or did she go back down to Port Arthur?

     She went back to Port Arthur.

And did you just leave your house empty there?

     No. We were renting a house [inaudible]. It seemed to me like, in the meantime, we did buy this house. It seemed to me like it was in ’44, before I left and yeah, we rented it out to the banker’s daughter. Yeah, that’s that memory comin’ back.  That was a long time ago!

Had you met your wife at this time? Did you know your wife in ’41?

     Yes, in a way. But I was too busy doin’ all the other stuff.  Oh yeah, I courted her a little bit, off and on.  And she was writin’ me letters, and I was writin’ her letters.

When you were in Pensacola?

     No, I was in Florida. And I would come home once or twice and I got a date with her.  I suppose that’s when I fell in love with her and there was no way to get married.   

Unmarked photograph from the collection of the deceased R. P. Monaghan.
     When I went to Pensacola they put me in charge of the field by myself. I was the only dentist there and I was the head man….head dentist….there must have been 3 or 4,000 people, all pilots. And I never will forget, when the admiral comes down to make the inspection, I didn’t know if I was supposed to be up and standing, I was too busy. I was supposed to stand inspection with all of these other officers on base. So I stood up with them and when the admiral came by and the commander came by inspecting all the troops, I was the only one that didn’t have white gloves on. So the admiral says, “What’s that man doing without gloves?”  and he said, “Oh, well he’s a dentist, I don’t guess he’s even supposed to be here. (laughing)”  So I don’t know why I got out there and stood up.  But I sure did have a uniform, except I didn’t have any white gloves.  But it sure was pretty, all 2 or 3,000 people standing – and I was the ONLY one without gloves on!

That’s ok… You were a dentist (laughing)!

     (laughing) He said, “Yeah – well he’s just the dentist,”  that means he wasn’t supposed to be here, he was supposed to be working! 

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"

     And first thing ya know I was transferred to New Orleans. I had my own private office, inspectin’ people [who were] comin’ right and left, and boy that was the worst place. I lived down there in the French Quarter and I had to walk 2 or 3 blocks to my office and that was the biggest mess that I ever could imagine. There I had to be at this office at 8 and I stayed til 4 or 5 with nothin’ to do. Except maybe [seeing] a hundred men a day who’d just open their mouth and walk by [for me] to see if they had teeth or not and I’d have to write it down. They were sendin’ ‘em out [to war] so fast. 

     The first thing ya know, I was down in San Diego; I got in this beautiful place. Well there I was and about a hundred dentists were there. I didn’t stay there [but] 3 more [months], and they transferred me to the Marines of all places. So I went over there and I……

Now how long were you in San Diego?

     About 3 or 4 months…..

And how long were you in New Orleans?

     A month or two.  All of this happened in a period of about 4 or 5 months; this switchin’ around. When I got to the Marines, we got our orders too.  Of course the first day I reported there, they gave me some new shoes, and I didn’t know I was supposed to do anything yet.  They said “Well, you won’t.”  I said, “These shoes don’t fit me.” After about 3 or 4 miles I had blisters on my feet. When I showed them to him, he said, “Well that’s normal. Just go around the swimming pool ‘til you get well.”  We had about 15 dentists there and no equipment to work with. That was so messed up!

     Anyway, my first experience there was that I was reporting to duty, and I went around this building. There were some ‘prisoners of war’ on one side of the building, and I didn’t know what they were.  I had my uniform on, my bars on (pointing to his shoulders), and I walked around this building and there was a man with a gun guarding these prisoners. He yelled, “HALT!” I said, “Yes sir,” and boy I halted. He said, “You wanna get shot?  Don’t you walk between me and these prisoners.”  I said, “Well I didn’t know.” He said, “What are you?” He thought I was a regular officer and I said, “No, I’m a dentist,” he said, “OK, get behind me. Next time I’ll shoot you.”  He was serious (laughing).  I went down and reported to the commanding officer and I told him what happened and he said, “Well you’re lucky…they’re lookin’ for an excuse to shoot somebody!”   These prisoners, boy they get treated badly. They have to march mile after mile for punishment.

This was in Hawaii?

     No, in San Diego… they were prisoners of the Marines I guess.

I didn’t know they kept ‘prisoners of war’ in San Diego!

     Well anyway, they were the same as prisoners but I never did quite understand what it was.

Well were they Germans or Japanese?

     No they were Marines. If that boy went out and did something bad, that he shouldn’t, they court martialed him, and that’s when they put him in the prisoner of war.

Oh, so this guy was a military policeman…


And these were military prisoners of war, or no, military prisoners, not prisoners of war….

     That’s what he told me. Anyway, I didn’t know what to do. I was shakin’ in my boots. He was a private, and I was captain and he was chewin’ me out!

But he had the gun!

     He had the gun and nobody was supposed to walk between him and the prisoners.  And I just walked around the building and he was leaned up against the building watchin’ those prisoners and there wasn’t anywhere to go except for in front of him and then he stood up and….. I guess I should have asked permission or something. Well I didn’t know any better, I thought those boys were just marchin’ over there!
     Anyway, they assigned me then to the clinic where all [of] these dentists were supposed to be. And there were 15 dentists and not one of them had a chair or anything to work with. So they put us out to marchin’ with the boys and how to shoot a gun. So my first shot I got a black eye – that was some gun – boy it bit. But, I made a bullseye on the first shot; 300 yards.

Well you’d had some practice shootin’ guns though.

     Yeah – they give you instructions though, with holding the gun tight, and when that thing kicks, if you don’t have it holdin’ tight, it’s gonna knock ya down.  Anyway, I was aiming it, and that thing come back and hit me in the cheek.  I never did do that again! I held it tight after that.
     Well, the first thing ya know, I was on a ship, going overseas and there were 3,500 marines on that ship.

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"

Did you know where your destination was?

     NO! They just put us on a ship.

They just put you on a ship and you don’t even know where you’re goin’?

     No. You know you are in the Pacific [Ocean] and you were goin’ overseas – you weren’t goin’ to Panama!  These were marines I was with.

Well I know, but they didn’t tell you that you were goin’ to the Philipines?

     They didn’t tell anybody anything. But anyway, as we were sittin’ in the dock, about 20 men jumped overboard in the space of 10 or 15 minutes. And they fished ‘em out of the water, and put ‘em in the brig….

You mean they were tryin’ to escape from goin’ overseas?

     Yeah – Yeah! Anyway, after we got 20 miles to sea well the Captain said, “ok, let ‘em go.” Course nobody jumped over then. ‘Cause we were sittin’ at the dock when they jumped over.  Well when we went out to sea in that big ol’ ship steamin through the Pacific and they had jumped off, there wasn’t any way to save them!
     Anyway, after 10 [days], seemed to me like forever, 2 weeks, that thing must have gone 5 miles an hour….just a rockin’……

What was the name of the ship, do you remember?

     I have no idea, I’ve forgotten.  Anyway, the waves in the Pacific were just (gesturing to show large waves) and all the sickness from all those men - 3,500.  And the vomit on the stairs (shaking his head)…… from goin’ upstairs to vomit overboard….it was a mess!!  But imagine one ship with 3,500 men with little stacks of beds, just enough room to literally squeeze in. If you got sick and vomited, well it would be all over the floor. But I bet you would, and clearly me, I never got sick enough to vomit, but I got sick.

Marked "Passed by Naval Censor"
But finally we came to a place they called Noumea. It was an island WAY over….and it seemed to me like it took us 2 weeks. So we all got off this ship and we all got transported to the ‘back of the woods’ on this island and they called it some sort of pen. And I guess we stayed there about 2 weeks. Well Guadalcanal was the next ship, I mean the next island. But when we got a jeep and drove to town they had one dentist in this town. He was a Frenchman, it was a French island, and one of the dentists was French. And the first thing he did was he worked for this French dentist, and he found out that you could tell the status of anybody on the island by how big the smile was if they had a dozen gold teeth across the front, they were really up there in the hierarchy. But 95% of the people that were there were natives, they were black, and the French had given them freedom.  So what they did was fish, and somebody had brought some deer there 30 years earlier and deer were everywhere; it was a tropical island.   They didn’t have any guns, they’d take these dogs and run these deer out in the water and hit ‘em over the head so they had fresh meat everyday; all the natives did. You ordered a lemon and you could go over there and pick it off the tree. I never did see any oranges.  I never did eat one either….  These natives, they had clothes on, they weren’t naked.  The chief of this one village that I went to he must have had 20 people in his village, and he was the head man. He talked to us (inaudible) - none of us knew what he was saying, but one man did. He was telling us how they made their living selling deer hides, and fresh meat every day.   There must have been a million deer on that island. They were like rabbits, they were everywhere.

Were there any missionaries on that island?

     I never did see one. This was a French island. It was about 8 miles from our camp.  We had all these tents where men were waiting to go to – I didn’t know where we were going, but this part of Noumea, we stayed there about 2 weeks.  Some enlisted men wanted some officer to go with them and I volunteered. They wanted to get on this big old army truck and go on this trip down the island; it was about 100 miles long. Well anyway, it took us 4 days up there and back. On that far end of the island they raised cattle, the Frenchmen, they owned the land. One native we ran into had bought his freedom.  Indentured labor, if you paid $300 then they would get freedom from their chief which was from another island that had indentured labor. Everything that we wanted, he would say ‘One Dollar’ – everything was ‘One Dollar’ – that’s all they knew. He gave us a bottle of wine – ‘One Dollar’ – that wine, with about 6 men, lasted about 5 minutes.

They were having a horse race up there. Everybody had a motorcycle, they didn’t have a car. Those that were going to the horse race, they would run up there about 10 miles and go to the horse races; 50 or 60 people there was about all they had. And that’s the way we found it out.  We had some rancid butter, oh it was terrible!  We asked him if he wanted it. Oh the butter…he tasted it and he thought it was good….American Butter (laughing)! I guess he was gonna cook with it. But those cucumber vines were just everywhere, and chickens [were] everywhere.  It was a very proud native since he had his fruit and he kept saying you can have this for free. He had a little old one room house; it had some steps on it. So we finally got back to the camp and we saw Australians in a camp on the way and we saw all kinds of mining operations. We found out that some island; I forgot the name of the island, they had these natives, and this chief would sell this to these owners of the land for $24 per year. The man that hired this man from the chief paid him $2 a month. They had to walk, with their pack, to the top of the mountain, put this ore on his back, and walk down to the bottom. There would be 30 or 40 of them traipsin’ up there and traipsin’ back. I never did find out what they were mining.  But the Australians down there [near the base of the mountain], had a big pile of sand as tall as I am.  We asked them what they had….oh, they had gold(laughing)!! They were mining gold! So that was real funny.
These memories, shared by Richard Paul Monaghan, 1909 - 1996, were video taped in 1991 by his daughter, and transcribed in 2010 by me, his granddaughter. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What East Texas Means to a Monaghan

 This is the first installment of a five-part series of transcriptions from a 90 minute interview. I am posting the last section first.
PART V – Start Time 1:33:46
Aug 14th 1991

Ok Daddy, tell me just a little bit about the Whites.

Well, in 1865 the War of the States was over. My grandfather White, he went broke [because] he had $200,000 or more in confederate money, which was worthless. But he did save a bucket of gold, and brought [that gold] in a bucket [to Texas], in a covered wagon [when] left Tennessee.

Where did they live in TN?

Chattanooga, Nashville, somewhere up there….
Anyway, they left all of their relatives [when they moved to Texas]. He had a big distillery [which] was completely destroyed; all he had left was that little bucket of gold.

So they all got in covered wagons, and it took about 5 or 6 weeks to drive in these wagons.  Fannie White who was my grandmother married Alex McClure. They had 2 girls, Mattie McClure and Nancy Pearl McClure.

When they all came to Texas, the girls were growing up, and they [settled in] Minden, Texas. They bought a whole lot of land, 7 or 800 acres out of this Grandfather’s gold, or 1,000 or more acres, for $20 an acre. It was a lots of money to pay for that worthless land!  Because they had to clear all the land to even try to [farm?] but Alex McClure, who was my Grandfather, was a Blacksmith, he built a house [there].  He brought all of his tools with him to be a blacksmith. And he, by 1914 or 15,  was gettin’ into his age, [he] was about 60 years old after all of his kids. My mother, who was his daughter, married my father, who was a Monaghan.  He tried to farm, and he didn’t like it. Nobody made any money farmin’, so he went back and went to Port Arthur. He had a good job, payin’ $100 a month. And they rented a house, and that’s when my sister and I were born.

Now Daddy, I wanna ask you about…….oh, are you gonna talk about goin back to the White’s to visit when you were a youngster?

Well, I was….my Mother brought us kids back to Minden one time, if I remember, when I was 4 yrs old. I rode on the train, they had trains everywhere then, and we went from Cairo to Minden on the Whistle Stop train. And of course those were the days whenever a train [would] come in, everybody in town went down to see who came in….it was quite a thrill. When we got in [to town], we got on a wagon and drove to the buss, r the trail, and came down the road in a wagon. It seemed like hours to get to my Grandmother’s house, it was quite a thrill. That was when I was about 4, I can remember now, oh what a thrill I had.

And you remember your grandpa White during this trip…..

No, I visited him [another time], he was in another house over. He was staying with a cousin who was named White. [Then] they moved him over to a cousin’s house named Griffin and that’s where he was staying.  And we went in the house one time, and there was my grandfather White, who had a long beard, white beard, and white hair, laying on a straw bed.  We asked him if we could see the gold, and he said, "yeah." He pulled this bucket out, it was practically empty. It didn’t have over 50 coins in it because he had spent it all on this farm for all of his family. They shook this gold in this bucket, and we were just thrilled to death. (laughing) All of us kids, 3 or 4 of us, was there just a watchin' the whole time, and of course he’s there lookin like he was about 100 years old, but I’m sure he was in his 80s. 

[Break in the film - inaudible section]

And all these people in it, and the preacher was a preachin’, and my Grandmother, who I just adored.  About the time the sermon was gettin’ goin’,  she would scream out loud, and say “PRAISE THE LORD” and just scared me to death (laughing)! I had never heard [anybody] shout in church before like that.

Now what type of church was this?

Methodist church, [it's] what they call Shoutin Methodist.  That’s what they told my Grandmother.  “We belong to the Shoutin Methodist.” Anyway, to me, I thought that was funny.

[Another time] somebody stopped us going down the hill from the church. They said that they had put milk in the well to keep it cool. This poor woman had dumped her milk in the well [accidentally], from the pail that she had left [in the well]. So she gathered some men and they got a long bucket, and they spent all day with this bucket.  They would run down and scoop the water out.  [They would] try to fast, as fast as they could.  Seemed to me like they worked all day getting that water to where it would be fresh and it wouldn’t have that milk in it. To me, that was great fun.

My Grandmother’s house sat up on a hill and you could look out over the pastures and see the birds everywhere.  And I would go down and take my nigger-shooter and go shoot my nigger-shooter at these birds, which I never got any. 

And they said that the bull nettles are good, and I would get stickers in my fingers and eat these bull nettles.  And they were good! I liked them!

Those nuts, that come out of the bull nettle?

Yeah…the bull nettle nuts they called ‘em. But that bull nettle would sting your fingers and it was so funny [when it happened]!  In between, we would attach this horse with this buggy and go visiting on Sunday afternoons at the go around. [We would] say hello to people and stay 30 or 40 minutes and get in the buckboard again, I guess you would call it [that], and go around for a mile or 2 and say hello again [to another family]. About the time we got back, it would be dark. So we would spend all day visiting 3 or 4 families about 3 or 4 miles down the road and come back.  She would have covered table with all the food on it to keep the flies off of the food. She would take this sheeting off and we’d all pile in and start eating. But they didn’t have any refrigeration. It was just all on the big ole round table and everybody sat there on straight benches. They didn’t have chairs, they had straight benches about 3 feet long. Two or three could sit on each straight bench and I thought it was just great to sit on these benches with all these people.  But they always had a BIG pile of fried chicken and we’d always get mostly the wings but then sometimes they’d give us a leg bone; it all depends on how many they had.

Today is November the 13th 1991, finishing up the last part of the tape, and I want you to tell me some information about my mother Laurene Lindsey and how you met her and what you know about her younger life.  Like I know she graduated from Kelsey high school and I don’t really know much about what happened to her after she got out of high school and if you can tell me sort of between the time she got out of high school until she married you.

I was in Overton [Texas], I was a Dentist, and my office was just down the street. I saw this cute little girl walking down the street and she never would look up at my office, but she’d flounce down the street. When she’d get off work she’d flounce back that way and I started a askin’ around who that was, and where she was. She worked at K-Woolens. [So I went there] one day to buy something.  I was there on purpose, and I went in and I said “I would like to buy [some] socks.” She was just so smart, and she would have her type writer out and punch these buttons and tell me how much it was. It was 39 cents for [a bunch of them] and I said, “Well thank you.” I asked her what her name was, and she said my name is Laurene and I walked out. I finally got the courage up to ask her out and she said, “well…you have that office up there on the second floor there?  I’ve seen that light on up there and I’ve wondered who that was.” I said “I’m him, and I’m here, would you like to go to my office?" She said, “no.”  So I asked, “well, what about a date?” She said “well, I guess.” So I finally got her to say yes, and it was on a Saturday night.

Where was she living at this time?

She lived over there in the 2 story house. She and another girl lived with the parents, the [Warrens?], the grandmother Warren.  She had about 10 kids. They were always [home]. But they lived in [??????] for $10 a piece for both of them.

Now where did y’all go on your first date, do you remember?

We got in my car and I drove her around.  She said, "Well, I don’t know anything to do around here. Well who else do you know?"

So I asked her later on, about a month, I said to her, "I hear a dance is going on. Will you go with me?"  About a month later, that’s when we went to this dance that was on New Year’s Eve and boy, what a crowd it was. We stayed up until 1 o’clock in the morning, until I took her home. She said, "It’s too late, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I hope they’ll let me in."  I said, "It’s New Year’s and [I’ll tell them] and she let them in."  She didn’t have a phone so I had to wait until she came down the street. I saw her and I had been working all this time and finally I would get dates with her, regularly, once or twice a week. About that time, the war started. And I was getting pretty hot with her. I’d got to where she’d kiss me goodnight and [then] I went off to war. I was gone 2 or 3 years, but I kept writing to her. And she finally said, "Yes, I’ll marry you." And she went all the way to CA and she spent 3 days to get there. And I met her at the bus and I had a room for her to stay. And the next day we got married. And strange enough they had an earthquake that day, March 31st, April Fools Day, 1945.  The next day, after we got married, when they had the earthquake, I said, “Well, I am glad I’ve been through this [before] 'cause I know this is an earthquake and we’ve got to get out of this building." So we ran outside until it quite shaking. So I said, "Well, I guess the shaking is over, we’ll go back in our room."  We had a room in a motel until we finally found a place to live. Some woman charged us $10/week to live in this room and we stayed there a week or 2.  We finally found a 2 room apartment in the second story and it was $35/month and that’s when we really got married.  She learned to [do everything]… she had a little place to cook, a little place to go to the post office, to go shopping right in Santa Barbara within 2 blocks of where we lived, and I had a little car. I would go out to work and I would rush back home every evening.  I was a happy man…getting married…AMEN. Bye bye. (laughing)

Well tell me a little bit about what you know about her after she graduated from High School… at the Kelsey High School…there outside of Gilmer. Do you know what happened to her?

No, no, no….She went to Salt Lake City.....

After she graduated from high school….

She was a beauty operator, she said she wanted to be a beauty operator out in Salt Lake City.

After we got married, and the war ended, we came all the way back and went across the desert and a fan belt broke. And there we were out in the middle of the desert and she says, “oh, it’ll be a hundred miles before I [see anybody].” I said, “it’s a hundred miles the other way too.”  Finally we saw a man coming across the desert and dust comin’ up and he stopped when he saw us.  He said he hadn’t seen a soul in 2 or 3 weeks and he just gone and grabbed a beer. I told him what had happened and he said, "Well, I’ve got this old place I’ve had for 30 years down over that little ridge there. If you’ll get in my car, I’ll go down and get you a fan belt and water pump." And sure enough, we went down there. That old filling station I know had been vacant for 30 years! He brought this fan belt back and he put it on my little car. I offered to pay him and he says well I’ll charge you a dollar because it was so great to see somebody. He hadn’t seen anyone [for a long time]. He said he searched for gold up there in the mountain. We went on through the mountains and every town we’d go through [Laurene] would have some of her relatives…..cousin so-and-so…second-third cousin, first-second, third and fourth….I don’t know how she kept up with all that. And if I can remember all those families…..anyway, we got to Salt Lake City.  Her brother had a bunch of kids, her sister had some kids,…all the relatives…I’ve never seen so many…..

Tell me this, Daddy, I’m almost out of tape here. I want you to fill in some blanks for me because I don’t really know….. what happened after she went to Salt Lake City, she was in her early 20s, why did she come back to Texas? and she worked over in Tyler for some time at Meyer & Smith, when was this?

Oh…that was during the war.

Ok, well can you tell me….She was up in Salt Lake City after she got out of high school, then what did she do?

She said her Mother and Daddy wanted her to come home, I guess. Or they moved back from Salt Lake City to Gilmer. She went with them. And her sister, her sister then got married. She couldn’t get a job, but she got a job in Overton payin her $20/week. Oh did she get a good job back then. She joined the Baptist church to sing because the Baptist church was the closest one to get to. But then she joined the Methodist church after havin kids. And we always went to the Methodist church holdin’ the kids in our laps. And they’d say “whose the youngest one there?” and I’d hold up my hand. It was Susan, she was born on December the 20th and it was Christmas so I had the youngest one.

Now after y’all were married and you were in California, Momma did have a miscarriage though when y’all were in CA, right?

Yep, well we hadn’t been married but 2 or 3 months. She got sick one time and I took her to the doctor and he said [she’s just having a miscarriage]. So we put her in the hospital, overnight, and that’s when she had the miscarriage. Couldn’t keep it…that was the little boy…he said it was. But she got well…in 2 or 3 weeks. Her only misfortune was learning to play scratch-offs. They had a lot of them out in California. And she would always take her dollar or 2 and lose them every time. So she got cured playing scratch-offs.

So how long were you in California before you decided to come back to Overton?

When the war was over!

When you were dismissed from the Navy?

Yes – I guess we were there six or eight months.


These memories, shared by Richard Paul Monaghan, 1909 - 1996, were video taped in 1991 by his daughter, and transcribed in 2010 by me, his granddaughter. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011


    Although my intentions were ideal, I realized immediately (thank you Mom!) that my citations were sub-par and I had only posted 1 page & 2 posts so far. -laughing-
   Instead of a new post tonight, I spent my time carefully checking my citations and sources to ensure accuracy. As I said earlier, I am still learning the skill, so bear with me.
   I have partially written my next post, so I will give you a preview - - here's the title: "The Bad Boy, John Monaghan"

Monday, July 25, 2011

After the Storm

Photograph is part of a personal collection held in 2008
by living daughter/granddaughter of pictured subject. 
      Willie Marie & Paul had many vibrant memories of their childhood which they loved sharing with anyone willing to listen.  Willie Marie liked to tell us of times when they would walk to town to go see the picture show and would always stop on the way back home at Zeno's Confectionery. At Zeno's they would spend their remaining money to buy a candy or an ice cream. She would tell us that Paul was such a caring brother and would give his money to her occasionally so that she could buy a banana split. She would exclaim, "It was just so good." Afterwards, on the way home, she would tell us of how they would chase fireflies at dusk until another satisfactory day had come to a close.

One time they had a cold drink stand on the vacant lot next to their house. According to Sis, "we didn't get rich, but it was fun. We sold 'Nehi' drinks to everyone in the neighborhood."

If you think the way I do, you must be wondering about the 'Nehi' (pronounced knee-high) drink. So, of course, I ran a trusty search on google and found more than I ever wanted to know about them. Summarily, they were the equivalent to today's Fanta. Sis sure was a good story teller and since I have several of them written down, I will relinquish control for awhile here and let her do all the talkin'!

"While we were growing up, we would go to minden to visit our grand parents. Grandpa White had a blacksmith shop. We always had a good time looking all around the shop. He would let us pump the bellows for the fire. Grandma always had a little garden next to the house. The house was built up high in the front as it was on the side of a hill. We could play under parts of it. The house had a picket fence around it and pretty china-berry trees in the yard. One time they had an apple tree in the backyard. Of course, Grandma cooked on a wood stove, but every thing was so good. She always had gingerbread cookies. In the summer, they always had picnics for the different churches, to keep up the cemeteries. Grandma as well as the rest of the families would cook up cakes pies, fried chicken, etc. and carry them in a trunk. At first we would go in wagons and buggies. They would nave ice cream and lemonade (in big tubs with ice) to help for the upkeep. They also had lots of good singing in the church. Maple Grove, near Minden, is where the Whites & McClures are buried. 
     While we were in Minden, we had to draw water out of the well to drink and use. We would keep a bucket on a shelf on the back porch that had a dipper to drink out of. When we took a bath, the water was so cold. We would put the tub out where the sun would shine on it after putting the water in, and it would warm the water. They would put the bucket down the well with the milk and butter to keep them cold.  Grandma had a cow, and she would churn the sour milk to make butter. She would let us do it too. In the dining room they had a long table to eat on and a bench on each side for us to sit on while eating. They would leave the food on the table after eating and cover it with a white cloth to keep off the flies.  Sometimes when we were hungry, we would reach under and get us something to eat. Grandma also raised chickens and geese. They had to do all the washing in the yard. She had a big black wash pot that she boiled the clothes in - had to build a fire under it. Grandma had a woman to come and wash for her.
     Grandma always had the preachers for dinner on Sunday. There was also a good school there. People from all around would attend. I remember that we would go in the school and get a good scared look at the skeleton that was in one of the rooms. Across the road from Grandma's lived a Dr. Dawson and family, one of his daughters ran the telephone switchboard in their house. We were fascinated by it when she let us watch while she operated it.
     Our Dad, Richard Vienne Monaghan, liked to fish. Mama didn't like to fish as much, but she liked to go camping. On vacations we would go to Willard's Lake and spend our time. We had a tent and cots and we also had to have mosquito nets to put over the cots. There was a white sand bar there and a good place to swim. One time we got Mama in a boat (all 4 of us) and we found a good place to fish, and who do you think caught most of the fish -- it was Mama.  Everyone liked to go up to the Lake on the weekends. I remember one time it rained so hard the whole time. We had two tents facing each other so us kids would get in the tents and sing 'It Ain't Gonna Rain no More,' but it kept on." (1)

Well, it looks like I am coming to the end of another entry and I haven't progressed very far with their story. I have so much more to tell, I guess it must wait for another day.

1. Letter from Willie Marie Willis (nee Monaghan) of Port Arthur, Texas to her niece (living), date of letter unknown, held in 2008 by her niece (living), the late Mrs Willis Willis was sister to Richard Paul Monaghan.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beloved Grandfather

What better place to start than with my beloved grandfather? You could say that my quest down the genealogy road was inspired by the 10 year anniversary of "Doc" Monaghan's death on February 26, 2006. I decided that I needed a more tangible way to remember my grandfather and began to relentlessly pester my mother and aunt for any vestiges that they may have tucked away. They have patiently obliged all of my requests on this hunt for relics of his life but it has never been enough. So here I am indulging in my memory of him by trying to recreate his life through story.
Photograph is part of the personal collection held in 2008 by a
living daughter/granddaughter of the pictured subjects. 
     Richard Paul Monaghan is my maternal grandfather who was born on July 10, 1909 in Port Arthur, Texas. He was the second child and only son born to Richard Vienne Monaghan & Nancy Pearl McClure.
     In this photo, Paul's mother, Pearl, is holding him shortly after his birth. Sitting next to Pearl is her sister and her daughter, Willie Marie Monaghan.
    According to family tradition, the family moved to Port Arthur about 1906 . They lived on 16th street in the 100 block. They had to walk to town on the boardwalk which was about
a mile long.
     Willie Marie, my grandfather's older sister, was born September 12, 1907. Pearl's mother, Abbie Buckley McClure came to stay with her, but Willie Marie came late so Abbie didn't get to stay long once she was born.
     By the time Paul was born, they had moved to the 200 block on 8th Street. The Youngbloods were living on that block and that is when Pearl's sister, Mattie, came down and met Uncle Dick [Youngblood]. The family lived there until about 1912 and then they moved to the 1100 block on 7th street.
     By 1923 Richard and Pearl had a house built in the 3100 block on 7th Street. That street didn't go all the way through because of a drainage ditch, so they had to go over to Proctor Street to get home whenever they were in the car.
     In l9l5 there was an unnamed hurricane that swept the southeast coast of Texas. In Willie Marie's words she explains, "It was so bad we had to go to a big hotel and spend the night. The water came up in our house as far as the key holes in the doors. The day after it was over Dad got a boat and brought us to our neighbor's, who had a 2 story house. After that we went to Aunt Mat's, as the water didn't get in their house. We stayed there until the water went down and [we] cleaned out our house; [there were] mud and snakes. Mama had our clothes in a tub to wash and they floated off. Mildred was born in September right after the storm, which came in about August 15th. Our Dad built a boat to go to work."(1)

    This newspaper article in the San Antonio Light, published on August 18, 1915, page 1, reported on the impact the hurricane had on the coastal residents. Galveston Is Under Martial Law  As you can see, the nation was buzzing with news of this massive storm. These photos were taken immediately after the storm.  
     So I leave the story here until I am able to continue down the ornate path of the lives that now belong only to the history that has yet to be told.

1. Letter from Willie Marie Willis (nee Monaghan) of Port Arthur, Texas to her niece (living), date of letter unknown, held in 2008 by her niece (living), the late Mrs Willis Willis was sister to Richard Paul Monaghan.
2. D & H Photography. [Flooding at Jefferson Hotel]Photograph, August 1915; digital images, ( : accessed July 24, 2011), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Port Arthur Public Library , Port Arthur, Texas.
3. [Men Riding in Boat in Flood Waters]Photograph, 1915; digital images, ( : accessed July 24, 2011), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Port Arthur Public Library, Port Arthur, Texas.