As a WWII vet, I've found the VWF
group mostly Vietnam era people with many concerns for those in the group experiencing problems...even though their own needs
may be great.
My given name is Richard
Clare, but until high school graduation in 1943 my grandmother was the only one who called me "Richard".
I was raised in Elkhart, Indiana,
but moved to Florida in late 1972. In 1943 I traveled extensively in the midwest playing sax and clarinet. Tiring of
one-nighters, I returned to Indiana to a job assembling saxophones in the C.G. Conn factory, and proceeded to form my own
band and did a lot of gigs in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan through a booking agent in Detroit. Labor Day week-end
was another draft physical...and I was immediately inducted. This was the culmination of several previous attempts
to get in the
war. I tried the merchant
marine at age 17....but 117 lbs. was hardly their standard. I then attempted to enlist in the Navy, but my right eye didn't
meet THEIR standards! The policy then changed and everyone had to go through the draft route to service.
My next physical in Indianapolis was in January 1944 when they found spots on my lungs. Of course they were there as
I had pneumonia in BOTH lungs while in the 4th grade! I was instructed to come back in six months to see if there was
By this time I was making serious
money and was not as anxious to serve as before, but I LED a group in early Sept. 1944....and was immediately shipped to Camp
Atterbury for processing and within a week found myself at Fort knox, KY. for basic training and radio code operations.
I've always been very proud of the fact that I never had to drop out of any training, but became tough as nails in a short
time. I was to be a radio operator in a half track, assigned as RECON to a tank company. The Armored School
gave me a certificate of graduation at the top of my class...and offered me OCS (Officer Candidate) training at Fort Benning,
Ga. BUT.....I declined. I wanted to get in the war, as I had an older brother....and a 13-year old younger brother.
The older brother, E.J. was in the Army Air Corps studying radio....I found out later he was becoming a radar expert and later
was put in the 548th Night Fighter Squadron, which had the newest fearsome plane in our flying arsenal....the "Black Widow"
P-61. So....after a brief visit home, I reported to Fort Meade, Md. for overseas shipment....which would have
put me right in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge clean up.....but Someone was watching over me as I stepped on a "training"
mine, left over from another unit's activities... I was to be in that station hospital over 6 months from
concussion fractures in my right foot and ankle....
Meanwhile, my older brother was
KIA on Iwo Jima...the only combat casualty of that squadron in their Pacific operations....From Hawaii to Saipan...Iwo
Jima....and then on to Ie Shima, near Okinawa.
I didn't make contact with the
548th until attending a reunion in 1994....and discovered it was a friendly fire incident at the ending of the Iwo campaign.
I have become an Honorary Member of the Night Fighter Association (Now disbanded, due to age)....and of course of the 548th.
While home, on crutches, for E.J.'s
memorial services, my younger brother, Don, was killed while working with the boy Scouts to get a General Eisenhower
Scout medal for scrap paper collection. The day before E.J.'s service, Don was thrown under the rear wheels of
the truck....but was still alive and very critical....so, we went ahead with E.J.'s funeral.....and Don died that night. We
had another funeral the next Wednesday....and while everyone was celebrating VE Day, our family was making funeral arrangements.
My parents were separated...
I was the only child left. I GREW UP FAST!!!!!
My mother was a mess....and
remained on some type of drug the remaineder of her long life. (She passed away in 1996) Governor
of Indiana, Ralph Gates, U.S. Senators Homer Capehart and Raymond Willis PLUS Representative of the 3rd District, Bob Grant
and our city's of elkhart Mayor, Hallett Meale, ALL wrote letters and attempted to have me discharged ASAP due to my mother's
condition....but they were unsuccessful. I didn't have enough "points".....but they would NOT ship me into a hazardous
job......so-----after 6 months and 4 days I found myself enroute to Camp Crowder,MO.....in SW Missouri. I was to be
cadre for the incoming basic trainees in the signal corps learning morse code, etc.
BUT.....about half an hour
after getting on the "Spirit of St. Louis" Pennsylvania RR train, President Truman announced the Japs had accepted Unconditional
Surrender and the WAR WAS OVER!....... At Camp Crowder I was given several physical exams.....as
the politicians were requesting my release from the Army. To this day ....I have not seen a medical
record of any kind......and the copies of the correspondence are gone as they were stored at my mother's Fort Myers Beach
home in 1960 and were swept away by Hurricane Donna.
In early October 1944, I was suddenly
put on orders and went (by troop train this time) back east.....to Camp Lee, Va....home of the Quartermaster Corps.
I was to be in an army band upon completing an 8 week musical instrument repair school. As it happened, they spied the
MOS number in my records......prewar employment in the world's largest band instrument factory.....classified as musical
instrument repairman. SO........no band for me. I was shifted to become the replacement of a Buck Sgt. who was
being discharged.......but as it turned out....I applied for...and was granted....a "dependency" discharge due to my mother's
health! As the Pacific war was over, they were anxious to let a lot of us go.......
My high school sweetheart, Jane,
and I had broken up after our Junion Year....and while I was in service she was "pinned" by a classmate who was at Purdue.
After I returned home from service I discovered they were no longer a twosome....and it wasn't long before we began dating.....She
got the ring in June...just a few minutes before she was to play a solo with our Municipal Band in the city's park.
(She said she was a nervous wreck) We were married October 26, 2946..........................................60
years ago!! It is still difficult to believe.
I have worn many hats in my life....Some
have fit better than others.... I talk too much.....and I write too much.....but, I've had opportunities to mix
and "rub elbows" with some of the most famous people of my era....
From clerking in a music
store, I went back to work in a factory making oboes.....then had the opportunity to get a job at the local radio station
which had just begun FM broadcasting....As it turned out, I wrote radio commercials for two years there....I used up my GI
education benefits studying Radio and TV Engineering...........I had the opportunity to try for...and began a job with the
newspaper-owned company running the control board AND doing the announcing as well. Although they had several FCC licensed
engineers on staff, I was they one they turned to have 5 of them working for me when we got a permit to build WSJV,
a station that began on the air in March 1954. No one of staff had a musical background...except your truly, so I had
the honor of going out to interview visitors such as Howard Barlow (Voice of Firestone" Radio orchestra conductor....and there
was Harry James....Louis Armstrong....Eddy Howard (One of our favorite people)....and also the politicians. I put the
mike up for Truman when he passed thru town in 1948.....I was about 10 feet below him as he spoke......and Tom Dewey came
along too....but didn't get elected.
Adlai Stevenson ran against IKE...but
lost....and in our town, an egg was thrown at him standing at the back of the train as he spoke. The egg missed him.....but
dripped down on me.
Norman Vincent Peale was another
favorite I had the good fortune to meet....and in 1965 had breakfast with him in Dayton, Ohio where I was studying computer
programming.....and he had just been in our town for another trip a few days before.
It was nice to have many
people KNOW you on the street....I did many newscasts....and
and also was the MC and commentator
for the Elkhart Municipal Band for over 24 years....where I met Jack Teagarden...Don Goldie (later trumpet man in Miami Beach
for Jackie Gleason)...and many other greats. Mere Evans, Ringland Circus bandmaster for 50 years became a VERY close
friend....and we were in his Florida home several times.....
I better not leave out one of the
highlights of our honeymoon.....in New York City. Jane worked for the Selmer Band Instrument Company and knew
the "Professional Rep" in New York. We stopped up to the offices there to meet Hank Bennett and he told us he
was tied up that night, but "Benny" was in town. On his instructions, we went to the "400 Club"....and during a break
we introduced ourselves to Benny Goodman. He later came over to our table and we had an unforgettable conversation.....The
date was October 30, 1946.
When we put TV on the air, I was
named the Night Engineer and Video Switcher.....but also kept doing the main Radio newscasts everyday as well. Once
in awhile there would be special events I was lucky enough to be on....and we met many wonderful and famous people.
Jane likes to brag about the time in 1958 when she played Meredith Wilson's
(The Music Man's composer) piccolo.
Wilson was in town for our Centennial celebration. I was up above Main street with a live cameraman describing
the marching bands and pageantry flowing beneath us....back in 1958. By 1956 I decided I either had to begin
traveling the country looking for a better market job in broadcasting...or get into another field....SO...I began Indiana
University night classes in South Bend on MY nickle. Freshman English, composition,etc.....and all of the core courses for
CPA exams. It was in 1964 when I left WSJV and the Radio Station WTRC to go to work for the local city Government
as the Accountant for both water and sewer offices, but firstly to computerize Billing and Accounts receivable. From
1964 to Nov of 1972 I recommended, programmed and installed two systems.... I had studied computers on my own....no
formal study at all....but I wrote the specs and the board to whom I answered purchased the equipment and sent me to Dayton
to learn the programming.....Later I was able to convince them I had to have someone else babysit the computer as I had my
hands full accounting for all of the pipe extensions, water storage, new wellfields, and wastewater treatment plant monies
My mother moved to Fort myers beach
in 1958....and for 16 years I wanted to live down here on Florida's west coast....but it wasn't meant to be. In
late 1971 I answered an ad for a Finance Director in Pembroke Pines....just west of Hollywopod, FL.......I had been selected
from a field of 64 by a Fort Lauderdale CPA firm. SO.......I flew...at my expense....to Fort Myers and drove my
mother's car across Alliger Alley to the East Coast. My head was very swelled.......but the minute I walked into that
tiny City Hall and saw the NCR 500 computer system.....I deflated....THAT WAS WHY I got the nod.....but after two days
looking around and talking, I turned them down. I would have to be appointed by the City Commissioners...and three were
elected one year and four the next!....and the people were already screaming at how high their "water bills" were. (Actually,
according to be legal with their bond ordinances they should have been three times what they were then)...I would have been
history fast if I'd had to tell the public the truth.
One of our coldest winters in years
followed........but it was back to working and I was named the Manager for an Accountant and Managers seminar to be held in
the fall of 1972. These were all from the American Water Works Ass'n.... We had a planning meeting
at Purdue....and I told them I thought I could get a speaker from Notre Dame to lecture the group Small Government Economics.
Back in 1948....when I had just
begun on radio, I began night lectures in Elkhart. These were done by a young professor from the Notre Dame school of
Business. He came to me after class and asked if I thought it possible for him to be given 15 minutes of air time on
FM once weekly to present Economic News! At that time we couldn't "give away" time on FM....and here was
a personality who would do 15 minutes for FREE!. He wanted the experience and discipline of doing the job. Naturally,
we took him up on his offer. That was in 1948. Fast forward to 1972............and I needed a high profile
speaker!.....So I called on my old friend, Thomas Timothy Murphy......who had by now distinguished himself becoming Dean of
the School of Business at Notre dame. We had a long talk, but he said he's be out of the country on the
dates I had to have him...but he guaranteed he would see to it we had an extremely qualified replacement. And
that he did.
Within the next week after that
seminar, I had a call from Pembroke Pines, FL........the Mayor asked: "What would it take for you to reconsider?"
I had been their 1st choice in 1971....and now the guy they hired was either going to quit or get fired......There were 14
points against him by the Auditors. My answer was :"That's why I turned you down a year ago....Our youngest had
just begun as a freshman at Indiana Uniiversity in Bloomington.
But the wheels began to spin....and
here I had the opportunity to Name My Own Price!!!!!!
So, I asked for dollars...in salary,
pension benefits...car allowance....health care....Everything I could come up with.... And the mayor's
reply was "How soon can you get here?" I said three weeks.....He said "NO!"............and
we settled for two weeks .
I reprogrammed the remanufactured
NCR 500 computer system and immediately began writing RFP's (requests for Proposals) to meet the specs I'd prepared for a
I hired a real expert who had taken
early retirement from NCR to head up the transition (He's been hanging around the Bahama Islands for three years.....as
captain of a crew of 5 on his own 105 foot yacht!)
After a while, I left to start
a Business Brokerage business, but soon was back in Government at the request of the Auditors who had done the Pembroke
Pines audits from 1972 through 1977.I was Finance Director at Opa Locka...in Dade County....where there is a Coast Guard airport....and
an old dirigible hanger left over from the early 1930's. That was the summer of 1980.....and the DELUGE OF CUBANS
began......and were being processed in that dirigible hanger.............. There were riots in Dade
County that summer also....and several killings nearby.... The National Guard were stationed right outside the building
where Jane was working in a 3 person plumbing specialties office.
I discovered grand theft had taken
place at the City. More than $10,000. missing my 4th day in that office.......so I spent most of the summer of 1980
working with two former IRS Special Agents who were putting together a case against the former Finance Director. As
a result, I spent a lot of time at Janet Reno's offices down in Miami....and once we had "nailed" the individual on circumstantial
evidence......all of a sudden, I couldn't get any cooperation from the top officials with whom I HAD to work on investments
.....and finally, I told them to
shove it....and walked out!
I began per diem temp accounting
jobs....and finally went to work for one of the most prestigious accounting firms in Florida, Trent Codd and Company CPA's.
My Indiana license was no good in Florida, but the expertise I had learned got me through. We did nothing
but taxes...all year long.
Then, in Dec. 1980, I had a little
pain in my back....Within a few days my left leg was paralyzed and I was writhing in pain......................The next 5
years were pure Hell.....and we lost our condo, savings, investments.....everything we had..............................BUT,
WE HAD EACH OTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The rest......We moved to the West
coast soon as I could get Social Security. But my mom was in a nursing home in Fort Myers a total of 13 years.....We
moved into one of her apartments, but a 7-11 have been built across the street....and the 24-hour a day parking lot traffic.....the
yelling and trash talk in the middle of the street at 4 am....was too much. We couldn't rent to anyone anymore....and
we couldn't LIVE there anymore either. It was impossible to hear your own TV or radio while sitting across the living
room. Taxes and Insurance ate us up and eventually we found a buyer and we moved into a nice rental South Fort
The story doesn't end there, of
course.....but we're still here....in our own condo again.....complete with pool (which I've only been in about 3 times in
the last 3 years)
Hopefully, I will be able to put
together a more interesting.................and SHORTER SYNOPSIS of my life ............but this will have to do for now.
I have to make some kind of plans for tomorrow....and our three kids and family will be coming from Fort Lauderdale and the
Ocala area Saturday to celebrate our togetherness of 60 years!
And that's a -30- from Dick