National Salute at Madison Barracks, from a postcard dated 16 February 1941.
"This came about because my father and mother (Harold &
Theda Cornwell Secor) moved out the Hounsfield Central
School district at Sackets Harbor, NY to the Henderson Central School district
at Henderson, NY. Henderson did not have the business courses I needed
to continue with my major in business. From March to June 1940, my
sister and I commuted with a neighbor to the Brodie residence just off Route
3, where we could catch the Sackets school bus.
A school chum, Marie Bailey, who was working at Madison Barracks told me that she could get me a job there. June 1940 I first worked for Major Fauerbach and his wife. She was bedridden most of the time with her pregnancy. Capt. Fauerbach had breakfast served to him every morning in the dinette. It was there that I learned to serve from the right and take away from the left. Also learned how the various silverware should be placed. They had a large party one Sunday, at which time I learned about rosette radishes. While there all laundry, including sheets and towels, was done by hand in a deep sink in the kitchen. Later Mrs. Fauerbach felt the need for a full-time maid. She found me placement with Capt. Ettinger and his wife.
Capt. Ettinger and his wife lived at #13 in the officer’s stone row. While there, I learned how to cook kosher meals. Mrs. Ettinger used to sautee the chicken feet in tomato paste and serve as an appetizer! There were bags of sugar, salt, and coffee in the pantry. I suspect that those came from one of the mess halls. They did buy a washing machine later on. After school it was bake a cake or cookies every day, as the three children had a snack with milk before going to bed. After preparing dinner and doing dishes, it was iron what had been washed and starched that day. On school days, it was get breakfast and make beds before going to school. Saturdays was mop all the floors starting with the three bedrooms upstairs, plus a thorough cleaning of the apartment. The Ettingers went to the officer’s club in the evenings. No TV then. One Christmas while there, I was asked to go to one of the Major’s home to help the Mrs. wrap Christmas presents. Mrs. Ettinger introduced me to Ken Burgess, whom I later married after the war.
On Sunday afternoons when many others were out walking and enjoying the outdoors, I was inside busy in the kitchen at the Fauerbachs and Ettingers. Time off literally unheard of. The pay at the Ettingers was $2/week plus room and board.
There used to be full-dress parades every Friday afternoon. One time Helen O’Connell and Bob Eberly with Ray Eberly’s band were there for a show, which was on the parade grounds in front of the officer’s row. At the theater, I saw the Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. Also, when Birth of the Blues played there, Tex Beneke’s band (I believe it was his) played at intermission. I sat thru two shows that time.
Marie and I ocassionally went out to the flag pole on the parade grounds at taps, since she had a boyfriend, Joe Palmero. I was introduced to Bill Graeff. We used to laugh and giggle as some teenagers do. Joe was killed at Italy. I heard some time ago that Bill was on a dialysis machine.
And after all that, I still graduated with above average grade; was active in glee club, band & orchestra.
The 258th Field Artillery, which had been activated from the New York City area reserves, was stationed at Madison Barracks. Also, the 111th or 114th Signal Corps was there. Pay at that time was $21/month. The 258th used to go to Stony Point Rifle Range, which is about 15 miles from Sackets Harbor and west of Henderson, for rifle practice. They would leave early morning and return late afternoon. I do not remember if they ever bivouced there. About 1983 while living in Florida, I met “A.J.” at the Colliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg, FL. He had been stationed at Madison Barracks when I was living there, however, did not know him at the time. An example of our small world.
While the 258th was on maneuvers in North Carolina, Mrs. Ettinger, the children, myself, and an enlisted soldier, who lived in Yonkers, went to visit her mother in Yonkers. The soldier drove Ettinger’s 1938 Ford 4-door sedan, and went to visit his family. We must have been gone a week. No thruway then.
I recall December 7, 1941 very vividly. At the time, the 258th was on maneuvers in North Carolina, possibly Ft. Bragg. Mrs. Ettinger had taken the children and myself out for a Sunday drive. We were at a place on Route 3 near Watertown where they had riding horses. She had wanted to go riding. After we got home late that afternoon, we heard the news of Pearl Harbor. Mrs. Ettinger became very excited/upset and was ready to leave me with the children, so she could go to North Carolina. That did not happen, and the 258th came back before Christmas. I remember the vehicles coming in late one night. We all went out the back door to watch. There is a road running behind the officer’s row, as well as in front. In the spring of 1942, the 258th was transferred to the then Pine Camp, which is now Fort Drum. It is obvious to me now that it was for intensive training.
In Sackets Harbor, the USO was at what is now The Playhouse on Main Street. One night I was able to go to a dance there; and who do I see as a chapheron, Miss Trull, my french teacher! A bit embarassing since I had not been in school that day; probably another Ettinger request for my services. In those days, there was a “Mannie’s” ice cream parlor on Broad Street in Sackets. Banana Split: 25 cents.
While at the Ettinger’s, Capt. and Mrs. Ettinger went on a 10-day leave to Yonkers, NY. They left the three children at home for me to take care of, which required my absence from school since “Tippy” was only 2 years old. In today’s world, I don’t think I would leave my children with a 17-year old for ten days. Of all the absences I had from school, I was never questioned by any of the school personnel or reprimanded.
After graduation June 1942, I took a civil service exam, however, only
employment offered was at Washington, D.C. I was told there were
no openings at Pine Camp. In November 1942, signed up with Western
Union and was used as a traveling relief operator. Worked at Ft.
Meade, Md. February 1944 to August 1944 during the extensive Repo Depot
days. WWII Vets know what I am talking about here.
© Mark A. Wentling, 2000