Last Known Activity|
My mother writes:
"Bob was in the United States Air Force. He was in Morocco when he got sick. They sent him to Germany. They sent for his parents because they did not think he would live. His mother went. They took out part of his intestines. He lost all of his teeth because of all the medications. He did survive to get home to Chelsea Naval Hospital in Chelsea, MA. He had a scar the size of an 8 inch dinner plate. He did get better, but all his life had stomach problems if he ate the wrong thing (spicy/salads, etc.). In 1960/1 he had more problems, a cyst. Dr. Auld lanced it and sent him back to Chelsea. They put a drain in, after several weeks he came home. He learned to endure a lot of pain for the remainder of his life".
My grandmother's journal, dated July 1958, which describes her trip to Germany, to see Bob in the hospital, offers few clues:
"Vaccinated Sat. July 5th and applied for my passport Mon. July 7. The passport was rushed through. Thanks to Hy Goldberg [the neighborhood druggist, and friend of my grandfather] I had a ticket "economy" to fly to Frankfurt. The round trip ticket cost $513.20. The flight left Logan on Tuesday at 1:00 PM. My seat companions were an Austrian woman of 80 and a negress, 30. They were both very sociable."
The journal goes on to describe my 50 year old grandmother's "adventure" through Gander, Newfoundland; Shannon, Ireland; London, England; Dusseldorf, Germany - finally arriving in Frankfort, Germany at 8:25 AM Wednesday EST (1:20 PM German time). She was paged at the arrival airport and recounts "I was sure Bob was gone when told to see the Red Cross - I was so rattled I couldn't remember a thing"
She arrived at the Airforce Hospital in Weisbaden at 2:00 PM German time to Ward 2A and Bob. He was glad to see her "His breathing was shallow, he felt very cold to the touch and his nails were blue. I rubbed his arms for over an hour before he got warm... While I was there he got out of bed and walked with difficulty but without anyone holding him down the corridor, about 70 of my steps".
The next day she writes"...Bob was very worried today, they found another abscess in the last incision and took 200 cc of pus from it. The doctor took out all the stitches, put the scissors into the incision [which she later describes as 5 or 6 inches long and 3 inches wide] and opened it all up again. No anesthetic either..." She speaks of him having dysentery, pains on the right side of the waist, having to wear a "Nelsonbinder" (used to bind him tight to keep his incision together), "fixing the colostomy himself" and weighing 117 pounds. Although she remains positive, on July 24th she writes, "The Doctor says he won't go back to the States".
She visited twice daily, bringing ice cream, cake, candy, and other goodies, noting his increased hunger and weight gain. They celebrated Bob's 23rd birthday, also her 28th anniversary - she writes "Miss Charlie something terrible". In August, she says that Bob is feeling better and told her about Morocco; "I had no idea what a mess it is nor how he happened to go there".
On the 26th she writes: "Was I ever thrilled and suprised young Earl Wiedner called and stayed for an hour just talking. He invited me for dinner and to stay all night. I can't get over his bothering. I didn't dare leave Bob.
Others mentioned: Miss Graham; Colonel Crouch; Dahl and his wife; Captain Chaplain Benjamin J. Shinn and two blond sons; Chaplain H. W. Wicker; Mrs Dempsey who had been in Morocco the "past two years"; Doctor Jernigan; Mrs. Thornton a Naturalized American from Australia her husband is a Colonel stationed in a "hell hole" in Turkey south of Istanbul; Mrs. Kinsley who's birthday is August 3rd and who's husband is dying of cancer; Colonial Thornton (army); Mrs Sweeny a friend of Mrs Nicolls from Arlington Virginia, Mary Calkins neighbor at the hotel
She stayed at: Unamed hotel with a loud sidewalk cafe; Amelia Earhart Hotel
Finally on Monday, August 11th she writes: "I am so excited I can't bear it!!!!! Bob is leaving Thursday (if the weather and conditions are right). He will be flown to the Azores then to Maguire in New Jersey where he will stay from 24 hours to four or five days depending on customs. He will then be flown to Chelsea Naval Hospital as Westover. I can hardly believe it."
Nana stayed in Europe another several weeks to tour, on Bob's insistence. She agrees, only because his final operation will be scheduled after her return. On August 18th, she notes that Bob has arrived at Chelsea Naval Hospital.
She had a fabulous sightseeing trip, but cheered with the others as her plane touched down in New York on 3 Sept 1958. She says "I called Charlie and he is to meet me at Logan". Then, "Arrived at 3:30 PM and am beginning to live again".