Thursday, April 27, 2006

Navy VII

In the last segment we mourned the death of John F. Kennedy and I brought my car up from Georgia.

Two items I overlooked was Sunday after I returned there was a big fire nearby out in the pines someplace near. Everybody in the barracks were ordered to be on standby to fight the raging fire. As many things people are put on standby for, our call to action never came. We just sat around and talked and couldn’t go out to eat.

Another, Thanksgiving Day, it was lonely and sad in the chow hall. It was sad because we were still in shock over the president getting shot. While eating about a dozen men came in with orange flight suits on. They were Norwegian sailors. They were off the coast of New Jersey and there ship sunk. Our helicopters saved them. Now, they got a free meal.

The above was just two little fragments of history that had no effect on my life, but I just thought it was interesting.

Now that I had my car, I thought I would drive to Carmel, New York, to visit my uncle, which was one of my mother’s brothers. I called him and he told me to come on up, and gave me directions, and bring my friends if I wanted. I invited Don and Reuben along.

We left on a Friday evening. It has been a long time to recall the highway we took, but it might have been the Palisades Parkway. Somehow I related it to the same highway that Sonny, in the movie GODFATHER, got mowed down on.

Whatever road we took we turned on the wrong ramp or exit and before we knew it we were in Brewster, Connecticut. We got off on the first exit and turned around. But, I get to count as a state I have been in, even though it was less than five minutes.

Somehow we got back on the right road or highway and found Carmel.

My uncle, William Leroy “L-Rod” (we called him “Roy”) Petty was a famous hero on D-Day. He climbed the cliffs at Normandy Beach and ended up shooting many Germans… I mean, a big number, he found himself in the middle of bunch of them and killed them all. And throughout the day killed bunches at a time.

Roy is one of the principle characters in the movie Rudder’s Rangers by Robert L. Lang. He was also in the book “Longest Day”, which he served as technical director when they made the movie.

He told our family each time ahead of time – for a few years on the Sunday closest to D-Day he was asked to stand up in the Ed Sullivan audience.

He married a glamorous New Yorker by the name of Dorothy. Their marriage lasted nine or ten years. She left Roy and married an heir of Pillsbury and moved to Tarrytown, New York. Dorothy and her their two sons Billy and Rodney were once in a full page insurance ad in Saturday Evening Post. She was very gracefully holding her two sons and the ad asks will you be prepared if something should happen to your husband.

Apparently, she made her own preparations.

Roy got custody of the kids in the divorce.

He and his two sons lived on top of a big hill that in a big house that he built himself. It was big then, but I doubt if today’s standards it would be considered big.

It was brick, with an upstairs of four bedrooms and an office, the main level had a big kitchen, dining room, living room, den, and a big screened-in side porch. Also a big enclosed carport and a full basement.

Paintings by him hung everyplace – which I may show some of them in a future blog.

He was cooking dinner when we arrived and he sent us to downtown Carmel, probably about 2 or 3 miles away to get beer on his tab at a local old fashion general store that you would only see in rural areas. Rodney went with us and told the man behind the cash register to put it on Dad’s tab, without signing anything. And the man nodded not asking for proof or anything.

Carmel, NY, is the home of Readers Digest, which the town seems very much like a Readers Digest kind of New England town.

When we arrived it was dark. We didn’t get to see the outside.

We had a pretty good drinking session after dinner, talking about many subjects, including religion. Roy was an atheist.

He has been dead about five years now, so he either knows he was wrong, or if he is right I suppose he is in oblivion.

The next morning we went with a walk with my first cousins Rodney and Billy. What we couldn’t tell the night before was the beautiful scene looking from his house and front yard. High up on the hill we looked down on a huge lake which we were told was the New York City Water Reservoir.

On our morning walk in the beautiful country side we were walking along the curvy road at the base of the hill they lived on top and a car sped around the corner which we had to jump out of the way and the boys’ dogs didn’t jump in time. His tail got cut off.

This was a get-reacquainted-visit. That I hope to mention some of the things that happened in some visits that was yet to come.

We mostly visited and ooing and ahhing over Roy’s works in various endeavors.

Before the war he was going to the University of Georgia. After the war he started a laundry business in Dalton, Georgia, and it didn’t prosper fast enough for him so he sold it and went back to the University of Georgia to finish up and get his degree, which he did.

During our conversations I mentioned that Berry College in Rome turned me down when I applied there. He said they won’t now.

And sure enough, in a few weeks I got a letter, with my HU-4 address, from the director of admissions of Berry College saying the looked at my application again and decided that I was accepted. I was to just let them know when my active duty was over. Probably one of my many mistakes, I didn’t follow up.

When he lived in New York City he was an athletic coach for the youth at Madison Square Garden. After a while he was offered a position as director of a youth club at Clearpool Camp, Carmel, NY. The biggest benefactor of the youth camp was the Heinz Foundation, which he also worked for them and had an office in the city.

To be continued-

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Blogger Billy said...

Hi...I just read your article on Bill Petty...I happen to have known Bill Petty for many years...I use to work at the summer camp for many years...anything else you can tell me about him...I'd love to hear it.much thanks.....Billy

12:38 AM  

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