UP CLOSE WITH JEANIE
By Jeanie Summerville
Whatz up, babies?
I hope all is well with you and yours and that you’re still finding time to feel some joy, love, beauty, happiness and have some form of peace of mind as we travel on our journey of love and spend some more quality time together. As for me, I’m loving it and I know that GOD is loving it too! On that note, since this Sunday is Father’s day, I wanted to bring a father some beauty by bringing him to you. It was a little bit hard for me at first, only because, this father happens to be a WWII veteran and even though Memorial Day is over, I don‘t care, because he’s important everyday especially to his family and friends.
Before I get to his story, I need to share with you why I said that it was a little bit hard for me and it was simply because I knew it would bring back memories. You see, growing up in the ’60s wasn’t easy for me. One of the reasons is because I had a favorite uncle whose name was J.T. Wristpus, who was in a war at that time and I loved him very much. Whenever he was on leave, he’d stop by my mama’s house to visit and then he and I would run downtown to the restaurant of my choice and eat inside so we could spend some quality time together. I enjoyed those time so much because it made me feel that I was not all alone in the world since he brought me comfort. Then one day, my mother informed me that he would not be able to do that with me anymore because he stepped on a landmine helping others and he lost a leg and an arm in the process and all I could do was cry because I knew that, that beauty was taken away from me too. Then when I saw him we cried together because he was going to miss our quality time as well.
After that, having to learn history in school just sent me on a frenzy when it came to war and I would just cry continuously because my heart couldn’t take all the pain and suffering that they had to endure. So, I dropped out of history and picked up criminology instead. With time, I grew to understand the logic of why wars have to happen but that knowledge still doesn’t stop my heart from hurting when someone gets hurt or the compassion that I feel for the families who has lost a loved one and as long as war exists and I’m alive, I’m always going to have this feeling. And yes, I do understand that they have to do what they have to do to protect our country and I’m so proud of them because, even though they knew what their outcome could be, they were still willing to take that chance in hope of peace and that takes courage. So now at this time, we bring to you this week’s spotlight and this is what he has to say:
“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is James Allison and I grew up in Bellevue, Ala., and at the age of 18 I enlisted as a volunteer into the army because that was Ku Klux Klan country. On my mother’s side of the family, there were 10 girls and seven boys and all of the girls gave birth to all half white children because they were continuously being raped by the Klan. Also, my grandmother’s brother that was working with my granddad, who was the boss at a gin mill, was killed by the Klan when he beat up a Klansman that was raping his mother’s sister. They let him think for a week or so that he got away with it and then they put a rope around his neck and hooked him up to a tractor and pulled his neck out of his body. So I joined the army because I had to get away from all of that.
“The first place I was stationed was Fort Binging, Ga. Then we went to Okinawa and Naha Harbor Bay and at that particular time General John Buckner, with the marines, was also there and I saw when he got hit with a Japanese suicide plane that killed him there on his ship. While we were on the ship going to Naha Harbor Bay we got hit by a torpedo boat and there were 47 of us in the compartment that we were and only 17 of us got out before they had to close the whole ship down, to keep it from sinking, so the rest of them died, I was lucky.
“Also, while in Okinawa, three of us were on sniper patrol and the sergeant of the guard gave us a post where we’d stand guard, We all knew that we’re suppose to stay there until the sergeant relieved us with three more guards and then he’ll take us back. There was a lifter bag around the corner from our post that had water in it and we had canteens that they would fill with water and one of the men that was on post with me left to get some water even though he wasn’t suppose to. But, he did it anyway because he was like one of those bullies. So when the sergeant of the guards came back to relieve us he asked, where did he go and we said that he went to get some water but didn’t come back. So, now the replacement guards were in place and we went with the guard to go see where the third man was and we found him with his head completely off but he had water in his canteen.
“I’ve seen all kinds of stuff happen there and I had some close calls and nothing happened to me because I was lucky. I was very lucky. There were suicide airplanes shooting around us all the time but they missed me. I was in the war for four to five years and received lots of metals and a Purple Heart. After the war was over in 1945 I moved to Fort Wayne and got a job at the Chamber of Commerce as their first black chef. I learned how to cook while I was growing up in Alabama from my mother. But, the effect that the war had on me afterward, was that I had night sleep jumping. I would jump in my sleep due to the nightmares of the war and it took me a long time to get over that and it wasn’t easy. But once I got a job at Flash Fold Cartons, that sort of helped me because it motivated me since I had met a lot of guys and we’d talk about it and then I also had cousins that supported each other and I had a lot of friends. Then I met Ruby, we fell in love, got married and I just forgot about that stuff. Then we had seven girls and five boys and now I have 40 grandchildren and I’m enjoying my life to the fullest. And, somewhere in between that process I became a member of Post 148 and I’ve been there ever since.”
So now in closing I say, great job Mr. James Allison for sharing with us some of the things that you went through during WWII and I’m so happy that you survived it. Because if not, this opportunity to shine the spotlight on you would not have happened. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye bye babies.
P.S. If you would like the spotlight shined upon you or someone that you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from ya.
This article originally appeared in the June 12, 2013 print edition.