WWI My family stayed out of it. We were hill people, and mainly survived by bootlegging corn whisky in the hills of Missouri. MY Grandfather ran a farm leased from the State of Missouri that later became the "Home for Wayward N***er Boys" (That's exactly what the sign over the entrance read only without the little *)- basically, it was a prison orphanage for young black men who had lost their families for what ever reason. My Father was born there in the big House. My Grandfather, escaping military service in WWI wrangled a position as State Controller (a part time Treasurer, so-to-speak) and later became Sheriff of a boot heel country (Steel). He was in a great position to help his son, my Dad, later in WWII, as you will soon read.
WWII came, my Dad had been injured working in a lumber camp (WPA CCCA) when a tree he was felling collapsed on him, so he was unfit for military service. Went to Galveston and worked there building Destroyers (so he said). He was a 1-1/8th inch hole- he carried a drill motor with a magnetic clamp and when holes of that size were needed, he went, set up the rig and drilled the holes. I asked him if he ever drilled other sizes and he declared no- that a 5/8ths man had tried to switch with him and he had to bribe the boss to keep his rig- said the 5/8ths drill was all manual and too much work and would damage his back. So, I have to guess, there were not too many different sized holes on a ship if every drill size had one man assigned to it. Anyway, Mother told me there was no housing for the workers in Galveston, so they had to live not far from the beach in a tent. Mother had delivered my older sister in July of '42 and she was a new born. so, pressure was on to get a better place to live. They slept on army cots and she cooked on what she called a Bunsen burner fueled by gasoline (probably a kind of one burner camp stove). She said, a few weeks after sister was born, my Dad got some time off and drove back home to Missouri and when he came back, he had gallon cans full of gasoline and five cases of pint bottled of what was labeled "Four roses" whisky- which was not really official whisky, it was in counterfeit labels and all moonshine. She said it was a miracle he had not burned himself alive with all that flammable liquid in the car for that long trip.The next day, when Dad came in from the ship yard, he had his overalls filled with dollar bills. He was selling raffle tickets to the yard workers for a dollar each with the prize a pint of Four Roses- and each night, she would reach into a paper sack, pull out a slip of paper with a man's name on it and next day, Dad would deliver the whisky. Before long, she said, every day Dad would come in with more dollars than he could stuff in his pockets and she had to sew a part of a pillow case inside his bib to carry the wads of money. Needless to say, he made frequent trips back to the farm and Grand Dad back in Missouri for more supplies. Soon, they had enough to buy a house with a proper stove and bedroom, and they began to live better. Dad quit the ship yard and proceeded to deal black market- with the whisky raffle ongoing, he would drive back to Missouri and get fresh vegetables, tires, gasoline, butter, and sometimes eggs by the crate (and any other hard to get items) and sell them to the wives of the workers in the tent cities. Although most authorities probably knew what he was doing, they left him alone since they needed the workers as happy as possible (Mom reckoned that, not me)- I knew that Dad was a conniver and probably paid his bribes out properly to keep his business alive.
At the end of the war, they moved to Corpus Christi, and with his war money, they bought a good beach front restaurant and trailer park. Dad owned most of the trailers and the restaurant thrived for a while. I was born in '46. We lived there for a few years, but, Dad started (or increased) his drinking, things fell apart, they lost the restaurant and trailer park to bad debts (he had huge dreams and bought into every sort of bad venture). When things wen south, and they were broke, Dad ran off, they got back together for a while, and after only a few more years, my little sister was born and that was too much for Dad- he ran off and I never saw him really again until I was home on leave from Germany. He was still bouncing around from con-to-con, running a motel, cooking in truck stops, managing a flop house for homeless men, etc. Mother remarried an air force guy who took pretty good care of us- he fought in B-24 Liberators in WWII, from '43 to the end of the war. He was a radio operator, and he also flew in the Super G Connies (radar picket planes) out of McClellan. So, I basically grew up in Sacramento where I eventually enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1965---and the rest is history.