Highlights of The White Sheep

    I was born on a farm in Blaine County, Oklahoma in 1921.  I was the youngest of seven children: three girls and four boys.  I have wondered many times why my parents had to have seven children.  Why couldn't they have settled for only six? 

    I can barely remember one Christmas when I received a sack of candy.  I can recall a few times when we would sit down at the table to eat, and dad would ask the blessing.  They did teach me a little prayer that I would say after he had finished, although I said it in German.  When translated it went something like this:  "Help us God, all the time, Amen."  These were the only rare occasions I can recall hearing Dad pray when I was a small boy.  As for Mom, I do not think that I ever heard her say a prayer, although I am sure that she did.  They did teach me a little prayer that I would say after Dad had finished his.  Isaid it in German, and when translated it went something like this:  "Help us God, all the time, Amen."  Other than this, there were no spiritual activities in our family.

    As a youngster, I had to share a bed with my youngest brother, Harvey, who was about six years older than me, and for some reason he never did like me.  He would always curse me when we were out where Mom and Dad could not hear.  He would call me about all that he could think of except a little brother and a human being.  He would curse me if I pulled a little too much cover or turned over too many times or maybe let my feet touch his.  It seemed as though no matter what I did, he just did not like it.  I would have liked to have had a brother who loved me, but he didn't treat me in love.  I suppose, as the youngest of seven children in the family, there just wasn't enough love to go around, so I had to be left out.

  I guess this is one of the few things that I enjoyed as a boy, and I am glad to have those memories in my heart.  However, those days now seemed to be gone forever when I could no longer go to his house or ask him over to mine.

    I had to lie to my friend.  I don't recall what I told him but I do know it had to be a lie.  I will always think that he already knew what it was, for I am sure that his dad knew what was going on over at our place.  I will never know for sure whether he knew or not.  It's impossible for me to ask him because he died with lung cancer about ten years ago, and since that time his dad also died.  Whether or not he knew that I lied to him is not the question then or now.  I know that I did and it leaves a bad memory. 

    It was just the beginning of a miserable eight years of shame and disgrace to this little boy who had so much love in his heart for all of his brothers and sisters. 

     I had an old wagon which was kind of dilapidated.  Two wheels had worn out or broken, and Harvey had replaced them with wooden wheels.  I was looking forward to playing with my wagon on the sidewalk in town.  However, when I mentioned it I was told that they "would not be seen with that old thing."  I suppose that from than point on, I felt a little ashamed of my wagon,  but it was all I had, so what was a boy supposed to do?

    With Dad in jail, we were faced with a hard winter that year--harder than I could have ever imagined.  There were times when we did not have very much.  However, we had plenty of water gravy.  I am sure that there were a lot of other families who had to eat some of the same, but with our family separated, it made things seem much worse to me.

    One night I walked out the door and there on the step was a large sack full of groceries.  I do not remember everything that  was in it, but I do know that it had some black-eyed peas in it.  This was probably the first time I ever ate any but I learned to like them.  On another night, someone unloaded a couple of tons of coal for us to use for heat.  I never learned where this came from either, but I always thought that maybe it was left by some of the people who went to church where Mom and Dad had attended,  and they could not let it be known that they were helping a family who had turned out to be as sinful as ours had, or they might be put out of the chruch if they were found out.  This was not a Christian attitude from my perspective today.

     Later in the winter, Reuben borrowed a car from a friend one day, and he took me to the county seat where Dad was in jail... Since it had been a long time since we had seen each other, I was really glad to see him, and I know he was glad to see me.  Reuben visited right in the jail with him.  It was nice and warm in there, and I know that he got three meals a day, so he may have more fortunate than the rest of us.  Still it was hard to leave him when it was time to go.  I didn't see him again until he came home. 

     By this time, Dad had served his time and was a free man again, but he had to go looking for a job.  Luckily he got on again at the gypsum plant where he had worked several years before.  However, this didn't help my situation concerning spending time with him because he stayed in the bunk house out on the job, and I only got to see him on weekends.  

    When I arrived (home), I found myself all alone in the house with no food.  At noon, I began to get hungry, and I looked for something to eat.  When Mom was home, she sometimes did laundry for the people who ran the bakery.  Instead of being paid with money, she had to take day-old bread and rolls.  I always enjoyed these very much, even though they were hard and dry.  On this day, when I searched the house for food, I found a cinnamon roll in the bread box which had been one-day-old when it came from the bakery, and it must have been in the bread box at least a week, so it was especially hard and dry.  However, I was hungry enough, so I ate it, and I can truthfully say that it was good, but that there just wasn't enough of it.
     That evening at supper time, there was still no one at home, and I was beginning to get pretty hungry.  I did my best to clean up, then I went to town, hoping that I would see someone who would help me get something to eat. I suppose I had a little too much pride to ask for a handout.  Maybe I was too shy, or maybe I just didn't have the nerve to let anyone know that I was hungry.  As a result, on this Saturday night, at the age of ten, I can truthfully say that I was hungry as I walked down the main street of my home town.
    I roamed the streets with an empty stomach that night, not knowing what to do.  I began to believe that it would have been better if I hadn't been born.  Then, in the deepest moment of my despair, I got lucky.  As I was sitting in front of a store, a car pulled to the curb, and Harry was in it.  He was out on bond.  The town bootlegger was in the car with him, so I suppose Harry had been making whiskey for him.  They asked what I was doing up town alone that time of night.  I told them I was hungry, and asked for a dime so that I could buy a sandwich or something.  They gave me a dime and they went on their way.  I went to the cafe, where hamburgers only cost a nickel.  However, that night I ate in style.  I ordered a ham sandwich.  The lady brought it and I gave her the dime, not realizing that this may not have been enough, but she took it and never said anything, so it must have been.  I will never forget how good that sandwich looked, and it tasted even better.  I felt much better after eating, so I went home alone and went to bed.

     It seems rather strange to a boy how a mother can go into a kitchen that does not have anything in it to eat, and with a little flour, salt, pepper, sugar, and maybe a few other small items, she is able to stir up something that's fit to eat.  I don't remember what it was that day, but it filled up the empty place in my stomach. 

    As I approached the depot, I saw a man coming down the other side of the street, and I thought I recognized him.  At least I was hoping that I did. As he got closer,  I could see that I was right.  It was Dad.  He had been released from the hospital in the city.  None of us knew that he was coming home.  Mom did not even know.  I ran across the street to greet him, and I will never forget how he grabbed me and how glad he was to see me.  I was really happy, and it was wonderful just to think that we would all be together again.

    Dad spent a lot of time working away from home on different jobs, usually on farms where he wouldn't come home at night, and sometimes not even on weekends. 

    I don't know if he agreed to let Mom and Harry sell whiskey or if they just didn't care whether he did  or not, but that's what they did.  They began selling whiskey in our house, and we were now known in our town as bootleggers.  It wasn't much of a home anymore.  With men coming and going anytime of the day or night, there was no privacy whatsoever.  Some would come in and buy a bottle and just take it along with them, never taking a drink while they were there.  Others would come in and take a few drinks, feeling a little high when they left.  Still others had been drinking or were already drunk before they even arrived at our house.  These were the worst, because they would come in and drink some more, with no respect for anyone.  They would curse, tell dirty stories, and sometimes even get sick and vomit.  Worst of all, they wouldn't always  even make it out the door before they got sick, and they would vomit on the floor.  To me it was sickening, but this was the place that I was supposed to call home. 

    Harry was drinking even more.  It may be hard to believe, but some days he would drink as much as one half-gallon of moonshine from the time he would get up in the morning until he went to bed at night.  It is needless for me to say that he was drunk nearly all the time.  Some days he would sober up more than others, but this wasn't always good either.  It seemed to me that the more sober he was, the less respect he had for me, his little brother.  I don't think he cussed me quite as much as Harvey, but he was always telling me how worthless and dumb I was, and how he should have me sent to the boy's reformatory at Pauls Valley and where they would "learn me some sense."  However, when he would get drunk, some of the goodness would show up in him and he would treat me like a little brother again.  I really do not know why everyone disliked me so much.  I guess I should have been born a dog, then maybe I would have gotten a little more loving.

    Sometimes (my brother Harry) would offer me a drink but I would always turn it down.  It was getting late in the night and he had drank enough for it to take effect on him and I suppose he realized that he shouldn't have brought his little brother out there for an operation of this kind.  Toward morning, he finally told me that I should move away from the fire and walk down the creek because he was afraid the sheriff might come out near daylight, and he didn't want me to get caught here with him.  He said if they caught me out here they would probably send me to reform school, and he didn't want that to happen to me.  I hated to move away from that fire because it was just a little cool in the grass, but I was going to do what he said because I didn't want to go to reform school.  It even made me feel good to hear him say this because he never talked this good to me when he was sober. 

    Somehow, deep down inside, I was building up a feeling of my own--one that is hard to describe.  Maybe it was a feeling of pride, although I didn't have anything worthy of pride.  All I had was a lot of shame and disgrace, and a life full of disappointments.  

    There were times when mom would try to get my brother to quit his drinking and try to live and do better. She would suggest that maybe he should go out and get a job. But he would only curse, drink, argue, and make her cry. This was kind of hard for me to take. This did not happen just once, but very often. So I made another promise to myself that I would try to live a better life - a kind of life that my relatives would not have to be ashamed of. I also promised myself that I would never argue with my mother or do anything to make her cry.

    Oh, how badly I wanted something that I could be proud of! I wished that I could throw my chest out, hold my head up high, and tell the whole world that these two men were my brothers, but I could not. I was so ashamed as I walked down the street. I was feeling low, kicking at rocks on the street, wondering why things had to be the way they were. It seemed as though that was just the way it was, and I knew I better stay prepared to face the ugly consequences. Still, I could always hope that tomorrow might be a better day.  

   One night Harvey had to make a trip for my parents to a little town about twenty miles west for some supplies for their business. I wanted to go along because it was nearly the Fourth of July, and I knew that firecrackers were sold all year around in that town, but they weren't yet available in our town. Mom said I could go, but Harvey wanted to take his girlfriend along. I didn't care if she went, but he said that if I went, he wouldn't take her along. Since I was intent on going, he took me and left her at home. During the course of that evening, he cursed me and called me everything except a little brother. I got my firecrackers, and we came home. I was glad the night was over, but it just didn't seem like there was ever anything very good for me in life. I got my firecrackers, but at what cost? I also got a cussing, so why should I be happy?  

    By this time, the pressures were having a serious effect on Mom and Dad, and they were not getting along very well with each other anymore. I recall a big argument they had in the kitchen one evening. Harry sided with Mom, and I thought they were going to resort to a physical fight. I was torn between all of them, and trying to keep them from it. All of a sudden, Dad grabbed a butcher knife from the table and said he was going to kill himself. He was standing up, and he was feeling his throat with his left hand to locate the spot where he wanted to jab the knife. He held the knife in his right hand, and it was ready. Just then I jumped in front of him, grabbed his strong arm that held the knife, and said, "Papa, don't." I took hold of the knife, and he released his grip. Then I took it from him and put it out of sight. I know that he didn't want to kill himself, but I'm sure that at that moment he was unhappy enough and upset enough to have done so if I hadn't tried to stop him.
    Harry only said, "Why didn't you let him go. He didn't have the guts enough to do it anyway." Dad went outside and walked into town. Mom and Harry also left. The place was kind of lonesome and deserted, yet quiet.

    During the Depression, we were always hearing or reading in the paper about outlaw gangs, led by famous bad guys such as Machine Gun Kelly, John Dillinger, Clyde Borrow and Bonny Parker, and Floyd and Raymond Hamilton. I always had a little fear of these outlaws, although I don't think they were quite as wicked as they were portrayed in the tales that are told about them. However, there was one outlaw that I actually admired. He was known as Pretty Boy Floyd. They said he would take from the rich and help the poor, and also that he worked a lot by himself. I always thought that maybe I would grow up to be like him, or maybe someday I'd get to be in a gang with him as the leader. However, I was still too young, except to daydream and wonder what the outlaws would do next.

    When Leland came home, I heard Leah tell him that I was sick again. He must have been more concerned about me than I realized, because he immediately came upstairs to see about me. He sat on the edge of my bed, and placed one hand on my shoulder as he talked to me. He asked where I felt sick, and he wondered if there was anything he could do for me. It was a wonderful feeling having him sit there and talk the way he did. I guess I hadn't realized that anyone really cared that much for me.  

    One day as I lay in bed, I heard Dad talking to my sisters in the other room. I suppose they thought I was asleep, but I wasn't. They were afraid that maybe I was not going to get well and that I would die. They thought that maybe someone should go see Mom and see if she would want to come home for a while, but I wouldn't have asked them to do that if had been up to me. Nevertheless, Leland went after her, and she came home. I will always think that it was against her will, but she came.

    One day while I was lying in bed listening to the radio, the program was suddenly interrupted with a news bulletin. They announced that Pretty Boy Floyd had been shot, and they soon followed up with a report that Pretty Boy Floyd was dead. This was a terrible shock to me since I admired him so much. Of course I realize now that this again goes to show that crime doesn't pay, and sooner or later it will catch up with a person. My recommendation is to play it safe, and walk the straight and narrow path. It might seem like the hard way, and it may take a little longer, but earn what you get. Later in life, you will be able to be proud of what you have, and you won't ever have to be ashamed.  

    One Saturday, I went to town to spend the weekend with my parents. Mom told me that her sister had planted a fall garden. She said that some of the vegetables were just about ready to ripen when I got sick. However, she had to come home to take care of me, so now she wasn't going to get to eat any of those ripe vegetables. She said that if it hadn't been for me, she could still be with her sister, eating her share of fruits and vegetables from the garden. I assured her that it wasn't my idea to have her come home, and that I thought I was getting along fine with things the way they were. She never mentioned it again, but I was never able to forget what she said, knowing that she thought more of a garden than she did of me.

    When Harry walked to the chair at the witness stand, he took the oath, and then he turned and faced the judge. There was a railing about shoulder-high where he stood, and he placed his left elbow on that railing, and his head was bowed downward as he stood before the judge. The judge picked up his gavel and banged it lightly on his desk, but it seemed terribly loud to me. I think I could hear my own heartbeat. The silence was broken when the judge asked Harry if he pled guilty or not guilty. He did not have the money for an attorney, so he had to plead guilty. Then the judge said, "I hereby sentence you to serve one year and one day in the state penitentiary at McAlester." By now, the courtroom seemed awfully quiet and I was choked up. The judge then broke the silence again by saying, "However, since this is your first penitentiary offense, I will give you a suspended sentence for a period of one year." As I sat there in the courtroom, I was happy to hear what the judge had said. I had to try hard to squeeze back some tears and not show any emotion. I watched Harry, still standing before the judge, with his head hanging quite low. Maybe he couldn't believe the last few words that the judge said. Then he slowly moved his arm, and said in a low voice, "Thank you, judge."
    Harry walked very slowly back toward me, and I think this was the only time I ever saw him come close to crying, because he wasn't one to shed tears. As we left the  courtroom, we were very relieved, and much happier than when we arrived. On our way home, we decided to stop by my Reuben's house and tell him the good news. It was a little out of our way, but that didn't seem to make any difference.
    Neither one of us thought about Mom, who was home waiting for me to bring Harry's car. As the day went by and I didn't show up, she began to worry. We stayed at Reuben's longer than we should have, but we finally started for home. It was nearly dark when we arrived, so again Mom scolded me for not coming straight home to tell her the news. After a few moments of griping at me for causing her some worry, she finally decided that she was glad that her boy didn't have to go to prison. That was worth something, but I still felt bad knowing that it wasn't my fault we were late. However, when taking everything into consideration, I suppose it wasn't meant for me to do anything right, so why should I even try or care?  

    One day at school when the bell rang for lunch and the whole class was marching out, this friend of mine hollered at me for everyone to hear, "Hey bootlegger. When you come back from lunch, why don't you bring us all back a drink of whiskey so we can all get drunk." As I rushed away from school that day with a sad and heavy heart, I didn't know what to do. All I knew was that I never wanted to go back. When I got home, I told Mom that I wanted to quit school. I said that I was not learning anything and I would not pass anyway, which was true, but that wasn't the main reason. I couldn't tell her the main reason, but I think she knew. As a result, that day turned out to be my last day of school. I didn't even bother to go back to get my books.  
    About two weeks later, Mom wanted me to take her to visit an elderly couple that lived about a block from school. I took her there and waited in the car for her. It just happened to be at a time when some of the kids were out on the playground, and I was watching them when Mom came out. She asked me if I was lonesome for school and wondered if I wanted to go back. I told her I wasn't lonesome for it, but I was. I wanted to be there, if only things could be different at our house. Although I wasn't in school anymore, I never stopped learning. Most of my learning came from experience. If I found something that interested me, I studied it. However, no matter how much I studied and learned, it didn't help if I didn't have that diploma or a degree.

    On the day of the hearing, Mom, Dad, Harry, and several of us kids all went to the courthouse to see what the outcome would be. As we were waiting for the time for us to go into the courtroom, I'm sure that Mom and Dad thought about how bad it would be for us kids to have to witness seeing our mother being sentenced to jail. They hadn't told us younger kids much about what was happening, so we didn't realize the possible outcome. Mom pled guilty to the charges, so the judge sentenced her without even going to trial. I think she did this to make it a lot easier for us kids, which it did. At least that is one scene that I don't have to picture in my memory. I had already sat in one courtroom with my brother, and that leaves memories that are sad enough, so I'm glad I didn't have to see my mother sent to jail.
    That was a sad day--much sadder than Mom ever knew. The rest of us had to go home and leave her there to serve her time. When we got home, the house seemed empty. There was someone missing. It was like coming back from a funeral. The thought of it all was just killing me until I finally broke down and cried. For some consolation, I reasoned that at least I didn't have to go to school and face all the kids. I could already imagine what they would be calling me now.  

    I went to the recruiting office and enlisted in the United States Marines Corps.
    My sister Helen, who is two years older than me, often washed and ironed my clothes for me, and she cooked me many meals. Since I was going off to war and she had always been so good to me, I wanted to give her something to show my appreciation. I went to the jewelry store and bought her a wristwatch. The girls in the store who sold it to me asked if it was for a girlfriend. I told them that it wasn't, but that it was for my sister, and they could hardly believe it.
    The folks had a dinner for me the Sunday before I went away. Reuben and I went for a ride through town in his car. He asked me if I was really doing what I wanted to do, and what I thought was right. I told him I would be drafted into the Army in a few days anyway, and that I always thought I'd like to be a Marine. When we got home, he gave me five one-dollar bills. The bills were new and crisp, and the serial numbers on the bills were consecutive. I decided to try to save two of these bills and carry them through the war if I could.
    Reuben then went back home, and it was hard for me to say good-bye. However, the most difficult good-bye came when Leah and Leland were ready to go home. Leland went out and waited in the car--I'm sure that this really made it easier for both him and me. Leah held me in her arms and cried on my shoulder. When I told her not to cry because I was leaving, she told me she wasn't crying because of that. She said that she was very proud of me for what I was doing. Those words she spoke, I will never forget. I couldn't remember anyone in my life ever telling me before that they were proud of me. The next morning, I bid the rest of my family good-bye, and that wasn't easy either. I was then on my way to Oklahoma City, where I was sworn into the Marine Corps on August 18th, 1942.  

    While serving in the Southwest Pacific, I was criticized several times for not having a high school education. Still, I was always respected by most of the men. One day, our staff sergeant had to go to the hospital, and I had to take charge in his place. I overheard two men talking about me. They didn't think that I should have that responsibility because I didn't have a high school education. This made me feel unhappy and unwanted. It seemed like things just always turned out this way for me. I served thirty-one months in the South Pacific, returned to the states, and received my honorable discharge on November 27, 1945.

    A few days after New Year's Day in 1950, I read in the paper where a young man had killed a family of five in eastern Oklahoma. He had thrown their bodies into an abandoned mine in southwest Missouri. He had then fled to California, where he killed again, and he was finally captured. Shortly after this, he was put to death in the gas chamber, and his body was then sent back to Oklahoma for burial. An article was published in the newspaper telling about this man's childhood. It said that he didn't have much of a home, and he had to wear worn-out and ragged clothes. He had been shoved around and criticized by people that he knew. He didn't have any friends, and he learned to hate, and his hate led him to kill.
    As I read this story, my mind wandered back to my boyhood days. I was reminded of myself when I was a boy, and how I also learned to dislike certain people. It scared me to think that this could have happened to me, and that someone else could have been reading something like this about me. I am sorry that this had to happen to that man, and I'm very thankful that I had other ways of looking at life. I always tried to live the kind of life that some people said I couldn't live. I had made a promise to myself when I was a teenager that I was going to whip a certain man when I got old enough and big enough. Years later, when I inquired about the whereabouts of that man, I was startled to hear that he had died a few years back. I was a little sad at heart, because I realized that I didn't want to whip him. When you whip someone, you have to hurt them, and it just isn't in me to want to hurt anyone. I was sorry that he died. The only thing I can say is that I hope that he was a Christian when he departed from this earth.  
    You can see from my experiences that an education is of vital importance in this day and age. I say to the youth of this country and throughout the world that as you graduate from high school and prepare to go to college, set goals that you would like to reach in your life. Remember that you have the most important years of your life ahead of you, and what you do with them depends entirely upon you. Imagine an eagle sailing slowly through the air with his wings spread wide. Picture yourself as being able to look down from there, where you could see the whole world spread out far below--a world full of opportunities just waiting for someone like you. But remember this one thing: this world is also full of evil and temptations. Set some good goals and standards for living, and then strive to reach the goals you have set. If you should happen to fail and fall short of those goals, don't hesitate or be afraid to start over again. It is far better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.

    As for Harvey, he's living in California, but I would have to say that he has completely wasted his life. It's hard enough to know that he's known as an alcoholic, but he's also known as a wino. He uses most of his money to buy cheap wine. When I look at his life, it appears to me as though he just wasted it away. It's easy to look at him and see that he hasn't done any good for himself, but I do hope that back along the way he did some good that I know nothing about. I also hope that there might still be some miracle performed in his life, but the way things are today it makes me sad at heart to know his condition. It hurts just a little more to know that he's my brother. I'd like to leave a few words of wisdom to anyone who thinks that the bottle is the only way out. "He who tries to drown his troubles by drinking finds that he only irrigates them."
    I don't know what Harvey thinks of my life today. I have to believe that I was put here on earth for some reason, and also to do some good. That reason still seems to be eluding me. I try to do some good each day, either for someone else or myself, or do something that might be helpful to someone else, either today or in the future.

    Sometimes in these days, I feel as though I have been a total failure. Yet, when I take time to look around, I find that I have things that money couldn't buy. My wife, Grace, may not be the best woman in the world, but she is certainly one of the best. When I think back to what the man said in the lunchroom about being a millionaire, I suppose I can say that I am worth three million dollars, plus another million or so. We have three children--two girls and a boy. Tessora and Clarissa are grown and out on their own, and Owen is already a sophomore in high school. I like to think back to the days when they were small. At night when I would come home from work, they would come out to meet me—sometimes to carry my lunch pail, or maybe I would pick them up and carry them into the house. But those days are already in the past.
    However, today there is someone else who adds a lot of sunshine to each day—our little grandson, Shane. He sometimes crawls up onto my lap and gives me a soft tender kiss and then presses his cheek up close to mine as he slips his little arms around my neck and says, "Grandpa, I love you." Those words should fill a man's heart with joy. It makes my mind wonder back to the day when I was a teenage station attendant, and the young minister walked into the station early one morning with a smile on his face. I can see now that he had something to smile about when he greeted me with a "good morning." I had asked what was so good about it, and now I have to agree with his answer. Yes, it is good just to be alive.

Afterword

by Owen Weber

    Despite Dad's claim of being "a total failure," Clarence Weber was no failure. Although he never received a standing ovation, his life was a raving success.
    Dad was a Christian. He took his family to church every time the doors were open. I can't be sure of the extent to which he studied the Bible, but it lay next to his recliner until his dying day. He was also an honest man, and everyone knew it. He always did what he thought was right, regardless of what anyone else did.
    Dad was a good man. In the way that this is meant here, it is no small accomplishment, because I haven't met many people with an unexplainably and inherently "good" quality. I can make this claim knowing that anyone who knew Dad and who reads these words will agree. Yet, it is beyond my understanding how he overcame the bitterness from his childhood and became a nice and giving man. He never did accumulate wealth, and I believe it is because he gave it away before it could accumulate.
    Dad was a gentle giant. He was about six feet tall, and he weighed over 200 pounds. He always worked extremely hard physically, and he was never mistaken for a white-collar worker. He was stronger on the day he died at age 71 than most men ever are. He could lay on his back, lift a transmission with one hand, and thread the bolts with the other. As a young boy, sitting next to him at church, he would sometimes reach over and place my hand in his. I marveled at his gigantic hand as it lay in my lap. It was strong and as hard as a rock from blacksmith work. As I played with his hand to pass the time, I couldn't imagine anything ever hurting me, knowing that Dad would protect me. He gave me security. We never had much money, but I never went hungry a day in my life.
    Dad was smart. Having never overcome his shame of lacking a high school diploma, he received his GED at age 65, but his intelligence was not a result of any formal education, or lack of it. Indeed, Dad was a dreamer and a visionary. He could look at a piece of land, envision a house, a shop, and a pond on it, and then build them all with his bare hands. He could look at a house, envision a remodeling job, and then perform it with those same strong hands. He invented a boat with its own trailer, and then he built it. He could do nearly anything he pleased, but he seldom had the time to do so. Most of his time was spent simply working hard, trying to earn enough money to provide a meager life for his family.
    Dad was a U.S. Marine. His military training gave him discipline and pride, although he harbored many horrific scenes from World War II in his mind, and these were a source of nightmares and nerve problems throughout his life. Nevertheless, since he was so proud of being a marine, I believe that a fitting close for his book is a tribute to his military career. I had the privilege of writing the following eulogy and delivering it at his funeral on October 15th, 1992:
    On August 8th, 1942, at the age of 21, Clarence Weber enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He left immediately for Boot Camp, traveling by train to San Diego, California. On January 10th, 1943, after completing Boot Camp, the 1500 men of his battalion, the 12th Defense Battalion, left San Diego by ship for Hawaii. They arrived at the island of Oahu, and spent three months in Hawaii, including some time at Pearl Harbor.
    In May, 1943, they left Hawaii and traveled to the Samoan Islands, then on to Australia, arriving at Townsville. Next they went to New Guinea, then on to Woodlark. At Woodlark, they suffered heavy bombing from the Japanese, in their defense of the airstrip, which had been built there by the Sea Bees. In this defensive effort, Clarence served as a Director on the 90-millimeter anti-aircraft artillery.
    From Woodlark, they went back to New Guinea, where they spent Christmas of 1943. They then moved on to New Britain Island, where they spent the first six months of 1944. In July, 1944, they went to Guadalcanal, and then on to Bonika Island.
    Their next stop was at Peleliu, where they endured some of the most heated fighting of World War II. The infantry of the 1st Marine Division and others, and the anti-aircraft defense of the 12th Defense Battalion combined to provide a slow but decisive victory for the U.S. It was this victory by the Marines at Peleliu that allowed General Douglas MacArthur to be able to keep his promise of returning to the nearby Philippine Islands.
    Next, the 12th Defense Battalion went to Okinawa, and on to Guam. They then returned to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and then set out for the U.S. mainland, thinking that they were only returning to the U.S. for a short rest and a well-deserved furlough. It was during this leg of their journey that the U.S. dropped two nuclear bombs on the mainland of Japan, and the Empire of Japan formally surrendered to MacArthur on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The marines returned to San Diego on August 20th, 1945, after 31 months overseas. Clarence soon traveled by train to the state of Virginia, where he received his Honorable Discharge from the United States Marine Corps on November 27th, 1945, at age 24, after 39 months of faithful service to the country that he loved, as a veteran of war.