Veterans Interview with Mary Lou Knaack, at Patriot’s Landing in DuPont, Washington. Marylou is the wife of veteran Karl Knaack, retired Sgt. 1st class, E7 with the U.S. Army, a draftee in 1952 who served in Korea.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
This special answers for elders podcast honoring military veterans is sponsored by carriage. For more information about carriage, the website is see AAR EA gecom. This is chuck holmsted. We’re at Patriots landing in Dupont Washington, and with me today is Mary Lou KNNAC and Mary Luke. Welcome to this veterans interview for answers for elders. Thank you. Well, we interviewed your husband a while back, Carl, and he was in the army as a service back in the Korean War. Korean War, that’s that’s right, and so we thought it would be really interesting to not only hear from a veteran but also to hear from the spouse of a veteran, because there’s some really interesting stories that happen from the spouse’s perspective, and so we just wanted to spend a little bit of time with you here today. Thank you. Tell me. Well, in fact, today is your birthday and fifth yeah, it’s okay, congratulations. And so where were you born? I was born in a little town in souft prairie Washington. South Prairie Washington. Where is that? It’s between Buckley and Orty. Okay, so not that far from here, from Patriots landing, I mean just wich, it’s really not. Maybe seventy, sixty, seventy miles, I’m not sure. Wow. So one thousand nine hundred and thirty three. So what was what was life like back was at on a farm? Where were you in town? I was born and raised on a farm and the farm is still there. It’s still there, Yep. And just what were you farming back then? Lots of Hey, my dad raies, cows, pigs and we had raspberries, a big field raspberries. I mean it was a good life. I mean we, you know, we got the hay down every night and then days the farmers went from farm to farm to help pay, because there was about four big farms around us. And our farm is still in Southbury and I think one of these days I should go back there just to see it’s. Well, sure, do you recall how many acres your dad was farming in those days? No, I don’t. It was it was quite a few. Yeah, well, yeah, so how many years did you live on the farm? Probably Killo was about twelve or something. HMM. Then we moved. My Dad was very sick with ulcers and everything. And so anyway, we had a small house down the a block or two from our house on the Southbury Creek. We had a little house and my sister and her husband lived in it and they decided to go to Seattle. So when we sold the farm we moved down there on the creek. Yeah, so you said that you were about twelve. So that would have been about on thousand nine hundred forty five, right towards the end of World War II. Yeah, and but I went to the eighth grade at the Southbury school. Freshman to senior year, we had to ride the bus to Buckley to school. M and I graduated from Buckley High School. And so that would have been in the late s. You graduated from High School One thousand nine hundred and I think fifty one. Fifty one. So what happened after that, after graduation? Well, I met Carl when I was fifteen, hmm, and we went together a couple of years. So then, like I say, I graduated and he was out of school and he was working, had a good job. So we decided well, we’re going to get married, and you can do that in those days, couldn’t you? As a youngster. These days it’s you know, the finances and the way jobs worked. Back then you could really do that right. It’s a lot different today. HMM. Then, back then we got married, to course, after a couple of years, and I got pregnant and we start building a house and Carl was called for in a draft and he was for F. Well, that’s yeah, that’s why we got married, because she was for F he didn’t have to go into service. But then soon as we got married and start building a house, here comes a letter at the end to go for another physical and then it was greeting sin salutations. HMM. So, and this was back to go right around the start of the Korean War, but around fifty three or so, five Thousan two hundred and fifty two. Here he was in the war. Yeah, so, but we did get our house finished enough so I could live in it. I tried to get little things done while he was gone. And then our daughter. Of course, I was pregnant when he left. So our daughter was born. Now, what was that like, being pregnant in your husband’s over in Korea? That’s got to be tough. It was. It was tough and but things went good. I try to send them pictures of her and everything. I knew the situation was tough where he was at. One day I get this letter and he asked me, he’s just can you go to the gunsmith shop pieces I do not have a cleaning rod for my machine gun. And so I went to stoner’s and peel up and he knew this fellow lile that worked in the gun shop and I read him to part. Carl says he needs a cleaning rod but it has to be broke down for I can ship it in the mail, because he’says, if I can’t keep them two machine guns clean, they’re not going to fire. MMM. So the car said upset me. But anyway this lyle made him right away. He got out of it and made him cleaning rod and it broke down into six inch sections and put it in a nice little canvas bag with a snap on it and I got it off to him. MMM, and that he always said if he had that, didn’t have that cleaning rod here. Never came home. HMM interesting. Yeah, Anyway, I’m sure that that was tough to have to deliver that to him. I mean I know he needed it, but still just to understand that. You know. Yeah, it was tough and you know, to see how he had to live and how cold it was and everything. It was stuff on me. Yeah, and because you know, and it sometimes it still is. I mean, we had to go to an interview, and I don’t know why, out to for Lakewood one day. It was something to do with the service, and we went in this room and they had Gi’s and their wives and at Carl and I and the first thing we had a the lady put us in there and we had to see his film and then she was going to talk to US afterwards. Well, a film just came on and here’s all these gies with full backpocks and everything. Carl just took off left me sitting there and I’m looking at this movie. H and I’m sitting there crying and I thought, oh my gosh, why did he leave me here? You know, I can’t watch his movie. But Anyway, here this lady come and got me and one the fellows across the lanes’s my Gosh, she’s got pstd. I didn’t know what pst was, but anyway, here I’m crying in the lady did come and get me and she says, Oh my God, you got PSD to and Isaac. Well, the war was very tough, you know, for me home with the baby, and I knew he was on the front line, you know. And but anyway, she took me out of the room and we went and sat in the office and talked to her and she said, Carl if you ever need help, I’ll be here to help you. HMM. And and course we got to leave and, like I say, it was quite a few years ago. I don’t have a memory of what it was he was trying to do with the service. Yeah, well, they might have been trying to do some sort of an evaluation of you know, even though it’s interesting, Mary Louis, you’re talking about this that that that would have been fifty years but you were still dealing, maybe not even knowing it, still dealing with all those memories back there of how tough it was and it’s just something it never goes away. And it was so long. He didn’t he didn’t talk about the war or anything, but you know, I just I knew it was tough and I knew it was you know, he was in the hospital for a while mat of back, but I never knew why and I don’t think I know to this day why, and not a little thing. We were on a cruise and we were all at breakfast when morning there was six of us and it was no orianial couple and he looked over Carl and he’s girl, you ever been to Tokyo? Carl says, yeah, I was mat of back to the hundred and ten hospital are on industry and he looked at Carl and he said, well, you know, I’m a doctor and I was serving my internship there at the same time you were in that hospital. Interesting, synetical and Oh my, Oh my, all those years ago, as I as I hear you talk about writing letters and sending pictures of the baby, I think we forget how communication was back then as far as letters and pictures. We’re so used now for emails and looking at pictures on our cell phones and all that sort of thing to recognize that in those days when he was in Korea, did he ever was he ever able to make a phone call to you? No, no, never a phone call. So you never got to hear his voice. Nope, you only got letters and pictures. That’s right. Yeah, letters in a few pictures. Yeah, and how many months was he gone two years, two years, two years. Yeah, and then after the war was over, he still had to stay and train the new troops that were coming in, and I think it was there like for two more months. But I can remember the letter that came that said I’m coming home. HMM, happiest day of my life. Yeah, of course. So, yeah, and you had really been married? How long before he had to leave for the war? We must have been married about eight months or so. Hmmm, it wasn’t too long. I mean, like I say, we just got married right away start building a house. Part of the foundation was in, so we had to use that. What happened? His boss said, Carl, if you will fence five acres for me, I’ll give you that lot. And so my mom and dad helped cut the seedar friends posts and we fince that five acres to get that lot. Was a big start for us to get a free lot with part of a foundation in. Sure, sure, and wed just use that same blueprint to build a house. Yeah, let’s fast forward a little bit at when Carl came back from the war. So then, did he stay in the service or did he retire from the service? No, he just D had stay in the reserves so many years. HMM. But he was probably home two days and we got a knock on our door and they wanted him to come back to work already. It was a carpenter, mm, which, oh my gosh, you know, we’re back and it was tough. We weren’t even adjusted or anything to live in. And curse our little debbie, you know, she didn’t like that stranger in the House with her mother. But because that’s the first time that he had seen his baby, his Dabby, his daughter, we were at the airport when he came home and boy, she just you can’t get close to my mom, I know, ha, ha ha. She was fourteen months old and sure it. Yeah, it was quite an adjustment, you know, him living with a bunch of Giyes and just turn eye home most of the time together. MMM. And at the in those days, were there any kind of support groups for women who who had husbands in the military or who were fighting in the war? No, yeah, nothing, notice. Yeah, not like there is now. No, yeah, things have changed. I can remember. I was a little but I can remember. You know, it had to be the depression because, like we had a farm, like say, we had food and we had a big garden and we had lots of chickens and so we never went hungry. But a lot of people in this little town of South Prairie were hungry and my mom and dad would fix a basket with homemade bread and sauce, eage and eggs for they had stuffed deat because some people were so hungry and didn’t have food. And you know, living on a farm, we had to milk, we had eggs and my dad butchered and made all kinds of different sauceages in them days. I mean it’s it’s different than today. Yeah, kids just don’t have all that experience and we learned to work. We all had, you know, little chores we had to do and so really having the farm, it was neighbors helping neighbors during those depression years. Wasn’t it bad? There? Wasn’t they are was at government subsidies out in the up there? Nope, we all like I say, you know, when haying come it was from one farm to the other. And so then after after Carl came back. Then I understand that you moved to Alaska. Is that correct? Yes, how many years in Alaska? We spent thirty years in Alaska. Where in Alaska were you? Our first job was in the new town of Valdeas. You know, earthquake and tidal wave had just taken everything. There was probably three little buildings in the old town. That tide would come in so close sometimes to the little store that was left they would grow up to the front door in the boat. So anyway, they built a new town five miles around the harbor and so that was Carl’s first job up there and it it was rough living and we made good money and good, good start in life. And then from there we just happened to get he got other jobs and we just we were all over in Alaska. We were in Ketchican, fairbanks. He was on the island of Vangoon and build a gymnasium and like fair banks, it was malls, doctors, offices, grocery stores. I worked most of the time because it’s to our daughter, debby, had gone to work for senatorsigner because she would like twenty some years old and she had lots of experience working for attorneys while she was in high school. Our Son was still ahead, I think his senior year, and so he graduated in Ketchikan and we just we just seemed to migrate all over. Yeah, the jobs fair banks and our last ten years was in fair banks. Yeah. So then, how did you come down here to Patriots landing? What brought you here? Well, Carl has asbestioses and diabetes and whatnock, and we had a nice place and all in lacy, but his health is deteriorating. He and Nice and both look good on the surface. But we decided patriots landing was for us. We got the swimming pool, we got the hot and most places don’t have all them goodies. Yes, so we decided we’re going to come to patriots and I mean we enjoy it because it just like home. Our daughter gets all upset sometimes because we are closed. A serted him, but like a tellers she’s got her family and everything there and it’s no big deal. They taught me to run one of these ipads so I get pictures of the great grand kids and everything. No, in life is good here. I mean we’re like one big family. Mary Lou, I’m certainly glad you’d shared your story. Do you have? You’ve had an interesting life of eighty five years, very interesting, guess some it’s been a good life. You know it just I I remember the good things on the farm. I remember how close my dad was with me and he always called me Jim and to this day Carl Calls Me Jim because my tag just wanted a boy and he just said two girls uh, and of course I was a baby in the family for just buddy buddy. Well, thank you for sharing with us today and I appreciate your sacrifice during the war, during the Korean War, because it was a sacrifice for our country and I appreciate it so much and thanks for joining me today. Thank you. This has been a special honoring Veterans Presentation of answers for elders brought to you by carriage. For more information about carriage, the website is cre angecom.
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