Yesterday early afternoon I received a phone call to notify me of the death of a dear friend. There is always an interesting surge of emotions with the death of a person, especially one you feel such a kinship with. Somehow though, I couldn’t help but feel a total sense of relief and release.
Terry McCombs was born in Rupert, Idaho and grew up on the farm outside of Rupert. He graduated from Minico in probably its most notable time. He went to school when Minico was known nationally for its band program. The high school was still under 10 years old and Southern Idaho was in the Post-war boom. Some of his mentors both in choir and band were to forever influence his life. There was something about the farm soil and the passion of music that set Terry on his future.
I met Terry for the first time in 1997. I had been asked to accompany a friend, Elena McBride, on the piano for a vocal number she was doing. She wanted me to meet her vocal coach, Terry McCombs. There was a McComb’s in my grade who I knew and one just younger who was in choir and who I knew more through friends. These both turned out to be Terry’s niece’s. Our meeting took place in Terry’s childhood home where his mother still lived with Terry’s brother’s family. We sat there at the piano and I played perhaps a few chords when Terry asked me if I sang. I confessed that I had no singing talent whatsoever and had never really tried. He took over at the piano bench and then began to have me try a few exercises. He attempted for hours to get beyond my modesty (my attempt to cover a poor voice). After several hours, Elena’s lesson turned into an reworking of my thinking concerning singing. For the most part of which he was very successful at rewiring. Afterward I remember Elena being upset that her lesson was all about a lesson for me.
Terry had me commit to come to a lesson with him in a studio apartment he was using within about a mile from his home. It was a little bedroom in the loft and a little living room below with a couch and piano. I seem to remember a small kitchen and bathroom in the entry level. We descended into the little living room about a week later and he sat on the couch and I sat in the chair. Terry always had it a bit on the cool side but it definitely was cozy. He then spent about an hour teaching me the doctrine of singing. I remember him offering a prayer that seemed to turn my heart to complete mush. I was so overwhelmed at such a powerful experience. Coming from an inactive LDS home, I had no real clue what it was I was experiencing. I had prayed before, and even seen prayers answered, but never had I experienced what I did that day. Heaven literally descended and engulfed us that day.
After teaching me on the doctrines of the restoration of all things and of singing he then went on to teach me what he knew and how he knew it. He bore powerful testimony of what it was he was teaching that day. I remember openly weeping for the joy that engulfed my heart and how I recognized my life changing before my very eyes. My very nature was changing in that room. We then went to the piano and he began to unravel to me some of my physical nature. I admit I understood more the nature of my throat, singing, and of life then than at any point in my life, probably even since. It was interesting how he always framed everything with a view for eternity and the building of Zion.
What came from my mouth, from my very heart, was so beautiful we both wept. Terry sang a song for me that even today haunts me with how beautiful it was. He then sang a song from Rigoletto that was simply amazing. He sat at the piano and I sang a song that day which I have not been able to sing since. It haunts me how beautifully I sang and it kills me I have not been able to sing like that since. There was such an outpouring of the Spirit. I do not know if I can ever share what happened that day. The gifts of the Spirit were present and angels ministered to us.
We met many, many times again in that little elevator to the heavens. Sadly, I don’t know what happened after a couple of months. Whether it was my pride or influences in his life, but it began to falter. We started meeting again in his parents house and doing lessons there which were interrupted and never of much value. We then started meeting in his home, the old out garage converted into a studio/living room connected to a trailer. It was never quite the same. I really don’t know why to this day.
My Senior year at Minico brought the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I don’t remember how many lessons before the play I had with Terry but I had such a zeal with singing now I auditioned for the play. I had been singing in the choir now for a little while. I totally bombed the audition but somehow I was still put in as one of the brother’s. Honestly, I did so poorly I didn’t know if they would let me even be a dancer. That is how badly I auditioned vocally. I could never translate how I could sing in lessons to doing it in front of other people. I was terrible when anyone else listened. Even the State Solo Competition I sang for and did so poorly I didn’t even finish the song. The choir helped me some. Good thing it was an open class.
Terry helped a number of us quite a bit with our singing for that play. I improved considerably under Terry but never could find the voice I had in our lessons on stage. It drove me completely crazy to know how heavenly it could be and it just never translated outside the studio. Our lessons continued and I learned a great deal. We continued to cover the history of music and the mechanics of the voice. All of which I still feel like I have a pretty good handle since I was learning them from a spiritual perspective.
Minico ended and my whole life had now become engulfed in music. I had my musical training from band all the way from 6th grade. I could read and understood basics of music. I had taught myself a half dozen new instruments in high school and I wrapped up high school putting on finishing touches to play the piano in the mission and learning the master the voice.
I went to Utah State knowing how much I loved music but I would not be pursuing a degree in anything related to it. It was completely my hobby. I went home at least every couple of weeks. Due to situations at home I would either stay with my Grandma or I would stay with Terry. We often spent all Friday night in a lesson. It was something about the two of us that somehow we connected and heaven was with us. I don’t know if he had these experiences with others. I know he had in the past but I sensed it wasn’t happening with others at the time. He often expressed his frustration with me at how he wished others wanted to learn just for the sake of learning rather than trying to do it for publicity, pride, or money. He knew I had nothing to pay him and I wasn’t about to ask my parents for more money since they were helping me through school. I think that is one thing that changed later. When his situation got a bit more desperate and he needed money I had nothing to offer and he was required to spend his time teaching paying students.
The time came for the mission and I was prepared. My own research and experience on my own time had gained me many experiences with the Spirit. I had come to gain a personal testimony of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Prophets and Apostles, Priesthood, and a bunch more. I think one thing that was unique is that Terry had opened me up to a very different side of religion. It wasn’t just the knowledge of it or doctrines, but it was the personal experiences with it. Through college our lessons moved from the vocal aspects to mostly discussing religion and sharing experiences. I had obtained many new experiences with heaven and Terry had a wealth of them to share as well. I think many thought I was a bit crazy with how literally I was experiencing my associations with the other side of the veil but Terry always understood. I remember my Grandma would get so excited when I told her about some of the experiences. She would tell me of some of her own. Mom I instantly recognized was out to kill or denounce anything of which I was experiencing. She quickly would tell me how it was a cult and I was being brainwashed. When I would confront her about how literally some of my experiences were she would chalk it up to hallucinating or something else. Terry and Grandma were two who understood.
It was such an interesting road. My roommates at college I don’t think knew how to take what was happening. Some were very understanding at the beginning, others finally warmed to it. By the end of the school year at Utah State we had all experienced some things together. The turmoil and emotions of the year were difficult with my parents divorcing and the changing face in so many relations. The roommates weathered all those and were very understanding. But the thing I remember most is the little spiritual times I had with each of them and interestingly have bonded each of us together since. All four of them we continue to feel very closely united even despite distance and time.
Terry offered to have someone provide the musical number for the mission farewell. He did and I was very grateful. Surprisingly, he offered some money to help pay for the mission that makes me blush that he would give it to me. He never wrote a letter, I don’t think I ever wrote him a letter during those two years, but we had communication. I remember one night I had a dream of a phone call to Terry while I served in Eccles. It was after my Grandmother had passed away. We chatted about a few things and I told him of my experiences with Grandma after she passed away. He told me of some of the experiences he had with his own father after he passed away. It helped confirm what I was experiencing. In the dream he told me to get a copy of Parley P Pratt’s Autobiography and to read it. After I returned home from the mission and had been home a few weeks, Terry called me. What I had totally passed off as a powerfully spiritual dream came very close to home when he asked if I enjoyed Brother Pratt’s book. That is just the way Terry was.
Terry asked me to come to visit him in Branson, Missouri after I returned from the mission. I went to visit him in a heartbeat. Terry wanted to start lessons again and asked me to move to Branson. I went back home and made arrangements and headed out for Missouri. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. I thoroughly loved my time while I was there. He mentioned that I was there for two purposes: To learn to love in a way unselfishly and to gain some great experience to carry me throughout my life. He proved to be very prophetic on both accounts. I learned to love in several ways which hurt terribly. I definitely learned some lessons there. I learned some valuable lessons in management, the corporate world, missionary work outside the mission, and family history.
Terry and I both lived under the same roof with several other families the first year I was there. It turned to be a very wonderful experience. I had three families I could call my own in the same house. Each of them taught me some very important lessons. Without going into details, it proved to be a time I still find myself thankful for in prayer.
I remember one night I had a dream where I had a dream in answer to a prayer. I woke up afterwards and immediately went to knock on Terry’s door. At 3:00 AM in the morning I recounted to him my experience and we both wept for joy. He shared with me an experience where one of his prayers had been answered by dream just nights before. This was the type of connection I had with Terry.
Interestingly, it is how merciful heaven is in dealing with us. Terry definitely had a personality. Some characteristics I will openly admit drove me crazy. His little antics sometimes were detestable at how he treated others. Even me a couple of times. At other times I could not help but feel sorry for him with the struggles he had on so many fronts. He had a temper. He had his bias nature. He had all his imperfections. He was not a physically beautiful man by any real means. However, his heart was something different. I sat in on many lessons and it was interesting how completely different some of them were. Some of them it seemed he was trying to impress them so he could gain their trust. Some it seemed he had to debase himself to get the heart. Others it appeared he had to bully them. Every lesson was very different. I never understood if he was catering to the personality of each or what it was. My lessons were very direct, even almost unspoken at times. It was not uncommon for a look to communicate everything.
When it came time for my leaving Branson, we both knew. I only saw Terry a couple of times after that. In fact, I think it was only twice after. Once was in Utah and the last time was a year ago as Amanda and I drove on our way to Virginia. We stopped and spent several hours with him.
I spoke with him on the phone for over an hour just a month or so ago and he was in good spirits. It was with a bit of shock I received the phone call telling me he had passed the night before. Somehow though, it seems like it would be the way Terry would do it though. My first reaction was that little scoundrel did this on purpose. But then I sensed a peace about the whole thing and it was meant to be.
In looking back, Terry always introduced me to people as the one with a pure soul. I don’t know if it is true or not, but I always wanted to be a little better with that title. Terry always had people who either loved or hated him. People somehow switched those sides often with him. I never understood why. But something about the man endeared people and also brought on some of the strongest criticism. But in the end he usually weathered it well.
I haven’t had any experiences with Terry spiritually for a couple of years now. Perhaps we just grew apart. But now that he has passed, I anticipate something small, at least for a temporary good bye. If not, this is my little pushing off the ship of a good friend. I will see you later mate. I love your soul.
A few updates and ponderings.
As I finished going through the entire stack of papers that were the culmination of work for Howard Ross, I sensed a bit of frustration that I may have missed something. Some note, hidden on the back of some page I forgot to turn over and examine. Moreover, there are always the little nuances that a symbol or a phrase can bring back a memory for Howard, but does nothing for me. It is part of deciphering the past and someone else’s research. Looking at that, I realized what a great thing it is that I am putting these notes up on a blog. Someday, there will probably be some form of this blog available and it is much easier to search a blog than going through a stack of papers. Another good part is that I may die, my house may burn, and all I have may be lost, but this will give an extension to another dimension. I am sure somebody is printing or copying the things I am putting up that is relevant to them. So this is a mass sharing that is effective for saving.
Anyhow, having given my deep thoughts for the day, here is the latest news.
One of those papers in Howard Ross’ massive stack was an address for a Beulah Duncan in Zillah, Washington (The sheet it was on was dated 1972). I knew I had a Beulah Ross who was the daughter of Robert Leonard Ross. The rascal that disappeared and I have yet to catch up with him. I knew she had married a Duncan but that was it. Could she have really made it to Washington State? I thought I might as well venture to find out.
I looked up Zillah, Washington on Google and found it is between Yakima and Sunnyside. I searched Duncan in the phone book for Zillah and found a couple in Sunnyside and a couple in Toppenish both of which were nearby. After about a half dozen phone calls, I found nobody home. So I left it for a day or two. I knew that she was probably not still alive, but a good chance a family member who knew of her would be able to lead me in the right direction.
I rang the numbers again last night to find some woman with what I believe was a Irish accent in Toppenish. First strike. The second call was a lady I had a devil of a time understanding. But she assured me she was the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Beulah Duncan. I thought she told me her name was Debra Lee. We visited and she gave me the phone number of her daughter Terel Stan Stone. I know, that is what I thought, a girl with a guys name! I hung up and called Mrs. Stone and she thought I was crazy when I told her I had visited with her mother Debra Lee. Come to find out, her mother’s name is Beverly and the lady I was talking to was Carol Ann Stone. Wow, it is amazing how hearing can alter things.
We visited for a few minutes; she told me what she knew of her grandmother, Beulah. Their story goes something like this. Robert was an alcoholic and his wife Minnie had some sort of Drug addiction. All the children were farmed out to others. Beulah was taken in by her grandparents, my great great grandparents James Thomas Meredith Ross and Damey Catherine Graham. She was taken and raised near Rupert, Idaho. But her strict Mormon grandparents was a bit much for her so she was anxious to get out. That came when she met a Jack or Mack Duncan. She was 14 and married him. They moved to Zillah, Washington and lived out the remainder of their days. He died in the late 70’s and she died in 2002 at about 96 years of age. They had four children, two of which are deceased.
Anyhow, I am excited to finally flesh out one of Robert Leonard Ross’ lines. However, it will not be easy to get the rest of the siblings. Carol did not know what happened for sure to her siblings and we will have to see what we can scrounge up. It sounds like even Beulah herself did not know where some of her siblings ended up.
At least for now, we are one step closer to filling in some holes on the Robert Leonard Ross line. I look forward to any information Carol has which may give clues to more.
See, one little note on a piece of paper has opened a door to an entire family line. Carol was not aware of us and we were not aware of them. Now we are. Let’s see where family can take us.
This was written by Florence Geneva Phibbs, the daughter of Fanny Ross Phibbs. Fanny was the sister to my great grandfather, John William Ross. Of the whole letter, only this one page exists, so I don’t know what came before or after this page.
…Ross and his family come to Rupert Idaho. I was borned June 21 – 1907. It was about 1912 when we got to Rupert Idaho I think. Grandpa went to farming as he loved to grow things. It was so different then in West Virginia. He usually had a big farm and raised potatoes corn and so forth. He didn’t make a lot of money. But had enough to get by on and they always had plenty of food. They lived near the Snake river five miles from Rupert. We were out there a lot as they were very good to us. We had lots of fun and probably it was the best times of our lives.
I remember the farmers traded work with each other. I use to drive a hay wagon for one dollar a day. The farmers wifes would cook large dinners and we sure love to eat as everything was so good. Grandpa Ross was quite an actor. He dressed up as a black man and acted at a school programs and socials they really enjoyed him and would really laugh a lot. One year the farmers sent lots of car loads of potatoes east. It was a bad year. They didn’t received a money for the potatoes but owed the freight company instead. He gave up farming and come to Calif where Melvin and I were. Then Grandma died in 1933 with cancer. He tried to mine some gold up Yuba River. But never got enough to pay for his time. He moved to southern Calif and was married a couple of times. His last wife was Martha Meridith. He died at her home and was buried in Fresno Calif. Grandma Merideth lived to be 96 before she died in 1975 and was buried near him. Grandmas Ross was buried at Marysville Calif…
to give an overview.
Sunday I thought I would try and call a distant cousin of mine. My Great Great Grandfather was born in Pulaski County, Virginia. He had a half
brother, who was a few years younger who was born there as well and remained there for his whole life.
So, my Great Great Grandfather’s half brother had a son whose name is Howard Ross Sr. The only reason I knew all this is back in the 60’s and 70’s he wrote a book on the Ross family and my Grandfather was given a copy for some of his help with the book. I knew Howard was around 81 years old. It just happened a few years ago, I ran upon a missionary who served in the West Virginia mission. I asked if he ever served down around Bluefield, West Virginia and he told me he served in that ward. I asked if he knew a Howard Ross who was about 80. He laughed and confirmed that anyone who lived in Bluefield knew Howard Ross. That missionary was very helpful in securing his address for me. Well, I wrote ole Howard a letter and to my delight he called me one evening in Logan, Utah while at school (about 2004). I was in the middle of a party of sorts, so I told him I would call him back. Somehow I lost his number and could not call him back. Worst of all, I did not have his mailing address either. On top of that, I did not know how to contact the missionary who gave it to me. So I was where I had left off.
The only thing I remembered from that short conversation was that he personally knew my Great Grandfather and my Great Great Grandfather had visited his family when he was still a boy.
Since moving to Virginia, even while in DC last year, I tried to find Howard Ross. Ross is a common name, and there was not a Howard Ross in the phone book anywhere near the area I needed. I ended up calling several dozen Ross numbers in the book in Western Virginia, but not one knew who I was trying to get. So I had decided I would just have to drive out there and ask people on the street of Bluefield. I never got the courage to do so as it is several hours away and if I found him, I was sure he would be out of town.
Sunday, something came over me, and I thought to try and find him again. I went to my family history and tried to find a name I might be able to only have one or two hits on in West Virginia and Virginia. I decided maybe I would look through my file and see if there were some towns which were small and possibly a Ross might be in one. Well, I saw Naoma, West Virginia as the birthplace of a family. I searched it, and a Willie B Ross came up. I had a Willie B Ross in my file, and so I called. It was a little awkward as I had him as dead. I rang the number and I asked for Willie’s wife. Sure enough, it was her. I told her how I was related and she said she did not know as much about that as her husband and that I would have to talk to him. That was a little awkward knowing he was dead, a little more so when she went to fetch him!
In the conversation with Willie B Ross, he was indeed the person I had in my file (I did not tell him he was dead though). We went through all the
children, dates, birthplaces, and then he gave me his son’s phone number, John Ross. John is a physicians assistant in Beckley, West Virginia and
personally knows ole Howard Ross. Well, I thank them, hung up and called John. It was a good visit with him. He informed me it would have to be
short as his basement was flooding at that moment. He was kind enough to give me Howard Ross’s phone number, and his son, Howard Ross Jr, and his daughter’s number, Sally’s number, and then chatted on and on. I was feeling guilty since his basement was flooding and so I excused myself and let him go.
I then phoned Howard. Number disconnected. I called Howard Jr. Number disconnected. I thought and prayed for Sally to answer. Well, some old man answered and I knew I was at a dead end. I told him my name was Paul Ross. He asked if I was the son of Milo Paul Ross, grandson of Milo James Ross, great grandson of John William Ross, and great great grandson of James Thomas Meredith-Ross. I knew I must be have hit the mark.
He too was in the middle of a family crisis at the moment and visited with me only for a short 20 minutes. In the meantime, I gleaned this much
My Great Grandfather came to visit in the 1930’s. Howard remembered it because he was missing a finger. He asked what happened. Apparently he had a spider bite and because of what was happening to his finger, he dipped it in acid. Well, the doctor said he saved his life, but was going to have to lose his finger. I thought, what an interesting story. He then asked if I knew anything about my Great Great Grandfather. I said I did not. He told me he also came to visit in the 30’s from out California. Apparently he was a Bishop in Fresno, California. He came to visit the family and was upset they did not have a cow. He asked how they could be self-sufficient without a cow. Apparently he went out and purchased a cow for the family for the time he stayed there. Howard roared with laughter when he said then when he left, he went and sold the cow, and went back out west. We had a good little visit about life and where I was, and what he was doing, and then his crisis brought him back to reality and he excused himself. We set up an appointment for a meeting sometime in the spring, he said only if he lived, he was not going to be there if he was dead. I very much hope I can meet up with him, to learn some stories on the side I know so little about.
After hanging up the phone, I called my Grandfather to confirm and pick his brain a little. Grandpa is usually pretty tightlipped about the family, but he opened up about quite a few things last night. Here is some of what I got (combined with what I already know).
He was born in 1921 to John and Ethel Ross in Plain City. Ethel had been in an accident on the old train line that used to go out to Plain City. She
had received some type of settlement from the railroad (documentation I will have to try and find) and then moved to Paul, Idaho and bought a
confectionary. It was on what is now Idaho Street. Dad has a good stash of checks, paperwork, and other stuff from the old confectionary. It was
there, running the confectionery, that she met Mark Streeter after he returned from military service. I don’t know where or how much he served in WWI, but they were married. I don’t know that either, but they had a daughter, June Streeter who now lives in Adelanto, California. Grandpa said Mark Streeter ran off on her.
She kept busy at the confectionery until she met John William Ross. He and all his family had lived in West Virginia in the 1910 Census. I think his
sister, Fanny Ross Phibbs (her husband was Judge Calvin Dickerson Phibbs in Rupert) was the first one out. I think she came first(between 1912 and 1916), and then convinced the rest of her family to come out. Especially with the opening of the new sugar factory at Paul, and the building of the new city for all the employees. Fanny obviously lived in Rupert, and the rest of her family came out. I don’t know when John met Ethel, but he served in the Army. While he was stationed at Fort Logan, Colorado he was a cook. She went to meet him, and in 1920 they were married at Fort Logan. I assume they had met at some time previous to his military service. I don’t know the dates of his military service, and where all he served. Grandpa said he thought his father had been gassed, but was not sure about that. The 1920 Census has him in Colorado as an army cook.
On a side note, John had been married in 1910 in West Virginia. He had a son in 1911 named Hobart. I will get to some stories about Hobart in a
Grandpa was born in Plain City in 1921. Paul was born in Paul, Idaho in 1922. Harold in Burley, Idaho in 1923. Then Ethel had Ernest in 1925 in
Plain City. Ernest was born in July, Ethel died in August, and Ernest died in September.
Grandpa does not remember living in Idaho. Of course, he was probably too young. He does remember his mother’s death. He was terribly upset because they would not let him see his mother in the casket. They said he was too young. He said he was old enough to know his mother was dead and wanted to see her.
He remembers his father afterward bundling them up, they went to Ogden, and caught a train to Idaho. They then lived with James and Damey Ross in Rupert, Idaho. He doesn’t remember his father being around during this time. James and Damey contacted the Sharp’s (Ethel’s maiden name) and had them come get the boys. They could not afford to feet them anymore. Sometime in the early spring, he said Os (Oscar) Richardson and Dale Sharp drove up to Rupert in Os’ Hudson and picked them up. He remembers the drive past the poplar trees from the old town outside the Paul factory through Heyburn, over the river bridge there, through Declo, Malta, and all the way back to Plain City. He lived with Ed Sharp, whose wife was an East; Paul lived with Fred and Vic (Sharp) Hunt, and Harold lived with Delwyn Sharp. Paul in 1922 fell from a barn and died of a concussion a few days later.
From that point on, he never saw his father until 1948. So from 1925 until 1948. Apparently the Sharp’s forbid him from coming to visit. Grandpa has a whole bunch of letters from his father that were sent to Vic Hunt, but they were never given to the boys. Only after she died, did Grandpa and the others find out about the letters. They are actually very tender. Grandpa said his father had told him the reasons why the Sharp’s forbid him from coming to visit, but he did not want to disclose them. He said he was going to say nothing against the Sharp family who were so good to him. (I took that to mean it was not so much John’s fault, but the Sharp’s.)
Grandpa said he got a letter in early June 1948 saying his father was in Livermore Hospital and would only live a few more days. His sons were
requested to come and visit him. Great Grandpa Donaldson, Grandma’s Dad, gave Grandpa the money to go see his father. Harold did not want to go. Grandpa went to Livermore, Alameda County to the hospital. He walked in the building, up the stairs, and right to the room where his father was. He just knew where it was at. He sat down there and saw his Dad in pretty bad shape. This was a veteran’s hospital.
They started to talk. The hospital staff escorted him out because he was to have no visitors. He explained the position, showed them the letter from the Red Cross, and they let him go back in. He stayed there through the night talking with his Dad until he passed away. He said he learned quite a few things. I could tell Grandpa was crying over the phone. He would not tell me most of what he said. He just said he sat there and held his hand while talking through the night.
He found out that he used to take a taxi from Ogden, pick up Betty Booth, and they would ride out to the Sharp farm. John would sit in the taxi while Betty did whatever she was doing there. Grandpa remembers the taxi sitting there by the side of the field and the man and woman waving at him. He never knew that was his father or Betty Booth. Later in life, he said Betty was an old widow who could not take care of herself. Grandpa and Grandma would pay for her coal and Grandpa did repair work for her home. He even reshingled it one year, and Betty’s family made him sign an agreement that she did owe him anything. Her family did not know Grandpa and Grandma were paying for the coal. They thought it was the Maw family, who delivered the coal. Grandpa found it very moving to find out that he had supported the woman who had made it possible for his father to see his children. He thought it was a fitting service.
Grandpa would tell me nothing about what they visited about that night other than his father talked about life. Apparently he married an old widow in California who was wealthy and that took care of him the rest of his days. Grandpa did not know if the widow was still living when his father passed away.
Grandpa then took me through some of his war stories. He dwelt mostly on a recent deal where he had been honored at some stadium for being so decorated during WWII. He said the announcer interviewed him first and this was some of the things he told the announcer.
Those who were decorated during WWII were only the lucky ones who lived through the battle. He said the more that died around you, the more
decorated you became. He said his awards are not for his bravery, but a symbol of how many more died around him and he was fortunate to not have fallen. Grandpa was wounded 4 times during the war. He said they were all part of doing the job just like you smash your thumb once and a while with a hammer while working. He found it terribly disappointing that the longer time goes on, the more we honor the living who made it through the war. He points out that it is the dead who need remembered, not the living. What about those who never had family? Grandpa has a family who will remember him. What of those whose lives were snuffed out and have not family to remember them?
He pointed out to the announcer that a bar of soap was his best friend. He lived for weeks at a time in a foxhole. He even brushed his teeth when he had extra water with a bar of soap. On more than one occasion, a man would jump into his foxhole for cover, and by morning the man was dead. He had spent a couple days with a dead man because they could not get him out. One man he buried there by the foxhole and later told others where he was buried when the battle was over so they could go back for him. He said we don’t understand war. He said do we realize that in a foxhole for days, weeks you have to go to the bathroom. You put some dirt in your helmet, do your duty and set your helmet out of the hole until morning so you could bury it and hope your head was safe uncovered in the meantime. You always hoped you had enough water to rinse out the dust and whatever else so it didn’t stink too bad. The same clothes for weeks at a time, in a very humid, wet environment.
He said his awards for bravery were because he did what needed to be done because he was tired of the foxholes. He wanted to move forward. He was lucky that artillery and others gave enough cover that they were able to take the high ground.
Anyhow, it was a great conversation. I enjoyed the time. He cut it off, said he appreciated the phone call, and to call again some time. He then
hung up. (In usual Ross fashion, we are not much for telephone etiquette)
It was an interesting conversation. A man who never knew his father really, then had a crash course for a day until he died. His mother is only a
memory of younger childhood. Ed Sharp from what I understand was very hard worker and worked his children just as hard. I need to talk to Dean and get some more information about his parents before he gets too old.
Well, that story pretty much ends there. But there is another one that goes with it.
I started looking at applying for University of Virginia Law when I noticed it asked for family members who had gone to UVA. I remembered Evelyn Hoogland (who is a first cousin of my Grandma Ross through the Van Leeuwen family) telling me her daughter graduated from UVA. I needed to know what year she graduated. I called Evelyn and she gave me Kay’s phone number and told me to call her. So I called my cousin, Kay Hoogland. She graduated in 1981 from UVA and I remember Evelyn showing me a magazine or two with Kay on the front page. I knew Kay had made a name for herself. I phoned her at home outside Chicago. We had a wonderful visit and like we were old friends, I enjoyed our talk. She gave me encouragement, offered help, proofreading, even a letter of introduction. I was thrilled. She gave me one professor to contact and get to know who apparently is from Northern Utah. His name is Richard Merrill, and with a name like that, I would assume is related to Marriner Wood Merrill and his family comes from Cache Valley. I guess I could even be related to him! We will have to pursue that end.
It is time to wind down, and I am over my time limit. I learned a whole heap on Sunday. Made some new connections, and I hope opened some doors. I only scored average on the LSAT (only those who were diligent to read this far will get this news) so I am going to need a miracle to get into UVA or any other wonderful law school. Kay could be the unlocking of that miracle. More importantly, I unlocked a great number of doors to my own history and family on Sunday. The Spirit of Elijah is alive and well. An effectual door has been opened, and there are many more yet to come!
Time for rest and FHE. Love to you all. I love you, I know the church is true!