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About the second or third morning we were at Ft. Snelling I was handed orders to report to Santa Ana Redistribution Center, Santa Ana, Calif., 21 days from that date. Which amounted to a three week furlough, but wasn't considered that officially. Grabing a cab my first stop was St. Mary's Hospital in Minneapolis where my aunt, Sister St. Elizabeth, was assistant Mother Superior. I walked up to the information desk and asked if Sister Elizabeth was in. She wanted to know who she could say was calling. I told her to tell her her nephew from New Guinea was here to see her. Things went into high gear, and I was given VIP treatment. I had to have lunch with them, how long was I going to be in town. Told her I was going to get a hotel room and leave in the morning. No hotel room, they had guest rooms and I would have one of them. After lunch I used a phone and called Mary Anita Fredricks, who was a dietician at Betty Crocker's Kitchens. Made a date for dinner that nite.

Late afternoon I bid Sister adieu, told her I was having dinner with Mary and would probably be back late. She told me how to get back in and to the room, and I was off to see Mary, who I hadn't seen in 3-1/2 years but had been writing to all the time I was down in the Islands. She showed me around Ms. Crocker's Kitchens and introduced me to the present Betty (I guess there have been several) . When she got off work we were off for the evening and a good dinner. Can't remember where we ate, but I delivered her to her place later on (ours was strickly a platonic friendship, no good nite kisses) and, returned to the hospital and ended my first day of freedom.

Next morning I boared a bus for Thief River Falls, Minn. to pay a call on Jean Richards, my pen-pal courtesy of Bob Von Wald. She had not liked D.C. and had gone back home, and I had arranged to visit her since I was that close. She and her brother met me at the bus station, took me home and introduced me to her folks and showed to the spare bedroom. Royal treatment again. Spent a couple days with them, extremely nice family. Brother and girl friend and Jean and I found a place to go dancing. Seems like every place I was to go they always managed to have enough gas stamps to get us around. The family were good Minn. Scandinavian Lutherans, and her folks were scared to death we were going to get serious. Never happened. Jean was a very sweet, pretty girl but the torch was still burning for Annie. We said our goodbyes, they deposited me at the bus station and I rode out of Jean's life.

Back to Minneapolis to catch the "Galloping Goose" to Watertown. That was the M.& St. L.'s diesel engine with 2 or 3 coach cars that ran back and forth between W'tn. and Minneapolis. In the meantime Mom had gone back up to W'tn. and we had all kinds of family gettogethers. Mom and Dad had a one room apt. over a down town store, so I stayed at Mazie and Julius with Grandma Basgen and Mary Jule. Got together for dinner one nite out at the lake with Aunt Louise, Addy and Bunny, and a good time was had by all. But Bunny did have a heavy heart. She had married an Air Force Officer while I was overseas, they had been staioned at Lackland Field in Fla.. Don't remember the details but her husband had been killed in some sort of accident.


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Jack Heyn with his Mom & Dad


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Jack's younger sister with her
new husband, Bob, and Jack's Mom


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Jack's older Sis, her husband Pappy
and Jack's nephew Gene


I kinda lucked out in W'tn., as Bill (Biggie) MaGee was home on leave from the Navy. He and Pete and I had buddied around in high school. Once again he seemed to have gas for us to run around. I expect it was because his Dad was a Dr. Biggie had been stationed in Watertown, N.Y. before going out to sea. He had met a girl there, name of Pat, and he seemed to be smitten rather badly. So we weren't exactly looking for dates, but we did manage to see quite a few of the girls who had stuck around the old home town. Besides various and sundry dates for the sake of dating, Biggie had had two great loves in high school; Katie Goepfert and Mary, damned if I can remember her last name. When he fell he always fell hard, this time Pat was the clincher, she would become Mrs. Bill MaGee.


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Jack's high school heart-throb, Annie,
who he carried that torch for all
the time
he was overseas, one date and the torch
was extinguished.


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Jack's old high school buddy, Willie
(Bill Magee, succumbed to a stroke
in Sept. 2000) who was home on leave
from the Navy at the same time.


After about a week Mom and I boarded a bus and headed for Omaha. This was the leg I had been waiting for. Annie's family had moved to Omaha during war and she and twin sister Martha were attending Univ. Of Nebr. in Lincoln. Just happened to be Spring break. Didn't take me much time to get in touch and find my way over to the Atkinson house. One more time the returning hero - hero?? - survivor - was given royal treatment. Got a load of photographs of everybody except Dad, he seemed to have been out of town on business. Made a date to go dancing at Peony Park the next nite.

That was a fateful nite. Picked her up, this time we rode taxicabs and spent the nite dancing with my dream girl. Just one problem, soon became eveident that this was not the Annie I had been dreaming of for 3-1/2 years. I left a 16 yr old Jr. in High School, came back to a 20 yr old Jr. in College -- just wasn't the same girl. She was a sophisticated young lady working on a college degree, and wise to the ways of the social world. I had spent 3 years in the Islands with little or no contact with the opposite sex. Three years in a combat zone will make a man out of boy in a hell of hurry. But isolation from the fairer sex for that same period of time didn't do a thing for a guys social skills. Quite frankly I felt just a little ill at ease in her company. So I carried a torch for Annie for 3-1/2 years during the war - one date on my return and the torch went out. I delivered her to her door that nite, and walked out of her life. The next time I would see her was two years later, she was married to Sonny Greg, my high school competition, and I was married to my Jonnie.

My next stop on my way to Santa Ana was St. Louis, Mo. to visit Beth Stoye, the other pen-pal I had acquired and had been writing to for a couple years. She was a strange case, pretty girl, very nice but there seemed to be a bit of mystery about her. She didn't seem to have a family, lived with girl friend and her family. Never talked about her family, and I didn't ask questions. Got a room at a downtown hotel and spent a couple days with her. The most memorable part of that connection was our visit to a nightclub one nite. Ted Lewis and his orchestra was playing. He had always been my oldest Sis's favorite, and he was famous for his "Me and My Shadow" routine. The band would play it, Ted would sing and do sort of a soft-shoe dance, and just behind to one side was this little Black fella, that followed him step by step -- very entertaining. The memorable part of that nite was an entertainer he had with him. He introduced this girl dancer who had been entertaining troops in the South West Pacific -- who should walk out and begin her routine, but Patty Thomas. The same Patty Thomas, same costume that had been with Bob Hope and I had photographed. Small world, isn't it?

After a couple days Beth delivered me to the train station where I caught a train for Santa Ana, Calif. and I rode down the rails and out of Beth's life. Several years later I would read a story in a Sunday paper supplement about a guy by the name of Stoye, in St. Louis who was involved in a murder or some such, my memory is a litte dim on it, but I have often wondered if that might have been her Dad, the name is not that common. Arrived in L.A. on a Sunday afternoon, caught a bus out to the Santa Ana Redistribution center.


Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story


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This page first produced 1 January 2001

This page last updated 08 December 2017