I met my wife in Kentucky early in March, 1946. We were married at her home in Genoa, Ohio, on April 1, 1946. I told her that I had a car at my father's place out in California. It was a Ford Model A Roadster with "rumble seat," and a trunk rack on the rear that folded up when not in use. The spare tire was carried set into the left front fender.
In later years Mery would some times tease me, saying that I had married her under false pretenses, I told her I had a car out in California, but when she got there she found it to be only a Model A Ford. However we did an awful lot of traveling in that Model A roadster.
Our first baby was born in 1948 while we were living in Klamath Falls, Oregon. After the birth my Mary lost a great deal of blood, and they had to have three nurses in succession working on her for eight hours each to get the bleeding stopped. When she came home she could not gain any strength, and she could not sit up as we waited to see the doctor. He immediately put her in the hospital again and said she must have blood transfusions. I got all our friends in the city to get their blood typed, and three women in our church, whose blood type matched, each gave her blood. In those days there was no blood bank anywhere near.
All this time I was making up and feeding the baby his formula, taking care of him, and carring him with me in the car by holding him against my side with my right hand while driving with my left.
Immediately after the blood transfusions Mary began to get stronger, so I decided we would go to a church association meeting at Nyssa, Oregon, the first week of June.
Nyssa was far over on the east side of Oregon on the Snake River and the Idaho boarder. The meeting would last five days. Meals would be supplied and places to stay. The problem was how to prepare the baby's formula during the trip. We carried Carnation milk, Karo sirup and boiled water, but how could we warm it? I took stiff wire and bent it around until I had formed a little rack that hung over the exhause manifold of the engine. Now when it was time to feed the baby I would stop the car, raise the hood and place the bottle in that rack. When we had driven on a ways I would stop again and take the warm bottle of formula out for the baby to drink as we traveled on.
At Nyssa we were well cared for in the home of the Sager family who lived across the river in Idaho. I had all the care of the baby and he slept in his bassinette. Mary went to church with me every day, but she spent much of her time lying down on a couch in the basement. There was lots of good food and everyone was very kind. By the end of the week Mary was about well. We returned to Klamath Falls the way we had gone, by John Day, Burns and Lakeview.
When Mary and I married I don't believe she realized how big the United States was. She thought she could return home frequently. In the spring of 1949 we decided to travel back to Ohio in our Model A. Her three younger sisters and three younger brothers were back there. It was a cold night on April 27th when we stopped at a motel in Wyoming, but we had a nice room. It was Tommy's 1st birthday, and we stuck a candle in a cup cake, lit it and sang "Happy Birthday" to him.
Friends from Oregon who had moved to the southwest part of missouri, wanted us to come by and visit them, so we were traveling on the highway east from Pueblo, Colorado. The day was cloudy and dark, and when the highway turned south in Lamar without realizing it I kept on going south toward Oklahoma. After 25 miles the car suddenly stopped. I had just been checking and found out by the weak spark that the coil had burned out when a state policeman drove up and stopped. In those days they were called the "Colorado Courtesy Patrol." He said "It's just 25 miles to town either way, north or south. I'm going south, and you can ride with me and get a new coil there." I left Mary and the baby in the car and went with him. At the next town I bought a coil and went over to the bus depot where they told me a north bound bus would be by in five or ten minutes. So I made it back to Mary and the baby quickly, put in the new coil, and we turned around, went back 25 miles then east across Kansas to get to our friends' house that evening in Missouri.
The next day we crossed Missouri going northest to St.Louis, then stopped to visit friends in south west Indiana. The weather was hot and sultry, and traveling was very unconfortable, so we stayed at our friend's house till 11 p.m. then started out in the cool of the night. We passed through Indianapolis after midnight. We were on a beautiful curved road leading north through the city. At a stop light a convertable stopped beside us. A boy was driving, and beside him sat his girl friend. Music was playing on their radio. When the light changed they rushed ahead of us and soon were out of sight.
After going a few streets farther we came upon the convertable again turned up on its side. The boy now lay on the pavement and the girl stood over him crying. A crowd was gathering so we kept on.
That night we continued north to Ft. Wayne, then north-east toward Toledo, Ohio, but in early morning hours I bypassed Toledo, going around to come into Genoa about seven o'clock in the morning.
Of course we had a wonderful visit with Mary's folks there in Ohio. We even took Mary's mother with us in the little roadster and several of her small brothers and sisters and drove out to see Lake Erie. The kids rode in the rumble seat.
Returning to Oregon we took a straighter route farther north. We went through Ohmaha, then following highway 30, the Old Oregon Trail, up the Platte River and across Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. But from the Oregon border we turned off to go by Prairie City, John Day, Mitchell, Prineville and then home. The little Model A had proven itself worthy of trust.
In Asia the military leaders of Japan attacked China in 1937. They were eager to extend their power throughout east Asia. "Asia for the Asiatics" was their motto, which meant Japan's rule. They took all East Asia all the way to Australia as they planned.
After over three years a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines I was returned to the U.S. in April 1945. On the ship from Hawaii we were interviewed by the Immigration Service and the F.B.I. and were warned not to say anything that would "give comfort to the enemy." I was surprised to find the American people filled with more hate for the Japanese than I had. They had been under the pressure of constant propaganda which I had not received. War had produced that anger, so I believe. I went on to spend ten years a missionary in Japan.
For the AAPA June, 2001. John R. Blalock