Sunday, July 3, 2016

Keith, 91 + Marva, 88

The listening ear project Keith and Marva
The listening ear project Keith, 91

Keith in his army uniform


Our unit was right in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge. They destroyed a lot of our equipment and killed a lot of our men. The artillery and tanks fired for hours upon hours. It went on for days. The firepower was so tremendous and continuous that many men went insane. Many Americans were killed there and many more were wounded.

Some of my unit escaped and got to the outside of the battle. War was bad enough to fight, but we had to fight the cold too. It was horrible. Many men just froze to death because they were out in the open in wet clothes. We ran out of ammunition, we ran out of food. You couldn’t build a fire because the enemy would know where we were. Some people, their feet got so cold they would take their boots off to rub their feet. It was a mistake because their feet would swell up and they couldn’t get their boots back on. Many died from frostbite and gangrene.

A few of us found an old farmhouse. The war was really going heavy there, but for some reason this farmhouse hadn’t been touched. So we went in and there was a Belgian family — a man and a woman and two children, a boy and a girl, maybe 5 and 8 years old. The wife gave us some thin soup and black bread, and we had a little bit of candy that we gave to the kids. It was Christmas eve, so we sang “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.” The words were different, but the music was the same. We could hear machine guns rattling outside and artillery shells exploding all around us, but for some reason this house never got hit. We stayed warm that night. That Christmas Eve was kind of special. We left the farmhouse the next morning, but this family didn’t want to see us go. I guess they thought we were protecting them, but they were protecting us. 

MARVA, 88, Springville, UT

Well Christmas isn't as fun as it used to be, but then that's probably because we're alone, and when you've got grown children it's a holiday and observance more for them. Most of the time, we lose sight of what the real meaning of Christmas is. But I remember when I was young, we didn’t have much, but we looked forward to Christmas because my older sister and I knew we were going to get a book for Christmas because we both loved to read.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of the stockings we used to hang, but we used to wear them. They’re long brown socks you held up with a garter belt. When you hung them up, they stretched way down. We could always count on a bag of hard candy, peanuts, and an orange and one or two gifts.
Mostly, we looked forward to the book. Whatever it was going to be, we were happy to get a book.

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