with Paul Schaefer (back
to WWII Project)
PS: When I was a little boy, and until I graduated from high
school, my dad owned a theater in a small town, Ironton,
Missouri, and it was a family affair. I know when I was six
years old, they put me to taking tickets. And course everybody
in town knew me and would pat me on the head, but I worked my
way up in the theater until I was a projectionist. And we had a
lot of movies of World War I and the American pilots, they
always showed the fighter pilots. Well, I developed a yearning
to become a fighter pilot. And this is a bunch of stuff, so
you'll have to tell me when we go on.
PS: But I nurtured a desire to fly, I guess all my life. And
when World War II started, when it became evident that we were
going to get in it, I started getting ready. And I bought a
small airplane, partner of mine and I did, and I rented a
pasture and we took off from there. Now, I should say I was
already too old to get in the Cadet Corp when we got into it,
and I was also too short. The minimum for a pilot was 5'4", I
was 5'3 1/2". And I told myself that if I'd just be prepared and
learn to fly on my own, that they'd probably take me in. Well,
that's the way it worked out. I learned to fly and that helped,
we might just keep that up, that way all the time.
You had taught yourself how to fly so you can go to war.
PS: Oh, yeah. It was than just a desire to fly, something going
on, I wanted to get in it, whether it's digging ditches or
whatever. But the war came and I knew one thing, that I didn't
want to be an Infantryman. But I enlisted in the Reserve, just a
buck Private, I guess. And when the war really got going, why,
they said, "Well, we want you to go to Nebraska." Remember, I
lived in Missouri. "We want you to go to Nebraska to a school,
give you a commercial rating and an instructor's rating." Well,
that was quite a bit up the scale from where I was, but I went
and got out of it all right. And then they said, "Well, we want
you to go--" this is all the Reserves, "we want you to go to
Kelly Field in San Antonio", which was then a famous place, "and
see if we can make an instructor out of you." Well, that didn't
sound so good but I went and I passed the grade. And there were
ninety-six of us in the class and forty of us graduated, rest of
them all washed out. And they called us all together on
graduation day and said, "Well, we have a place to put you now.
We're going to get in the flying business for the Air Force. We
need instructors, flight instructors." And you could just hear
the groans go up, because none of us wanted to be an instructor,
but that's where we wound up, in Sikeston, Missouri, stayed
there two and a half years.
JW: That was a flight school in Sikeston?
PS: Yeah. I taught flying to the cadets and they went on from
there to basic, and then advanced. And they transferred me to
San Antone then, and so that about takes me up to the war, I
think. As I understand it now, you want me to talk about my war
JW: Well, what I want to do is stop for a minute and back up and
2 start with your birth, because we're assuming fifty years from
now, nobody will know anything about you or me or anyone else.
PS: That's right. They don't know anything about our
experiences, I'm talking about World War II, they don't know
anything about World War II experiences.
JW: Right, right. So I'd like to start, the first thing, tell me
your full name.
PS: It's Paul Charles Schaefer, S-c-h-a-e-f-e-r.
JW: And when were you born?
PS: July the 4th, 1911.
JW: And where were you born?
PS: St. Louis, Missouri.
JW: And what were your parents' names?
PS: Well, my father's name was Albert Manchester Paul Schaefer,
and my mother's name was Mary Olivia Renner.
JW: And what did your father do for a living?
PS: He was a telephone lineman, and I decided he was also a
genius, and I'll get into that later on.
JW: Okay. Did you have sisters and brothers?
PS: I had two brothers.
JW: And you lived in St. Louis?
PS: No. My parents moved when I was six months old, moved to
Ironton, Missouri, which is a tourist place and it was known as
Arcadia Valley, and it's beautiful country, mountainous.
JW: What part of Missouri is that in?
PS: Well, let's see if I can locate it for you. It's about
eighty odd amount of miles south of St. Louis, and it's sixty
miles west of Ste. Genevieve, which is on the Mississippi River,
and we were in the mountains, and I loved that country.
JW: And is that where you started school?
JW: In Ironton?
PS: Yes. I remember we lived in a house with a picket fence, I
guess most people had picket fences then, and the war was going
on, World War I was going on. Remember, I said one. And there
was one picket off the fence. And my brother and I fought all
the time, he was three years younger, he'd get into stuff that I
didn't want him in, so we'd fight. And one day, the neighbor
lady said to mom, "Well, I see the Germans are fighting the
Germans now", meaning my brother and me. And Mother was
indignant, she said, "No, that's American fighting American",
and she was, oh, just upset. But I went through high school
JW: And you graduated?
JW: From high school? What year did you graduate?
JW: Just in time for the Depression.
PS: Well, a little bit early.
JW: Yeah, a little bit.
PS: But I'm going to tell you about that. When I was fifteen, my
parents said to me, "Paul, you've got to start saving your
money." Well, fifteen year old, I didn't have much of a bank
account. But anyway they said, "Because when you get to be
eighteen, we're not going to help you anymore, that's it, and
you've got to take care of yourself." And that was just the
German method, they were not being mean or anything, that was
just the custom. And so when I graduated from high school in
1929, they didn't urge me to go to college. And I don't know why
in the world I had the idea that I should go, but I sure had it
stuck in my head. And so I started out going to Missouri
University, which is in Columbia, Missouri, started out with two
hundred and fifty dollars in my bank account. And so I had a
variety of experiences getting through that, but that was a
great time. You ought to start one on the Depression, and I
guarantee you, I can give you a three hour lecture on it.
JW: Well, everybody that I interview, part of the interview is
how their family got through the Depression because all of them
went through it, they're of the age.
PS: Do you want any of that?
JW: Yeah, I'll take whatever you're putting out.
PS: Well, as I say, my graduation from high school really
started, because that was 1929, see, and the Depression didn't
hit until about a year later. And by that time, we'd had a bank
closing, but business was still decent in the theater. And Dad
had quit his job-- Well, no, I guess he hadn't quit the
telephone company then. But anyway, I wanted to get in that the
reason I say he was a genius is I can remember very well sitting
at the kitchen table with him when I was-- well, I hesitate to
say how old I was, but I was not very old, maybe ten years old.
And he was building a radio. Now, I don't mean that he had
bought a bunch of parts and he was putting them together. He
built the parts. I remember it very well. He had an old oatmeal
box, round as it is now, and he had dipped that in paraffin. And
he had a fine wire that he was running around that oatmeal box,
and he went on and on and on, and finally, that was finished.
And then he had, as I remember, just a piece of cardboard about
the size of a book of matches. And he had a wire going in one
end and wire coming out the other end, and he was wrapping it, a
fine wire around it. And he had the radio, what was to be the
radio, 4 turned on. But he had kept winding that fine wire
around that match box, and all of a sudden, it started talking
loud and clear. And that was Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, which I
guess they had the most powerful radio station in the country
because everybody got it. But anyway, he built that radio, built
it from the ground up. And, of course, he was working for the
telephone company and his bosses didn't have radios. So the next
thing you know, why, he built a radio for each of them. And then
they had to build a cabinet, we didn't have any part in that.
But anyway, time came to go to Columbia, to Missouri U., and I
had two hundred and fifty dollars. So I don't remember how I got
there, but I know how I got back and forth from there all the
time, I was hitchhiking. Hitchhiking was the way to go in those
days. I could beat bus time anytime, all I had to do was stand
on the curb and show my Missouri Tiger on my suitcase, and the
next car that came by, picked me up. Of course in those days,
you pick up a hitchhiker, you could be pretty well sure that he
was not going to stick a knife in you or blow your head off. We
were all the good guys then. But anyway, went to Missouri
University and I'll skip four years of that.
JW: But you told me earlier somewhere in there, there's a
theater. How did that come in?
PS: Well, the theater was where I took tickets. Mom sold tickets
and I guess they had an expert to run the machines.
JW: Your father owned the theater?
PS: Yeah. He worked part-time for the fellow that had the
theater at the time. And the guy couldn't keep up the payments
on it, on the theater. The theater was mortgaged, of course, by
the previous owner. And anyway, he gave it up and Dad took over
JW: What was the name of the theater?
PS: The Academy Theater.
JW: In Ironton, Missouri?
PS: Yeah, and the Academy Theater was built by a wealthy group
of people that wanted something better to do than go to the
circus; and they, apparently, did that very thing. You have to
realize, in those days, the theater was flat, the floor was
flat, it wasn't sloping as it is now. And they'd have the dances
there and all kinds of commencement and all kinds of stuff,
things like that. And so we all worked like the devil, mostly my
dad, to pay off the mortgage. And I remember well, we had the
kids little presents, ready to give them out at Christmas, and
he had just made his last payment on the building. And Christmas
Eve, the place caught on fire and burned to the ground. And
there he was, he had paid for that thing with the whole family
JW: Did he have insurance?
PS: Oh, a little bit. And anyway, he went to work and borrowed
money and they started rebuilding it. And he said he was going
to have the best picture show between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff
that's on the 5 Missouri-Pacific Railroad, and so he built a
good one. And they carried on without me while I was in the
University. And I went one semester, I wanted to be an
aeronautical engineer. I found out right quick that I was going
to have to get smarter on the mathematics than I was, and that I
better drop out. And so I did, I dropped out for a semester,
went back home and tried to pick up where I left off. Then when
September came again, why, I went back. And what you did in
those days if you didn't have any income, you waited tables and
washed dishes and fired furnaces, menial jobs like that. And if
you were lucky, you got one of those. But come September, the
following year, I went back. And I'm trying to reconstruct where
I was when. I got a job, one of them was at a fraternity called
the Farmhouse Fraternity, which was made up of agriculture
students. And that was a good job, they gave me a room in the
basement and that's where the furnace was and it was a nice
room. I remember there was a Victrola, old hand-crank Victrola
in the basement. And there was one record there and I played
that record as long as I was over there. I'd play it and I
didn't know how to dance. And some of the girls in high school
had taught me and another fellow to dance, but it was not very
effective. And so I practiced dancing to that music. And, well,
I made it through that year. And the next year, I came back and
got my old job back at the Farmhouse.
JW: Do you remember, since I assume you played it a thousand
times, do you remember the one record you had to practice with?
PS: Amapola and Ravel's Bolero.
JW: I guess if you only had one record, that's not a bad one to
PS: That's right. I still like it.
JW: I still like it, too.
PS: Somewhere in between there, that summer before I returned to
the University, I was working in a filling station, dollar a
day. And a friend of mine who was in pretty much the same shape
I was in, got a job selling magazines in the country; not in
town, but in the country. Three magazines, Saturday Evening
Post, Ladies Home Journal and what was the third one. Anyway,
you had to have an automobile and it paid sixty-five percent
commission. You sold a subscription for a dollar and a half, you
got sixty-five percent of it. And so we took off, this is the
summer of 1932, we took off, we were in a crew. And we took off
toward southeast Missouri selling magazines, and we had to have
an automobile. I bought a 1925 Ford, this is 1932. I bought a
'25 Ford Model-T coupe and drove it right on, and that was a
hard summer. I think '32 was probably the hardest one of the
Depression, hardest year of the Depression for most anybody. But
we were out there selling those magazines to people that didn't
have any money, and we traded for old radiators and chickens. I
could give you within an ounce of the weight of an old hen
running across a hillside. And I'd take that chicken in for part
of my subscription and then take it to town and sell it. But
that was a hard summer. If you've got time, I'll tell 6 you. We
got down to, honestly, I don't remember the name of the town but
it was down in southeast Missouri, right on the river, near the
river, not on it. And my friend's name was Theron Sumpter, I've
been trying to locate him for the last five years, I don't know
what happened to him. But we kind of teamed up on what we had
and what we were going to do, and so we were working the same
area. I remember, I guess, the low point, we came to a field of
corn, and the corn was just ripening and we could see the
farmhouse up on a little knoll quarter of a mile away. And I
don't know, Theron and I discussed it, and we decided that one
of us would go up to the farmhouse and make sure that he didn't
notice what the other was doing. And I went and stole about six
ears of corn right off the stalk. Well, he went up and engaged
the man in a conversation, then he came back, and so we had six
ears of corn for dinner that night. And the same trip, we got
down again and we had a nickle between us, I had two cents and
he had three cents, we put them together and made a nickle and
bought a watermelon, good sized watermelon. What do you have to
pay for a watermelon now? Anyway, we made that watermelon last a
couple of days and that was all the food we had. Another thing
about the Depression was that people didn't come out and pat you
on the head and say, "Here, here's fifty cents, go buy something
to eat." And they didn't feel bad about it, either, and we
didn't feel bad about it, either. We all grew up to help
ourselves and that's what we were trying to do. Anyway, that
same trip, I was right on the banks of the river because there
was a lot of sand dunes there and it was just a track marked
out. And came to a farmhouse, little place, just a man and a
woman, and they were sitting down to lunch. And I remember
thinking, now surely, they'll invite me to stay for lunch. Well,
I was mistaken. They went on and they ate, and I stood there and
watched and I'm sure my tongue was hanging out. But they finally
did invite me to have something to eat and I remember it. I'm a
meat eater, was then, and I still am. But they didn't have any
meat, they were eating the vegetables that they'd raised, but I
was thankful for that. And anyway, Theron and I got through it.
And I don't know, I guess maybe when September came, I quit and
prepared to go back to the University. And can you imagine doing
that now, without a damned dime in your pocket and expecting to
get through? Well, I did. And sure enough, I got a job. Well,
no. You're going to regret giving me a free reign here before
long. I got back to school. I'd been to Boy Scout Camp and one
of the Scouts had contacted a fraternity and said this guy would
be a good pledge and so they contacted me. And I said, "Well, I
can't, I don't have any money, I can't join your fraternity."
And this one fellow said, "Well, I've got a job delivering for
the drug store." In those days, if you bought a milk shake,
clear across town from the drug store, they'd sell it to you for
regular price and give it to the fellow to deliver it. And that
was me, I'd deliver it to them. And that was one of the few jobs
that I had that involved cash, but I got paid in cash. But I
didn't last very long because I couldn't ride the blasted
motorcycle and I didn't know the addresses in town so I got 7
fired. And I had to go back to waiting tables and washing dishes
and I made it through. I remember one fraternity, one sorority
where I worked, was a Jewish sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha. And I had
to walk, it seemed to me like forever, and that was a cold, cold
winter, twenty below zero. And I had to walk from the place
where I had a bed, to the Zeta Tau Alpha house. And God, it was
cold, but I'd get there and fire up the furnace. And the rule
was, if you worked a meal, you got to eat the meal, and so I got
a free meal for every time I worked there. And I know they were
having a hard time, too, because we had hominy all the time, all
the time. Hominy must have been a cheap thing to buy because the
fraternities and sororities were having a time, too; but we had
hominy a lot, but that was something to eat. And I remember my
second semester, I was rooming with a journalism student, you
hear a lot about journalists now, and he had money. And he would
call me from way off wherever he was, and say, "Paul, I'm
supposed to have an advertising campaign starting tomorrow for
some kind of cigarettes. Will you figure one out for me?" Well,
yeah, I wasn't going anyplace, so I did and he'd do that
frequently. And I often think of that, these high-powered
journalists running the world now. But anyway, I went on. I
parked that 1925 Ford coupe behind the Farmhouse. And well, I
guess that might have been where I went back to work, but it sat
there. And course, it didn't have a starter in those days, that
was a luxury. But it wouldn't start, so I finally got a friend
to tow me and I was going to start it that way. In doing that,
why, I got close to the oncoming traffic and that automobile
just jerked the rear-end clear out of my car. And I got it back
to the Farmhouse, and friend of mine and I, we went to the junk
yard. Now, this is the way people lived. Went to the junk yard,
and sure enough, we found an abandoned Model-T Ford. And we took
the Model-T Ford, they were take what you want, we took the
whole rear-end. No, I guess we started at the differential and
took everything from there on back and put it on my car, on my
1925. And by God, we got it to running again. And I drove it
home and back once or twice. But boy, wasn't hard to get a
passenger because there was always some student. I transferred
out of engineering school and went to business administration;
and I loved that, I still do, got a lot of economics and
geology. But anyway, I graduated in 1934.
JW: With a degree in--
PS: A bachelor of science in business. And we were being taught
to be the manager, we weren't secretaries or what have you.
Anyway, went back to my hometown. And the power company where my
dad had also worked, and I had been on a long spell with them
selling light bulbs door-to-door. And so they had an opening in
a town thirty miles from my hometown, Potosi, Missouri, which is
really a mining area. They mined tiff there, which is a white
mineral. It's never in veins, it's just deposits around. And the
individuals would go out there in the country and dig until they
found a deposit. And one little find this big would be enough to
load a truck that was that heavy. Tiff is a 8 relative of lead.
JW: Do you have any idea what it was used for?
PS: Oh, it was used for face powder and gunpowder. I expect it
still is probably, because it would grind up into a fine powder.
And I remember that was the first time I became acquainted with
Union activity. One morning, walking to work, there was an
automobile parked on the curb and there was this guy sitting in
it. He didn't look too good, and I stopped and looked at him and
he didn't pay any attention to me. Well, it turned out he had
been shot in the stomach and it was a Union fight. The Union was
trying to unionize that area and they had a hard time because
everybody was their own boss, and the mining company didn't want
anything to do with anything else, they wanted to buy the tiff
from whoever brought it. And this guy crossed the wrong Union
boss, I guess. But anyway, we've heard a lot lately about people
stealing copper wire.
JW: Right, right.
PS: And that takes me right back to my first year out of school,
because as I say, the Depression was right on the money then, it
was tough. And my job with the electric company, I was
bookkeeper and cashier of this office, not a little one, but it
was pretty big. And my pay was fifty-two dollars a month. And
there was no vacation, there was no pensions, and you didn't
ask. If you got a chance to get a job, you didn't ask for
anything, what are the benefits. If you got a job that I can
have, let me have it, no questions asked. But anyway, after
about a year of that, they offered me a job as sales manager for
a district comprised of Potosi, Piedmont, Bismark and Ironton,
all under local offices. And I was going to need an automobile
for it because the boss said, "I don't care what you sell,
individually, your job is to stimulate the sales in the other
employees so that they'll all sell." Well, I took that
seriously. I didn't like selling anyway. But that required that
I own an automobile. So my boss in the district office, which
was my hometown, got with the Chevrolet dealer there. And they
agreed that if I paid fifty dollars down, I could buy one on
time, so that's what I did, 1936 Chevrolet. And looking back,
you know, that's a small automobile. I bet you you've never seen
PS: Well, I have in my lifetime.
PS: But anyway, I remember I was leaving town one morning to go
to Potosi, which is thirty miles away, in between there and St.
Louis. And the owner of the station knew me, and I was indebted
to him anyway. He came out and he said, "I got a man over here.
He says he's a shell-shocked veteran." That meant shell-shocked
from World War I. "And he's trying to get to St. Louis. Would
you give him a ride to wherever you're going?" I said, "Sure."
And so we both got in that little 1936 Chevy and I hadn't gone
five miles until the guy pulled out a bottle of whiskey. And he
took a drink and offered me one, and I said, no, I couldn't. And
so 9 we went on a little while and he offered me another drink.
I refused because, boy, that would have been my job right there.
We got almost to Potosi and he had been after me to take him on
to St. Louis. Well, hell, I didn't have time to take him to St.
Louis or the money, either. And I said, "Well, I can't take
you." Well, he pulled out a pocketknife with a blade about that
wide and about that long and he held it right up here under my
neck. He said, "Now, don't you think you could figure out some
way to take me to St. Louis?" And I looked at that knife and it
changed my mind. And so I said, "Okay, I'll take you to St.
Louis, but I've got to get some gasoline before I get that far."
I had formed a plan. And we pulled into a filling station that I
knew would be busy, and I bailed out of that booger on the fly,
it had not stopped rolling when I left it. And my guest jumped
out on the right side and disappeared. When the bystanders said
that everything was clear, I got back in the car. That was
scary, but that was the Depression. At that time, I found out
that the founder of Texas is buried in Potosi, Missouri, and it
was neglected. And a delegation from Texas moved in up there or
came in and was going to remove him, Austin was his name, going
to take him to Texas where he belonged. And the Potosi people
said, "No, since we found out who he is, that's going to be a
tourist attraction." So they wouldn't let him go. But that was
just a side thing. But that was quite a place. About that time,
I guess I could leapfrog forward. One of my visits to my other
town, Piedmont, Missouri, I was in a restaurant one night and
heard an airplane go over above. In those days, 1934, the whole
town, wherever it was, the whole town would turn out if an
airplane came close because most people hadn't even seen an
airplane and they'd all come out to see it. Well, here was this
guy flying around in the dark and it wasn't any instrument
landing, there wasn't any airport. And he pulled his throttle
back and hollered to the ground, "Where is the field?" And
everybody started pointing and he said, "Shine your headlights
on the field so I can land." So we all took off to where the guy
was that knew where the field was, and we followed out there.
And I'll swear that guy still impresses me, and I've had a lot
of flying since then. But he circled the area one time and it
was dark, as I say, and he'd say, "Where are the wires?" Well,
by God, there was wires there. And I found out since then that
wherever there's a field, there's wires. But anyway, we all
shine our headlights on the field and the guy came in and
landed. And he had a passenger with him and he was a cotton
duster. And I'm sure that passenger had had his fill of flying
for that night. But anyway, now we're about up to the war.
JW: Right. And you said earlier that you were laying your plans
and that you had bought into a little airplane. Did this go
wrong right here?
PS: Yeah, this is the airplane I'm getting ready to tell you
about. Oh, I talked to the pilot of that airplane in Piedmont,
in the dark, and I said, "I come from Ironton and I got two or
three guys up there that went right along with me who would like
to learn to fly, but 10 there isn't any field there or
anything." He said, "Well, if you can guarantee me three people
to learn to fly, I'll solo you in this airplane for fifty
dollars a head for each of you to solo the airplane." Well, I
went back up home and the pharmacist there in town was a great
big stooped over fellow. There was a country club there in
Ironton, a nice little club, nine holes. And we used to go down,
two or three of us that played golf, we'd go down to his drug
store at night and go back behind the counter where he could
talk to us. And we'd all compare notes on how to hit a golf
ball, and what was the best way and all that stuff. And so I
carried the news to them that I had a teacher who would teach us
to fly. And so they said, "Yes, sir." So I got in touch with the
fellow in St. Louis and he came down and landed on a creek-bed
there and only three of us turned up. And anyway, I'll shorten
it again, you'd be surprised how short this story is. Anyway,
wound up, the pharmacist and I bought the airplane and the
airplane was a Piper Cub, sixty-five horsepower, and it had the
RAF, the British insignia, on it.
JW: Now, this is a bi-plane?
JW: Oh, it's not?
PS: No. Piper Cub is a single engine plane, just one wing.
JW: Now, this is the plane you saw land in the field, at night?
PS: Yeah. Well, yes, it is. No, the one I bought was not the
JW: Okay, okay.
PS: The one I bought belonged to Joe Call, who lived in
Galesburg, Illinois, I guess he's probably dead by now. But he
was a crop duster and he was flying a crop duster that night. He
gave me two or three lessons, I think, and then he didn't come
back. And I got ahold of him and he said, "Well, my airplane was
destroyed in a violent thunderstorm on the ground and I don't
know when I'll get back to it." And so that shot that down.
JW: But he had your fifty dollars, right?
PS: No, I didn't. None of us did, because he had come up, I
think about three times, and given each one of us an hour and
JW: So he had not made you pay in advance?
PS: Yeah, I think he had, too. I believe he did. But anyway,
Linus and I wound up buying this airplane which had been
produced with the Royal Air Force insignia on it, the tail and
the wing and the fuselage, pretty little airplane.
JW: Do you remember how old it was at that point?
PS: Well, it was brand new.
JW: Oh, it was brand new? 11
PS: Yeah, and this was the original sale. But the story behind
it, the Piper Air Company had manufactured forty-eight airplanes
and dedicated them to the families of the British aviators who
had defended England up to that point in World War II. Am I on
JW: In World War II?
JW: Okay. What year is this that you bought the airplane?
PS: Let's see, Linus sold it, it must have been 1944.
JW: I see. Okay.
PS: Because I learned to fly in that airplane. I drove in to St.
Louis, about eighty or eighty-five miles in to St. Louis, to
Lambert Field, which is still there, and got in touch with an
instructor. And they charged eight dollars an hour, and that was
for the airplane and for the instructor. Boy, now, you can't
walk by an airplane for that. But anyway, I'd take an hour and
go home and then come back, take another hour and finally got
eight hours, but I practiced studiously with that airplane. By
that time, Linus and I had bought the airplane. And there was
another depressing touch. I worked for the power company. And
course, they had lines going everyplace and being torn down and
stuff like that. I bargained for the airplane, it was going to
be sixteen hundred and fifty dollars. That's for the whole
JW: But that's still a lot of money in 1938.
PS: Oh, you durned right it is. And so we didn't have anyplace
to put it. But I worked for the power company and I went in and
I bargained with the boss for used old guy wire. That's a thick
wire that they run from the post down to the ground. And let's
see, what else? Well anyway, I bargained for that and we bought
corrogated iron for the walls. And I guess we must have just had
to go and buy a system of pulleys to slide the door open and
closed. Anyway, we built a hangar for that one airplane on this
pasture where I had made arrangements to keep the airplane and
so they didn't object. Oh, we had a man, who was legally blind
and on welfare, build a hangar for us and he did all right. The
area had its share of thieves and what have you. And I passed
the word around that the gasoline that we used in that airplane
was high-powered and it would burn up an ordinary automobile
engine. And you know, we never lost a drop of gasoline.
JW: Was that true or--
PS: No, it was not true.
JW: Was not true? But it worked.
PS: Yeah, it worked. And anyway, Linus and I--
JW: What was Linus's last name?
PS: White, Linus White. He's dead now; but bless his heart, he
stuck in there with me. Anyway, I never will forget the day we
got a 12 telephone call, the salesman that we had bought it
from, said, "Your airplane is tied up to the fence out there in
your field and I'm going back to St. Louis," and that was it.
And he was supposed to give us all a check-out in that airplane,
but he didn't do it. Anyway, Linus and I went out there and
looked at each other said, "Well, you go, you go first." We were
both scared to death. And he said, "No, you go first." So I
guess we wound up that I went first and-- Did you ever fly an
JW: No, and it won't be happening in the future, either.
PS: It won't?
JW: I'm not a fly-boy.
PS: You're not? Well anyway, I love it, I mean I did love it. He
came across the field, as I say, I must have gone first and made
it all right, circled the field and landed. And then it came to
Linus's turn, and he got in it, and as I say, he was a great big
guy. And he made his circle and came around and was headed for
the place to land. And he was still about fifty feet in the air,
and it began to look bad because he couldn't land that high. And
he opened the throttle, went around and still fifty feet high,
and he did that at least three times, maybe four. And finally,
he got down to landing speed and landed and everything went well
from there on. But he discovered that the throttle was on the
left side. And as I say, he was a big guy and he probably filled
the cockpit. And when he pulled the throttle back, he didn't get
it back all the way, so the engine was still running.
JW: Going too fast?
PS: Yeah. But anyway, we went on from there and I'd go out there
and practice every weekend, sometimes more often than that.
JW: You're a single man, right?
JW: At that time?
PS: Yeah. I wasn't ever going to get married at that time. And I
found out later, much later, I'd go out there and fly. Well,
anyway, there was a road that went by the field and people would
come up out of the country, and it's pretty rugged country, to
watch me fly and I didn't know it. And my girlfriend would be
with me, she'd be parked in the car. And I'd fly and come down,
and we'd push the airplane in the hangar and go home. And years
later, I found out that people by the dozens would come out of
the woods there to watch me fly. And I was known as a daredevil.
There I was up there in the air. But anyway, I went on and
soloed. I drove up to Lambert Field and soloed one of the
airplanes and got approval.
JW: So you already owned an airplane before you got a license?
JW: I see, okay.
PS: But it was right close. Now, they don't require spins, for
13 example, you had to do a two turn spin, that's where you're
headed-- Do you know what it is?
JW: Is that where like it's out of control heading down?
PS: Yeah, and turning.
JW: In a stall?
PS: And you had to do a two turn spin in each direction to get a
private license. And now, they don't require instructing them on
it at all. Well, went to St. Louis to get checked out. He said,
"Well, now you've done all this," and he said, "now you got to
do your spins." Well, I thought he'd go with me, but he didn't,
he said, "I'll be waiting right here and I'll be watching you do
your spins." That so-and-so, he wasn't gonna even watch me, he
just didn't want anything to do with a spin with a student at
the controls, I guess. Well, anyway, I did it. And then when I
came back, I guess that must have been the second trip to St.
Louis. Oh, I guess I was going to get the private license then
and I did. And then when I started doing the practice in my
airplane, why, these people would come out of the woods and
watch and I'd do spins because it takes a little practice to get
used to that sensation, I'll tell you. But I was the world's
greatest aviator to those people, I guess. Now, I think we're
about to get into the war. The war came along, and well, I don't
know whether I've already covered this or not, but the Reserve,
Air Force Reserve, said, "We want you to go to Hastings,
Nebraska," and they're qualified to give you a commercial
license and an instructor's license. And so I went to the
required field, and I did, and I passed, and then went back
home. And they said, Well, now, we want you to go to Kelly
Field. I went to Kelly Field and was assigned an instructor. And
we were flying a PT-19, that's a single engine propellor driven
airplane. And you know, you see these cartoons, wouldn't you
like to live forever. In the course of the first test that he
and I rode together, he said, "Do an Immelmann turn for me."
Well, an Immelmann turn is when you're flying along even and you
pull up to the top of the turn and turn over and fly away. This
is supposed to help you avoid pursuit by bad guys, and it
happened to be one of my favorite maneuvers. And so I did, and
he said, "Do that again." And I thought, oh, hell, I've messed
up now because in those days the Army fliers were the ultimate,
that was just it. And here I am I've messed up. So he said,
"Well, do it again." I did it again. And he had me do it three
times. And finally, he said, "How do you do that?" And that's
when I could have lived forever, you know, because I was
instructing him. But anyway, went on from there, became a flight
instructor and shipped to Sikeston, Missouri. Have you been
JW: I think I've been there in my life. I recall it's not
exciting, I didn't find it exciting.
PS: No, no, it's a nice town. At one point, it was supposed to
have had more millionaires per capita than any town in the
United States. It was a cotton town. Anyway, I was sent to
Sikeston, Missouri, where Parks Air College had a school. 14
JW: Did you live on a base?
PS: When you were there?
PS: I was a civilian.
PS: Oh, that's right
PS: And you got you a room someplace and reported for work every
morning. And they say you never learn to do a thing until you've
tried to teach somebody to do it, and I believe that, because I
think I got pretty good with an airplane while teaching it. None
of us wanted to be instructors, but we became instructors. And
after two and a half years, they called us all in and they swore
us in as, (we were civilians up to that point), they swore us in
as flight instructors.
JW: That's when you became--
JW: Okay. I wanted to get that straight.
PS: And so we had to go back to school. That's what I'm telling
you Air Force does for you, it sends you to school. And let's
see, then they assigned us to Randolph Field, which in those
days, that was supposed to be the West Point of the Air Force.
And so we went there and I was in the military then. They
assigned me to the ferry command as a civilian, and they gave me
an instructor named Webster. And I flew with him as his
co-pilot, he must have been at least sixty years old, grizzled
old man, you know, in those days, he looked old to me. And we
went to Fort Worth from Dallas, where we were stationed. We
drove to Fort Worth and picked up a B-24, which was a big
airplane; well, it's still a big airplane. But I was co-pilot
for Captain Webster. He was a civilian, too, he wasn't a
Captain. Anyway, what we were doing was ferrying the airplanes
from Fort Worth to God knows where in the United States. And
whenever he'd get an assignment, he'd call for me as a co-pilot
and I accumulated a little B-24 time that way. And as I say, I
can't remember how long that was, a year or more. I was assigned
to Randolph Field, presumably to be made an officer and a
gentleman and instrument pilot. And finally one day, they said,
"Well, you're going overseas." Before we could qualify as a
pilot, we had to learn the Morse Code ten words a minute, and we
went to school for the Morse Code there on the base. And we were
there until ten or eleven o'clock at night. And just before we
were dismissed, they said, "Well now, you all can have the
weekend off, just be here in the morning at eight o'clock." None
of us had an automobile there, but I remember we got a big kick
out of that. And we had to get our shots for overseas duty. And
there was always somebody in the group, wherever you went to
line up to take your shots, there was always some character that
couldn't take it, he'd faint. And if you fainted and you were up
for a pilot rating, you were automatically out forever. If you
fainted, that was it. So 15 the guys would make arrangements
with somebody that was going to be next to them in line, to keep
them from falling. If they fainted, why, fake it and try to keep
me from falling, and so they did, but it was funny really. I
remember seeing a guy ahead of me with two needles in each arm,
taking God knows how many shots; but we were immunized for
practically everything. And then the next thing you know, they
say, "Well, you're going overseas."
JW: Now, you're still single at this point?
PS: No, no, I was married by then. Because I know my wife had
been working in St. Louis and I stayed in a hotel in Sikeston.
JW: Okay. They were going to send you overseas?
PS: Yeah. Now, I was married when I went overseas, I know that.
We had to buy our own uniform. And they sent us to Nashville,
Tennessee; and there, they issued our pistol and some other bits
of regulation, and we flew to the Azores. Now, they put three
crews on each B-24 that were going overseas, there was a pilot
and a co-pilot for three ships. And then we landed at the Azores
and spent a day there and then flew to Casablanca.
JW: Do you recall what year this is?
PS: I think it was 1944. We landed at Casablanca and one of the
other crews was flying. We flew a C-54 over there because we
were comfortable and a B-24 is not comfortable. But we landed at
Casablanca. We started to, I should say, and it was just getting
dusk. And all of a sudden, the pilot was just ready to touch his
wheels down and he opened the throttle and we were gone again.
And it turns out somebody had left a bulldozer on the runway and
he was about to land into it. But we finally did get down and
they took us to what had been the Italian Embassy there at
Casablanca, and they left us there for three or four days. We
had our .45s and we'd all qualified in them. And they said,
"Now, we're going to let you go tonight, you can have a night
out. But just don't go by yourself, take somebody with you. And
you wear your sidearm all the time, keep it concealed and don't
show it." Said, "We're still finding the dead bodies of G.I.s in
the wells around here." And see, the North African Campaign had
just, I guess you might say, been completed. And so they said,
"Keep your pistol with you and keep it concealed, and don't ever
go by yourself." So that was easy for us to understand. And we
stayed there two or three days and then we flew to Tripoli, and
I think we just spent the night there maybe, and we got to do
some sightseeing and then we went to Cairo, Egypt. And the pilot
in all these cases was an astute person, because he'd find
something wrong with the airplane at all these places that we
wanted to stop. I got to go up to the pyramids and go up inside
of one of them. There was another fellow named Davidson, named
Dick something. He was a Captain and he was riding as a
passenger, too. And we'd get to a place and he'd ask me to go
with him to some place or other. He had been with the British
Army, an American volunteer 16 with the British Army up to that
point. And they had ordered him some sort of medal and he wanted
to get one, he was looking for a British Army Post where they
might have that medal that he could pick up and start wearing
it. And so he and I were traveling together and they had Army
vehicles for the GIs to ride in, on base, on the town. And we
caught one and got on and there were two young women. And one of
them was a beauty, the other one was not bad. But I'm getting my
sequence messed up a little bit. But anyway, we found these
women on the bus and maybe we had to transfer. Anyway, they were
going to take us to their apartment; and we thought, well, now,
this was not too bad. We anticipated something big. And turns
out that the father of one of these girls was a prominent
newspaper publisher in that part of the world, and he was
wealthy apparently, and so the four of us kind of stuck
together. I don't think I got a picture of that, though, of the
four of us leaning over the wall on that roof there. And this
gal that I said was good looking had her picture on the front of
Yank Magazine later on. But anyway, nothing happened with them.
But we noticed that there was a representative, at least one
representative on that, I don't know what you call it, that roof
where the party was, at least one representative from all of the
Allied Nations were there, being given a drink, you know, and
sandwiches and dance music and that sort of stuff. And I always
did think that if there wasn't a German spy there, there should
have been, because they had ample opportunity there. But anyway,
after a few days--
JW: This is in Libya?
PS: No, Cairo.
JW: Oh, in Cairo. Okay.
PS: And after a few days, not very long, we're off to Karachi,
India. No, wait a minute, there was another stop in there. The
next stop was in what is now-- I don't know, I remember there
were a bunch of white Russian girls waiting tables there and
they were refugees from the Russian dictators, I guess. And at
Cairo and then Karachi, I guess, Karachi, India was the port of
entry more or less. And after a day or two, we were given a ride
to Dacca, India. Now, we're really into the Hump, Dacca, India.
Leah, maybe this would be an appropriate time to show that
picture from the post dispatch of that whole area. Dacca was a
town about, I think was-- well, okay, you show it.
JW: I'm looking to see if Dacca is named here. I'm not seeing
PS: What was that? LEAH: Just has selected towns, it doesn't
PS: Well, anyway, Dacca is about eighty miles north of Calcutta.
JW: It's on here.
PS: You say it is on there? 17
JW: No, Calcutta is on here, but that's about it for India.
PS: Anyway, Dacca is right at the head of the Bay of Bengal. The
warm currents of the Indian Ocean sweep up to there and hit the
Himalaya Mountains, which is just a hundred miles or so north of
there. And that's where you get the worst weather in the world
for flying and we were in it. But anyway, we landed at Dacca and
so they gave us a B-24 to fly and the B-24--
JW: Is a B-24 bigger than a B-17?
PS: They're about the same size, both four engines. I have a
little time in a B-17, and more time than I want to talk about
in the B-24. The B-17 was called a Flying Fortress, and they
called it that because it had guns all over it and it was
apparently a hard airplane to shoot down. And the B-24 that we
were using, had been converted to a tanker. There was a little
runway about that wide between the cockpit and the tail of the
airplane. And the tanks were on each side of that track, and
that was to haul the fuel to the B-29s in China. And nobody
liked them. When we arrived there, the 20th Bomb Group, which
you probably recognize as the ones that dropped the big ones.
The 20th Bomb Group had been using the B-24 to fly gasoline to
China, and we were going to replace them while they got with the
business of the bombing. And they told us, some of them told us,
that the 20th Bomb Group lost one out of four airplanes taking
off, one out of four. Now, that's a murderous thing. They did it
because the runway was not all that long, and the airplane was
not supposed to be loaded that heavy, and so it just ran out to
the woods and exploded. And I never ran on to anybody that liked
the damned 109s, they called them C-109s when it was converted.
And I flew co-pilot with Howard Akins. They had a system set up
when you became a Hump Pilot, you had to fly five times as
co-pilot with an experienced man. And when you'd done that, when
you'd completed five trips over the Hump, then you were
qualified to try and check out because then you would have seen
most of the mountains that you were going to encounter. And the
weather was certainly going to be bad at least one of those, and
the whole system was being was being tested, really. And so then
you could try to get on as first pilot, if you wanted to. Well,
as I say, I was assigned to Howard Akins. He was an airline
pilot that may have volunteered, I don't know, but we roomed
together on the base and we drank together. We were supposed to
get-- (they had rules for everything and most of them were not
obeyed at all)-- a fifth of whiskey and a case of beer a month
if we were on flying duty, because they reasoned that we were
going to be nervous wrecks by the time we got through with that.
But we never did get it, and so we did our drinking at the
Officer's Club. And you haven't asked what was a Flight Officer.
I was a Flight Officer, I was not a 2d Lieutenant. Flight
Officer's one grade below 2d Lieutenant. The authorities just
fixed it so that would be legal, it would be legal for us to fly
because we were actually drafted from the ranks of the
instructor ratings that I'd come out of, as had others all over
the country. That was a Flight Officer. 18 There were signs in
our headquarters office, "Flight Officers, Get a Commission,
Change your Wings." Well, that was the catch. You had to change
your wings. Our wings said S right in the middle of it, for
service pilot. And we discovered right away that on the Hump, if
you were a Flight Officer, you didn't have much problem with
rank, you were the lowest man on the ranking pole. But the
commissioned officers that were there knew and respected us for
our flying time, not for our rank. I can remember seeing a
flight officer back up this Captain, just back him up to the bar
and lectured him right in his face. Nobody would do anything
about a thing like that because everybody recognized that the
Flight Officers were the flying-time wise. But that was a Flight
Officer, I wanted to get that in there somewhere. Anyway, I flew
with Howard. He had to go five trips and then he was eligible to
go as 1st Pilot, and I was assigned to go with him. And we went
to Kunming, China, to Chengtu, which is about five hundred miles
north of Kunming. To get there, you flew to Kunming, across the
ridge, across the Hump, but that was the low part of the Hump,
and then you turned to the left when you got to Kunming, you
turn to the left and go, I think, five hundred miles to Chengtu.
Well, that's where the Japs were. When we get there, there was a
Jap plane going over every day that was an observation plane, to
see what we were going to be flying against them, and they let
it go. He'd be real high and the Air Force just let them come on
because they weren't armed, they were just observers. And
finally, somebody got tired of that and sent an airplane up and
shot him down. You tell this same story to somebody else, maybe
he was even there at the same time I was, and he'll tell
altogether a different story. If you didn't go into the same
thunderstorm as the other guy did, you didn't have turbulence.
There was nothing much to talk about, and everything was
different. Anyway, we got to Chengtu. And usually, we'd get
there with our assigned altitude, eighteen thousand feet. And
the weather might be okay up on top, and you look straight down
and you couldn't see anything but the haze. They wouldn't let us
fly on instrument plan to get in a regular flight pattern
because they said it took too much time. Well, that was a bunch
of horse manure. But anyway, we came over at Chengtu at eighteen
thousand feet, and let down through the murk and entered the
traffic pattern, and everything was going fine. But on our final
approach, I was riding co-pilot, Howard was pilot. On our final
approach, when they taught us instruments, at least, I think
it's all changed now because the instruments are altogether
different; but in those days when the pilot was flying on
instruments, he'd let his seat down all the way so he was just
looking at the instruments, the airplane would be up here. And
so he was busy flying that damned airplane, and I was watching,
and there in front of us was a light airplane, pretty much like
one I had bought. Anyway it was a one seater, small airplane,
and he was right in front of us and below us, and we were going
to land right on top of him. And I called the tower and I said,
"There's a light plane in front of us." And the tower came back
and said, "No, there isn't any 19 light plane." So I was a good
flight officer, so I shut my mouth. And we continued on, and of
course, he was on final approach and headed down to a nice
hundred and twenty miles an hour. And I called in and said,
"That light plane is still there." "No, there's no airplane
there." I did that three times, and we were getting down to the
point where we were either going to land on that airplane or we
were going to resume flight, we were going to go on, not try to
land. And I did what you're not supposed to do as a co-pilot, I
reached over and got all four of those throttles and shoved them
to the firewall, and that made the airplane stop descending. And
Howard looked up and he saw that airplane, and he picked up the
microphone and started cussing the tower because he could see
that airplane as well as I could. But anyway, we had to go
around and then he had to go through that whole instrument
routine again, and we finally landed. And they called him in to
bawl him out about using that language and so forth, but anyway,
we became friends on that. So I rode with him four more times.
And in that length of time, why, they suggested maybe I'd like
to check out as 1st Pilot and I said, "No, I don't want to yet."
Because I'd found out that on the Hump, this is not true
anyplace else, I don't believe, on the Hump, the pilot had to
know what everybody was doing, and why, all the time. Because,
for example, if he's transferring gasoline from one tank to
another, you had to know if he's done it right, and where we are
and how much fuel we're going to have, and that sort of thing.
Or if the radioman is doing something, you listen to see what he
was reporting to see that he's reporting it correctly. And so I
didn't check out for another couple of months because I knew
that I didn't know the routine well enough. And finally, they
said, "Come on, you ought to go ahead and check out." So I did,
and by that time, we had C-54s which was just like getting a new
lease on life. The C-54 is a wonderful airplane and it's easy to
handle and it carries a lot of load. And they have a school
there in India someplace, Gaya, India, and I went there. And
here was a guy that was going to be flying with the same
instructor, who was an old friend of mine, Bill Montgomery, and
I'd seen him in various schools. That's one thing about the Air
Force, they send you to school until you're blue in the face,
just like that Morse Code. But anyway, there was Bill and me,
and we were both taking instruction from the same instructor.
And he had been flying, I forget where, I think he was on the
Red Ball flight from South America. But anyway, he had quite a
bit of time. And so we both checked out as 1st Pilots. And when
we did, they said, "Schaefer, your whiskey ration came in and
here it is." Well, it was a fifth of Johnny Walker Red Scotch.
And as I told you, the Air Force was a drinking bunch at that
time, even before we got to India. But Bill and I went to the
Officer's Club right then when they handed me that bottle and we
sat there and talked and exchanged histories on where we'd been
since the last time we saw each other and that sort of thing
until that fifth of whiskey was gone and neither one of us were
even starting to get drunk. I don't understand that because,
now, two drinks have me tottering around. But anyway, and I'll
remember this until I die, we parted 20 company and shook hands
and he said, "Well, Paul, I owe you one." Meaning he owed me a
drink. And I said, "Well, I'll see you, Bill." And I went to my
quarters and he went to his. And it was less than two weeks
later that Bill went in, they said that he ran into icing
conditions and couldn't shake it, that was the bad thing about
the Hump. And we were flying, I guess we were both flying 54s by
then. Anyway, I was flying 54s and I think Bill was, too, at
different bases. And he had run into ice and couldn't get above
the mountains or do anything else. When the airplane gets loaded
with ice, it not only ruins the lift that the props have to
take, you get propulsion, but it ruins the weightlifting ability
of the wings. And some of the airplanes had de-icing things on
them and some of them didn't, and I have to assume that the one
Bill got didn't have. Anyway, he crashed into a mountain and
there wasn't anything left. But thirty years later, I was
reading something in a newspaper, I don't know where it was
from, but they mentioned that Bill Montgomery, a pilot with the
Hump, had been buried in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Well, he'd been
out there in the National Cemetery for years and I didn't know
it. And so since then, I make not an annual, but a frequent
visit out there to tell Bill that he still owes me that booze.
He was a big round-faced, red-faced, I should say, red-faced
JW: Wonder how he wound up in Fort Smith, his final resting
PS: Well, I think I know. See, we went to one school after the
other. And in one of those moves, I found out that Bill had had
a real nasty divorce and his wife wouldn't have anything to do
with him or wouldn't have anything to do with his body. And so I
guess they were just looking for a place to put him in a
national cemetery and he's here. We'll be going back there one
of these days soon, I think. Leah, will we be going back? LEAH:
PS: Okay. Should we take our interviewer here with us? LEAH:
Well, I don't know about that.
PS: Okay. Anyway, I don't know what to do when I get there, but
I have developed a little habit. I stick a penny in the ground
or a nickle or something under the sod and just leave it there.
Maybe I'm trying to remind him.
JW: I have a friend who died twenty years ago tomorrow and he
was our favorite bartender of all times. And for years, maybe
I'll go look tomorrow, I haven't been in awhile, he's buried
over at the cemetery on Stateline, and for years, I'd go there
when I happened to be in the neighborhood and I'd find pennies
on his grave. And I know what that's about. The regulars used to
really upset him if you'd leave a penny as a tip. That's an
insult, of course, but that was a special little insult to him,
which the people who did that loved him dearly. So, I don't
know. I'm gonna go--
PS: Where was this?
JW: Down on Garrison Avenue. He had the Squeeze-In years ago and
the Coachman at the Goldman and then Angelo's on the Alley. He
was Greek, 21 and you know how those Greek people are, they're
lively people. And I'm gonna go have a drink for him tomorrow
because it's twenty years. I don't know how it went so fast.
PS: What happened to him?
JW: He just had a heart attack or a stroke and died.
PS: What was his name?
JW: Angelo Martinous.
PS: Did you ever hear that one, Leah?
JW: Okay. Now we're rolling.
PS: Well, I got a couple of stories I want to tell you. I think
you'll recognize that's all you can stand. But we'd haul
gasoline from Kurmitala, that was the name of our base,
frequently to Kunming and they'd transfer it to the B-29s to
bomb Tokyo. I was standing in front of the Operations Office at
Kunming one day, I'd delivered my load and I was just waiting
for the airplane to be serviced to go back to India. And I ran
into a Captain there and he was fussing and I said, "What's the
matter?" He said, "I'm so mad I could spit." I said, "What's the
problem?" The trouble with these damned stories is they all
require some background. They were most envious of anything you
tried to carry over the Hump because you were not supposed to
haul anything that didn't have to do with the war effort. And he
said, "I was ordered to take a plane-load of high priority
medical supplies to Chengtu." And I said, "Well, what's the
matter?" He said, "At Chengtu, the Chinese Communists are in the
trenches with the Japs surrounding the field." Well, the Chinese
Communists were our enemy just like the Japs were. People don't
know that, I doubt if it's ever mentioned, but they were. And so
we were supporting the Nationalists, so we had a two prong
battle. Anyway, he said, "They're in the trenches with the
Chinese Communists and I'll be damned if I'm going to haul them
those medical supplies when we need them, and I refuse to take
them." Well, in World War II, you didn't just refuse, you did
what you were ordered. But he said, "Pretty soon, the order came
down again, deliver those things, and it was signed by an
Assistant Secretary of State." Well, that's getting pretty high
and he said, "I still refuse." And pretty soon, the order came
down to transfer those supplies to Chengtu as ordered. And it
was signed, not by the Assistant, but by the Secretary of State
of the United States. And here he was being ordered to take
these supplies to the group that we were fighting. And I'll
shorten this a bit. When I got home in December, Dean Atchison
was the Secretary of State, and that's the name of the guy the
Captain gave me in Kunming. He signed that, he was the one that
was forcing him, and he did, he took it. But I said to myself,
maybe the whole world if they were listening, I was home and out
of the Army and everything, I said somebody ought to do
something. And everytime you do that, if you're not careful,
you're looking in the mirror to that person that ought to do
something. And about that time, there was an election going on,
General 22 Election, and there was a lawyer there in town that
was going to run for office or run for Congress on a Republican
ticket. Well, I was a Republican, and I still am, in Iron
County, Missouri. And he called me and he said, "I'm going to
ask you and Bill Edgar," who was a young lawyer ten times as
smart as I am, "to put your names on the ticket somewhere, just
run for something because the people in town all know you and
they'll come out to vote for you. Whether you want the office or
not, if you'll just get on the ticket, why, it's going to help
me." So I thought here's my chance to do something. So I entered
the race, and incidentally, he won. He's the only Republican
elected to Congress from that District up until then or since
then. He wanted the Republican party there. And that got me
interested in politics.
JW: But you didn't win that election?
PS: No, I didn't want it.
JW: Do you remember what you ran for?
PS: County Clerk, I believe.
JW: I see, okay.
PS: But I didn't want the damned job. Oh, I remember I was
walking up the street before the election and there were a group
of men who lived in that hotel. They were mostly prominent
businessmen, bankers and what have you. And I stopped to talk to
them, and course, I was starting to electioneer. And one of
them, Mr. Robinson of the Arcadia Bank, said, "I hope you lose."
And that kind of shocked me, and he said, "That office doesn't
amount to anything and you deserve better and so I hope you lose
that office." So I did lose. But that got me going in politics.
Well, I guess I got to put a final touch to this thing. Right
after that, of course, Park, my candidate, won and moved to
Washington and immediately started propositioning me to come and
take a job with him or some other job that he had available,
that sort of thing. But I didn't get into it for a job, that's
the last place I want to live. Anyway, I didn't take any of the
propositions that he made me. About that time, my college
roommate, and I haven't given him the due that he should have,
this fellow, I was in my senior year at college, University of
Missouri, and there was a class on economics that I loved and
there was thirty or forty people in it. And after the election
was over, I saw him motioning to me and I went over there. I
didn't know him from Adam. And he said, "I hear you're looking
for a job." Looking for a job, that was putting it mildly. I
hadn't had anything to eat for two days and it was beginning to
worry me, you know. And I said, "I sure am looking for a job."
And as I say, I didn't know him. And he said, "well, come with
me and I'll take you to my landlady, I think I can get you in
there." So I went with him and he introduced me to Mrs. Morgett.
And bless her soul, she had a voice like an auctioneer and she
had been a schoolteacher in Indian Territory. And she didn't
take any truck off of anybody. And so we had our interview with
Carter, who was going to be my roommate. He was standing there
and I was standing there and 23 Mrs. Morgett had the floor. And
she looked at him and she said, "Now, if that man gets this job,
you know that you're going to have to sleep with him." She said,
"You've got the only double bed left in the house, and you're
going to have to put up with him." And Carter said, "That's all
right, that's all right." So he got me this job. And he
graduated six months early and he started giving-- No, he
didn't, but my friend in Congress started giving me
opportunities and I wouldn't take them. Matter of fact, one of
them was in St. Louis, a radio station. I don't know whether he
was going to buy it or we were going to buy it or what, but
anyway, it was a radio station. And since he was in Congress,
he'd be able to get all the necessary licenses and what have you
and I would be part owner and I'd run it. And I said no, no, no.
After the war, that former roommate, Carter Hilsabeck, was
stationed at 4th Army Headquarters in San Antonio. He called and
said, "They have given me a whole section down here and taken
all the people out of it. And I just wonder if you'd come down
here and reconstruct this thing and run it for me." Because,
see, he was an officer, he didn't have to do any of that work.
And I said, "Carter, I can't come down there for three months."
He said, "Now," he was from Missouri too, he said, "I know it's
going to get cold up there very shortly, and San Antonio is a
good place to spend the winter, so come on down here." So I put
my wife in the car with her sewing machine. She had an electric
sewing machine and that was all of the furniture we had and so
we went to San Antonio. And Carter--
JW: What was his name again?
PS: Carter Hilsabeck, H-i-l-s-a-b-e-c-k, he was a Lieutenant
Colonel at the time.
JW: And what was your friend in Congress, what was his name?
PS: Park Banta, B-a-n-t-a. He lasted one term, and then Harry
Truman, oh, I should embellish that a little bit. The last phone
call I had from Park, I'd been up there to see him, I guess I--
Well, anyway, he said, Now, "Paul, I've got this proposition to
make you and don't you turn it down until you've heard me out."
He said, "I've got the way paved for you to be Secretary to the
Armed Services Committee of the United States Congress." He said
"Now, in that position, you can make Generals, you can break
Generals, you can open camps and close them, you got a lot of
power in it." Well, Park said, "Now, I've cleared this with--"
whoever was the head of the department or the committee that was
going to decide-- and that guy was the congressman from
Missouri, in the southwest corner of Missouri. And Park said,
"When you're coming back up here to Ironton to visit, stop in
and see him and get acquainted with him because he'll know you
and he's agreed to put you in that job." That kind of appealed
to me. By that time, I'd been in the Army long enough to know
that what he was saying was true, and that power was what got
me, you see. But Harry Truman screwed that up. He beat what's
his name, so that kept me from becoming a big shot. 24
JW: Dewey? Wasn't it Dewey in '48? Truman holding the newspaper
that got it wrong?
PS: Well, yeah, that's the one, that's right. But anyway, we
went to San Antonio and spent two and a half years there, and I
had a good job. And I was the civilian in charge of all of the
Post Exchanges in five states, and I really was in charge. Boy,
I'm telling you, these lapses are because of my age, I hope.
JW: Well, it was sixty years past. I know it's not easy.
PS: No, it sure isn't. We had a good time in San Antonio. The
camp here, Camp Chaffee, had been closed. And they were opening
it and there was an opening for a General Manager of the Post
Exchange. Other thing is, evidently, I had a good record with
the Army, that was Army, that wasn't Air Force. And when they
found out I was leaving, Carter come and called me and he said,
"They don't want you to leave. And they say that if you'll stay,
they'll give you a rank of major." Well, that's a pretty good
jump from 2nd Lieutenant. By that time, the Army must have had a
pang of conscience somewhere along the line and they made all of
us Flight Officers 2nd Lieutenants without saying anything. But
he said, "You'll get a commission as a Major." And I said,
"Carter, I don't want to be in the Army." Oh, well, they can't
imagine that, you know, those regular Army guys. And I had
enjoyed friendship with a whole bunch of them, all of them
Lieutenant Colonels or above, during my stay there. And I said,
"I don't want to be in the Army." And he said, "Oh." And I left
it at that. And next day, he came back and he said, "Listen,
Colonel Boatner," who was a General until the war was over and
then they gave him this job at Fort Sam, oh, "Colonel Boatner
has been in touch with Brooks Field, which is right close to San
Antonio. And they have agreed to transfer you in grade as a
Major and you can fly their airplanes just like you have been
and everything will be dandy. You can keep on working here, but
you'll be a Major instead of a Flight Officer or a 2nd
Lieutenant." And incidentally, I flew a Lieutenant Colonel to
Iowa to a family reunion in an Army airplane. But anyway, this
General Boatner, I had a friend of mine track him down. My desk
had been right close to his office in the 4th Army. And one day,
I hadn't met the man or anything, but I heard him pound on his
desk. He said, "I don't give a damn what the regulations say,
Fort Chaffee officers need that furniture, and by God, they're
going to get it." And that was the first time I'd heard of
Colonel Boatner. But it developed that he had been a General in
India, and he had helped Vinegar Joe Stilwell organize this big
camp there to train Chinese troops. And when I met Colonel
Boatner, Carter gave him my number, we were operating under the
same Civil Service number, number system, as the Civil Service
did. And I never did learn, I knew what it was but I'd forgotten
it. Carter gave him my number, and he said Mr. Schaefer is so
and so. And Boatner looked at me and he said, "You must be right
next to God." And then I found out that Boatner had been in that
damned jungle in Burma, and those guys, I expected them to just
hate our 25 guts, you know, the pilots flying that stuff over
them. And they were down there with the leeches and the Japs and
the jungle, and all that, that was rough, rough duty, but he had
been there and so he thought pilots were good. But I don't see
how they could have made me that offer to stay if he hadn't been
right in the middle of it. But I had this friend of mine who was
good on the geneology bit, looked him up. And he had gone back
to, soon after I left, I guess, when the Korean War was going
on, they sent him to Korea as a General. And he straightened
that out, they had an island there where they sent the prisoners
and the prisoners would just do what they wanted to. But they
were making too much storm and trying to get out and stuff like
that and nobody could handle it. But they sent Boatner there and
I could have predicted it. He said, "Line those tents up right
straight, a street on both sides, and you pass the word that
anybody that shows his head outside his tent is going to get it
shot off." And they shot a few of them, too, and he restored
order. But he went on and I had to find out what this is, and I
still don't remember. He went through all of the grades,
General, Lieutenant General, Major General, and General, and
then there's another one, but that's a-- Leah, do you remember
that number? It doesn't have the word General in it, but anyway
he was on top of all of the generals. And I guess he died there,
but God a mighty, he was a nice guy and I didn't know how well
off I was. But I think that's one of the major-- I'm happy, I
was happy with my job with the Arkansas Medical Society. Oh,
I'll give you my card. When I retired, oh, I can't even read
this. I don't think this is one of them. I'll let you read this
JW: Okay. Says, "Paul Schaefer, Executive Vice-President,
retired, Arkansas Medical Society." Is that right?
PS: Yeah, so far. Is there more?
JW: There's a telephone number, and then it says Thunderbird
Ranch that's been crossed out.
PS: And then in the upper lefthand corner, is there an insignia?
JW: Oh, it says Hump Pilots Association, I see that now. I don't
see too well myself.
PS: Well, I think that's probably it.
JW: So you went from running stores on military bases and then I
thought you were going to say here at some point, you got out of
that line of work, or did you stay in it?
PS: Well, no. When they said Chaffee was opening, I said, "Well,
I want to become the Manager of the Fort Chaffee Post Exchange."
It was my job to appoint one, so I could have it.
JW: Was that about 1959 or so?
PS: Oh, no, 1948, I think.
JW: Oh, it was that early, I see. 26
PS: You remember the Fort closed when World War II was over. And
then it just got closed good and Korean War started.
JW: It did that several times in its lifetime, as I recall. It
was hard on the City.
PS: But I remember all those Colonels kept coming by my desk and
congratulating me on my choice of Fort Chaffee. They'd all gone
through Chaffee at some point in their career. They said those
people are friendly up there, especially the girls, they're all
friendly. And I took that for granted, took that for what it
said. Sure enough, they are. Oh, you implied a question there.
When the Camp closed, which it did right after I got installed
up here, I was without a job and my wife was working. And let's
see, I went to work for Wise Radio. Do you remember when that
was on Towson Avenue?
JW: Uh-huh, they're still around, they're just not on Towson
PS: And I quit that because I was supposed to be influencing the
employees to get with it and I never did succeed, so I quit.
Then I worked for Cunningham-Young Farm Tractor place and the
Youngs were financing it, I guess.
JW: Is that R.A. Young?
PS: Yeah, what is it now? What do they call it now?
JW: Arkansas Best.
PS: Yeah, Arkansas Best. And then what did I do? Oh, I guess I
had a friend in the employment agency and he called me and he
said, "I think I've got a job that you'd just fit into as
Secretary of the Arkansas Medical Society."
JW: What is the Arkansas Medical Society?
PS: Well, it's in Little Rock now. But it had been here, the
headquarters had been here because Dr. Brooksher, which you
JW: I remember the name.
PS: Do you?
PS: Well, he was one of the best friends I ever had. And he
operated what the society did during that time. He was Editor of
the Arkansas Medical Society Journal, and he would keep in touch
with the guys all over the world, members that would have been
drafted or what have you, and would write them a separate letter
and kept them going. And then when this opening came up, why,
the employment man said, "All you got to do is go to the present
exec and if he okays you, then you'll go to Dr. Brooksher. And
if you get by Dr. Brooksher, you're in." Because he'd been
running that society for so long. Well, I did that. I remember
the office of the Medical Society was on the third floor of the
Professional Building. And it was all just-- there was no air
JW: What year was that? LEAH: '51.
PS: '51? There's the voice of experience there. Now, she's
accurate, what she says. And anyway, where have you been all
afternoon, Leah? LEAH: I've been around.
JW: You want to make any corrections? LEAH: No.
JW: We're married now, see. I hired her when she was eighteen
years old, when I got the job as Secretary of the Medical
Society. The other girl quit right away, and she was already in
the office so I gave her the job. But she's run things ever
since. We worked fine as long as I was the boss.
JW: You don't get in trouble if--
PS: Oh, yeah, but I'm used to it. Where was I?
JW: You had taken over Dr. Brooksher's job at--
PS: No, I had not taken over anything. But I was required, for
the first two or three, maybe three years, to report to him
every day what I'd done and what had happened and so forth, and
he would keep me straight, you know. And we became good friends.
And I want you to take the time before you leave, to go see his
picture out there in the dining room.
JW: Okay. Now, his father was a doctor, also, right? LEAH: Yes.
JW: It was Dr. Brooksher, Sr., and Dr. Brooksher, Jr.?
PS: Well now, that's something I didn't remember. But anyway, he
was quite a man, I learned a lot from him. I remember I would
make up the annual budget for approval or disapproval by the
council, which is a doctor from each of twenty different areas.
And where was I, Leah? LEAH: You were helping them make up the
PS: Oh, I remember it. Going to the council meeting and Dr.
Brooksher was always there. And they settled the business of the
Medical Society, even though the office was in Fort Smith,
rather than in Little Rock. Well, that was a continual battle,
Little Rock people wanted to move it. But I had bought the farm
by then and we were enjoying, I call it a ranch, and I didn't
want to move and they didn't want to move me against my will, I
guess. But anyway, I'd go to the council meetings with him. And
he would sit there and I learned something. If you ever make up
a budget, don't try to hide anything in the miscellaneous
section. I'd usually have, almost every year, have something
that I didn't know exactly where to put it and I'd just put it
in the miscellaneous. Maybe it would be five dollars or fifty
dollars, but it would just be a small amount. And I remember Dr.
Brooksher would sit there in the council meetings, he wasn't a
member. But why was he at the meetings, Leah? 28 LEAH: He was
PS: Oh, that's right, he was secretary, but not a council
member. But anyway, he'd sit there until they'd all cussed each
other out and complained and bitched about everything. And
finally, he'd say, "Well now, there's a hundred dollar item over
here that we could put into miscellaneous and that would take
care of it." Okay, everything great. And he told me, "Just let
them blow their stack and then make your comment", which I did,
and it worked great.
JW: I'll try to remember that.
PS: But I'll tell you one more thing, and I swear, I'm not going
to say anymore. And I haven't told anybody outside the family
this thing. Not long ago, since I have gotten so damned old, I
have fits of depression. And I was sitting out there in the
kitchen one day and Leah was getting breakfast, and I had my
head down and I was just doing nothing, I wasn't thinking about
anything. And all of a sudden out here, there were three
figures, just dark figures, they were black and they looked like
they were looking down at a grave, and I assumed that that might
be mine. And I thought, well, why are there only-- Now I've lost
myself, again. LEAH: They were there of them.
PS: There were three of them, George and Dick and Carter. And I
said shouldn't there be four? To myself, I said shouldn't there
be four? And I don't know why I said that. And just like magic,
there was Dr. Brooksher, he was the fourth one. Four of my best
friends in my life, and incidentally, they're all gone now. Four
of the best friends of my life were right there. And it still
gets me, what were they doing there? Was there something else I
wanted to add to that, Leah? LEAH: I don't think so.
PS: Well, I'll probably regret telling you, if you tell that out
to the world.
JW: We'll tell somebody twenty years from now when they open the
drawer and find this tape.
PS: But it's been a great run.
JW: Well, did you have any children?
PS: No. As you can tell from my history, I was raised poor. And
gosh, I remember while I was in college, as I say, it was tough
going for everybody. And there was one kid there who had a rich
father, there must have been several, but this one came to
school driving a Cord automobile. I doubt if you've ever seen
JW: I have at antique car auctions years ago.
PS: Did you see a Cord?
JW: Uh-huh, it's beautiful.
PS: Yeah. And I remember just as well that he was coming down
the hill there in Columbia and making a right turn, got to the
corner, a right turn. And that dude didn't slow down or
anything, he just turned the corner just as smooth as it could
be. And had a four wheel drive on it and I remember that, too, I
can see it right now. 29
JW: Well, they sure were beautiful.
PS: Oh, man, that was my ambition to own a Cord.
JW: That was aiming high.
PS: Well, we're driving a Lexus 430 now, which is not--
JW: That's not too shabby, is it?
PS: No. I don't think they made those-- Well, Mercedes in those
days were really fine automobiles, too. But what the hell,
didn't I tell you I wanted to tell him something? Is she gone?
JW: No, she's thinking. LEAH: I don't know.
JW: Well, let me ask you this. When did you retire from the
Arkansas Medical Society?
PS: When I was sixty-five years old. When was that? '76, yeah,
JW: And did you do anything after that?
PS: Nothing constructive, I don't think.
JW: So you retired and were retired? LEAH: Worked for the
PS: Oh, yeah, yeah, that's right, while I was still with the
Medical Society. You see, I don't know whether-- When I went up
in the Professional Building to talk to the fellow who was the
incumbent, he was sitting there with his feet on the desk, the
window open, a fan blowing on the floor, hotter than hell. And I
could see these magazines or books stacked all around on the
floor. And he told me about the job and said he thought I'd do
all right. This was August, and he said, "You don't have to do
anything until September because that's when the action starts."
And I looked around and I could see there was lots of room for
improvement. So I guess the first thing I did was figure out
something to do, some constructive thing to do with those books.
They turned out to be the history of the Arkansas Medical
Society. And we had I don't know how many inquiries that we have
to use for that history, and there they were sitting there in a
hot building. And I found a better office in the Kelley
Building, which is on 7th Street at the time, air conditioned, a
big room, two rooms. And so I went to Dr. Brooksher. And I said,
"Dr. Brooksher, I found this office that's much better than the
one that they're occupying now. Would it be all right if I moved
it?" He said, and this is what marked him to my mind, he says,
"It's your office, you do what you want to with it." He wasn't
going to supervise, he let me run my business, you know. And
there's not very many people that know how to do that anymore.
But he said, "It's your office, you do what you want to with
it." Well, I moved it quick and got better quarters for, I
guess, less money, I don't know.
JW: I never heard anyone say a bad word about Dr. Brooksher, so
he 30 must have been all right.
PS: He was wonderful. LEAH: But you were going to tell about the
PS: Oh, yeah. Thank you, Leah. Do you remember what year that
was, Leah? LEAH: '72, I think, or somewhere along there.
PS: Anyway, we had been opposing socialized medicine. And I had
real good relations with the Chairman of the House Ways and
Means Committee, Wilbur Mills. Did you ever hear that name?
JW: Yes, I remember Wilbur Mills.
PS: And I think he respected me, and I'd get in to see him any
time. And the Government passed a Bill to have some entity pass
on the claims under Medicare. And they said it can't be a
medical society, we're not going to let those doctors do it
themselves, it has to be someplace else. Well, I remember I was
still in the stage where I'd run everything, every new idea, by
Dr. Brooksher before I presented it to the council. And I went
to the council and I said now, they're going to do this with the
claims under Blue Cross Blue Shield. And if we don't, why, they
will just put it out to any organization. Why don't we just
organize a separate group and file a claim to do the-- what do
they call it now, Leah? LEAH: Arkansas Foundation for Medical
PS: Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. And the council can
still name the people on that foundation, so they'll have some
say about how the foundation is running, but it won't be the
medical society. So they bought that idea, and we put it into
effect. Now, is there anything you want me to tell our friend
here? LEAH: Well, I don't know what all you've told him, but I
can't imagine there's anything you haven't told him.
JW: We've got five minutes. Let's get her in here. Some day
somebody will say who was that woman that was talking off the
camera. Now, they'll know.
PS: Well, I hired Leah right after I got the job. There was a
woman setting there at a desk and I had a little desk next to
her. And I got an okay to hire additional help because there was
a lot to do contrary to what that guy said, world of stuff to
do. And so I put an ad in the paper, or I went to the employment
agency that had hired me. And he sent this girl up there and
there she was sitting there with her knees together and her feet
flat on the floor, not talking. And we went through the
interview, and finally, I said, "Well, do you want this job or
not?" And I think she nodded her head. Anyway, she got the job.
And she turned and she said she couldn't do anything but type,
but she was a liar. First thing you know, she's running the
computer. Well, I don't think we had a computer at the Medical
Society, but she does everything now, smart girl. And I thought
I was going to get to talk about all of the great men that I've
met during my tour of duty, but she told me that was not
required. Great speaker and raconteur, Bill Pawley, who is the
greatest achiever I've ever known, was ambassador to Argentina
and 31 some other South American country, and Eisenhower's
advisor on the organization of NATO, and all kinds of stuff like
that. But that's the big accomplishment that I've had, the
people I've known. Who are some of the others, Leah?
JW: There's something to be said for living well and living a
long time. That's an accomplishment in itself.
PS: Yeah, yeah, it is. But I've reached a point where I'm afraid
I've overdone it because I can't remember anything. Leah? LEAH:
Oh, Pappy Boyington is a name everybody knows.
PS: Pappy Boyington, a Medal of Honor winner in the Marines. And
Pappy-- LEAH: Brewer.
PS: His name was Pappy. LEAH: Johnnie Allison.
PS: Johnnie Allison, he was a Medal of Honor winner. And oh, the
preacher, man who wrote "God Is My Co-Pilot." LEAH: Oh, Robert
PS: Robert Lee Scott. I became a friend of his. And when we run
out of tape, I'll tell you more.
JW: Okay. Well, we're a minute away from it.
PS: Who else did I know, Leah? Who was the guy that bombed
Tokyo? Doolittle. And Barry Goldwater. LEAH: And Chennault.
PS: Oh, yeah, Chennault, and I knew his wife.
JW: I can't remember if she's still alive or not. I think she
was last time I--
PS: Anyway, the people I've known would make a much more
interesting story than this recitation I've given you have this