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Interview with Franklin Nicholson [Undated]

Pat McClain:

Good morning. This morning we are interviewing Franklin Nicholson, 1491 South Jackson Street of Salem, Indiana, born 12/02/20. My name is Pat McClain. I'm the Staff of the U.S. Senate, Richard Lugar, and also with me is Gertrude Stephenson with the Veteran's Administration Group. Good morning, Mr. Nicholson. Thanks so much for being here today. We greatly appreciate your coming to talk with us. When you went into the service, were you drafted or did you enlist?

Franklin Nicholson:

No. I enlisted in the Indiana National Guard. While I was in high school, I enlisted in the National Guard. They talked me into it, said there never was anything happened, all they just -- had to direct traffic or something some of the time. And I said, "Well, there'll be something happen when I get in there."

Pat McClain:

And where did you go first?

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, we left Salem here and went to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for combat training. And we trained there and in Louisiana. And then I went from there to Fort Benning, Georgia, to Officers Candidate School. While there, the non-commissioned Officers were immediately enlisted to go to Officers Candidate School, and I was hesitant about enlisting. You know, I didn't much want to leave the ______, so I -- they said -- well, they dared me to one day. And I said, "Well," I said, "if they can make a Captain out of you fellows, they can make a General out of me." So away I went and graduated from Officers Candidate School in July of 1942. I was assigned to the 96th Infantry Division which was formed at that time in Corvallis, Oregan. And I stayed with the same Company, the same Batallion and the same Division. I was with the same outfit all the way through. I was first the Platoon Leader. Then I was Captain of the Company. And then after I was wounded, why, I got my Majors promotion in length of time.

Pat McClain:

Where did you serve in World War II?

Franklin Nicholson:

In the Pacific Ocean. We went from San Francisco to Hawaiian Islands, trained there for about two or three weeks, boarded the troop ship and headed for the South Pacific. And before we got to the island that we was going to land on, they had already had it secured. So they sent us to the other end of the island and we rendezvoused there with several other troop ships, and left there and invaded the Leyte in the Philippine Islands. That was our first combat. Then while we were there, I was on the island of Samar for, oh, just a little while guarding a radar station. And while I was there, I had a pleasant thing happen to me. The fellow that claimed to be the Mayor of the town invited me out for supper one evening, so I accepted. I remember -- I believe there was something in one of the write-ups about what all we had to eat. I eat in the -- I wrote a letter -- I wrote a letter to my brother Clyde -- he was in the service -- and told him I had had supper with the Mayor. And I don't remember what all I had, sweet potatoes and green beans, and -- oh, my, right now I can't think of it without looking at my write-up.

Pat McClain:

Was the -- that was much better food than what you were getting served in the Army?

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, I thought it was. I never had much trouble with the Army food. I was a big hand to eat and so I -- I -- when I was in the Army, I didn't mind their food at all. Now, when we were in combat, I didn't like their K-Rations. They'd send up the rations, I believe it was "K," enough for a squad or a platoon all in one -- all at one time. Well, just as soon as we get together to eat a meal, the Japs would go to bombing us. So I told them I didn't want that anymore.

Pat McClain:

Can you tell us about some of the experience that you had in combat.

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, yeah. The first landing we made on Leyte, it was -- it was a bank along the shoreline there about as high as this table, and everybody was rushing up there and hiding in behind that bank. And they was a'shootin'. And I said, "What are you fellas shootin' at?" And they said, "Japs." And I said, "Well, wait a minute, I don't hear any -- any Japs that are shootin' at us." So I knew what would happen if we -- if we stayed there on that islan -- on that beach, the Japs was going to shell us. So we saved our artillery just a little bit. So I told this Sergeant of the First Platoon, I said, "Let's get them off the beach before the Japs shell us." I knew him well enough -- knew that he would follow me anywhere. So he and I -- I said -- I told him, I said, "I'll lead the way and let's get the guys going." So I jumped up and said, "Let's go into the brush." And here he come. I said, "Come on, Billy." So we dove into the thicket. And the Japs -- we hadn't got much more than, oh, maybe a hundred yards away, and the Japs did, they shelled the beach. That was one experience. And that night we -- that night we dug the -- what we call a slip trench, not a fox hole, but a trench, and just laid down in it. And it was so swampy that it was just like sleeping in a bathtub. Every time you turned over, you could hear the water -- hear the water sloshing. That was one experience. There wasn't very many -- wasn't very many funny ones that happened, but the only ones that I can think of right now that was funny. I didn't get that in the write-up. And when it come night, we always dug a fox hole and stayed down below ground, on top of the ground. And if anything moved above ground, it got shot. And so one night the -- we were -- everything was real quiet, and all of a sudden I heard a bunch of shooting -- a bunch of shooting down on the front line. And so I got on the radio and I asked them, I said, "What's going on down there?" And they said, "Oh," said, "a big ol' water buffalo come through the coon (ph) grass and one guy shot it and it fell in the hole on him." But anything that moved above ground got shot. That's one thing that always puzzled me in some of these other operations they've had, the enemy soldiers, they would infiltrate and get through our front lines. Well, they didn't in World War II, not in our outfit anyway.

Pat McClain:

Did you stay in that location the whole time you were in the service or did -- during the war did you move on --

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, yeah. We went from there all the way up into the mountains. And we secured the island of Wake and we was on board the troop ship and went to the island of Okinawa by Japan. We invaded that in our Easter bonnets because it was Easter Sunday. And we called our helmet our Easter bonnet. Yeah, I guess you have to have a little fun in the war. Anyway, we invaded the island of Okinawa. And we cut the island in two the first day. And then our Division and another Division turned to the right and turned south and the Marines went north. And I stayed with them until we got all the way almost to the end of the island. And I was wounded on June the 20th, and the island was secure then on the 22nd. So I come that close to gettin' all the way.

Pat McClain:

And then you were sent from Okinawa back to the States?

Franklin Nicholson:

Yes. That's the end of my write-up, I think. I sailed from the island of Okinawa to San Francisco and spent about three weeks there in the Letterman Hospital. And then we left there and they shipped me to Wayton(ph) General Hospital in Camp Atterbury, Indiana. I was in five different hospitals before the discharge, with a medical discharge. I spent five-and-a-half years in those hospitals.

Pat McClain:

Do you have any -- what did you do for entertainment when you were over in the --

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, well, we didn't have much entertainment after we got into combat. But when we were in the maneuvers, the boys were always playing cards. Well, I was just a young kid when I left home and -- I hadn't never been around much, I guess you'd say. They were playing poker one day, some of the guys were, and wanted me to join them. And I didn't know how to play poker. So they explained to me you had to have jacks or better to open. And they explained to me the straight and the flush. And so about the third hand, well, I said, "I can't open." I was looking for a pair of jacks or kings or queens or something like that. And it got around here to the second guy away from me and I said, "Oh, yeah, I can open." I had a flush. Well, everybody threw their hand in and said, "I'm not playing with him," said, "I know all he's got is got a straight or a flush."

Pat McClain:

Do you still keep in contact with some of the people --

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah.

Pat McClain:

-- that you were in the --

Franklin Nicholson:

Quite a few of them. Yeah. Uh-huh. At Christmastime, we're usually be in touch with about, well, I'd say pretty close to somewhere between 50 and 100 of them, but not anymore. A lot of them have passed on. But a lot of them I'm still in touch with. Uh-huh.

Pat McClain:

Do you belong to any veteran's groups here in Washington County.

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah. I belong to the -- I belong to the Disabled American Veterans. I'm the last member of the Disabled Veterans. When we were in the Valley Forge Hospital, one of the doctors asked me one morning if I was going to go to Brook Army Hospital, I think it was, or if I was going to take my walking orders. And I didn't think I was ready to be out, and so I went down to Washington, D.C. and got ahold of the Disabled American Veterans organization down there. And the fella there, said -- "Well," he said, "just go ahead and," he said, "let that doctor discharge you." He says, "And then you bring your papers and come right straight to me and we'll see what happens." So I have always been a member of the Disabled Veterans ever since.

Pat McClain:

When you finally got out of the service, what did you do after that as a career?

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, my wife and I, we -- we were married while I was in the -- in the hospital. And we came home and bought a little farm out here in the country. And I couldn't do the farm work that was necessary on the farm, so I sold that and we moved to town. And when we came to town, why, I went to GI school, the Albany business college at that time. It was in business. And I think I went there about, I don't know, eight or ten months. And the local hospital over here offered me a job as a Office Manager. And I, of course, needed a little income, so I took the job. And I left -- I was -- well, I was waiting in yonder with one of the patients one morning, and he had sugar diabetes and he owned a half interest in the soft ice cream business out here. And I told him, I said, "You don't need to be in that kind of business with sugar diabetes." I said, "You better sell me that." I didn't know he was wanting to sell it. But that night he called me at home and I ended up buying it. So after that I got my license to sell insurance and I got my license to sell real estate. And I sold those two businesses along with the Dairy Whip and went to work for Smith Kaiser(ph) Manufacturing Company as an hourly worker cutting sand paper and cheese cloth. And I was determined not to stay there any longer than I had to. So the Personnel Director job came open and I told my wife, Mary, I said, "I'm going to put in for that." And she said, "You better -- you better leave well enough alone." Well, I had a job but I -- it would be better if I could -- so I applied for the job and got it. And I retired from there and spent a year then after that in the Chamber of Commerce office. I was the Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. And, let's see, I guess that's it. And about the only thing I done is cut my lawn grass and take care of the home.

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, I didn't get that on tape, did I? Well, when we sailed out of San Francisco, they loaded us aboard this troop ship one evening about 5:00, 5:30, and they wouldn't let us stay up on top of the deck so we could see the city and look around. You had to go down below deck. Well, we went down below deck, nothing else to do, so we all bedded down. And it seemed to me that ship just rocked and rolled all night. I got up the next morning and was sea sick. And when I looked out the porthole, one of them little portholes, and we was still tied up at the dock. Of course, I was born and raised on the farm and never did have my feet on the water. I was ready to give up right then.

Pat McClain:

Can you think of anything that you might want to add that we haven't covered?

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, yeah, I guess. Like I said, I attended the business college in Albany and then went to work over at the hospital. And then our first child was born in nineteen -- a son was born in 1951. And then while I was working at the hospital, our second child, our daughter, was born in 1953.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Fifty-four.

Franklin Nicholson:

Fifty-four? Yeah. Okay.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Don't make me any older than what I am.

Franklin Nicholson:

1954. And my wife and I have been married 52 years.

Pat McClain:

That's wonderful.

Franklin Nicholson:

I been a -- I've been, I guess you'd say, a little bit of everything. What's it say, a master -- I've been --

Pat McClain:

Jack of all trades and a --

Franklin Nicholson:

Jack of all trades and --

Pat McClain:

-- master of minds.

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, I did get to be Master of Masonic Lodge.

Pat McClain:

Oh, that's great.

Gertrude Stephenson:

Did you keep a personal diary?

Franklin Nicholson:

No. No, I didn't.

Gertrude Stephenson:

Papers and that kind of thing?

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, yeah. Where I was, if you had a piece of paper and keep it as a diary, it would have got wet in two days and fell apart. So I didn't -- I didn't try.

Pat McClain:

Gertrude, is there anything else that you would like to add?

Gertrude Stephenson:

What did you think of your officers and fellow --

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, generally, I thought our Officers were well -- well educated and well trained Officers, except the General that had the command of us when we was right in the middle of the Asian island of Okinawa. The only thing he thought about was just attacking plumb across the front. He didn't want to spearhead somewhere and then break through and then roll the enemy line back. He wanted to hit them all at once. I didn't think that was very good. But generally speaking, the Officers, I thought, were all pretty good. Boy, I had ______+. One day, we was on the hill and had -- he had his Battalion's command post back here on this ridge and we were on the other ridge ahead of them south -- further south. And the artillery kept hittin' us. And I had called him on the phone and told him it was American artillery, find out whose artillery it was that was shelling us. And, well, this went on for two or three hours. And so I finally got enough of it. And I told him, I said, "If you don't get that stopped, I'm going to turn around and we're going to attack that hill that you're on. I notice they're not shelling it. We'll just come back there and be with you." Well, they stopped the artillery.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Tell them about the sniper, the Japanese sniper that kept moaning and groaning.

Gertrude Stephenson:

Yeah.

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, he -- he wasn't a sniper. Well, in the Philippines -- it wasn't that way in Okinawa, but in the Philippines there was grass. I called it coon(ph) grass. I don't know what kind of grass it was. It would grow as high as this ceiling and you couldn't see through it at all. And we heard that the Japanese had banzaied on the island of Saipan. And, of course, you couldn't see them until you was right on them, you know, and got shot or something like that. I guess -- I guess it wasn't very funny -- wasn't very funny. But they did banzai us one night. And I was lucky enough I had all my automatic weapons cross firing like this. That's according to the width on them, across the front line. And I had the Artillery Officer come up and zero in our artillery right in front of us the evening before we stopped. Like I said, every night everything got shot that moved above ground. So we heard -- we heard them out there in that grass talking. You know, I couldn't understand what they said. But it got more and more of a frenzier pitch all the time. After awhile, I did hear one say "banzai" and here they came. Well, it was awful the way we slaughtered them.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Sometime ago you told me about the doctor wanting to take your picture and talk to a class.

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, yeah. That picture is there in there. He -- he took the picture in the -- before he ever did anything to me and -- Dr. Blocker (ph) and he -- he was in the University of Texas in the medical college. He finally got to be President of the medical college there. And he used -- he joined up in the Army as a, I guess you'd say, lecturer. He instructed class there. He admitted to us that he had never done much in the way of plastic surgery. But he knew a little about it and was willing to -- you know, the Government had got him to do this. And he was willing to give his time. And I think he done a good job.

Pat McClain:

Is there anything else you would like to add? Or, Gertrude, any other questions you may have?

Gertrude Stephenson:

Well, would it bother you to tell the day you were injured what occurred?

Franklin Nicholson:

That was June -- June the 20th, 1945. Mortar -- mortar shell landed just to my left. I was down on -- down on this knee and had this arm across this knee, and I was talking on the tel -- radio. I was -- again, I was trying to get the shelling stopped because I knew it was American mortars. Because, by that time, I had been in combat and I could tell that it was shells a'coming from behind us. And I was on the radio trying to get them to stop shelling. And this mortar shell hit to my left and it took the life of the Radio Operator, and the Artillery Officer. I don't know how many more. I was lucky enough to get through it. But I -- I knew immediately that I got hit in the mouth because I could feel the loose teeth in me. But I couldn't spit. I tried to spit them out, but I couldn't. So I had to take my fingers and dug them out and flipped them out on the ground. And I was laying there and the medic came over to do something for me. And he wanted to -- he wanted to wrap a bandage around my mouth and my face. And I was on my back, but the blood kept running back in my throat. And I would try to tell him not to do that. But at that time he was a little stronger than I was, so he held me down, wrapped that around my face. And as soon as he left, I thought I mine as well bleed to death than strangle. So I just reached up and pulled that down, and I still had enough strength to roll over on my stomach. And I was laying on my stomach and a stretcher -- somebody with a stretcher -- you know what a stretcher is. That's what they carry the guys. Somebody came up and laid the stretcher down right beside of me. And he didn't stay there long because somebody hollered said, "Hey, get some of these guys over here you can do something for and leave that guy go." Well, the stretcher got -- away it went, somebody took it away with them. But I was determined I wasn't going to end there. So along came the Supply Sergeant and -- and -- we always carried at least one stretcher in our Company. And he said, "Hey," he said, "let's get the Captain out of here." So they rolled me over on the stretcher and took off across the rice patty and snipers got to shootin' at us as we went across the rice patty. If I could have talked, I would have probably called him a bad name. (Inaudible question).

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, yeah. Well, that was before -- that was before we ever went overseas. I had a wisdom tooth pulled back here on the lower jaw. It put me in the hospital for two weeks. They couldn't stop the bleeding. They put me in the hospital and packed the hole with bone wax and they sewed it shut. And after I got out of the hospital, they wouldn't let me go to the field with my Company more than half a day at a time. Then one afternoon the residental surgeon came over and said, "We're going to transfer you to a station comfortable and leave you here in the United States." And I told him right off the bat he wasn't going to do that because I had trained with those soldiers, and they called me yelling and everything else if I didn't go with them. And I didn't -- I didn't think it was right for me to -- as hard as I had trained them, to give up on them and let them -- let them go on their own. So he said, "Well," he said, "if you get wounded -- bad wounded," he said, "we'll never be able to stop the bleeding." And he was the one that took care of me when I got back off the battlefield.

Pat McClain:

The same one?

Franklin Nicholson:

The same -- the same doctor. Yeah, I guess he must have figured out what to do for me. Anyway, I lived through it. But he -- it could have been -- it could have been that he had some help from somebody that we didn't even know was present.

Mrs. Nicholson:

The man upstairs.

Franklin Nicholson:

Right.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Oh yeah, Charles.

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, Charlie came over --

Mrs. Nicholson:

Tell us who it was and what he - who is Charlie?

Franklin Nicholson:

Charles Fletcher. And he was -- at that time was leading the Company in one of the other Regiments. And his Regiment was going to replace our Company up on the -- up on the front line. And here he come. He was about six-and-a-half feet tall and swinging his long arms and taking them big, long steps with his long legs. And I yelled at him and told him, I said, "Hey, get down out there." I said, "We just had a guy shot out there a minute ago by a sniper." He didn't here me and just kept coming. Well, didn't anything happen to him. But he was lucky because the snipers at that time were thick around the island. I don't remember whether or not we were in Okinawa. But he was just lucky he didn't get shot, too. But he was coming to relieve us. He wasn't coming to visit. Anyway, we got --

Mrs. Nicholson:

Remember one time when you said something about the graft on your face?

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh. It didn't -- didn't -- didn't quite come from my bottom end. But the skin from my -- from my chin came from the back of my shoulder. And I just made the remark that I was the only fellow that I knew of built upside down. My bottom end was on the top and my top was on the bottom. Yeah, that was Pastor Shafer was with me. He was in the Batallion Aid Station. He was a Chaplain -- one of the Chaplains in the Regiment. But he was in our Batallion Aid Station when I got back there. And -- so at the time I was -- when I would breathe, I was making this gargling sound. I got a hole in my left shoulder. And Pastor Shafer was in the -- there in the Batallion Aid Station and -- well, one of the Sergeants, Medical Sergeant, was trying to figure out what -- when I was breathing, why I was making that gargling sound, I guess you'd say. He thought it was up here, but it wasn't. It was that hole. And Pastor Shaffer had present of mind enough he said, "No," he said -- he stepped to straddle on me and got my shoulders -- raised me up. And he said, "No, Sergeant," he said," I believe it is something else." He said, "I believe he's a'breathing through his back." So they did, they found the hole and plugged it up with gauze. And I was on back to the Regimental Aid Station and on back to the field hospital. And then while I was in the hospital ship coming to San Francisco, I was reading a book one day, had this arm in a cast. But I was reading a book, laying there in the bed reading a book and I felt something on my neck. I thought it was a fly, so I swatted at it and picked my book up and started reading again. And it wasn't long and I felt something on my neck again and I swatted at it. I'd seen some flies around. You may not like to hear this one. I was determined to get him the third time. And I felt him on my neck and I done like that and I got him. And I looked and it wasn't a fly. It was a maggot.

Pat McClain:

Oh, goodness.

Mrs. Nicholson:

But they said later that it was a good thing that they were there.

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah, they said -- they cleaned them out right away. But they said it wouldn't hurt anything. They only eat proud flesh.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Later on Shafer came to the --

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah, he -- he was the same pastor that came here to Salem and was pastor of the Presbyterian church for awhile.

Mrs. Nicholson:

About four years later.

Franklin Nicholson:

And he came out to the home to see me.

Pat McClain:

Oh, my goodness.

Franklin Nicholson:

It's a small world.

Pat McClain:

Yes, sir.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Well, your runner --

Franklin Nicholson:

Ling. Dave Ling. Yeah, he told him.

Mrs. Nicholson:

He was a minister at the Presbyterian church also. He told Pastor Shafer you were here.

Franklin Nicholson:

He was in -- in Minnesota. And he told Pastor Shafer -- he knew him. So he wrote to him and said that this was my home. And so Pastor Shafer then began to look for me and looked me up.

Pat McClain:

Did you have a hard time communicating with your family when you were -- I mean, did --

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, I -- I wrote to them, my mother and dad, a letter. It got to them before the Army Western Union telegram got to them. So they got the information first hand.

Mrs. Nicholson:

But you used a notebook you would write with --

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, that's when I was in the hospital communicating with the other soldiers. The first day I saw Dr. Blocker (ph) for consultation, I was writing my questions on there. And then he'd answer them. And I'd write the next question, and he said, "Let's see that." And I handed it to him and he just took it and laid it over on one side. And he said -- he said "We don't -- don't use paper around here." He said, "We all talk alike." He says, "You may not be able to understand some of us but," he said, "we all talk alike." So from then on, I mumbled my words. I went like this. I talked just like the rest of them just because I had a big bandage here.

Pat McClain:

Uh-huh.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Well, every fall we get together with some of these guys that were in the hospital with him at Camp Atterbury that Dr. Blocker (ph) also operated on them. He was just a young doctor, what, about 35 years old?

Franklin Nicholson:

He was about 35, uh-huh.

Mrs. Nicholson:

And he would start them -- prepping them and getting them ready -- and start the operation at Camp Atterbury, about fifteen or twenty of them. And then somebody else would come along and sew them up and send them back to their room.

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah, he'd do the cuttin'.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Yeah.

Franklin Nicholson:

And then he'd tell the next doctor what he wanted them sewed up -- how he wanted them sewed up. And then he would move on to the next patient. He had a production line going up there.

Gertrude Stephenson:

Were you dating Mary before you went into service?

Franklin Nicholson:

No. Nope. We both went to the same church and I guess when I -- when I went to service, as you know, I'm a little older than she is. She was just a little squirt of a girl. And when I came back, she'd growed up. And when I saw her down on the square one day and I had a new Oldsmobile at that time. And I had taken by dad and my brother, Clyde, was with us. I had taken him down to the drugstore to get some drugs, some medication. And when he came back out of the drugstore, I was over parked. And when he walked between these two cars, he stopped to talk to these two pretty girls. And my brother said, "What about that old man?"talking to them two girls. And I don't know, my brother said something about the brunette and I said, "No, I believe the blonde is the prettiest." And that was the beginning of us.

Gertrude Stephenson:

Well, I have a lot of admiration for her because of the situation. Did you worry about that? Was that a concern of yours?

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, I -- I never let my injuries be a back set to me. It may bother other people, but I don't let it bother me. Well, I was lucky that as young as she was that she didn't let it bother her. I better tell -- I better tell you what did attract her though. I had a brand new automobile and she had had bad luck with a date or two that she had with a couple of other guys. Their cars conked out when they were out on their date. So she had declared she wasn't going to go with anybody unless they had a good car. Well, I was lucky enough I came along with a brand new one and that attracted her attention. She couldn't drive, but I taught her to drive right off the bat.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Well, I was going to say, these guys get together and they really had a good time, and they've all had to work after they got out of the service. They all had to get a job to support their families and all that. And we have a great time when we get together. And even his Division reunion, well, there's -- we get together and they tell these funny things that happened. And one guy said that you had just come in from the field with your troops out in Washington.

Franklin Nicholson:

Yes.

Mrs. Nicholson:

And these guys that were in jail --

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, it had been raining all day and we were just wet to the hide and muddy, been on the rifle range. And as we walk down this street in the camp, we walked past the guard house. And some fellow was settin' in there where it was nice and dry and warm and he hollered out the door and said, "Oh, lookie there at those little ol' shady tails group." And so, I may not show it, but I got -- I got quite a temper. And I said, "If I can find a rock, I'll let you know how much of a shady tail I am." And I looked for a rock and I was going to let him have it right through that screen door. But I couldn't find a rock.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Well, one of your guys laughed.

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah, he -- one of the Sergeants laughed.

Mrs. Nicholson:

And he didn't know who it was.

Franklin Nicholson:

So I just dropped out of the -- I was leading the Company. I just dropped out of the line as they walked along. Why, I said, "Who was that that laughed back there awhile ago?" And nobody said anything and just kept going, looking right straight ahead. And I said, "Well, if I find out who it was, we'll kick his hind end right up to his shoulder." Well, he told me later on, several years after I was out of the hospital, he said, "That was me that laughed." And he said, "I was afraid to tell you 'cause I knew you would do what you said you would do." I guess I was -- that's the reason why I wanted to go with them. I was tough on them when we -- when we were training and I knew that --

Mrs. Nicholson:

Several of them were married and had families.

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah. A lot of them were married and had families. Yeah. And I knew -- I wasn't married. I didn't have anything to lose but myself. So we just stayed with them, went right on with them.

Pat McClain:

Well, you've certainly had an interesting story. Are there any others that you can think of that you would like to share with us?

Franklin Nicholson:

No. I -- not that I know of. I better leave this with you because this has got all of the dates on it, when I was -- I graduated from Fort Benning and then when I was promoted and right on down the --

Gertrude Stephenson:

Franklin, were you concerned on how your mother and dad --

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, not really. See, I had wrote 'em this letter. I got a copy of it. I wrote 'em this letter and, of course, my mother -- my mother, I was a little concerned about her. But my dad was made up kind of like I was. He was a tough little guy and I knew it wouldn't make that much difference to him. I mean, he -- it would make a difference, but it wouldn't bother him as much as it would my mother. But when they came to visit me the first time at Camp Atterbury and we both got along just fine.

Gertrude Stephenson:

Do your injuries to your arms bother you yet like when it's fixing to rain or the weather --

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, not necessarily. Sometimes -- sometimes my elbow give me a problem. But not necessarily every time. The thing that makes it bother me worse, lots of the time I can't do what I want to do.

Mrs. Nicholson:

He can't play the guitar with his left hand because he's lost --

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah. I played -- I played the guitar before I went in the service and I like to drove the family up the wall I played it so much. I wore a blister on that finger there and it got infected. And the finger feverished and it peeled off right up to the knuckle.

Pat McClain:

What kind of music did you play?

Franklin Nicholson:

Oh, I -- just cording, guitar.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Now he plays the dulcimer a little bit.

Franklin Nicholson:

I try to.

Pat McClain:

Oh, yeah. That's pretty.

Franklin Nicholson:

I like music and I thought maybe I could learn to play the dulcimer. But I'm not making much headway with it.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Well, he'd been active in Scouts and we were active in Job's Daughters. And our son graduated Perdue and got a masters degree at the University of Minnesota and works for IBM. And our daughter lives in Salem and has two lovely daughters. And our son has two daughters and one of them unfortunately had an accident and was killed. But our other daughter, Erin, works for Duke [?last night?]because she is about to be a lawyer at Duke University and got one more year, and so we're real proud of her. And after that, Frank and I took our motor home and went to Texas in the wintertime and Florida in the wintertime until I had my problem. And then we haven't been able to go very often.

Franklin Nicholson:

Well, we been in every state in the union.

Mrs. Nicholson:

With our camper.

Franklin Nicholson:

Not -- not a great deal, but we been through every state in the union.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Except Alaska.

Pat McClain:

That's yet to come.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Yeah. I think it's too cold out there.

Franklin Nicholson:

But I'll leave this with you because there -- as you read through this, there may be things here that you would want to add to your write-up that I didn't think about telling you about.

Pat McClain:

Okay. Well, thank you very, very much. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to spend with us this morning and we will make sure that this tape and the other information gets into the Library of Congress and Archives there.

Franklin Nicholson:

Okay. Thank you very much.

Pat McClain:

Thank you.

Franklin Nicholson:

One of my buddies and I, we were going with these two girls. This was in Oregon when we were stationed out there. That was before Mary. And we recognized their car one evening. It was raining and we was in town and we didn't have a date with them or anything, but we recognized their car sitting there along the sidewalk so -- it was unlocked, so we just got in and sat down in the back seat and sat there and never moved. And they came to the car in a big hurry, you know, running and slammed the door and got in there. And we still never said anything, just sat right quiet. Got out on the street and she was driving along and said, "I wish it'd a'quit this raining." The windshield wipers going. And I said, "I do, too." And, boy, she squealed, throwed up both hands, let loose of the steering wheel, and that's when we had the wreck, but we didn't. I got her settled down before she wrecked us.

Pat McClain:

Oh, goodness.

Franklin Nicholson:

I guess that was a mean thing to do. Like I said, that was before Mary.

Mrs. Nicholson:

Right.

Franklin Nicholson:

Yeah. I was back in the Army hospital before we got together.

[Conclusion of interview]

 
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  October 26, 2011
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