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Interview with William Thomas Barr [9/24/2002]

Sally Ainsley:

Today is September 24, 2002. My name is Sally Ainsley and I'm speaking with my father, Mr. William Thomas Barr in his home at 1759 Dorothea, in Berkley, Michigan. My dad is a World War II veteran and is sharing with me today some of his experiences and stories about the war. My father was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in February of 1919 and moved to Detroit in 1933. He became a United States citizen in 1939. Dad, for the record, will you state your rank and bran ... branch of service?

William Thomas Barr:

Well, I was in the Navy. At first I was a...when I enlisted I was a Photographer's Mate 3rd class and I was stationed at Traverse City, Michigan. Eventually, I wound up on the U.S.S. Enterprise, an aircraft carrier. At that time I was a Photographer's Mate Ist Class.

Sally Ainsley:

Tell me the story of how you were enlisted.

William Thomas Barr:

Well, it was November of 1942, no it was October of 1942 and a friend of mine at Traverse City was in the Navy, at the Navy base there. He called me and said, "Bill, why be drafted and go through the boot camp when you can come up to Traverse City and enlist in the Navy and be based right here in Traverse City and you will start off with a Photographer's Mate 3rd Class rank. So I said, "That sounds like a good idea." So on about November 4, I went up to Traverse City and I enlisted in the Navy.

Sally Ainsley:

So, you were stationed at first then in Traverse City. What was your mission there?

William Thomas Barr:

The base at Traverse City was working on a secret project television-guided bombs which were actually plywood airplanes guided by remote control. And we had proceeded to a point where we could plunge these airplanes by pre-arrangement flying them remotely into haystacks by pre-arrangement with the farmers. And we got to be very accurate at it, but everybody in Traverse City knew what was going on about this so-called secret project, so the Navy decided to build a Navy ... another base in some state where there were many fewer people around.

Sally Ainsley:

And where was that?

William Thomas Barr:

That was, it wound up being in a place called Bums Flat in Oklahoma. The name of the Navy Base was NAS Naval Air Station Clinton. At Burns Flat there was just simply an intersection and the nearest town of any size was 22 miles away. So it was an ideal spot to operate in secrecy.

Sally Ainsley:

And what happened eventually to the television-guided bomb program?

William Thomas Barr:

Oh, after we had been there about a year or so, I believe it was in June of 1943, they sent a squadron of these television-guided airplanes to Bougainville, which is near Guadalcanal in the South Pacific and they launched them against the Japanese, but with their bombs on the plywood airplanes they only went about 1-10 mph, so the Japanese easily shot them out of the sky and the whole thing was a bust and President Roosevelt was so upset that he cancelled the entire program. There were actually four different bases in the United States but the whole program was cancelled and Roosevelt said, "Send them all out to sea."

Sally Ainsley:

So where were you stationed, where were you sent after that program was abandoned?

William Thomas Barr:

Well I ... in June I was sent to San Diego to await assignment and about 2 months later they... I was assigned to the Enterprise, but to get there was a long and complicated process. I was put on a small troop transport, called the Ocelot and it wasn't a ... a very large one and there were 17 of us photographers on it and everybody got sick and threw-up except me, but we arrived in Hawaii about ten days later and I was put in a holding pattern to await transportation to the Enterprise.

Sally Ainsley:

And will you tell us the story of your transfer from the battleship to the Enterprise on the breeches buoy?

William Thomas Barr:

Well, OK.. first... we wound up on the battleship South Dakota and it was heading for the war zone so ... on the battle ship South Dakota ... it was too big to get near the Enterprise, so we were transferred to a destroyer. And the destroyer pulled up along side the Enterprise and three of us were assigned to that ship. So I got in what's called the breeches buoy which is just a large basket and I was being hauled over to the Enterprise by rope when suddenly the Japanese attacked and general quarters sounded and (hah) fortunately they decided to pull me back to the ship rather than just cut the rope. So I was pulled back to the destroyer and the next day they tried it again and I was successfully transferred to the Enterprise.

Sally Ainsley:

Boy, that must have been scary.

William Thomas Barr:

Yeah, I'm glad they didn't cut the rope.

Sally Ainsley:

Would you brief ..briefly describe the ship, the Enterprise, and tell us a little about what life was like onboard the ship?

William Thomas Barr:

The Enterprise at that time was one of the biggest battleships, biggest warships in the world. We only had about four or five carriers in the Pacific at that time but larger, newer carriers were being constructed all over the United States. And so about two or three months after I arrived, on the carrier these new carriers came out to the Pacific and joined us. And fife ... life on the Enterprise was very organized, we had excellent meals, everybody got all kinds of training. When the Japanese would attack we would shoot down most of them, a few of them got... would get through and they'd try to crash... into the ship and fortunately most of the time they missed. We had a lot of ... close shaves, but we were ... while I was on it we were hit seven times by Kamikazes. They showed movies a couple of times of week in the evenings when there was no fear of attack from the Japanese. As I say we had excellent meals. They played basketball on the hangar deck... and ... and there were on the flight deck there was often some activities and games. There would be races on the flight deck. It was quite ... quite an interesting experience.

Sally Ainsley:

Where did you sleep?

William Thomas Barr:

I was assigned to sleep below deck with everyone else, but it was extremely hot, so we quickly realized that we could sleep in the photo lab with the doors open and a nice cool breeze, so after about a week I slept in the photo lab for the rest of my stay on the Enterprise. SALLY.- Would you tell the story about the Thanksgiving Day meal you had?

William Thomas Barr:

That was when we were on the the South Dakota, the battleship was en route to the war zone. Thanksgiving came and there was a fabulous meal winding up with cherry pie. So we were all sitting around there and the cherry pie was in front of everybody and we were about to dig into it when general quarters sounded; the Japanese were attacking so everybody rushed topside except us, the captain had told us to stay the heck out of the way, we were just passengers. So we looked around the mess hall and there was nobody there but us and on every table was cherry pie. So (hah) we gorged ourselves on cherry pie and it was a very tasty experience.

Sally Ainsley:

What were your duties onboard the Enterprise?

William Thomas Barr:

Well I was a first class photographer and one of my jobs was to man a movie camera which was mounted on the superstructure aimed toward the back end of the ship. And one of my jobs, when the planes were landing and many of them were badly shot-up, my job was to photograph the ... the landings of planes that were having difficulty landing and take pictures of whatever happened. I did get movies of several crash scenes and some of those scenes showed up later in the United States in a movie called the "The Fighting Lady." Other jobs that I had, when we were under attack, we would grab cameras and go onto the flight deck and take pictures of ourselves being attacked and the Japanese planes coming at us but primarily we would take pictures of the planes hitting nearby carriers, nearby ships and we got a lot of excellent pictures of such action.

Sally Ainsley:

Weren't you ordered once to photograph a bomb that had landed on the ship?

William Thomas Barr:

Yeah, our planes were coming back from a strike and they were in pretty good shape so I was not assigned to the movie camera at that time. I was wandering around on the superstructure with a camera in my hand and these planes, our planes were landing one after another and in came the last plane and to everybody's horror, they realized it was a Japanese plane.

He had simply gotten into the landing pattern and nobody noticed it. And he came flying, roaring over the Enterprise and dropped a bomb but because of his low altitude the bomb didn't have time to point downward. When a bomb hits a ship, it's usually coming straight down and the explosion is activated by a ... a device in the front of the bomb.

So this bomb did not land the front, it landed on its side and bounced and bounced and came to stop. And I am looking down at it with horror from the superstructure and I figured it was a time bomb. And so I thought I'd better get the heck out of here but the gunnery officer spotted me and he said "Sir".. not sir, but "Barr, you go down there and get a close up of that bomb. I want a close-up of the markings on the bomb."

And I said, "But sir, it's a time bomb it will go off any second. And he said "Bosh, it's not a time bomb, get down there and get the pictures." So with my heart in my mouth I went down to the flight deck and got as close as I could to the bomb took the pictures and raced at top speed away from it. And the pictures came out and they were sent back to the United States and of course copies were given to the gunnery officer.

Sally Ainsley:

Was it a time bomb?

William Thomas Barr:

No, it was not a ... it was not a time bomb and to give you an idea of the courage of the men on the ship; after I had taken the pictures about ten men calmly came up to the bomb and rolled it off the back end of the ship, into the water...

Sally Ainsley:

Wow, that is courageous. While you were stationed on the Enterprise, in what battles was the ship involved?

William Thomas Barr:

Well, while I was stationed on it, we were involved in 8 battles: the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the attacks on the Island of Luzon, the attacks on the Island of Formosa, the attacks on the China coast, all of which were occupied by the Japanese, then we raided the Japanese Island of Honshu and also the Japanese island of Nansei Shoto then we were stationed off of Iwo Jima, so we were involved in the battle of Iwo Jima, bombing the Japanese positions at night. At that time we were a night carrier. And then the large island, Japanese island of Okinawa, we were off the that huge island for about six weeks, constantly bombing the Japanese positions at night. That was the last one I was in.

Sally Ainsley:

You mentioned that the Enterprise was a night carrier. What exactly was the mission of a night carrier?

William Thomas Barr:

Well in December of '44, Air Group 90 came aboard and they had been trained in operating at night using the radar screen in their airplanes and so our ship worked with them closely to finish up their training and beginning in Dec ... January they began bombing Japanese positions at night and flying at night using simply their radar to locate the Japanese islands and to locate the targets and it turned out to be quite successful. The Enterprise with this Air Group 90 was the only ship that was specifically trained in ... in night operations. And so we operated also during the day, but any way these night operations were successful in so far as they not only did a lot of damage but they kept the Japanese awake all night long and that must have been very hard on their morale they never had a chance to sleep. So the night group was on our ship on into 45 until on May the 14' of 1945 we were hit by a Kamikaze. Do you want to hear about that?

Sally Ainsley:

Yes, I was going to ask you how much damage the Enterprise suffered during the War, and you mentioned that you were hit seven times by Kamikaze.

William Thomas Barr:

While I was on it. They were hit, actually we were in 22 battles, of the 23 the Enterprise was in 22 of them. And it was hit oh many, many times sometimes quite badly. The worst damage was done on May 14, 1945 and general quarters sounded and we were up on the ship with cameras. I just happened to be in the photo lab at the time, and so the Japanese planes came at us and it's interesting down in the photo lab you couldn't seen what was happening but you could hear the guns and the five inch guns which could shoot a long way you could hear them pounding away, and we figured well the Japanese are fifteen miles away.

Then the five inch guns would stop and the forty millimeter...the forty millimeter guns would start firing and their distance is about 2 miles. So we knew that the Japanese were within 2 miles of our fleet. Ah and their ...they were aiming for the carriers which were in the middle of the fleet. We were surrounded by smaller ships extending out oh ten, fifteen miles.

And anyway then the forty millimeters were shooting and we were all looking at each other worried the Japanese were getting close, then the 20 millimeters started, now the 20 millimeters are the ones that fire at in-coming planes they're very effective for up to let's say a half a mile, so we knew the Japanese were diving on us and then we felt the ship shudder.

We didn't hear the explosion, we felt the ship shudder and we knew we had been hit. So we grabbed cameras and we went up on the deck and we photographed what we could of the flames, and the fire and the damage and it was, the whole fire was put out in about 1/2hour but the near by ships took some great pictures of the Enterprise aflame.

This Japanese Kamikaze had dived in beside our 91 elevator, went down about five decks before his bomb exploded and it exploded just below the #1 elevator and it must have been a fifteen hundred pound bomb, maybe a two thousand, but anyway it blew a large chunk of the elevator up and up and up into the air, and one of the nearby ships took a picture of that huge chunk of elevator four hundred feet up in the air. Other ships kept taking pictures and ultimately I got a picture of it, that elevator over eight hundred feet up in the air. And I have that picture on one of my exhibit boards.

But anyway, the ship was so badly damaged that we were, we were able to stay, we were able to keep moving but we were unable to operate any guns and after about 2 hours the Japanese retired and we headed for a island called Mog-Mog which had a huge harbor where we would be safe. So we went to this island of, well, actually it was the Ulithi Anchorage, Mog Mog was just one of the islands. And from there we were sent back to the United States to be repaired.

Sally Ainsley:

Tell the story about Mog-Mog.

William Thomas Barr:

Well, Mog Mog was...when we took over the Ulithi Islands, it was a...it was an unshaped group of islands which made an enormous anchorage in which hundreds of fleet units could safely anchor there. And they decided to take one of the islands and turn it into a recreation island.

So they decided on Mog Mog, and the natives were very cooperative. We helped the natives from Mog Mog and the whole families and everything move to a nearby island called Fassari. Then on Mog Mog the Navy Seabees built two huge warehouses and the warehouses when they were completed they had them filled with beer and Coca Cola and so forth and each ship would by pre-arrangement send parties to Mog Mog for rest and recreation, and then the boat landing craft would pick them up at the end of the day and take them back to the Enterprise.

So at a given day there would be maybe two thousand sailors on Mog Mog. And they had a baseball diamond and a basketball court and a beautiful beach, far superior to Waikiki. Just wonderful sand and wonderful swimming and it was nice and warm and so I got a lot of movies of the gang on the beach and in the groves drinking beer and eating sandwiches. It was a ... an ideal spot for rest and recreation.

Sally Ainsley:

One of the stories you tell is about Pollywogs and Shellbacks. What are those?

William Thomas Barr:

Well, when, if you have never crossed the equator you are a lowly pollywog. And so whenever a Navy ship crosses the equator they previously have found out the names of every person on the ship that has never crossed the equator, and at the time they are crossing the equator they have this initiation ceremony which can become quite elaborate, depends on how safe the ships were from attack.

I happened to be on the South Dakota being en route to the war zone and we crossed the equator so since I had never done that I was one of the lowly pollywogs. But because we were just passengers and not members of the ships crew of the South Dakota they were quite easy on us.

All we had to do was-the 17 of us that were photographers, they had us run through a gauntlet of Marines and they hit us with sticks on our behinds, so...but many of the other sailors they had their heads shaved and, and they had to drink vinegar and it was, they were put through all kinds of often painful initiation bits, but going through the gauntlet of the Marines that, that was kind of painful. You shed your outer garments and you were just in your skivvies and, but that was all I went through. I think also they painted my face, but we were pretty lucky, but after it was all over, I was given a certificate indicating that I was a shellback and was no longer a lowly pollywog, and they indicated the latitude and longitude of the ship at the time we crossed the equator so I have that downstairs.

Sally Ainsley:

Weren't the officers involved in the ceremony somehow?

William Thomas Barr:

Oh yeah, when I got on the Enterprise I saw pictures of the pollywog initiation that they had and it.. they must have had a lot of fun. One thing they did, for example, the officers had to eat their lunch with boxing gloves on. They were quite humiliated during many of the ceremonies that were involved; walking the plank was typical after drinking this horrible concoction and went to the, after that they would send you out on a short board, they actually had a ... created a swimming pool on the ship; it was about 30' by 30', and it was maybe about 5 feet of water, four feet of water, and you had to walk on this short board and they would push you into the water.

Sally Ainsley:

So that was walking the plank.

William Thomas Barr:

That was walking the plank. Fortunately for me I missed all of that fun. But the pollywog ceremonies would become quite elaborate.

Sally Ainsley:

Dad was there any other episode in which you were involved and very frightened?

William Thomas Barr:

Yeah, there was one. On the ship, it was at night, and the ship was, the whole fleet was surrounding us, and it was ... the Japanese were looking for the American Fleet. And so the entire fleet was blacked out, not a light was shining. Because obviously, if you turned on a white light the Japanese would spot it and would head for it, so the only lights that could not be visible were these dim red lights, so we got around on the ship with these dim red fights and it was safe.

But a plane had come in and it was badly damaged and dusk had fallen and it was just beginning to get dark and they were about to push the damaged plane over the side when somebody said, "That is a photo plane and they got the gun camera has pictures of the shore line where the Marines want to land and this gun camera has movies of the shoreline revealing any hazards, so that is badly needed movie film that the marines need to to see if it is safe to land there, are there any huge rocks or anything."

So the captain said, "OK get the gun camera out of there and then we will push the ship (plane) over the side'. So they looked around for a photographer to get the gun camera and there was I. So they said, "Go down there and get the gun camera out of that plane", and I said, "Well I can't do it, I need a flashlight or a spotlight", and they said, "Well my gosh if we turn on a light the Japanese might spot us". And then the captain said, "We will turn the search light on that plane and you and you go down and get that gun camera out of the plane".

So here I am, I got down to the plane and I climbed up to where the gun camera was and they switched the search light on me, so here in this giant area of the Pacific with the Japanese looking for us, any plane up in the sky would see this spotlight shining on the plane and some dumb photographer trying to remove it, so anyway I was able to quickly get the gun camera disengaged and got safety away from the plane. And they turned the spotlight out and you can bet I was quite frightened, because you know if the Japanese had been even within a mile they would have spotted that spotlight and come right at us. So I was lucky.

Sally Ainsley:

Why was the spotlight different than the other lights they were going to turn on?

William Thomas Barr:

Well, the spotlight was the only light bright enough to illuminate that area.

Sally Ainsley:

Wouldn't that have revealed your location though?

William Thomas Barr:

Yes, yes it would have revealed our location. That's why the skipper said do it as fast as you can. And they couldn't have had the spotlight on for more than maybe 20, 25 seconds then I was able to get the camera disengaged and I was able to get down on the deck with the camera.

Sally Ainsley:

Dad why was the Enterprise called the Lucky Enterprise?

William Thomas Barr:

Well throughout the war, when carriers were hit by bombs, often the flight deck was covered with planes loaded with gasoline ready to take off and of course the gasoline would catch fire and there would be countless explosions and many men killed.

Most of the time when the Enterprise was hit they did not have a flight deck full of gassed up planes and so probably an element of luck there, and we were badly damaged several times, but we also had an unbelievably well trained deck crew, the minute we were hit with a bomb they would race out there with their hoses and extinguish the fires, like on May 14 when we were hit by this Kamikaze that took us out of the war basically, they put that fire out in under 17 minutes, and it was incredible.

We got a lot of pictures of the flight deck covered with men fighting the flames and the fire and it's just magnificent to see how fast they worked. So true, we were lucky, but we also had a highly trained crew.

Sally Ainsley:

Now what happened when the Enterprise came back to Bremerton, Washington, badly damaged?

William Thomas Barr:

Well the ship was put in dry dock and we were all, not all of us, but most of us, got 30 days leave and I came back to Sayre, Oklahoma to see my family-my wife and daughter-and I'll never forget... I had never held a baby and they came up to meet me in Amarillo and I was handed Nancy, who was about a year old and it one of the biggest thrills of my life. It was the first time in my fife that I held a baby and I was completely bewitched.

Sally Ainsley:

Sure

William Thomas Barr:

Later the thirty days were up and I had to go back to Bremerton and I went around looking for an apartment so Pat and the baby could come up and join us since there was another month or so of repair work to be done, maybe 2 months. So I checked in the city of Bremerton, the ship was about 5 minutes away, so anyway, I went around Bremerton and everybody laughed at me and they said there was not an apartment room or anything, they were all jammed, you'll have to go Seattle.

I checked with the housing authority in Seattle and they laughed at me and said, "There is not a place for anybody in Seattle all the rooms and apartments are taken, but we do have something 2 hours south of here. Everyday you would have to take a bus then it would take you about 3 hrs to get there, then you have to take a boat over to Seattle then get on a bus down to this little town and we could get you a place there".

So I went down there and I just couldn't believe it, you know it would have taken 2 1/2 -3 hours to get there. So I came back to Bremerton very, very discouraged, and I was walking around the charming city of Bremerton which is quite hilly, and I came across an old lady cutting the lawn. And I said, "You go sit down on the steps and I'll cut the lawn."

So I'm cutting the lawn and pretty soon she comes out with lemonade. So we sit down there, and she says "What are you doing walking around?" and I said "Well I'm trying to find a place for my wife and daughter. And I want them to come out and join me for the next few months or so."

Sally Ainsley:

Were you in your uniform?

William Thomas Barr:

Oh yes, my gosh yes. So I said, "I just can't find anything. There's nothing in Bremerton, nothing in Seattle, nearest place is 2 1/2 hours south of Seattle." And she said "Well you can stay at my house". And I said "What?" and she said, "Yes see up there on that hill? See that house up there on the hill? I own that house. I rented it to a sailor, but he is out at sea and I don't know when he'll be back, so you and your wife and baby can stay in the house right up there".

I couldn't believe my luck. And I walked up there and it's a lovely house, you know, an old house but it was beautiful. What was good about it is that it was only five minutes from the Enterprise. From the front porch I could look down and there was the Enterprise being repaired, and just a five minute walk away. So I sent for Pat and the baby and we just had a wonderful time there for the next six or eight weeks and it was a beautiful city and we just enjoyed it very, very much.

One of the funny things that happened at this house at the top of the hill was I had a buddy on the ship by the name of Speed Silman, so I invited him up for supper. So it just so happens I don't know where I was, maybe out in the backyard, but Pat was taking a shower and so the door bell rang and Pat put a towel around the front of her and she walked out and stood in the hallway looking toward the kitchen door, where she thought Speed was, and she's saying "Yes, yes who is it?" and here she looked to her right and there was the front door, and there was Speed Silman and (laughs) and he could see quite a bit so she was obviously quite embarrassed. But anyway that was, I thought that was quite amusing.

Sally Ainsley:

That is a good story. Now when did your service officially end?

William Thomas Barr:

Well I lose, get kind of confused about this time. We went, oh the war ended and we were sent back, to, the Enterprise was sent back to Hawaii. So we got to Hawaii and the war had been over about a week or two, and the Japanese had American prisoners which were in pretty bad shape so they were sent from Japan to Hawaii and they loaded 1,149 of them on the Enterprise, and on the Enterprise, on our large hangar deck we had 1,149 cots.

So here are all these prisoners, American relief prisoners on these cots and it was evening and word came down to the photo lab that somebody had to take a picture of that. Now here it is at night, and the ship is 800 feet long and they want a picture of these over 100 men on the cots on the hangar deck Well it fell to me so I got out there and I looked at the scene and I thought, "My god how can I get a picture of all these cots extending all the way down the hangar deck".

So then I thought, well, I got a bunch a guys, about eight guys were with the photo lab at that time, so I got them out and we had what are called flash guns they are just like flashlights, but they would pop off when you would press a button and a powerful flash bulb would go off. So anyway I got a four x five camera and I got on the tripod up on a platform at the...also I got these eight assistants each with a flash gun and I stationed four on each side of the hanger deck about a hundred feet apart and I got up behind the camera and I told the guys, "When you see my flashbulb go off, pop your flashbulbs."

And it worked beautifully. I got everybody I got the camera all focused and all set and I fired my flashgun and instantly eight other flash guns down the length of ship went off, and the picture came out absolutely perfect and it was sent to back to the Navy Department in Washington and it was sent to newspaper agencies around the country and appeared in many, many newspapers. The whole purpose of that, of course, was to show the American public that the troops and the sailors were actually coming back to the United States.

So this when the pictures were in the papers it said here are 1,149 American former prisoners of war coning back home. After that the Enterprise was assigned to go New York City, through the Panama Canal to New York City and arrive there for Navy Day, October 23, 1945 so we had a pleasant trip across the ocean down to the Panama Canal. We went through the Panama Canal and you can image that was quite exciting very interesting, there were dirigibles overhead photographing the whole thing. Then we came up the east coast, up the Hudson River to New York City.

So here we are out in the Hudson River, and here's this enormous city with hundreds and hundreds of sky scrapers, but they announced on the loud speaker, "Anyone who has the qualifications to be discharged report to the hanger deck to get on a boat to go over to the land". And I had the qualifications. So I got all my belongings together in a duffle bag and went down to the hanger deck and went down the gangway, got on a boat with about 40 other guys and we came over to the mainland and I went to the YMCA and phoned Pat and told her I was coming, on my way home.

Sally Ainsley:

And where was she at that time?

William Thomas Barr:

She was in Sayre and so I got on a train and took the train to Sayre. And that was the end of my Navy service. I was discharged on, let me see,-oh I had to go to Chicago first. I had to go to Chicago to the Great Lakes training center to be processed for discharge and that took about 2 days, then from Chicago I took the train to Sayre and that's the end of my Navy Service.

Sally Ainsley:

And did you look for work in Sayre when you got there?

William Thomas Barr:

Well, yes, actually we went to about 80 miles from Sayre there is an Army base called Fort Sill, and we rented an apartment from Pat's uncle and it was over a garage and I did what is called "kidnapping". You would go out in the streets and take pictures of kids and then you come back the next day and you sell the pictures for whatever you can get for them. So I did some of that, and I also took pictures of houses and I would frame the houses and the trees and so forth and I would come back the next day. I made a dark room in the basement in the main part of the garage and I would sell these pictures of houses and the pictures of the kids but I couldn't quite make enough money to get by on. So after we struggled at this for maybe six months, I said I'm going back up to Michigan and try and find a job, and Pat went back to Sayre. I got a job to begin on January 6 but I was advised of this job on the 22nd of December. So I got involved in a deal where you.. you drive a car.. it was advertised in the papers and "Drivers Wanted to drive to California". So I got with four or five other guys and we drove... they were driving to California and of course I got off in Sayre, Oklahoma and showed up on Christmas Day.

Sally Ainsley:

Very good. Now do you continue to see or correspond with any of your old shipmates?

William Thomas Barr:

Oh yes! My goodness, I corresponded off and on with many of my friends. And -in 1984, I heard about the Enterprise Association and so I joined the Association and they were quite thrilled to have access to my thousand pictures; up until then they said they only had about 120 pictures that were brought to reunions and here I had about a thousand, and so I began to prepare a ... an exhibit which I started out with about 4 exhibit boards and now I've got about 65.

Sally Ainsley:

Where did you work when you came back to Detroit, the Detroit area, with Nancy and your wife?

William Thomas Barr:

Well the job that I had gotten was at the Travelers Insurance Company in downtown Detroit. So of course Pat and baby Nancy came back from Sayre with me and we stayed with my parents for about the next year. At the end of the year, we had saved up enough money so that we could put a down payment on a house. So one day, Pat and I came out in our car and we came up Woodward Avenue and we happened to turn on Catalpa and we went over Catalpa into Berkley and we were driving along and (laughs) we passed Coolidge and a couple of seconds later Pat said "Stop, there's a house for sale and it looks kind of nice." So we stopped and we went up to the door and the door was open. It had a "for sale" sign and everything. The door was open. So I said "Hello! Hello!" and nobody answered, so we wandered through the house, wondering where ... where was the salesman and suddenly the door opened and ... and the man walked in and said "I'm the salesman". And I said "How did you know we were here"' and he laughed and he said "I live next door." And he said "I sit there by the window and when I see somebody coming in then I come over." And believe it or not, that's the house we bought, the first house we saw and we were there along time and had a lot of little kids there. It was a wonderful house and a nice neighborhood, met a lot of nice people.

Sally Ainsley:

And you've lived in Berkley ever since.

William Thomas Barr:

Yeah, we've lived in Berkley ever since. We stayed in that house until 1967 I believe 19 years and then we moved into the present house here on Dorothea.

Sally Ainsley:

And it's a good thing you did because now you have a large enough basement to (laughs) keep your collection of photos.

William Thomas Barr:

Obviously, we liked Berkley. The schools were very good and we've a great life in Berkley.

[Conclusion of interview]

 
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