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Interview with Henry D. Christensen [4/2/2003]

Johnathan Court:

Today is Wednesday, April 2, 2003, and this is the beginning of an interview with Henry D. Christensen. It is being recorded at the Anderson-Cottonwood Neighborhood Church on Rhonda Road in Anderson, California. Mr. Christensen is 81 years old, having been born on June 4, 1921. My name is Johnathan Court, and my partners is Sarah Jonas, and we will be the interviewers. Weare representing the American Studies class at Anderson New Technology High School. Mr. Christensen supplied all the infantry in the south Pacific with clothing, equipment, and tents.

Henry D. Christensen:

My name is Henry D. Christensen, I served in World War II, in the South Pacific

Sarah Jonas:

What rank where you in

Henry D. Christensen:

Master Sergeant

Sarah Jonas:

Were you drafted or did you enlist

Henry D. Christensen:

Drafted

Sarah Jonas:

Where were you stationed?

Henry D. Christensen:

I started out, should I go through this, op you mean overseas or over here?

Sarah Jonas:

Like when you first go drafted where did you go?

Henry D. Christensen:

I took my basic training in Fort Francis C. Warren, Cheyenne, Wyoming. I went from there directly to San Francisco, got on a ship the old U.S.S President Taft which was first commission in 1912 and they took it out of Month Balls re-commissioned it. And we took of for Australia and landed in Brissmen, Australia. We went over right behind the corral sea battle, you know what I mean, you familiar with that, that was one of the first big battles over there. It's not a really well known fact. But we lost an awful lot oftroops in that battle you known troop ships sunk and one thing led to another. So on this ship we were on when we landed in Brissman Australia there were 7 thousand of us all service troops. Quartermaster, Ordnance, medics, all service troops, you know. So the fallowing morning after we got our tents and stuff set up in the bidwack area, they called us all out on a big drill field, line up fellas, you are going to be re classified. They went through all these service troops, and reclassified them and out of my company there were 120 men and 70fficers in the company at that time and 5 of us including me missed the infantry missed the reclassification simply because of our record, you know, and our, I want to keep on saying TO but that's not right anyway our classification. They needed people with experience. Like mine was grocery experience. And I had been manager, grocery, manager when I was 19 and I always had a crew of people, you know that I was responsible for. And I could type at that time I was typing about 60 words a minutes which was pretty cool, in those days on those old typewriters you know so me and the other 4 guys had the same classification so we would save it for the Quartermaster Cor. well this meant here we are sitting five guys no other troops to do the quartermaster work there so what would we do we sat in replacement depo there for 3 weeks waiting until they got another refill our company you know send us replacements then immediately after we got our people we headed for new guinea then went into mil main New Guinea and set up a quartermaster dump there, there are two dumps actually one is food mainly food and stuff that goes with food ours was clothing and equipment now that cover a whole bunch of stuff everything from tent pegs to typewriters whatever was needed you know whatever the infantry needed tents all types of tents everything so we set up that dump and then well before I go on maybe we better wait for some more questions before I go on.

Sarah Jonas:

Ok, Where were you living like when you first got drafted?

Henry D. Christensen:

Right here in Redding

Sarah Jonas:

Oh wow! Do you recall the first days in the service

Henry D. Christensen:

The first days?

Sarah Jonas:

Yea

Henry D. Christensen:

Sure I do nobody ever forgets that

Sarah Jonas:

Oh really

Henry D. Christensen:

No Oh no.--Ok we got on a train here all the guys were drafted at this particular time went to the presidio down there this is where they sorted the guys out what they were good for that's how I got into the quartermaster Cor. There were four or five of us they sent to Cheyanne Wyomming some of the other fellas went into the medics they sent them to utah and other places they were all different. But the first day when you go in there is a barber shop about this size with about 12 barbers in there and you go in there and that's when you get the zip job like this you know we all had hair in those days. [Mr. Haffner interrupts because he needs our tape recorder]

Henry D. Christensen:

We all got the haircut and we had a fella who worked for Ethan's drug store this goes years back you guys wouldn't know anyways he was one of these guys who had wavy hair black and just beautiful so all of us there said try to tell this barber, "your not going to cut his hair off." The barber says "you want me to save it?" you know he took those clippers zoom right down the middle first man what a mess but it was kind of funny when you start to thinking about later. Then we were only there for a couple of days then we wound up in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Started out basic training and then it was early no late in the winter, snow oh man, I will never forget my first guard duty they put me on guard that use to be a cattle rebase then they changed it into a quartermaster training so first guard duty at night and I was my area was around horse barns out there they still had a few officers horses and stuff and it was snowing, I had that big old over coat on you know and a riffle and everything out there. A friend of mine that lived in Denver he took pictures of all ofthat stuff out there and when the perimeter that we were walking by the time, it was snowing, time we got through with our 4 hours the snow was up to our knees you know and our feet were down in this little trench that we made that was really something

Sarah Jonas:

So was boot camp and like training hard?

Henry D. Christensen:

Oh yes they really work you but they get you in shape. I weight about 192 pounds when I went in I've always been over weight all my life. By the time I got through basic training I was down to 148 yea but perfect condition you know hard solid everything anyway when I finished the basic why they pulled, I will go back to this typing, so they pulled a bunch of us out and sent us over to being typing you see. Sent me over there so I was listening to the instructor and everything you know "I don't need this you know" so I just started plink plink plink you know typing the old thing you know now is the time for all good men to come to the aid to their country and I'm sure you've seen that if either one of you went to typing so I beat that out there in a hurry And the instructor come back there and "What are you doing?" you know he thought I was playing around. When he seen that he says oh you can type I says "yea" he says why didn't you tell so I says well you didn't ask me really so he kicked me out and sent me to typing two over there to finish off over there. So then I took two weeks of specially coursed work. Which meant I was going to be a supervisor of some kind in this clothing equipment dump when I got overseas it took about two weeks intensity I mean intensity. We would go in there at 7 in the morning and quit at 11 at night. So they pounded it into us. You guys I'm sure you've crammed once in awhile well this was double cramming. Anyway I was always glad that I did that. You got another question?

Sarah Jonas:

Yeah, do you remember your instructors?

Henry D. Christensen:

You bet I do, I'll tell you a little story about that. Our drill sergeant, well he was a Buck Corporal when we first got there, his name was Fox. We got to be real good friends later on. But I have to tell you this little story so you know what happens. He was good at his work so Bill Longmire who was my best buddy this was the one that I told you lived in Denver, Phoenix, I can't remember which one or the other, I have been trying to get a hold of him for 3 years but I can't find him even on the internet. so anyway when we went overseas well we both, I never was a PFC and I never was a corporal, when I got into my work I went in first they made me chief clerk in the office well I didn't really like that but I had to hang on to for four or five about four months. Longmuir was with me in there so I told the base quartermaster I says hey when the job opens up outside in a dump I want that. I was a tech sergeant then T not a tech a T3 so I went from private to a T3 just like that in the office I told him I wanted it so he said ok I can do that fine so anyway this came up and so Longmuir took my place in the office, he liked that anyway I went outside. A month later I was a staph sergeant which is one circle underneath the 3. two months later they gave me the other two I was a master, I went all through that thing as a master sergeant I went to private to master sergeant in about 8 months total which was, I happen to be in the right place at the right time. I had the right spec numbers that's what I was, but anyway you better ask me some more questions and then I will tell you more about fox.

Sarah Jonas:

Did you see any combat?

Henry D. Christensen:

Not really no just bombing you know the Japanese bombed us a little over there and but as far as actual combat no.

Sarah Jonas:

Can you tell me about some of the most memorable times that you had?

Henry D. Christensen:

Yea I had a real memorable one. They had a convoy of food that was suppose to be taken down to almost to the end of the island. They called for two volunteers you know master sergeant one for lead truck and one for last truck and they had transportation people they were all colored. The colored people were separated during world war 2. There was no segregation at all. So Longmire took the lead truck and I took the end truck. And the orders were make sure every trucks get there down there to unload then get back you see these guys were all scared. They heard a little small arms fire and stuff. Man they wanted to dump truck and everything. We both carried 45' s and we told hey guys you do what we tell you or we shoot ya. We finally made the trip and got back, but it was memorable. Mud about deep as this and in those big old four by fours just sloppin through that mud we made it. And another time we got a warning that the Japanese were going to drop some phosphorous bombs you know what phosphorsous is? If it hits you it goes clear through. We were all out there in our fox holes and everything and pretty soon the guy comes over and boy just look at the sight there and see that stuff and when it exploded you know it come down well it look like 4th of July this stuff only it's phosphorous and stuff. That was a little spooky. Well, another night we was all in bed just snoring away and all of a sudden whoom we landed on the floor and man we thought this is it we are in a heap of trouble. Well, what it finally wound up to be was that the Japanese, somebody snuck in and set an ammunitions dump off, blew it up. It was full of lignite. Lignite is what they use to use on the anti air craft guns and the long rang guns for powder they would come in big sack like this. When that went off it threw everybody on the island out of their bed.

Sarah Jonas:

So the Japanese snuck in on you?

Henry D. Christensen:

Huh

Sarah Jonas:

They snuck in on you?

Henry D. Christensen:

Yea they snuck in on that. That was about a mile from our place about where we were. Anyway, another one there well I don't know this one was kind of rough. We had a guy you probably heard about these single planes that would come over and they were called washer machine Charlie or something like that. Well, this guy would come over they had something called a chow line Charlie who would always come over chow the lines where always straight or little or drop some anti personal bombs or something but their timing was almost, we could pin it like that and we all would protect ourselves about time he would come over. One night he come over when we didn't expect him and he was kicking out these anti personal bombs we could see them but we were in our fox holes but we could see the land out on the bay and then they were coming towards us we figured well the next one going to go over the top of us. which it did, but it hit an ack tack company, an anti aircraft company. This was Oh probably a 100 yards over from us from where we were. Landed right in the middle of company street. It killed a lot of people. Well, the next morning the e.O. come out and says ok you guys you are working for grave registration this morning so we had to go this is kind of grisly but so anyway they handed all us basket we had to go around the police area and pick all you know whatever body parts we could find and everything like that. That was the worst duty I had to do it my life. It had to be done. So we did it. Ask me some more questions.

Sarah Jonas:

Were you ever a prisoner of War?

Henry D. Christensen:

Was what?

Sarah Jonas:

Were you ever a prisoner of War?

Henry D. Christensen:

No

Sarah Jonas:

Were you awarded any medals?

Henry D. Christensen:

Just those that I wrote down there. Not no purple heart or nothing like that. Just you know everybody got the good conduct if they behaved themselves and the phillipines liberation and the two campaign medals from new guinea the bona and the goma campaigns in new guinea the American defense medial you know, that's about it.

Sarah Jonas:

How did you keep in stay in touch with your family?

Henry D. Christensen:

a that was pitiful. In ww2 they had what you call V -mail. To bad they still don't use it today. That was the fastest, cheapest mail that has ever hit this country. Boy I don't know why they use it today the post office wouldn't be in trouble all this time if they did maybe that's why they don't because it didn't cost so much money they could run post office with the third of the people. For instant when my daughter was born I didn't get to see her before she was 212 years old she was born after I was already gone, but they day she was born she was born at 7:10 in the morning 8:15 I would get a V -mail. You are the proud father of a baby girl

Sarah Jonas:

Oh wow

Henry D. Christensen:

I was in New Guinea so you see out that stuff worked it really worked beautiful stuff. If I wanted to send flowers or something to my wife, I would us the same thing and send a v-mail to the florist over there and order something and they would send it to my wife she would have it the same day.

Sarah Jonas:

Did you do that often, send her flowers?

Henry D. Christensen:

Whenever I got a chance I did yes I was young and we were only married well we got married in 1940 we only been married a couple years before I left

Sarah Jonas:

How old were you when you left?

Henry D. Christensen:

21, 19 when I got married 21 when I went into the service, 25 when I got out.

Sarah Jonas:

What was the food like when you were in the service?

Henry D. Christensen:

he what?

Sarah Jonas:

The food

Henry D. Christensen:

Well, this is a kind of a weird story too. The basic food now the infantry guys, the guys doing the fighting, they'd get fresh warm food quite often, but they got a lot sea rations, canned rations, packaged rations, hay rations, packaged rations and stuff like that which you would have to develop a taste for and get use to. The situation I was in, why we had fresh food quite often because we would trade them for it you know when they quartermaster food people we would trade them what they wanted they would trade us. I ate a lot of Flaming Yon over there. I was kind of ashamed of that

Sarah Jonas:

So did you have plenty of supplies?

Henry D. Christensen:

Oh yea, we had-that's what one the war really outside the atomic bomb is that we just out supplied the rest of the world. We had supplies that none of the rest ofthem could even touch. We had plenty of supplies, lots of it.

Sarah Jonas:

Did you feel any pressure or stress during the war?

Henry D. Christensen:

Only work pressure that's all. But no, like we define stress today, no. T'll go back to the night that we took off on the ship out of San Francisco. Soon as we got on board I had light bulb duty going over so that put me on B deck-you know there's top deck, A deck, and then B and so I was on B. all I had to do was set up a light bulb drill twice a day, 15 minutes. That's all I had-that was my duty I had to call out a few guys and set up this light duty. So when I got on board I just went down to my bunk and crawled in there and had a little book I was reading and one thing lead to another and the guys kept hollering to me, " hey Chris don't you wanna come up and watch us go by the Golden Gate bridge, or not the golden gate well--ya it was the golden gate I guess we went under it that time or the san Francisco bay I don't know, one of those bridges anyway. I told them the only time I want to see that bridge when I headed for it. So I just stayed right there and all them guys up there with big tears in their eyes watching that big bridge disappear.

Sarah Jonas:

Did you do anything special for good luck?

Henry D. Christensen:

Nope. Now explain that a little.

Sarah Jonas:

You know how people have a rabbits foot or like prayed or something

Henry D. Christensen:

No. prayed. Prayed a little, probably prayed a lot. No rabbits foot, no superstitious.

Johnathan Court:

how did you entertain yourself?

Henry D. Christensen:

Well that was a tough one, mostly played cards. When you get in an outfit like that overseas, now I don't know how they do it these days now in those days you usally had 5 or 6 people in a group that you called friends. Now my definition of friend is one you can call up at 2 in the morning and wake them up and say hey come get me out of jail and anything else and you usually had about 5 or 6 of those in a group. well we'd play cards or some of the guys would shoot crap. I never did shot crap. We bought our self a little bonka which is a little out rear canoe sort of thing and we would take tum we would get 3 guys in it and we would go out in the pay and paddle around in that thing and come back and we'd do that and then we would comb the beaches for different shells and stuff. One that was very famous and, I still have a few at home, were cateyes. And that was most of them about that big around and they were flaska completely flat on the bottom and they were like an eye on the top and that's why there were called cateyes. And if you could get them alive or shortly after the animal had had them when they got rid of them why they were a beautiful green. It's when they were in the sun for a while they would tum kind of brownish but they were still pretty.

Sarah Jonas:

did you keep them green at all?

Henry D. Christensen:

I don't know if! got a-oh yea we could polish them with ajeweler's _. I don't know if! got any green ones left at home or not. That's one thing I could bring down to you guys I guess a couple ofthose sometime. So let me write that down. A couple of cateyes. Now that's another thing if I can find them. I think I know where those are.

Johnathan Court:

Where there entertainers, like musicians?

Henry D. Christensen:

Not where I was, no. You mean like bob hope and those guys that use to come over there. Is that what you mean? I never did run into any ofthem.

Johnathan Court:

What did you do when you were on leave?

Henry D. Christensen:

Well, went to Australia, went back to Australia. See when we would get furlough they would set up the furlough areas. Then there were two areas in Australia which were designated furlough areas from New Guinea and the Philippines both the same thing in the Philippines. So we'd on our 3rd day it would take us 5 days to get there on a ship and then we'd have fun in Australia and then come on back. Australia was great.

Johnathan Court:

Were did you travel while you were in the service?

Henry D. Christensen:

Well that's all the traveling I ever did. From Cheyenne to San Francisco, San Francisco to Australia, Australia to New Ginny, and New Ginny to the Philippines. That was it.

Johnathan Court:

Do you recall any particularly hummerous, or unusual invents? Ok, we'll get to Fox now, we'll go back to Fox. Alright, I'm in the Philippines now. Longmire and I heard were going to get a replacements, you know, for a couple of our guys that had enough points to, and they weren't well or something to go home. So we're waiting out here on the beach for this duck. They'd unload them in ducks. Have you ever seen a duck? You've seen them.

Johnathan Court:

The big ones. In the in the sky?

Henry D. Christensen:

No no no. I'm talking about an amphib vehicle, amphibious vehicle, big ones. There's a couple of them around in the valley some where, but not very many. Anyway, so they unload these guys, they take them off the ship and put them in the duck and they... Why they call them amphibious is because they can run them in the water and then run them right up on the beach. They've got tires like a truck and everything. So we were standing out there waiting, and this guy was bull legged, I mean bull legged this guy Fox. So I poked Longmire and said look at that. I said, where have you seen a pair oflegs like that? Fox, he said. Sure enough here he comes. He come up here and he had two bags, B bag A bag. He dropped those, he looked at us, his eyes got big. And here he was a staff sergeant. Looking at two masters he could run through basic training. You ought a heard that guy ramp and rave, and oh man, some of the words he used I couldn't repeat. But anyway that was funny. So of course we told him, don't worry about it. We'll get you another stripe for you in about a week, and we did, we got him his master sergeant right away. He come to visit me a half a dozen times after I got home. Go ahead..... I get a rattling on; stop me any time you want.

Johnathan Court:

That's Fine.

Johnathan Court:

What were some of the pranks that you or others would pull?

Henry D. Christensen:

Well, we didn't do too much of that. I didn't anyway. No.

Sarah Jonas:

Did your friends or anyone?

Henry D. Christensen:

Huh?

Sarah Jonas:

Did your friends?

Henry D. Christensen:

Oh I'm sure some of them did. We'd hide each others mess kits or something once in a while, or something like that, or sort sheet them. You know. You know what short sheeting is?

Sarah Jonas:

I don't

Henry D. Christensen:

Well what you do is you fold their bed sheets, you open them up, then you fold one were it's about that far from the pillow. That is what you call short sheeting. So when they go to get in it, why they couldn't get in. We use to do a lot of that. Oh, and then lizards; we had to use mosquito netting. This is back to "Ginny". Cause mosquitoes and lizards. Place was just crawling with them; and they would get in bed with you, if you didn't put your mosquito net up, you know, and check it out. So, once in a while we would catch them and through them in the guys bed there, just for fun. Little bitty lizards, you know. But just stuff like that.

Johnathan Court:

Do you have any photo ... ? You don't have any photographs.

Henry D. Christensen:

I told you about the photographs, I got them, but were they are I don't know.

Johnathan Court:

Did you keep a personal diary?

Henry D. Christensen:

No, No I wish I had but I didn't. I wish I had but I didn't. I wish I had. Often thought of that. Just didn't do it.

Johnathan Court:

Can you tell me about the day your service ended?

Henry D. Christensen:

You bet I can. The day that my service ended. We had been in a ... All of us had, the whole company, had enough point to come home in July of '45. Well we couldn't get a ride out of there. We had all the hips loaded for the invasion of Japan. You know. Which didn't happen. So all of those took off for uh back to USA and unloaded their stuff which was no longer needed. And here we sat, and couldn't get any replacements. So we worked until the last of September. Then here come a full company to replace us, from the United States. So we still didn't have a ride home, so they shoved us in this replacement depot. So we stayed there until November, about the 25 or 26 of November. We sat in a replacement depot with nothing to do. We didn't have to have any duty or nothing. We were just there, waiting for a ride home. Like I say there was about several thousand of us that were in the same predicament. So they told us we could have dental appointments or whatever you want if you needed them. And of course I needed them; I've always had lousy teeth. So I made a dental appointment to go down there. Here's a guy, seven feet tall. He was in a t-shirt, sandals on his feet, high-water pants. You know, I knew he had to be an officer. So I asked him, sir, what's your rank. He says, I'm a captain. I said where's your clothes. I don't have any. What? I said, how'd you like to have some? He says, could you get me some? I said, you bet. I said, let me get your measurements right now. I will take them down to QM salvage, I will have my sergeant in the issue warehouse take a bowl of wac gabarding, you know wac clothing W-A-C that's wac, gabarding down to salvage and have them make what ever you want. This guy, he broke out in tears, he couldn't believe it. You know. I said, the only thing about your shoes, I'll have to have the sergeant order them from the United States, because we don't have any of those sizes here. It was a l4EEEE, that this guy wore, and the sleeves, oh. Anyway, I got his measurements, took them down to QM Salvage. And we were all pretty tight, you know, us guys would do anything for each other. So I told him what I needed, and so he said well how many do you want? Well I'd like to have four shirts and four pairs of pants for this guy. I think this guy had a 37 inch leg. Any way he was a tall guy. I said how'd they ever get you in the army? How do you sleep? They don't make beds that long. He said Ijust had the company artistry, you know the carpenter; made an extension there to put by his bed so he could ... his legs would hang over that far. So any way, he said, you get me those clothes, he says, I'll fill every tooth in your head with gold. You know. And he would have, he had done several of them. But, he didn't get finished because finally we got a ride out of there. McArther, he found out that all these troops were laying there. So he said, put out the order, any ship that comes in there and unloads, don't put any back load on them, fill them with troops and get them out of there. So this is what happened. Any way, this guy I brought him those clothes, and he was just couldn't believe it. I had the sergeant order him six pairs of those shoes out of the New Orland's QM depot on the United States, and of course I was gone, but 1'm sure he got them. Any way that was interesting. And then, we gone on the ship we got home on; if you want to go that far, unless you have some more questions before .

Sarah Jonas:

That's fine

Johnathan Court:

keep going

Henry D. Christensen:

The ship we come home on was a cargo, a C-2, a cargo ship that they had refitted it in a hurry to accommodate troops. All they did, all the refitting they did was fill it up with canvas cots. You know. The Aleo Patriot was the name of it, it belonged to Aleo Alumna. And of course during the war why, the government used them all no matter who they belonged to. So that's what we came home on, and it took us 30 days. We headed due north, like for Japan. And we got, oh I don't know, maybe a day off on the coast of Japan then headed due west. There were no ballast or anything on this. Have you ever been on a ship like that? [we shook our heads no]

Henry D. Christensen:

Well any way, there were no ballast on it. When the seas got rough, that thing was like a cork. But most of us never went below, I never did, I stayed on top side all the time all the way home. We eat on top side and everything. But it was an interesting trip, and we ... so we got two days out of San Francisco, and the engineer aboard this ship, he piped up every bodies attention got us all out there and he says fellows, I've got some sad news. This is tree days before Christmas, and we had already been gone two Christmases. So he says, Ijust got orders there going to, or a message they're going to quarantine San Francisco at midnight, tomorrow night, which ever this was. So he says, they want to divert us to San Pedro. But he says, I'm going to tell you something right now fellows. He says I know you've been gone a long time, and he says they are not going to divert us to San Pedro; we are going to go to San Francisco. He says, if! get orders to divert, he says, I'm going to pump every gallon of oil off this boat and just leave enough to get to San Francisco. So any way, that's the way it went. So, the next morning, he piped us all up again, he says, if we can get into San Francisco before midnight, and get off of this ship, by midnight, we're free and clear. So they pulled it into per twelve; at 20 minutes to midnight. Tied it up, threw out the gain plank, and of course we were all ready to get off, and we unloaded that thing in 15 minutes and went right through the buildings and everything there, and they had busses waiting for us. Got off of there, got on those busses and they took us directly to Marysville. We got to Marysville at almost two 0' clock in the morning. So the first thing they did was fed us all a big steak. You know a big steak dinner and everything. We didn't get, I did, but a lot of the guys didn't get to much of that. There was seven of us that did; eight of us. But any way, so they did that, and then the troop commander there he come in and says, fellows, he says, here is the way it is. He says, if you'd like us to start processing you, right now, we could get you out of here by tomorrow afternoon. You know, and that would get us ... I got home on the 23, two days before Christmas when I got home. My brother in law came down to pick me up. But any way, he says, we process you right now we can get you out of here. If you want to go to bed and go to sleep he says it's going to take an extra day or so to get us out of here. So everybody says lets go. So they processed us starting at tow o'clock in the morning processing us and got us out of there. So the next afternoon I called my ... the next morning I called my brother in law and I say hey, can you come get me this afternoon. You bet. So that's the way I got home. That was cool, I'm telling you, getting home right there at Christmas time, yea.

Sarah Jonas:

So did your brother in law want to serve in the war, or was he ... you know?

Henry D. Christensen:

He was a Pearl Harbor survivor. Yea.

Sarah Jonas:

Oh, yea?

Henry D. Christensen:

Yea! But he got home long before I did. Yea. He got out, let's see, he got out late in 44, I think.

Sarah Jonas:

How come he got out earlier then you?

Henry D. Christensen:

Well, I can't remember the exact circumstances. They discharged some of them before. He went directly from the service into the bureau of reclamation. Whether that had any thing to do with him getting out, I just can't pin it down, I can't remember. Any way, he was home. That worked out real good. Then my boss, he wanted me to go to work rite now. I say hey, I says hey, I have to have some time off. You know, and at that time the government was giving us a 52-20. 52 weeks at $20 a week. And, but you couldn't, if you went to work you couldn't collect it. So, I told him I want to collect the 52-20; and aw, he says, you know by rights, he say, (I was managing the Redding store at that time, when I left) and he says this is your store. But the guy that was managed it while I was gone, he says (he was a good friend of mine to) he says, I would rather you work some relief rout. He says, all the managers are due for vacation, he says, do that ... and they were building the one in Anderson at that time, which is now that drug shop down there ... Are we running over time?

Johnathan Court:

No, it's fine

Henry D. Christensen:

Oh, what street is it, right along the highway there?

Sarah Jonas:

273?

Henry D. Christensen:

No, no it's West Center, West Center Street, that Drug shop down there on the left, you know coming south. Well that use to be the old Potent Market. I opened it in 1946. So any way, so he said, 1'd rather have you relief manage until we get that one built then you could have that one, and I said ok. So I spent three weeks in Susanville, three weeks in Grass Valley, three weeks in Redding, and three weeks in Central Valley. And by that time we had that one ready and I went to work.

Sarah Jonas:

So you didn't go to school after your service?

Henry D. Christensen:

No

Sarah Jonas:

Did any of your friends?

Henry D. Christensen:

Oh ya!

Sarah Jonas:

Did they go off the GI Bill?

Henry D. Christensen:

Yeah, quite a few people did. I didn't, I course had this little kid at that time; you know I had to make a living and so. What's this guy doing? He's taking pictures of everyone?

Johnathan Court:

Yes

Henry D. Christensen:

He's the official Photog?

Sarah Jonas:

Yes

Henry D. Christensen:

Ok, where were we?

Henry D. Christensen:

I get to rambling, you can stop me any time you want.

Sarah Jonas:

It's very interesting

Sarah Jonas:

Did you make any close friends when you served?

Henry D. Christensen:

Oh, you bet. Absolutely ya, I can't find Longmire, I've tried, like I've told you, for years can't find him. I don't know what ever happened to him. Another one that I did find, and we ... , his name was Sumner J. Allis. He lived in Lancing, Michigan; another real buddy. We communicated up until about four years ago, and everything stopped. And I've tried and tried to find him and I'm sure he is dead. He died. No connection back there; no wife, or family or nothing that I can find. Another one is, a guys name was, he was a company barber. His name was Nate LaPlacka; and I haven't been able to find him. We have corresponded for three or four years, and then all of a sudden disappeared. It could be that I'm the lone ranger. I don't know for sure. I am on several things. Like the manager of these stores I've been telling about. I'm the only one left alive, [knock on wood] that's spooky. I went to a little school in Idaho, in Spencer, Idaho, a little town 65 miles north ofIdaho Falls. And there was only nine kids around my age, in that little school, boys I'm talking about. And I'm the last one of those. The last of the Mohicans there too. Which is kind of weird. So, but that's the way it is. YA.

Johnathan Court:

Did you join a veteran's organization?

Henry D. Christensen:

Sure did. I hadn't been home, well I hadn't been home a month, I don't think, before one of my friends, that had been out a while and was active in the V.F.W. in Redding up there, he nailed me, come out to my house and nailed me. So I joined the Redding post immediately. But I was only in that a year, and then I was working down here. So a couple of guys came to me and we started this V.F.W. post here. I'm a charter member there, and really one of the instigators of this post so. Ya, I've been in it all the time since 1946.

Johnathan Court:

What kind of activities does your post have?

Henry D. Christensen:

Oh, we do everything. We have B-B-Q's, we do an awful lot of community service, you know, different things. We put up flags around town every flag day. On Memorial Day we have a big doings at the cemetery; we put up our avenue of flags. We put up 171 of them, I think, now; burial flags that have been donated by members of ours that have passed on. And we do all that and have a ceremony down there. We have a crab feeding, B-B-Q' s, and of course our bar is going all the time, we have pool tournaments.

Sarah Jonas:

I go to pool tournaments some times.

Henry D. Christensen:

Do you? Just something is going all the time. VA.

Johnathan Court:

Were you a manager? Is that what you did for your career? Did you do anything else?

Henry D. Christensen:

I went to work for ... Yes, I did. When I was managing this store down here. I had been there we1119 ya, early 1948. My boss told me that Miller's Market was going to buy his chain, see. So I told him, see I can't work for Roy miller, so bye bye. So I went to work for Pepsi Cola in 1948 and worked for him for 25 years. Worked myself up to sales manager in that from a rout driver. Went rout driver, rout supervisor, sales manager. And then when McCall's bought him I was sales manager at that time. But I was getting a little age on me. I was what 48 or something like that, and I only wanted to work until I was 55. So I made a deal with Johnathan Patrick. The old John McCall and Arnold Stine, who was the general manager up there. So if something comes up over there then I would transfer over there. I told McCall I was going to retire. I only wanted to work another four or five years. So that's what I did. Tanker job opened up, and I ran the tanker for a couple of years, and then went into the plant for another year or so, andjust did a little bit of everything and retired out of there. That was about it. I didn't have too many jobs in my life. Which one of you guys can get me a half a cup of coffee. Would you? Can you? Can you get loose?

Sarah Jonas:

I don't where ....

Henry D. Christensen:

Call that kid in here. Oh, I can do without. That's all right.

Sarah Jonas:

Were almost done. We have just a couple more questions.

Henry D. Christensen:

Yeah, go ahead.

Johnathan Court:

Did your military experiences influence your thinking about the war or military in general?

Henry D. Christensen:

Well I'm sure it did, but I don't dwell on it too much. I'm sure it influenced me in a positive way. I have great respect for our military, and I back them to the hills. Write or wrong, I've always had an engraved thing in my system that, Commander and Chief, whether you like the man or not, have respect for the chair and back it. And back the same way for the captain of the ship or anyone else. I have always had that. Been that way, and I still do to this day, and I always will. That's about the way it affected me.

Johnathan Court:

What was your thinking when they dropped the atomic bomb?

Henry D. Christensen:

I thought it was the greatest thing since the five cent cigar. That saved my life.

Johnathan Court:

Oh, were you going to ...

Henry D. Christensen:

You bet. We were all set to heed to Japan. We had all the equipment, ships all loaded and everything was ready to go. We were ready to pull up the stacks there and that saved my life and a lot of other peoples. Saved millions of us. Ya, that was great.

Henry D. Christensen:

Well I've been trying to think. I get to rambling on and I'm hard to stop sometimes. I have quite a reputation, I was a bull shooter. Nothing else you guys can think of? Well I think I've covered just about everything. I've had an interesting life really. Had one great tragedy in my life. I had a son, he was born in 1947. When he was 37 years old, he was working for McCall at that time. He was driving a long run truck, and he was my best friend. You know, my son was my best friend, and everything. We use to fish together, hunt together all that stuff. Anyway when he was 37 years old, he went to work at two o'clock in the morning, and we got a call at about 1:30 one night, from my friend. I had a friend that was in the corroners office at that time. He was at the house, and he called me and he says Chris, got some bad news for you, he says you better come out here. So I went out there and he had died right there. He got up and got ready to go to work ... I don't know if this story interests you guys or not, but while I'm here I might as well tell you. Anyway, we got out there and he was still laying there on the floor. His wife, she always got up with him and had a cup of coffee with him and fixed him something to eat and everything. He had called, she was in the kitchen drinking coffee and he had called her from the bathroom and he says, honey, he says, I'm not going to make it to work, I'm real sick, call Davy to run my rout for me. So she calls him and he says ok. So, then he come in the front room, he was sitting there, then he hollered at her again, and he says, her name was Jacky, and he says Jacky I don't know what it is, but maybe you better call the doctor. So she just started to call the doctor and about that time she heard ... do you guys know what a death rattle is? Have you ever seen somebody die? Or been around ... ? Well there's always a death rattle. For one thing, she heard that. She knew what it was. So she dropped the phone, the caller dropped the doctor and called 9-1-1. And there was one of the paramedics that worked for the fire department out there, just lived two houses around the corner from them in Palo Cedro. She was there in two and a half minutes. She worked on him and worked on him, but he was dead before he even hit the floor. 37 years old, that was tough. One thing, of course you guys are young but, you lose your parents, you expect that. But when you lose a son or daughter, you always have it in your mind, you never get over it, well you live with it, but you never get over it. That wasn't part of the curriculum here, but I thought I would just tell you anyway. That was one of the most tragic thing that has happened to me in my life. But you have to live with it. Any thing else you guys can think of?

Johnathan Court:

No.

Henry D. Christensen:

You think that thing worked?

Sarah Jonas:

Yes.

Henry D. Christensen:

And it didn't run out of film? Red light is on.

Sarah Jonas:

Thank you very much

Henry D. Christensen:

Ok, well it's a pleasure doing business with you. I hope it helped you a little. You can do something with this cant you? Do you get a grade on it?

Johnathan Court:

Yes.

Henry D. Christensen:

Well it's been fun shooting the bull with you guys, and I'm glad I finally.

Johnathan Court:

Thank you.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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