“World War Two started while I repaired radios at the Fort Leavenworth (Kansas) Post Exchange. I fixed home radios, which in 1941 was often a matter of replacing bad vacuum tubes. As I worked, I ran several I’d already repaired to ‘burn’ the new tubes in. One was wired into the PA system to broadcast music through the store. When the announcement broke in about Pearl Harbor, I turned up the volume. Soon folks were crowding the door to my shop, asking for details I didn’t have.”
[Ralph was born in Leavenworth, Kansas on August 26, 1920, the son of Walter and Florence (Brown) Andrea. The State of Kansas recognized Ralph as the Fourth Place student in 1935. He graduated from Leavenworth High School in 1938. He was the official school photographer as well as working for the Star Studio (since defunct) and publishing free lance pictures in local newspapers. He owned several cameras and his own darkroom: a rare and expensive hobby in 1941.]
When I was a teen, I lived for a year with my grandparents in Easton, Kansas. Before taking on a circuit of tiny local churches, he served in the US Army from 1919 to 1945.
As a veteran he considered it his duty to commemorate the service of those who had gone before. To this end every Memorial Day before dawn, he drove to the cemetery overlooking town and set out tiny American flags at the graves of all veterans. Many veterans’ graves, extending back as far as the Civil War, exhibited the white marble headstones provided by the government. Some had been buried there since the late 1940s, when he took up the charge. Others were known only by him.
We walked down the rows of graves in the predawn cool, pausing occasionally Continue reading →