RECOLLECTIONS: 1941 – 1955
Stephen B. Miller B. 1934
I was seven years old in 1941, living in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio but had no inkling of war-related issues and constraints at that time. My dad died in 1941. Mom was an accomplished legal secretary and supported my younger sister and me.
Around 1944 we moved to a Miami Beach apartment where mom worked as J.C. Penney’s private secretary. He transported her to and from his mansion every day in a limo.
Kids of my age were free to roam the area at will in those days. No drug problem existed then. We’d play various types of hide ‘n seek games on the rooftops of nearby homes until well after dark. Mom was a good swimmer and had a special pool pass so we also did that fairly often.
Only once did the evidence of war show up. One day at the beach I saw a submarine a few hundred yards offshore chasing a PT boat which was trying to get away from it. Suddenly there was a flash and “boom” from the sub’s deck gun followed by a near-miss spray near the PT boat. For a moment I wondered “Is this a movie, or what?” I finally realized that this was a German U-boat firing at one of our PT boats!
Busy as she was, mom took me to a small airport once, where I had a ride in an Ercoupe.
I knew then that aviation was for me! Mom was then going with my stepdad, who was in the Army in North Africa. After the war ended, I can still remember going down to the train station to pick him up, still in uniform and carrying his duffel bag.
Around 1947 we moved back to Cincinnati, though I can’t remember exactly when mom and pop were married. We became close with his family and acquired many new relatives. My newfound cousins and I were into model airplanes and the usual dogfight simulations, always cognizant of the latest military aircraft. We were mesmerized each evening when the Stinson Reliant mail plane flew over the house.
Over the next few years, by the time I graduated from college in 1955, I had worked at the local (Lunken) airport, learned to fly at age 16 at a small airport and
eventually became a Naval Aviator, flying AD-5N’s off the U.S.S. Essex (CVA9) in the 1950’s (cold war).
The house I returned to in Cincinnati was intentionally burned down by the fire department decades ago. A Pizza hut sits there now. Likewise, the Essex, my old aircraft carrier, has long since turned to scrap. I may have shaved with parts of it in my razor blades.
It’s hard to believe all the changes in my life during the 1940’s – 1950’s!