1943 Floodstage “Home on Pass & Nearly Impassable,” by Erwin A. Thompson
The first time that a flood really affected my life was the flood of 1943. That was one of the big ones.
INBETWEEN ARKANSAS & TEXAS TRAINING CAMPS IN WORLD WAR II
Ruth and I were coming home from our tour of duty at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. Our unit was being moved from that location to Camp Fannin, Texas, near Tyler.
No provision had been made for non-commissioned officers of my grade to transport their families from the Little Rock location to the Tyler one.
We had no arrangements made for living quarters in that area, either and did not expect to get any since the grapevine told us that rents for apartments were seventy dollars a month, and then you had to find one!
COMING HOME TO EVERGREEN HEIGHTS, SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS, THE RIEHL FARM
So we were coming home. Our “treasures” that we had so proudly collected in our year of marriage and housekeeping there were all tucked safely into the little two-wheeled trailer that we were pulling behind our faithful 1939 Hudson.
We were in good shape, or thought we were. We were babes in the woods!
WORLD WAR II GAS RATIONING AND RATION STAMPS
First problem, we stopped in a filling station along the route to gas up. We had ration stamps, but we running afoul of the law! No gasoline was to be sold to pleasure cars after nine o’clock P. M.
Ruth’s brother Lloyd lived in Saint Louis at that time. We stopped at his house, woke him up, and bummed enough gasoline to get to Evergreen Heights. One hurdle jumped over.
To properly appreciate this brotherly act one must go back in history to those times and conditions. The cash value of the gasoline was minimal, seventeen cents a gallon. But gasoline was rationed. To buy it one needed ration stamps.
In order to get ration stamps one needed to document the neccessary travel miles and have the authorities decide how much gasoline to allow. These were not transferrable. They had to be torn out of the ration book by the person pumping the gasoline.
ALTON BRIDGE OUT FROM FLOODING
The second hurdle we faced was that water from the 1943 flood had inundated the Missouri approach to the Alton Bridge. We got directions to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, fortunately before we arrived at the Alton bridge and found it closed.
RIEHL LANE IN DISREPAIR AND NIGH UNTO IMPASSABLE
Riehl Lane had suffered mightily from my absence. The culvert between the Foree driveway and the Stiritz corner had washed out so badly that they were traveling through the Foree asparagus patch instead of the road.
Fortunately we had already been told of this detour. But from the Foree drive on to our property line there were recent washouts that were frightening, especially at three o’clock in the morning in the rain.
TODDLER JULIA & WIFE RUTH WALK HOME…IN POISEN IVY
I didn’t want to risk my wife Ruth and our toddler Julia, so they disembarked and walked. I drove past the treacherous gullies with no ill effects.
Their walk proved to be a major disaster. Along with the neglect of the roadway, the poison ivy had taken over. Ruth got as bad a dose of it as she ever had. Fortunately, Julia escaped it; that was purely providence, as neither of us had considered the walk to be potentially dangerous.