Navigating a lifetime

 

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William L. Hewes, Jr.

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lNaivfiegaTtIinMgEA William L. Hewes, Jr.

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Copyright © 2016 by William L. Hewes, Jr. All rights reserved. On cover: Lt. (j.g.) Navigator Bill Hewes, USS Miller DD535. On watch on the bridge underway as OOD (Officer of the Deck) Produced by Personal History Productions Helping individuals and businesses write and publish their stories. www.personalhistoryproductions.com info@personalhistoryproductions.com 707.539.5559

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Contents CHAPTER one In the Beginning . . .  1 Chapter TWO Growing Up in Wilmington, Delaware  3 Chapter THREE Tower Hill School: 1937–1940  11 Chapter FOUR Harvard  16 Chapter five USS Miller DD535  21 Chapter six 1946–1947  36 Chapter seven The Ohio Years: 1948–1959  41 v

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Hewes  •  Navigating a Lifetime Chapter eight 24224 Dawnridge Road, Los Altos, California  47 Chapter nine Father Figures  55 Chapter ten Closing the Dawnridge Years  57 Chapter eleven Moving On—to Solana Drive  61 Chapter twelve The Pacific Area Travel Association  69 Chapter thirteen Oakmont  76 Chapter fourteen Reunions  80 Chapter fifteen Travels with Jane  90 Chapter Sixteen Conclusion  103 vi

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CHAPTER one In the Beginning . . . “Hewes.” Where did that name come from? According to my father, W. L. Hewes, Sr., the first Hewes on record was Guillaume de Hewes, a Norman knight on the staff of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 in England. Apparently, William liked the place, and the de Hewes family emigrated to England. They became “Saxonized,” dropped the “de,” and, in the early 1600s, three Hewes brothers emigrated to the Colonies. One brother settled in Boston, and one of his probable descendants, a Richard Hewes—whom we know from his portrait in the Massachusetts statehouse—was a leader of the Boston Tea Party. Another brother settled in the Philadelphia area, and he apparently was the progenitor of the Hewes clan that now includes myself and all the rest of us. Again according to Dad, there was a Hewes who was an advisor to George Washington at the Battle of Brandywine, near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, British Gen. Cornwallis outflanked Washington and forced the retreat to Valley Forge. The third brother settled in North Carolina, and from his line came Joseph Hewes, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a shipbuilder in Wilmington, North Carolina, and a member of the North Carolina delegation to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. My father was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, close to Wilmington, Delaware. His father was a contractor, mostly of homes in Wilmington. My father had two sisters, both of whom died in childhood of spinal meningitis. He had a half-brother, Oliver, who never married and whom I hardly remember. One story Dad told is of an employee of his father’s who was a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg. The man took Dad there to show him exactly where he was in the battle. Dad got hooked on the Civil War right then. As a young man, Dad worked for his father. He told the story of the time they had just plastered the inside of a new house when it froze during the night and all the plaster had to be ripped out. 1

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Hewes  •  Navigating a Lifetime Dad was orphaned at age 16 and thereafter was on his own until his marriage to Mother. He lived at least some of that time with relatives of his father’s, the Aikins. He was proud of running (literally) a paper route that probably was the start of a remarkable athleticism. He was a miler and two-miler, boxer, semi-pro baseball player, and he built and raced canoes, and starred at any game with a ball. He graduated from Wilmington High School having been captain of all the varsity sports teams— football, baseball, and basketball. He attended Drexel Institute in Philadelphia and worked for DuPont before being transferred to Hercules Powder Company in 1912 when DuPont’s explosives business was broken up by anti-trust action and Hercules Powder Company and Atlas Powder Company were formed. He worked all his life for Hercules, mostly as Assistant Director of Purchasing. His greatest contribution was the procurement of the equipment for the building of Hercules’ munitions factories needed during World War II. He helped develop the special molybdenum steels that were required. Shortly after the war, when the price of Hercules stock was at its lowest, he cashed in all his substantial life insurance and invested it in Hercules. We all know how that turned out! Quite a guy! Mother was born Annetta Phillips in Cambridge, Maryland, the youngest of a large family of which we know very little. We do know that her mother was a Henry, undoubtedly tracing back, as so many do, to Patrick Henry, who had 19 children, the last born after he died! Mother was orphaned at age eight and was moved to Wilmington, where she lived with William E. Linton, a painting contractor, and his wife, Alice. He was her guardian. For some reason she did not continue her schooling. She lost all contact with her family, and we knew only of a nephew who lived near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and had no children. I’m hazy about how Mother and Dad got together, but I do know that through the Lintons they were together at a semi-religious summer camp on the property of Martin Thompson, near Port Deposit, Cecil County, Maryland. The Thompsons and Lintons were close to us growing up in Wilmington. 2

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CHAPTER TWO Growing Up in Wilmington, Delaware All four of us, Annette, Jean, me, and Gini, in that order, were born while Dad and Mother were living at 410 W. 16th Street in Wilmington. I remember very little about living there because we moved shortly after Gini was born to a much larger house at 1804 Monroe Street. It had three stories with five bedrooms and two baths. It was better located, close to No. 30 Elementary, Warner Junior High School, and Brandywine Park, which was practically our private playground. There I played catch with Dad and learned to kick a football really well. In winter we sledded on Monkey Hill and did basic skiing on skis with just foot straps. In those early years Dad owned a oneroom cottage at Brandywine Summit Camp Meeting, where semi-revivalist meetings were conducted for two weeks in August. But we were there the whole summer to get away from the city and for the facilities for baseball, tennis, croquet, swimming and hiking. It was literally a “camp” for us. But we outgrew Brandywine Summit, and Dad began renting a cottage on the Elk River, which is a short river at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, about 30 miles south of Wilmington. This was great, especially for me—swimming, fishing, crabbing, and sailing. Dad and a group of people with summer homes on the river formed a yacht club to conduct races in a fleet of Snipe class small sailboats. (The Snipe is a 15½‑foot, two-person, center-board sailboat.) In the fleet there were about 20 boats, built in Michigan and shipped by flatcar to Elkton, Maryland. Dad rented a truck, and we hauled our boat to the cottage, where we assembled and painted it and launched it into the Elk. In the races, I was the skipper and Annette was crew. The first race we failed to cross the starting line, mainly because of a strong tidal current. The second race we didn’t finish. But the third race we won! One scary experience on the Elk was one winter when the river froze. Dad, ever energetic, hustled me down to the cottage to go ice-skating. The tide came up through round holes in the ice and thus the thickness of the ice quickly increased. But the holes also froze over with a thin coating of ice that made them invisible. To protect us from skating into one 3

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Bill wearing his first football “uniform,” with older friend Bobby Good and his first ice skates, Christmas, 1928. Ginny and Billy, 1926. L-R: Gini, Dad, Annette, Bill, Mother, Jean, 1937. 4

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Growing Up in Wilmington, Delaware Mother, Dad, Bill’s dog “Cove,” and his 1938 Ford coupe. Jean (sitting), Billy, and Annette at Brandywine Summit Camp Meeting, 1925. of these invisible holes, Dad equipped us with ice hockey sticks, which we held in front of us to catch on the sides of a hole and prevent us falling completely in. That’s exactly what happened. One moment Dad was ahead of me, and the next time I looked, he wasn’t there! He had skated into a hole! His poles bent with his weight almost into a “u” but fortunately held. Just as I got there, Dad came springing up out of the hole, and we raced for the cottage. He took a hot shower and that was that! Even scarier was the diving accident that miraculously didn’t kill me. I had become a diver at Warner Junior High and at the YMCA and was anxious to practice. At the river was a small cabin cruiser anchored in deeper water, and the owner let me practice platform diving off the roof. Jean and I rowed out, and I did a couple jumps to gauge the depth. Then I squared up for a simple front dive—and smashed face first into what we later found at a low tide was the remains of a concrete piling with two iron bars at both ends. Evidently, I hit in-between them. I don’t know how I got back to the surface. The right side of my face was almost torn away. Jean got me to the cottage, and Dad raced me to the hospital in Elkton. The doctor could only clean the wound out and tape it together, telling me to lie facedown until a scab formed. Then the rest of the summer I constantly rubbed it with oil to get the blood supply restored. I was so lucky. Eventually, the only evidence of my mishap was a long scar stretching from under my eye to my chin and right in the crease of my smile. Today it’s not even noticeable. 5

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Hewes  •  Navigating a Lifetime Annie and Bill on the Snipe, Elk River, Maryland, 1936.

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Growing Up in Wilmington, Delaware (above) Billy with “Aunt” Leila, Wilmington, Delaware, 1926. (right) Jean, Mother, and Annette (in car) in Dad’s first Franklin, at “Aunt” Leila’s, 1921. Growing up, my closest friend was Jimmy Whitehead. We spent most Saturday mornings at the YMCA playing pool, working out in the gym, and swimming (with me diving). We came home for lunch. One time Mother was amazed to find we had eaten an entire loaf of bread in egg salad sandwiches. Jimmy went to Yale, where he was on the freshman swimming team and competed with me in the meet at Harvard. He enlisted in the Air Force, was a rear tail gunner on a B-17, and was lost over Germany. Forever an MIA. The Hercules Country Club played a major role in our lives in those early years. Gini and I learned to play golf, and she became very good. She had a huge backswing and consistently outdrove Dad and me. At age 16, she played a nine-hole exhibition round with famous lady pro Patty Berg, easily matching her drives. Gini also played in a U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in Atlanta, Georgia. She later was a member of Kennett Square Country Club, where she was women’s champion many times, and she played in the Philadelphia Women’s Suburban League on those great courses, including Merion, site of a recent U.S. Open. For a number of years in the summer, we children would take turns staying with the Thompsons at their farm near Port Deposit, Maryland. Martin and Molly Thompson were the elderly parents of sisters Leila and Lora. Lora was married to Carroll Tyson and lived on their turkey farm across the road. Leila was unmarried and was known to us as “Aunt Leila,” virtually a second mother, especially to me. The cash products of the farm were “Shoepeg,” white sweet corn produced for a nearby cannery, and milk from a small herd of Holstein cows. The wood-frame house was large but old and had no electricity. The cow pasture was a meadow with a stream that had pools big enough to get wet, if not swim in. 7

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Hewes  •  Navigating a Lifetime Billy, age two, at “Aunt” Leila’s, near Hopewell, Maryland. I also played in the hayloft in the barn and collected new-laid eggs in the hen house. In short, a stay with Aunt Leila was a delightful change for us city-dwelling children. For me, it was even more enjoyable because on the adjacent farm—much larger with cash crops of both sweet corn and tomatoes—was a boy my age, Norman Barnes. My two-week visit was always in late summer—in corn and tomato harvesting time. Norman and I would be employed by Mr. Barnes to help harvest both crops. The corn would be picked and collected in piles that we would load into the truck, and then we'd sit on the load on the trip to the cannery. There we would unload it simply by tossing the ears to the cannery floor, where immigrant workers, whom we call “Bohunks” (slang for Bohemians), stripped the ears by hand. Occasionally, we aimed an ear at them! Tomato harvest was even more fun, if harder work. This was stoop labor—bending over to pick the ripe tomatoes and place them in the basket we carried. The baskets were collected and lifted up to the truck until it was filled two baskets deep and driven to the cannery in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Norman and I sat in the back and occasionally heaved a tomato at a walker, a horse-drawn carriage, or some other unsuspecting target! At lunch, we had more fun washing our hands and arms stained a deep green from tomato vines. For these delightful employments, I earned the princely sum of 8

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Growing Up in Wilmington, Delaware (L-R) Annette, Martin Thompson, “Aunt” Leila Thompson, Billy, Jean, Gini, Mrs. Wade Hampton (in hat), Dad, Molly Thompson, Mother, Wade Hampton, Jr., and a Hampton daughter. (Wade Hampton, Jr., was the son of the Confederate General [cavalry] Wade Hampton.) $.10 an hour! And, I’m sure, started my lifelong interest in vegetable gardening. Dad was a car buff, owning one of the first in Wilmington. We went picnicking on Sundays when the weather was good. We would pile into the air-cooled Franklin, or whatever the model was at the time, and set off, loaded down with the goodies Mother had packed, always with our favorite: angel food cake. Dad loved Chester County, Pennsylvania, much of it then still rural and so beautiful. (He claimed to have driven on every road in the county.) We also went south into Maryland and the outer reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. On one occasion, we stopped in Betterton, Maryland, and Dad bought a large shad complete with the succulent roe—for $.50! In the Depression, Dad would stop at farmers markets and buy quantities of yams, sweet potatoes, beets, etc., that could be stored in the cellar. Dad traded cars frequently, especially at a time when the price of used cars was low. We had mostly Franklins and Studebakers, because they were the makes his dealer handled. At one point we had a luxurious Franklin that had been owned by Joseph Oppenheimer, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer. When Delaware first went to permanent license plates, he was able to get “410,” which was the street number of the first home 9

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