Mom and Dad in the 1950’s

A while back, a friend who has known me for many years asked why I never buy lottery tickets. I told him it was because I had won once already. He asked “When?” surprised he had never heard this. I told him it was a long time ago, the last week of December ….1962, when I was born to my parents. He thought this was funny, but I wasn’t kidding, nothing else that has happened in my life has or will ever likely match this good fortune.

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Today I was going through the old albums, trying to find a few pictures that will spark some good stories from Dad as he is recovering.  The image above is Mom and Dad in 1951, a pre-deployment picture taken in Coronado California. Mom and Dad met at the Jersey shore the summer after WWII ended. Seventy years later they remain the lasting joy of each others lives.

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Above, a photo of my parents on the beach in California in 1952. The smiles don’t speak of my father, a young Navy officer in amphibious warfare, having  just returned from his first tour in the Korean War. He had left from San Francisco in 1951. My mother, 24 years old, had seen him off and boarded a Martin 4-0-4 for the flight back to San Diego. In flight, the plane had a terrific engine fire on her side. It was a rocky start to a long year, but my mother made the strongest friends with other Navy wives, awaiting and praying for the safe return of husbands from the new war.

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The story of my brother’s arrival in ’53 during my father’s second deployment to Korea is integral to understanding the history of my family. On New Year’s Eve 1952, my father received an emergency notice recalling him to Korea. My mother, expecting her first child, had the option to return to her caring family on the east coast, but instead chose to stay in Coronado with the other young wives, women who shared the same struggles.

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My brother came more than a month early. At that moment, my father was near Wolmi-do island with the 1st Marine Division, under communist air attack. My mother had not heard from him in weeks, went to the delivery room knowing only that he was in an area of hard fighting. Ten days later my father’s unit was withdrawn to Japan.

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By chance, a friend said that there had been a message for him. A search of hundreds of notes in the com center revealed one that only said “Lt. j.g. Wynne: Boy. Wife, baby, doing well.” A drive to another base finds a Ham radio operator, then a clear connection to another Ham in California, and a phone link. My mother tells him she has chosen to name the boy Michael. My father is very moved; it is his own father’s name.

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It is several months before he can come back. It was a difficult birth, and my brother is born with terrible colic. My mother is exhausted when he arrives, and collapses in sleep. Here is my father’s home-coming from his first war: He is a new father, rocking his son to sleep in a quiet apartment in California. This tiny boy in his arms is named for his own father, the hero of my father’s world, a man who is fading in a long twilight of his life. On this evening in August of 1953, my father certainly understands how fortunate he is. He is married to a very strong person; he has survived a war that others have not; and he holds his own son in his arms. In the coming years it will take all of these blessings to sustain him through the agonizingly slow loss of his own father.

 

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 My mother, “Mickey Wynne” turned 89 last week. For all our lives, she has given our family a sterling example of kindness and compassion to follow. Every element of human decency and empathy that resides in me owes its absolute origin directly to her.

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Above, my mother at age 26, standing in front of their 1951 Buick super eight Convertible. Mom had just had my older brother 6 weeks before.

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The finest hours of my life, those I gave to others, all bear the indelible prints of my mothers faith, that kindness and forgiveness are the ultimate virtues. In the four score and nine years she has been on this earth, she has never wavered in her belief, nor missed a chance to demonstrate her fidelity to it. She is held in the hearts of all who know her. On this day I wish everyone a peaceful hour of reflection on the lives of the men and women that each of us owe our very existence to.

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