My admiration for the Greatest Generation knows no bounds. These were young men, growing up at a wonderful time, suddenly being snatched into a hellish situation. The wonder is that most of those who survived went on to become respectable citizens, raise families, enjoy life, although some of them went through some unsettling times after their war experiences. Hard to make the adjustment sometimes.
One of the Greatest Generation died the other day. He was 94. He wasn’t on the beach at D-Day, but, as soon as they got some kind of dock in operation, he was there to drive a truckload of whatever was needed right on through to Germany.
He had his ups and downs after he returned to our little town, including a failed marriage. But he fought his way through some tough times and got it all together. For the last 40 years or so, he had a wonderful wife to help him. They had a good, comfortable life; and I would venture to guess that he was the best-liked man in our little town.
By the way, the reason Frosty lived in our home town was because he, Elwin Cline, Frosty’s brother, was such a good athlete. Vernon and Sulligent were bitter football rivals, even way back then. He was an outstanding player. So … a few of our city fathers got together and offered his father a better job than the one he had if he’d move there and let his son play there. He did, and the rest is history. Frosty was part of the package deal.
Same way with cousin Charlie, Uncle Kent’s oldest boy. He decided to join the navy in 1940, a year before we were officially in the war. He was on the destroyer, Russell, in the North Atlantic, and then in about every major battle in the Pacific. His ship took survivors off the Yorktown when it was sinking.
He, too, went through a failed marriage after his war days, but later found the perfect partner. It took a little while, but he settled down and became a model citizen.
His brother, Gay, would have been there, but he was born with something wrong with one leg. It was shorter by a foot than the other leg. He wore a built-up shoe for a while but they finally had to amputate … up so high that an artificial limb never would work. So, there were crutches. He could get around on them amazingly.
In his growing up years on the farm, he did almost everything anyone else would do. He learned to drive as well as anybody, straight shift and all. After high school, he worked at the bank for a whle, the went to Birmingham and got a job with a big tractor company and stayed there for his whole working career, marrying Guynell along the way.
Charlie died a couple of years ago, Elwin just weeks ago and Gay immediately after him. In their own ways, they helped make it the Greatest Generation.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached at