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The Crackerhead Chronicles: The Third Crumb

Posted by Jerry E Beuterbaugh Labels: ,

The name of my dad is Fred Marshall Beuterbaugh.  He was physically born into this world on February 4, 1920 in the small farming community of Blue Mound, Kansas, which is around 65 miles south of Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri.

I do not remember if he was born in a hospital, but it sure wasn’t under the same conditions as my mom was.  For my dad’s family was much better off than hers in a number ways.

Sadly, I do not know all that much more about my dad’s lineage than I do my mom’s.  For I was allowed and enabled to actually meet his mother just before she passed away, along with having a fairly close relationship with two of his sisters, but there is so much that is still a mystery to me.

What I do know is that Beuterbaugh is Dutch—Pennsylvania Dutch, if you are so inclined.  For I can remember my dad becoming really upset with me over telling him that the name was Germanic in origin.

Okay, the Pennsylvania Dutch part is on me.  For my dad’s bunch eventually settled in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania after coming over here from the old country, and I thought it was a nice touch.

Whether or not they were Mennonite, I do not know.  For my dad’s mother and father considered themselves to be non-denominational Christians, and I was not made aware of any evidence of what prior generations were.

Neither do I know just when they came over, but it had to have been before the Civil War.  For Samuel Buterbaugh (same name with a different spelling) served under the Union General Sherman on his march to the sea through Georgia and South Carolina.  After the war, he rode under General Sheridan in a U.S. Army Calvary unit, and later became one of the earliest settlers of Kearney, Nebraska.

My dad’s father was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and how he came to settle in Blue Mound, Kansas is another part of the mystery.  The same can be said of where he met my dad’s mother, who was about as Danish as one can be.

Anyway, there is no mystery to where the anger in my dad over me insisting that Beuterbaugh is a Germanic name came from.  For he served with the First Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War II, and he saw his first action when he went ashore on Omaha Beach with the second wave of the division on June 6, 1944 (D-Day).  Furthermore, severe wounds, he suffered while out on patrol in the Ardennes Forest region of Belgium several months later at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, landed him in a hospital in Paris, France for several weeks.

It could be argued that being wounded like he was saved his life.  For when he woke up in the hospital, he saw his first sergeant lying in a bed across from him, and when he asked him what he was doing there, his first sergeant told him that they were the only survivors from their company.  For what ones were not shot first, were crushed to death by the German tanks that had rolled straight over their position a day or so after he was wounded.

As if that was not enough, when he was released from the hospital, my dad was assigned to another unit that helped liberate the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany.  The only thing he really had to say about it was that it was then that he became glad of the Army sticking a rifle in his hands instead of letting him do what he knew the best, which was run a bulldozer.

You see, my dad was a pipeliner, which is someone who travels around the country (the world, actually) building pipelines for the transport of such things as natural gas and oil.  They can be heavy equipment operators, welders and a host of other things, and my dad was a master bulldozer man until back problems forced him to start operating a ditching machine a few years before those back problems forced him off of the job completely.

It all started when his sister Maxine married Paul Williams, who was a full-blooded Choctaw from the reservation in Oklahoma.  Uncle Paul was also a pipeliner, and he was able to arrange employment for my dad as a bulldozer greaser during summer vacations from school.

From then on, my dad was hooked.  For the money was very good—especially during the days of the Great Depression, and tales of faraway places (like South Carolina and Connecticut) fueled the imagination of a boy, who knew only the prairie of eastern Kansas.

No, not even an offer of a full scholarship to play basketball for Phog Allen at Kansas University (ROCK-CHALK, JAY-HAWK, K-U!) could dissuade my dad.  For he was going to be a pipeliner, and be the best bulldozer operator that had ever been seen.

Speaking of my dad playing basketball, he once told of his high school team getting beat 100–2, and that he had scored the only points for his team on a pair of free throws.  The rest of the story was that the principal called the entire school to an assembly, and after placing the members of the basketball team in chairs behind him so that they could be clearly seen by all in attendance, he proceeded to declare (in no uncertain terms) that he would dissolve the team and forfeit the rest of the games if anything even remotely like that 100–2 defeat happened again.  Considering the fact that my dad was the shortest player on the team at six feet tall, and that the rest of the starting line-up consisted of two at 6 feet 10 inches tall and two at six feet seven inches tall, who could blame him?

No, I cannot blame you for thinking that his story is quite a tall tale in and of itself.  For there being so many white boys that tall around a very small eastern Kansas farming community back in the 1930s is hard to imagine.

On the other hand, my wife and I saw an older gentleman, who appeared to have been born around the same time as my dad, have to duck to go under a seven foot tall doorway in a Liberal, Kansas restaurant one night.  So, maybe they just knew how to feed ‘em right back then?

My dad was also quite a shortstop for his Blue Mound High School baseball team.  In fact, he even received some offers to play in the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Browns (that became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954) and Chicago Cubs farm systems, but the money they were talking about was not nearly as much as he was already making as a pipeliner.

So, after sticking around Blue Mound for a year or so to care for his ailing parents upon his return from the war, my dad returned to the life that he loved.  Granted, it was a lonely one, but that all changed when he met a red-headed Cherokee from Arkansas in 1951.


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14 comments:

  1. EddieGarcia

    Hey Jerry,
    You won't believe it but I am finally getting around to reading some of your book again. It is very interesting and I promise to be more diligent in my reading from now on.

    I am impressed that you have so much info on your dad. I'm sure you don't think so, but compared to what I know about my dad's past history, you put me to shame.

    I've got to go to my prison ministry right now, but I will do some more reading later. Thanks again my friend!

    Friends 4 Life!

  1. FishHawk

    Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Eddie!!! What I hate the most is how much he did not tell me about his experiences during World War II, but he was not alone in that regard. My wife and I just got through watching one of the segments of "World War II In 3D" that was on the History Channel a few weeks ago, and there was a sailor who took 37 years before telling his family about what he and his shipmates endured after their ship was sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippians. Yeah, I suppose it would be different if they had participated in some sort of atrocity, but just doing your duty should not be withheld from those who really want to know. I am, however, willing to give him the benefit of my doubts, of course. I hope all goes well with your prison ministry.

  1. Rob

    Another excellent family narrative, and how very honorable to read about your father's WW2 experience. One of my own neat experiences was finding a great-great grandfather's tombstone/obit online, and reading about how he served in the Civil War. Its great that you're sharing a detailed online record like this.

  1. FishHawk

    As with my mom, my dad kept most of his past a mystery to me, but what he did tell about was really something. Well, at least to me it was. Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Rob!!!

  1. Anonymous

    Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
    And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

  1. FishHawk

    Thanks for stopping by, my dear Anonymous. However, I must admit that your comment makes no sense to me at all. Left on another post, maybe, but not on this one.

  1. One Creative Queen

    You know a lot more about your lineage than I do - which is fascinating to me. I know a member of my family came over on the Mayflower (was supposedly some big something-or-other), other members fought in wars, and that is how my mom and aunt became part of the DAR. Other than that, I'm stymied. My mom doesn't answer my questions, claiming she doesn't know. I think she just doesn't want to explain it...but anyway, this is fascinating to me. I can't stop reading!

    You've done a great job - I can't wait to see what else is in store. xx

  1. FishHawk

    Thanks for stopping by, and for the encouragement, my dear Queen Katherine!!! Hmm, it would seem that you may be entitled to your title of Queen.

  1. Anonymous

    I would appreciate more visual materials, to make your blog more attractive, but your writing style really compensates it. But there is always place for improvement

  1. FishHawk

    Thanks for stopping by, my dear Anonymous!!! Yes, I fully agree that adding images makes a site more attractive, but what is contained here are the books that I have been given to publish. There are, however, lots and lots of images on my other site:

    http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/

  1. Gail

    Wow, what a story...lots of history.

  1. Jerry E Beuterbaugh

    Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Gail!!! Be assured that I greatly appreciate the encouragement!

  1. Melinda

    Ok we have so much in common that it is scary!!!
    My dad too a pipeliner and I was born and raised in central Pennsylvania...
    My maiden name was Berrier and also from a German heritage.
    In research, I have discovered, many relatives of mine had moved to Kansas also.
    Ok..reading on now.

  1. Jerry E Beuterbaugh

    Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Melinda!!! Oh my, one would never want to say something about Beuterbaugh being even a Germanic name around my dad more than once. For he was quite convinced that it was Dutch and had absolutely nothing to do with Germany and Germans in any way, shape or form!

    Hey, it is way past time for me to try to go back to bed and get some sleep. In the last crumb/chapter, I get into some of my physical maladies. Anyway, I will come back online as soon as I can, and I hope He will convey just how much you reading this means to me. For mere words are not enough.