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The Tenderfoot – Page 1

Ahead-of-the-Storm---by-Fred-Oldfield300The sound of fry bread sizzling and the smell of the smoke from the campfires would be forever etched in five-year-old Fred Oldfield’s mind. The small boy sat proud and tall next to his father in their old wooden buggy. It was pulled by their faithful old horse as they plodded down the rugged road into Toppenish, a small town in Eastern Washington near where they lived.

Later, looking back, Fred wrote, “We passed teepees, Model T’s and old wagons camped alongside the road. I remember the bright colored blankets thrown over the shoulders of the Indian women.  They sat by the road in their long dresses visiting amongst themselves. Their beaded buckskin moccasins were colorful with intricate designs and their babies were wrapped in papoose carriers. The carriers were made of wood with soft tanned leather. They also had beautiful bead work on them. There were hitching racks that ran a block through Toppenish for the horses, wagons, hacks and buggies.”

Their wagon creaked past the corrals where dust was flying as cowboys were breaking young horses and culling out the old ones who could no longer earn their keep. The sad fate of those old horses was almost always a trip to the glue factory.

The colors and the action of these early days would become part of Fred Oldfield’s body of artwork, the work he would create over nine decades. But at the end of this exciting day, it was enough to sit in the wagon by his father with a view of home on the horizon.

Adak Here We Come – Page 54

October 29, 1942 – Thursday. “Nasty, the weather is terrible, and the mud is about knee deep.  The roads are bad, and we are eating a lot of caribou. I just figured out Dick is in New Guinea. Damn, now I will worry about him. These damn wars are not worth one mother’s tears.”Because of the freezing temperatures, every normal activity was a challenge. Fred continued, “I had the day off and decided to take a bath. It is risky business since the bath house is a tent and there was not a fire – everything was frozen up and the wind blowing and snow coming in the cracks. Well, I got the hot water in the tub and hurriedly jumped in – I swear the bottom of that tub turned cold. I splashed around and quickly got out and brushed the icicles off.”

Nov 14, 1942 – Saturday. “The bulletin board says a major attack is expected on Alaska soon. I sincerely hope they come – maybe we will take some pressure off the boys in the South Seas. The names came out on the bulletin board of the men staying here, and my name was missing. So, I’m on the sailing list and glad of it.”

Nov 24, 1942 – Tuesday. “Still here. Boy you should have seen those Northern Lights last night. They looked like rainbows unfolding and gliding around through that cold, clear, sky and the moon was more than beautiful.”

December 1, 1942 – Tuesday. “The Sarge said to have everything packed and ready, that we were leaving by plane in a day or two. We will be the first air borne engineers that I know of to go.”

December 4, 1942 – Friday. “The storm let up and I cleared the runway. The two grounded bombers and two transports left, and three more transports arrived. When Ole “Rosyfelt” (President Roosevelt) said it was gonna be a long war and a hard war, he was not beating his gums for nothing – but the ole gent forgot to mention it was gonna be a cold war.


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