Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

The war years

I have written many stories about the war years, the Civil Defense program, rationing, and all the things we did without during World War II. However there were other things that I remember so vividly.

About the time everybody was in war but us, we had an occurrence that really made me wonder.

During the years just before we declared war on Germany, a couple of men came to Minden. They said they were preachers – no denomination, just preachers. They put up an arbor on the Germantown Road out near the road that leads to the Germantown Chapel.

These men were intelligent, well educated, well groomed and handsome. Their fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes made a striking picture.

They preached for many nights and people came from far and wide to hear them. Their sermons were well delivered, and had a message.

We went out from Minden to hear them. They were invited to have a meal with various folks in the Germantown community. On one occasion my mother and I were included to enjoy a meal with the visiting preachers.

After the meal was over we visited with them. Mother asked for them to help her with a passage from Hebrews that had her puzzled. She gave the chapter and the verses. The men looked bewildered. They took their Bibles and thumbed through the Old Testament, and finally consulted the index.

When they found the page number then they looked at the Book of Hebrews. They were embarrassed, and we were puzzled. My mother told me that they were not what they seemed to be.

They had memorized sermons, quoting scripture and acting like the real thing until Mother asked the question. Quickly they excused themselves and left.

This was a settlement of Germans whose ancestors had immigrated to this area in the middle of the 19th century, just about a hundred years before these preachers came to the area.

Some folks thought they were here to see if the Germans were still loyal to Germany or was their allegiance now to America.

They soon discovered that the German people were first and foremost Americans.

Were these men spies sent by Hitler to survey the situation here? We never knew.

About the forties we had FBI agents in Minden real often. If a man had a German name and worked at the La. Ordnance Plant, his loyalty to America was questioned.

Many of these agents came to Andress Motors Company to check what we knew of these men. We knew they were honest, loyal Americans and told the FBI agents that.

On one occasion about 1943, we were all fraught with tension.

The FBI agent came to our office and as I asked to help him, he flashed out his FBI identification and asked if I was a cousin to Lynn Longino.

When I said I was, he said "where is he now?" He said that Lynn had registered in Natchitoches in the fall of 1940 but had not reported to the draft call in the fall of 1941.

I told him that Lynn had finished the old Normal school in January and had enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was sent to officer's school and was commissioned a 2nd Lieut. and was in the South Pacific at that time.

Just as he got real sharp with his questions about if I could prove it, Mr. Adkins, my boss, shoved his chair back and leaned back. At that time the spring broke on the chair, with a loud "bang."

The shop people caught me just as I reached the back door, running at full speed. I thought I was shot. When they went back to the office with me, I found the FBI agent lying on the counter laughing so hard he could not stand up.

He had scared me to death. I told him that Lynn Longino lived with his uncle, Otis Crews, and went to school there. Otis Crews was Dean of Men at the Normal school, and could verify my story. I was so shaken that I could hardly work for the rest of the day.

Those years we were so on edge that we were easily scared. At least, I was

In August and September of 1941 we had maneuvers here in Louisiana. The troops were divided into two armies – the Red and the Blue. Prominent military men such as George C. Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall and others figured in with this largest maneuver ever held.

Some of the troops were stationed near Minden. They were allowed to shower in the Minden High School Gym located on the corner of Ash Street and McIntyre. We were instructed to make them feel welcome, take them to our churches, and invite them to eat a meal at our homes.

My friends and I invited some to come to our home and to play croquet, and have refreshments. These were nice boys, homesick for their families. We corresponded during the war with a couple of the boys that had been on maneuvers here.

Some of the boys on maneuvers dated local girls and at least one culminated in a wedding. There were so many stories connected with the war years.

One occasion turned out to be hilarious. A doctor's wife, a widow, drove through town and saw two men in uniforms one Sunday at noon, and stopped and asked them to dinner (or lunch) at her home.

They began to refuse, but she said for them to hush, get in the car and not refuse again. She overpowered their conversation and kept up a steady chatter.

They went home, ate dinner, and then she allowed them to talk. She asked where they were from and then she found that she had picked up two men from the local CCC camp and they were local people. She told it on herself and it was so funny.

There were so many things different during those years, especially the absence of all the boys about my age.

We sang a song about those who were still here. It said they were either too old or too grassy green, or they were 4F and a lot of other reasons.

We also sang the song "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me" and that meant be true to the guy you had in service. And, of course, after they came home, we all sang "Kiss Me Once, and Kiss Me Twice, and Kiss Me Once Again, It's Been a Long, Long, Time."

Sixty- four years this summer and I remember and some of you do, too, don't you?

Juanita Agan passed away in October, 2008 at the age of 85. She had been a Minden resident since 1935 and a columnist for the Press-Herald since 1995. A constant writer, Mrs. Agan had many stories written but unpublished. The Press-Herald will continue to publish these articles as long as they are submitted.

 

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