DiVoran Bowers Lites
Once Dad was drafted, we left Crowley for Canon City. Mother, David, and I would live in an upstairs apartment in our grandparents’ Victorian house for the duration of the war. Mother and Dad quit their jobs and loaded up the old clunker. The night before, we were almost ready go and Mother prepared chicken and noodles for supper. It was delicious until Dad told me where the chicken had come from. It was our beautiful old rooster, Chanticleer! I was only five years old and I could not understand why Dad had had killed him.
While dad was in the army, he and mother wrote letters and sent pictures to each other. I have his letters now. When I read them I see that he says things like, “You don’t realize how much I miss you and the kids.” And “tell the kids I sure enjoyed their letters.” In one place he says I sure hope we have enough to go into business when this is over as jobs are going to be very few and hard to get.
Of course Mother and Dad did miss each other. I went to first grade that year, because my birthday was in October and I’d been to kindergarten, I was allowed to go before I turned six.
Among the letters is one where dad tells casually about saving a sergeant from drowning in the fast moving river where they were working on water purification. The sergeant was unconscious before Dad could get to him, but Dad pulled him out and some of the other fellows helped get him up on the bank and revived. That day the men had cold cokes and were as happy as could be under the circumstances. Dad didn’t enjoy the army because he felt he could do nothing right, which I’m sure wasn’t true. He wanted to get into welding which he was adept at, but somehow he never got that job. In the end, he walked all over Europe in freezing cold mud that came almost to his knees. One time, he saw a man shoot another man at the chow-table because the other man used the salt before he passed it. He hardly ever talked about the war later on, but that one story taught us never to use anything someone else has asked you to pass before you pass it.
When dad came home in 1945, he bought a blue, 1937 Chevrolet and took us to Westcliffe where he and mom had bought Min’s Café and Bar on the G. I. plan.
We lived in several houses there ending up at the old train station. After dad had renovated it, we called it, “The White Cloud Motel,” even though it only had one apartment downstairs. We lived on the second floor and our bedrooms looked out on the Sangre de Cristo range with very little except scenery to spoil the view. During the renovation when Dad tore out the old boardwalk he found many nests of baby rabbits. At that time, rabbits were a big nuisance to the ranchers around the valley, so Dad had to take care of all the baby ones he found in the nests. I hated that. I thought they should all be allowed to live.
He made the old station baggage room into a place to hang antelopes and deer to bleed out before he skinned, cleaned, and butchered them. He firmly believed everyone should know how to deal with game because someday we’d all starve to death if we didn’t know how. After seeing the Disney movie, Bambi in 1942 where the hunters killed Bambi’s mother, I avoided eating game altogether unless I was forced to eat it. Dad and I started butting heads regularly.
Our parents were good to us, but Dad could only show it in material ways and I took it all for granted.