Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bill Blimes Sr.'s Story as Written by him (My Dad)

In this picture-Harry Blimes & Mearl Edna Tolliver, parents of Bill Blimes Sr.

I was born 21 or 22 of November, 1921. The notation on the original birth certificate said midnight. My father always claimed one day and my mother the other.

My father was hurt in a coal mine in 1925. He was in the hospital for a year and was a semi-invalid after this. He was caught in a cave-in when shoring timbers gave way. He was lucky to get out alive.

At the time of my birth, my mother had been a member of the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) for about eight years. Even though I was born into the church, so to speak, I never had any contact with the church, only through the missionaries who would come through our area once a year. They would stay for a few days or a few weeks and then be on their way to contact other members scattered through the area. My father never became a member of the church, but he was the most loving and generous man I've ever known. He really cared about people.

I had a happy, carefree childhood, with strict parents, but they always demonstrated to me a parental love that let me know their requirements for obedience was always for my best interests.

I can remember from my earliest days of looking forward to the visits of the missionaries, as they would come to our little home, without purse or script and hold church services in our home for a few days and then move on. This was always a high point in the year for the whole family, including my father, who was not a member of the church. I've often thought about this, and I've come to the conclusion that the reason he was never baptized is that no one ever asked him.

My childhood years moved along without any real sickness or tragedy or any remarkable events, until my eighth year. I was told that I would be baptized on this birthday. That was a pretty big word for me so I immediately rebelled. So my mother always said that I was baptized when I was 8 years and 2 days old. It took the missionaries 2 days to catch me. But they got the job done. I was baptized in the Hocking River when it was at flood stage, muddy and full of debris. I was confirmed there on the river bank and had the gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed upon me. However, I don't think it really "took" until many years later.

As I look back, the years passed swiftly, but happily. We still had very little contact with the church, until some years later. I can remember in my teen years, my grandfather and I would sit in the porch swing and he would always tell me about how he was going to run me for sheriff of Athens County when I grew up. Unfortunately he passed away before I was out of my teens, or else I would probably still be sheriff today.

As the years passed along, I entered school, liked it sometimes and rejected it at others. However, learning came easy for me and in later years I was sorry I hadn't pushed myself a little to become something more than I did. In my 5th year I received the gift of the book, "Little Men: for finishing the years spelling in a little over half the year. I was always tops in spelling bees.

On into High School, I played football, basketball, and baseball on the Nelsonville High School team. I was captain of the football team in my Senior year. I played the position of center on offense and linebacker on defense. I loved football and played all four years of high school. I didn't think I would like basketball, so didn't try for it in my freshman year. However, I did in my sophomore year and made the team. In the three years I played basketball in high school there was only one game I didn't start and that was a pushover on a Friday night and we had to play again on the next night on Saturday. I was proud of this.

While playing football, I had my left elbow broken on the first play of the game, and played the rest of the game with it this way. It hurt so bad that I had to rest it on my kidney pads and play with only one hand and arm. After the game was over, the doctor put my arm in a cast and it was on there for six weeks. On the day the cast was removed, Friday, the day of the last football game of the season, I played the entire game, both offense and defense. Some stupid trick; I'l suffer for it the rest of my life. I think if I had it to do over again, I'd bypass high school sports. I have too many mementos; crooked elbow, trick knee and crooked fingers and all sorts of aches and pains.

I graduated from high school in the 1938-1939 class along with 70 other seniors. Still in the throes of the great depression, no jobs were to be had.
I worked a couple of days for the Township (50 cents an hour) and the money went to help put food on the table.

Two months after I was out of high school, 17 years of age, I boarded a train in Athens, Ohio as a member of the CCC and headed for Darby, Montana. I had never been away from home overnight before this time. I had been raised in a home where there were few of the luxuries of life, but lots of love and family togetherness. I was very homesick for a while, but threw myself into the work of the Forest Service and managed to survive through the first few weeks.

Fighting forest fires, cutting huge trees, splitting wood, building log cabins, irrigation ditches, ski slopes and not least of all, packing in 18-25 miles, hiking day and night to reach a forest fire, to bring under control so we could save the countries forests. This was the sort of life I lived for the time I was in Montana; bedding down in a sleeping bag on a mountainside and going without a change of clothing for as long as two weeks at a time. But it was a good, healthy life and I've never regretted the year I spent in the CCC Camps.

I returned home from Montana to find that there were still no jobs to be had, so I decided to once again try the 3 C's. I signed up, knowing what I was getting into this time and was scheduled to go to Idaho this time. But something wonderful happened. While waiting for my orders for transportation west, I decided to go roller skating. While there I had a collision with the person who turned out to be my partner through life. Not withstanding the fact that she knocked out two fillings from my teeth and gave me various other pains and bruises, this was the turning point of my life. We began dating and I decided to pull some strings and stay in the camp where I was at the time instead of going west. I accomplished this without too much trouble because they were badly in need of a 1st baseman on their ball team. Romance blossomed in my life and in the next few months, Ruth and I saw an awful lot of each other. We decided we would get married on her 18th birthday, but I begged off from this date because there was no way I could afford a wife. Jobs were still scarce and not to be had. I was still in the 3C camp when my uncle became general manager of Bendix Aviation Corp in Wayne, Michigan. He offered me a job testing aircraft carburetors, and with that offer, I was able to get an honorable discharge from the 3C's. I went to Michigan to take this job, along with my brother, Harry, and with this action I became an independent, employed citizen with my future assured, so I thought.

It was while I was working in Wayne, Michigan that I was married to my life's companion. The event took place on Friday evening at 9:00 P.M. in the home of Rev. Morris in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, May 16, 1942. Cliff and Mary Lewis, uncle and aunt of my wife, stood up with us and signed as witnesses. After the ceremony, we each called our parents and informed them. I remember my mother telling us that we were too young to marry (Ruth was 19 and I was 20. I hoped that she was proven wrong.

Just a few months after I was married, on Dec 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I was at work, when the news came and little did I know at this time the extent of what my involvement would be. Pres. Roosevelt immediately declared war on the Nation of Japan and while he was at it
he also declared war on Germany, Italy and all of their allies. I wanted to be in the conflict, but was torn between two loyalties; a pregnant wife and my country. Ruth cried when I informed her that I was going to enlist in the Navy, but this only deterred me for a short time. On Sept 9, 1942, I took the oath of allegiance to the United States of America and officially became a member of the United States Navy. I took this oath of allegiance on Central Square in Cincinnati, Ohio along with about 200 other young men, all eager to fight. I was transported via railroad to Chicago, where I spent 31 days in Boot Camp learning, I'm sure, regimentation. At the end of this period I was sent to Electrical School at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana.

After 16 weeks of intensive schooling, I received the rating of Electricians Mate 3/C Petty Officer and was assigned to the U.S.S. Portunus, a P.T. Boat tender and repair ship. We carried the depth charges, high octane gasoline and torpedoes for the P.T. boats. We were a floating bomb hunting a place to go off. I stayed on this ship until the 5 Sullivan Brothers were lost on one ship. After this event, a directive came out saying that brothers could no longer be assigned to the same ship. As my brother, Harry and I were both on the Portunus, one of us had to go. I was picked as the one to be transferred, so shortly thereafter, I found myself at the Naval Receiving Station in Brisbane, Australia awaiting re-assignment. This came immediately. I, along with four others, was taken to the Hotel Darby in downtown Brisbane and billeted on the 3rd floor of the hotel. This was to by my home for the next 8 months. I was assigned to be one of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid's body guards, with a 45 automatic strapped on my hip. This was not a happy time in my life. I was lonely, homesick and had a useless feeling because this was not what I joined up to do. I stood it for as long as I could and one day I walked into Commander Burwells' office and asked for a transfer back to sea. My request was granted and I headed back to the USA on a Dutch luxury liner which was being used by our Navy to transport personnel back and forth across the Pacific Ocean. After 30 days leave at home, I reported to Little Creek, Virginia for Mine Warfare training.
After completing this, I went to an advanced Mine Warfare school and at the end of this time, I was assigned to duty on the U.S.S. Hambleton, DD 455. After removal of gun turret #4 and installing special mine sweeping gear, we became High Speed Mine Sweeper # DMS 20 and joined with 14 other destroyers to make a pack of 15 high speed.

I was the Mine Warfare Specialist on our ship and was treated pretty good until I taught the executive officer and a couple of others some of my trade. After this, they became the specialists and I became the peon. Such is life! Duty on this ship lasted until after the end of WW II. I had some good experiences on board, but the bad far out weighed the good, that I do not choose to remember much of the time I spent on the U.S.S. Hambleton. War to me is hell on earth. A person should never have to be subjected to this kind of experience. The thing that stands out most in my mind is the four times our ship was relieved from anti-aircraft screen, the relieving ship each time was sunk within a half hour after having relieved us. What is the answer for this? I don't claim to know.

The war finally came to an end and soon after I was headed for home. What a happy day this was, when we finally found a ride from Okinawa to Seattle, Washington. This came after three weeks of living in the rainstorms and mud on Okinawa. This was a taste of the kind of life the GI's had throughout the war. I was certainly glad that I had been in the Navy. A clean bunk every night, regular chow, clean clothing; the things that really count when it comes to comfort and well being.

Finally I was discharged and arrived home Nov 19, 1945, 2 days before my 24th birthday. Three years taken from my life and nothing to show for them but an unsettled mind. I could not really adjust to civilian and married life right away and had no desire to go back to work. I moved in with my in-laws with my wife and child (a young son also named Bill) and just drifted aimlessly for a few months. I began to come out of it in the spring of 1946 and let my father talk me into buying half interest in a small restaurant. My brother was my partner. It didn't take me long to realize that this wasn't my niche in life, but it did serve a purpose, it put me back into a frame of mind to go to work again. After a year and a half of restaurant life I quit and went to work for a small appliance dealer and electrical contractor as an electrician. I had worked for him almost two years when television first came out, and began selling in goodly numbers. I decided that this would be a good field to get into, so once again I quit my job. This time it was two weeks before Christmas. It was a slim Christmas for us on Dec 25, 1949. I enrolled under the GI Bill at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio and started to school early in January of 1950. I graduated from Franklin University and already had a job in Towson, Maryland with Radio Division of Bendix Aviation. I stayed in Maryland on this job for almost a year, but it was too far from home for my wife. We had to make too many trips back to Ohio. So once again in December, I quit my job on a Friday and started to work the following week with North American Aviation Corporation in Columbus, Ohio. This was December 12, 1951. For the next 10 years I spent at N.A.A. Finally, it was here that I really began to be introduced to the church once again. I have to admit that I was not too interested, but I made friends that have lasted throughout the years. I gained a good reputation at N.A.A. for being able to get things done properly. I was chosen to be the Electrical Leadman in charge of all electric circuitry and operations on the first airplanes on the FJ-2, FJ-3, FJ-4, T1J Trainer, F-100 and the exotic C5A, supersonic aircraft, with auto pilot and the first one with an inertial navigation system. Ten happy and luxurious years with this company and once again I was looking around for greener pastures. I took a day off from work and went to Newark, Ohio to check into a job that was going to open up there. It was with the United States Air Force and it was in the field of inertial navigation systems for missiles. This really sounded interesting. It was not only a new field, but also another source of income after retirement time. And I could count the 3 years and 2 months I'd served in the Navy toward this retirement. This really sounded good to me.

I was accepted for employment by the Air Force and reported for work June of 1961. I was assigned to the Titan Missile program and was told I would receive schooling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I looked forward to this very much. The time finally came for me to go to Wisconsin, so three of us pooled our funds and purchased a house trailer to live in up there so we could save money.
When school was out in Newark, my wife and family (4 children by now) came up to join me. Something happened to me, however, that changed my entire life.
This happened shortly before I left N.A.A.

I had drank and smoked for years. I drank beer because I really liked it. But I had been attending church once in a while, and I was beginning to feel that maybe there was something to it after all. It was New Years Eve, all the family was in bed but me, and I sat all night thinking and pondering the values and priorities that I was placing first in my life. I came to the conclusion that I had things all backwards, so I decided to do something about it. I committed myself to quit smoking and drinking and to become active in the church and see what the Lord had in store for me. Again, I thought about the times that my life had probably been spared, when I had been in the Navy and other men had died in the places I had just left. I thought that maybe I had been spared for something better than I was allowing myself to receive.

I never smoked or drank after that night. I've heard of the great difficulty that some people have in stopping these vices, but I had no trouble at all. My desire to partake of them left me, when I made my commitment to seek after a better way of life. From that time to this my life has been one church job after another and I've loved all of them.

But back to Milwaukee, we attended church in a small Branch in Racine while we were there. They made us feel at home as they accepted us into their family. The stay in Milwaukee was happy as well as profitable.

Back to Newark and settling into a routine of work and church. I was called into the Stake High Council immediately after my return. I served almost 5 years in the position with President James L. Mortensen as Stake President and following him President Ralph M. Johnson. Also served under President H. Clay Gorton for awhile and then was released to become Branch President of the Newark Branch for the 2nd time. While serving as Branch President, I was called to be the first Bishop as the Newark Branch became the Newark Ward. This was a great honor and blessing.

I was sent to California because of my job and due to the length of time I was to be gone, I was released from the office of Bishop before I left Newark.

My wife and youngest son, Mark, went with me this time, as the other children were off on their own interests. This was like a paid vacation because I received expense money while there. I worked at night and that left me pretty much free to sight see in the daylight hours. It made for an enjoyable visit to California.

When I returned to Newark I worked on the Guidance System for the Minuteman Missile. Although it has been updated, I am still in the same position today, calibrating and testing the guidance system for the Minuteman III Missile.

I served as Scout Master in the Ward after I returned from California and this was a position that I really felt I was suited for. I had the privilege of taking some of my scouts on a ten day camping and 50 mile canoe trip in Minnesota. This trip we really roughed it. What beautiful country there is in Minnesota? How I would love to live there.

One morning on January 12 I had a heart attack and was confined to the hospital for awhile and this kind of slowed me down. I was released as Scout Master in the Ward and for the first time for many years, I was without a job in the church. What a desolate feeling this is. After having been wrapped up in other peoples lives and cares for so long, to suddenly be cast aside. My testimony wavered a little, and then I was called to be a counselor to the Sunday School President. Happy day, I'm needed again. But just a couple of months here and I'm released and called as teacher of the Gospel Doctrine Class. I've always wanted to be a Sunday School teacher so I accept this very gratefully. I had just begun to get my teeth into this teaching job when I am released again.
This time I'm not called to another job. I feel as if I'm only being used as a stopgap until the Lord finds time to call the proper person to the job I'm in.

I'm called in and asked if I would serve in the Sunday School Presidency again. Of course, I say yes. But again, in just a few weeks, again I'm released without another call. It was then that Sister Patty Paisola said something to me that made me much more able to go through these calls and releases. She said to me, "Bro Blimes, the Lord really must have something special in mind for you since he's giving you the experience in all these areas." I don't think she knew it, but these words were spoken to me at just the right time to cause me to pause and think that just maybe she was right and this gave me the strength and courage to continue on and wait patiently for the calling the Lord had in mind for me.
Not too long after this, I was interviewed by a member of the Stake Presidency and called to be the High Priest Group Leader in the Ward. I don't know how other people feel about it, but I know that nobody could like to visit the Temple as much as I do. I love the work that this calling entails and I pray I might be able to in some way help the Ward membership. It is through Genealogy work and temple work that families are perpetuated throughout the eternities. I don't know yet if this is the calling that Sis Paisola was referring to, but I'm certainly enjoying it at this time.

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