Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Baby Diann

Baby Diann and Daddy Dinon
(Click here to read previous story:

After two years of marriage, baby Diann Elizabeth arrived as a belated Christmas present to her parents on December 26th of 1957.

Mama Liz and Baby Diann
"I was pretty happy about it," Dinon said.  "She was planned, I was through with grad school, and I was working for Goodrich.  We were living up in Cuyahoga Falls, which is next to Akron on the north side.  We were in a small apartment on the second floor of the house that we later bought, but, at the time, we were renting."

Since Dinon was the oldest child for his mother, who was herself an only child, this meant that Diann was a highly-celebrated first grandchild.  The abundance of baby photos, and the level of doting around Diann in each, speaks to the same.

Diann took after her father's light hair color and by her first birthday it hung in a thick blonde bowl above her chubby cheeks. For her birthday, Diann happily sat in a high chair at the same table her father had grown up around, and a big round cake, frosted in white, sat on the table with a single lit candle in the center.

Baby Diann with
Grandma Alma 'Babe' Boyer
"We were glad to have her," Dinon said.  "She was a pretty happy child."

Blessed with the financial stability of Dinon's job, the young family of three took a camping vacation to the Gaspé Peninsula in the autumn of 1958.

The Gaspé Peninsula, a piece of Canadian land northeast of the state of Maine, runs along the St. Lawrence River and ultimately overlooks the St. Lawrence Gulf. North of Maine, it is, as one might expect, rather cold in September.  However, this detail did not deter Liz from making sure that Diann remained clean on their camping trip.

"Liz was pregnant with Sharon when we were on vacation, and she didn't realize she was pregnant at the time.  And Liz, on that trip, Liz thought that the baby needed to be bathed every day, every single day," Dinon said, beginning to laugh.  "This is fall in Canada.  Picture Diann, bare as can be, and Liz is bundled up with a jacket and everything trying to stay warm, and then we've got Diann out there in a pan because she had to be bathed.  Liz and I laughed about that later – it’s a wonder Diann survived.  I mean, she didn't get sick or anything.   I mean, it's just [that Liz was a] new mother and she thought that that was the thing you had to do.  Oh golly..."

Baby Diann with
Great-Grandma Henness
Diann was also the only one of Liz's children to meet her father, Joseph Marshall, a handsome English immigrant with a beautiful singing voice.

Liz's parents, Joseph and Ernestine Marshall, had separated in September of 1942 due to infidelity on Joseph's part.  Liz, the youngest of four, was just eleven years old at the time.  The children continued to live with their mother when Joseph moved out; Liz did not maintain a close relationship with her father, even though both parts of the family lived near Boston.

Liz, Diann and Dinon
in front of their home
in Cuyahoga Falls, OH
"We did see her dad after Diann was born, Diann was just a little baby," Dinon recalled. "I think it was the first time I met him.  And he was remarried.  I do remember seeing him, and him holding Diann, but he died shortly thereafter."

In September of 1959, Joseph died at the age of 61.  "We didn't get a chance to go to the funeral because we were in Ohio and it was down in the Boston area," Dinon said.  In addition to the +650 miles and 21-month-old Diann, Dinon and Liz had also recently added a fourth member to their family.  Baby Sharon, born in April of '59, was just 5 months old at the time of Joseph's passing.  "At that stage, it was a big deal to travel that distance, so we just couldn't do it," Dinon said.  

After the news of Joseph's passing, the small Boyer family of four settled back into their routine in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, unaware of the coming medical challenges for their newest daughter.

(Next story: Family of Four)


A Pair of

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Wife, New Life

Wedding day cake: August 26, 1955
(click here to read previous story:

In May of 1955, Dinon was released from the army after 21 months of service.  Three months later, on August 26th, 1955, he married Liz Marshall.

After leaving the army, Dinon decided that he wanted to use his G.I. Bill benefits in order to return to school.  So, in the autumn of 1955, Dinon found himself at the University of Wisconsin once again, this time in the two-year graduate program for his master's degree in business.

The young Boyer couple decided to wait until after Dinon finished graduate school before having any kids.  While Dinon was studying, Liz was working at a nearby church as the church secretary.  Their first year of marriage was a quiet one and the biggest speed bump they ran into was Liz's tonsillectomy.

"We were newly married, and we found out that she had to have her tonsils removed.  So she said, 'Well, I'll have it done on a Friday so I can be back to work on Monday' ... but it was a week from Monday before she got back!"  Dinon laughed. "We don't heal like we're kids, it just takes more time.  It was funny, because she was SURE she was going to be able to recuperate over the weekend.  It was kind of fun to tease her a little bit about what she had said."

Young Liz and Dinon
All that year, Dinon worked hard in the two-year graduate program and, impressively, managed to earn his master's degree in a single year.

After graduating in 1956, Dinon accepted a job offer to work at Goodrich in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where for the next ten years he was the personnel manager. It was a career that constantly frustrated inquisitive Liz.

"Liz used to get upset when I wouldn't tell her what was going on in the office," Dinon said.  "I said that she might have contact with some of the other spouses of people in the office, and they might ask her a question, and the way she responds might give it away, and it was supposed to be very confidential.  The only safe thing was - just don't tell her!"

The young couple moved to Ohio at the end of 1956, and in March of 1957 Liz became pregnant with their first child - a little girl they named Diann.

(Next story: Baby Diann)

A Pair of
Fort Sam

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fort Sam Houston

(click here to read previous story: The Move to San Antonio)

Dinon was drafted into the army in August of 1953, just two months after graduating from college.  His first stop for basic training was in Fort Riley, Kansas, followed by a few months in Camp Pickett, Virginia, before it closed in June of 1954.  Between Camp Pickett and Dinon's release from service in May of 1955, Dinon spent his time - "over a year" - at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

"When I got down to San Antonio, I was assigned to a training battalion headquarters as a clerk typist." Dinon said.  "I did not, of course, go to a typing school, but they assigned that to me.  I had to run the message center at battalion headquarters."

According to Dinon, it was an easy job, consisting of four plain eighteen-inch square boxes.

"One was Company A, B, C and D, and my job was to take the mail, and if it said ‘Company A’, I put it in the ‘Company A’ box.  I mean, it was ‘really tough’, ha," he said, chuckling.

In addition to sorting, he was also the driver for the colonel.

"He was a light colonel, so he was a lieutenant colonel, he wasn't a full bird colonel (full bird colonel has eagles as a symbol – he only had a silver star, a full colonel’s is brass)," Dinon explained.   "So I had to pick up the jeep every morning, drive it over there, and then when the colonel wanted to go watch his troops being trained, why, I drove him to wherever they were training.  And if he noticed some training on the other side of the valley, there was no road, you just went straight there, which means you’re going cross-country in the jeep with the colonel next to you.  Then he’d get out and inspect the troops and all and see what they’re doing, and then I’d bring him back, and then at the end of the day I had to wash the jeep and leave it at the motor pool where all the trucks and jeeps were kept."

Example of a 2-1/2 ton cargo truck
Another part of his driving responsibilities was learning how to operate a two-and-a-half ton truck, AKA, 'a deuce-and-a-half'.

"It was one of these great big things with the canvas over the back, monster things," he said.  "I remember at the very end [of the driving test], driving that thing out in the field, and here’s this steep hill.  So I come up to the hill, and I brum! revved it up, and all I could see was sky!  The thing was almost vertical – I couldn't see the road!  I’m looking out the windshield, and the windshield is pointing up!  But I passed, and he gave me the driver’s license for it ... I don’t think I ever had to drive one after the test, but I was certified.  They do that, they train you in a number of things in case you need it."

Dinon never went overseas or saw military action.  Even though he had been drafted for 24 months, he was released in May of 1955.  "I only served about 21 months because Congress would not appropriate enough money to keep the army as big as the military wanted," Dinon said.

Dinon left the military and did not return.  On August 26, just three months later, he and Liz were married.  And, in that same year, Dinon used the benefits of his G.I. Bill of Rights to re-enroll at the University of Wisconsin to pursue a master's degree in business.

(Next story: New Wife, New Life)

A Pair of
Dorms, Food
and Studies

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Move to San Antonio

(click here to read previous story: A Pair of Fiancees)

In June of 1954, Camp Pickett was closed and the men on base, including Dinon, were ordered to pack up the camp and relocate.

"They decided to close the camp, so I’m going through the medical kits and separating them out: I mean, scissors and things, y'know," Dinon said.  "One of the things in the kits were knives, X-Acto knives, and they were used for surgery and were manufactured real well.  They were supposed to be well-sealed, but in some cases the seal was not quite perfect, and so they’d get rust in there – which made them not good for surgery."

Even though he was instructed to throw everything away, he kept some of the knives - and he still uses them for his model railroad hobby today.

"Each packet had about half-a-dozen or so knives, so I've used them over the years and I still have some downstairs for my railroad set," he said.  "I have two kinds – one of them has a curve, and the other one has a straight edge.  I've had those ever since my time in Camp Pickett, Virginia.  And I've been very glad."

In addition to sorting the medical supplies, Dinon also spent early mornings in the kitchen near the end of his stay in Camp Pickett.

“It came to the point near the end where I was having to pull KP – kitchen police, pots and pans, spotless spotless, you were the dishwasher.  You had to make sure that all the grease was removed when you washed them," Dinon said.  "So I was having to pull KP duty, which means you have to get up real early in the morning, I don’t know, 4, 4:30, help with preparing the breakfast, and there were fewer and fewer soldiers there, and then finally they shipped me down to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas."  He was shipped to Texas at some point in the first half of 1954, prior to the June closing of Camp Pickett.

This was difficult for Liz.  She had not yet earned her college degree, so she stayed in school at Maryland to continue her studies while Dinon moved 1,600 miles west to San Antonio.  They continued to correspond over the distance, but, as the months went by, the recurring name of a woman in Dinon's letters began to alarm Liz.

"In San Antonio, there was a Methodist church in town.  At the church, why, you had an opportunity that if you helped serve the meal on Sundays - and they had a really good meal - you got yours free!  So I always helped serve, so I always got my free meal," Dinon said.  "Well, they had a really active young people’s group there, and Liz kept noticing as I was writing her that I kept mentioning this one girl named Jane Batow.  She was in the youth group, and I was just telling Liz what I was doing, but her name kept popping up."

Liz was smart enough to see the risk.  After all, Dinon had already broken off one long-distance engagement in favor of a woman that lived close by, so she knew that there was a possibility of a repeat with this Jane Batow.

Valuing Dinon over her degree, she left Washington Missionary College in the winter of 1954.

Wedding Day: August 26, 1955
Three months after Dinon's release from the army
"Liz said to herself, 'I think I better go down and watch over, and make sure he doesn't stray'.  So, she came down, oh, toward the end of the year, so she probably came down before Christmas and she was there several months, working and keeping her eye on me and keeping me busy," Dinon said.  They continued to date and her efforts paid off - they married in August of 1955, shortly after Dinon left the service.

After her move to Texas, Liz did not return to college or earn a degree.  "I don’t think Liz had a degree in mind," Dinon said.  "She liked to write, so maybe it was kind of like journalism, I guess, or something."  Later in life, Liz expressed regret for never finishing school.  

During their time in Texas, Liz worked as a church receptionist.  She was a smart and very personable woman, and she fit the job well.

But during that year in San Antonio, before his discharge and before the wedding, Dinon continued to learn lots of new things in his last year in the army.

(Next story: Fort Sam Houston)


A Pair of
Dorms, Food
and Studies