Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Transcript: Fredric Steinhauser Oral History Interview

Conducted by Linda Cameron, April 23, 2009 in St. Paul, Minnesota

LC:  Linda Cameron
FS:  Fredric Steinhauser

LC:  Fredric, would you please begin with telling us when and where you were born?

FS:  I was born in Lamberton, Minnesota on July 16, 1918.

LC:  What were your parent's names?

FS:  My dad was Emil Christian Steinhauser.  My mother was Ella Albrecht Steinhauser.

LC:  Did you have any siblings growing up?

FS:  Yes, I had three.  I had a brother Armin, and I had a sister Louise, and a sister Clara.

LC:  Where did you fit in the grand scheme of things?

FS:  I was the last one.  They thought it was too late to have kids.

LC:  Now, when I visited with you earlier we talked about your military service and I would like to focus on that for this interview.  Can you tell me when and where you entered military service for World War II?

FS:  Yes, I was drafted from Lamberton, MN on the twentieth of October, 1941, before [America entered] World War II.  

LC:  Where did you go when you were first called into active duty?

FS:  That would have been it, basically, because once I went to Fort Snelling, which was on the twentieth of October, once I got there I was in the military, period.  There wasn't any going home or anything.  At Fort Snelling they assigned me to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for my basic and specialized training. 

LC:  Let's backtrack to Fort Snelling.  What was your experience there?  Can you remember what the days were like when you were there? 

FS:  Yes, it was terrible.  You mopped floors all day long, or you were being examined, or worked on.  It was just a very difficult thing because they read you the Rules of War for which it sounded like they could have you assassinated any day. 

LC:  Oh, wow!

FS:  They're very strict.

LC:  Was that kind of a shock to your system?  Were you – do you think of yourself as having been a disciplined child?

FS:  Yes.  I think that I came from a German family that "ordnung" – order must be. 

LC:  I see.  So, it wasn't too much of a shock to your system to encounter that kind of discipline. 

FS:  No, it really wasn't.  It went fine.

LC:  OK.  So, you were sent to Fort Sill.  What was your training experience at Fort Sill?  Was that Basic Training, there?

FS:  Basic Training, in which you did everything from learning safety to how to take care of yourself, rifle training on the range, throwing hand grenades, learning to drive the military equipment – the full basic training. I was there, I think, about three months. 

LC:  Where did you go from Fort Sill? 

FS:  Well, I stayed right there to begin with, because from the basic training they put me in specialist training right there in Fort Sill.  I went into communications.  We learned everything about telephones and radios, and all that sort of thing. 

LC:  How long were you at Fort Sill then, all together?

FS:  Well, after I finished my specialist training, Pearl Harbor had come along and so, in fact, planning to go back home in a year – which was what this program said – that was over.  You now were a member of the military forever and there wasn't any "one year and you go home" stuff. 

LC:  Pearl Harbor – what was your reaction when you heard the news about Pearl Harbor?  Do you remember where you were and what you were doing?

FS:  Yes, I was sitting on my footlocker at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in a barracks with about thirty other men, and we were listening to the radio, and we all said some bad words, realizing that the fun was over.  Now you were in it.

LC:  Now, were you listening to the radio for a specific reason, were you listening for entertainment? 

FS:  Well, it was when the news came on and, you know, quite often you listened to the news, just like we do today.

LC:  Were you expecting to hear something like that? 

FS:  No, no.

LC:  What was your family's response to that – the news that the war was going to start and America was entering the war and you'd have to go out to fight?

FS:  Well, it was a small-town family who was very tightly knit, and even being drafted with the idea you'd only be gone a year was a terrible sentence to them.  So, they were very depressed when they found that the real thing was taking place and we weren't coming back.

LC:  Where did you go from Fort Sill, then?

FS:  From Fort Sill I stayed right there because they picked me out of our group to go to Officer Candidate School.  Once they realized that the Army was going to go from what it is now to millions of people and they'd need teachers and trainers, they picked me out to go to Officer Candidate School immediately.  So I went to Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in the Artillery School, stayed there three months and when I finished that I got my Second Lieutenant's bars, meaning that you were now a commissioned officer, no longer an enlisted man.  They chose me to be a teacher at the maintenance school, because I was apparently good in mechanics and that sort of stuff.  So, they assigned me immediately to the motor school of the Officer Candidate School.  I was now teaching what they had taught me just a couple of months sooner.

LC:  What kinds of things did you study in Officer Candidate School?  Do you remember the kinds of courses you took?

FS:  Yeah .  It was - the worst part was that I was in Artillery.  In Artillery in those days you didn't have the complicated computers, and automatic this, and automatic that.  You actually had to learn trigonometry when you are learning to fire field artillery pieces, not from where you're looking at them.  You're looking from where you're standing because you're a second lieutenant observer.  You're looking at the target but the guns that you are firing are probably a mile off to your right.  So then, what kind of commands do you give them so that what you're seeing goes to them so that they will shoot the coordinates that you gave them?  And it's a very complicated thing until the slide rules and the computers came along.  It was terrible for a person who wasn't very good in math to begin with.

LC:  So, after you left the artillery section and went into the motor – you mentioned you were in the Motor School.

FS:  And that was right there, all just a part of the Fort Sill Artillery School, which now included not only the school that was there but now the OCS stuff added on.

LC:  Were there general officer's classes you had to take, or what did they give you?

FS:  Oh, yes.  You always had classes, just like in school.  Like, you'd have gunnery, motor maintenance, qualifications in how to use the artillery.  So, all that stuff including how to run a mess dining hall.  

LC:  Oh, wow.

FS:  How to run a mess.  Yes, because you could go out and be a company commander and pretty soon you're in charge of 180 people and they've got to be fed and billeted and clothed and all that so you had to go to classes for all this stuff.  And, of course, you had to learn about the Articles of War, what could happen if you disobeyed and all that sort of thing. 

LC:  In Motor School, what kinds of classes did you have?

FS:  Oh, all kinds.  You had the kind, for instance, that would tell you how to do a lubrication job, for example.  Then they got more complicated – how you take off a wheel and grease the bearings separately, and different kinds of things.  On a two-and-a-half-ton truck, of course, you had a pintle thing which was just a place to hook a trailer.  The trailer most often was an artillery piece.  So you had to learn how to coordinate and get all this mechanical stuff working properly.

LC:  Did you ever have to use a Graco luber – do you know what I am talking about?

FS:  No.

LC:  It's a machine; it's a trailer that would be tied on to the jeep, to the trucks or whatever.  It was a mobile unit for lubricating equipment in the field. 

FS:  No, I never did see one of those.

We set up our own shops in each battery.  Each battery had so many trucks.  So you had a motor officer and a motor sergeant and your mechanics.  It was just like if you take a filling station with the manager and everything and set it out in the woods somewhere and put a tent over it, and the only thing is that, instead of civilian cars, you're doing the trucks. 

LC:  So, you were responsible for fuel, too?

FS:  Yes.  We had tanks, of course, but the fuel came to us from some depot of some kind. They knew how much fuel you needed, or you could call them and say, "We're going to be low on gasoline, bring us a tanker full."  You know, that sort of thing.

LC:  Now, you've completed OCS.  Do you remember when you finished?

FS:  Yes, the first of July 1942.

LC:  And then what happened?

FS:  Well, that's when I went into teaching there.  I was there one year when a division cadre came through because they were having to organize new divisions all the time because all of a sudden our army's going to expand fifty times, at least, you know.  So, I was teaching motor maintenance and a cadre came through for the Thirteenth Airborne Division.  So, in other words, in addition to teaching the OCS students going through, you had these cadres that would come along and you'd teach them, as well.

The general – Molitor was his name; Brigadier General Molitor – came to see me.  He said, "I know you've been here at the school a year," and he said, "I know that there's a tendency for the school to want to move people on who've been there a year or a year and a half."  He said, "How would you like to come with me and the Thirteenth Airborne to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and be my division Artillery Motor Officer?  I said, "It sounds good to me."  So, I think it was about the first of July when he went to Fort Bragg, and I went to Fort Bragg.  So that ended my service with the Artillery School, and then I was a part of the Thirteenth Airborne Division.

Of course, the divisions, when they're formed, you have to have a general and a staff to get this whole thing going, and then you have – depending on what unit you're in – in the Thirteenth Airborne we had one parachute battalion and two glider battalions.  That was the basis of the thing.  And then you had other units that were small – company-size – that did certain specific things like taking care of the clothing you needed, taking care of the food you needed, taking care of signal corps.  For example, you had to learn how to run the radios, telephones and all that sort of stuff.  So we went right to Fort Bragg and, while we were training, I was in the Division Artillery, which was separate from these battalions I'm talking about.  The battalions were actually fighting units that were ready to go.  The Artillery was to come along behind them and supply the artillery support when these airborne battalions were on the move and in combat.  The division artillery went along with them and provided whatever artillery was needed.

LC:  Right, ok.  Now, you were at Fort Bragg for how long?

FS:  I think we were there about six months and in that time they decided that in as much as they were going to expand airborne units, they would move us to Camp MacKall North Carolina.  That was only about fifty miles from Fort Bragg.  So, from Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, we moved over to Camp MacKall. 

LC:  Now, what kind of training did you get, first of all, at Fort Bragg?

FS:  Well, the same sort of thing I've just been talking about.  You did glider training.  I never could figure out why it took so long to learn this, but they had a regular set of stuff like loading and lashing and how to put a jeep onto a glider and that sort of thing.  In the meantime, the paratroopers are learning to jump out of airplanes.

LC:  So, by lashing you are talking about tying things down in the gliders?

FS:  Oh, in the glider, and if you look at any of the stuff that's been printed, because gliders were so fragile, you had to tie everything perfectly.  Otherwise, if you bumped anything you'd have a jeep flying against the men that are in the glider with you, or a field artillery piece.  They are heavy, and so if you ran a field artillery piece into this glider, and you took the people with it who are going to take care of this thing and fire it, it's got to be tied perfectly because you couldn't have that, you know, if something hit the glider that field artillery piece would fly right through the center of that glider and you'd probably all be dead.

LC:  Talk a little bit about your glider training flights.  You mentioned that you went on three of them?

FS:  About three.  Well, what they did mainly is to train you with the night stuff.  You did most of the other stuff in the daytime without a lot of real active sort of thing, you know.  It was a training thing.  You went and learned about the glider on the ground.  In this place you had mock-ups.  The mock-ups were built out of wood to be just the size of a CG-4, let's say.  Those you'd maybe have ten of those sitting around out in the field somewhere.  So, when you were training with those you'd get in trucks from where you were billeted and those trucks would take you to this glider area.  (When I say glider I mean the mock-ups.)  So, there were no motors or anything like that around you.  You just had these basic things that looked like a glider.

The inside was identical to a CG-4, so that they could run a jeep on there and know exactly where it had to be tied down because, you see, there were always rings in the floor.  You'd run the rope through the rings and lash or tie this thing down, so even if it got bumped hard it wouldn't get loose and hit the soldiers that are in the glider.  I think we had about 15 people, maybe a little less, in each of these mock gliders, and that's where you practiced.

LC:  So that would be about the number of troops that would be carried by a CG-4, right?

FS:  That's about right, yes.  Now, somebody said that they built a bigger one later on that would carry more…

LC:  A CG-13A, which would carry thirty fully-equipped troops.

FS:  I don't remember the bigger one, because we were from the artillery, and our job was to take either a jeep or a field artillery piece.  So when you land, your group of people in there would know just what to do.  They'd go and unhook everything, and get it all set up and ready to go so that you and this equipment would move quickly off of wherever you landed to wherever you were to be congregated.  We had assigned places where you knew you were to go upon landing so that all these gliders wouldn't have all the people in one big batch in one place.  Each of you had your own meeting place, so to speak.  Then, once you got there, then it's just like being in the Army; once you're down on the ground, then you function considerably like a normal unit. Artillery in this case.

LC:  Describe what those training flights were actually like from the very beginning.

FS:  OK. Well, what happened is they would decide when they were going to do this exercise.  Of course, the administrators had this all set up so that they knew how many C-47s would be needed for the number of gliders you were going to have in this echelon, and so the average GI, which was me when I was in a glider – when I wasn't in the glider I was the motor officer, but when I was in it I was just another one of the people in this team.  So you are brought to this airfield – it wasn't Camp MacKall where we were stationed.  You got trucked to this place.  It can be daylight when you get there even though you know that it is dusk and very soon you'll be flying in total darkness with no light at all.

Let's say that you're ready to go tonight.  You've been notified that we're having an exercise.  This is a night exercise and the paratroopers and the glider riders are all going to be doing what they do in combat, even if it's just a practice for that.  So we would be trucked there, and we already knew which glider was ours because it was marked with what squad went in this one and what squad in that.  By the time they got done, they had enough gliders to take these units that we had.  Now, there weren't any paratroopers here because they're doing their paratrooping someplace else.  We're doing our glider riding here.  Then you get all set; you get your field artillery piece, you get your jeep mounted, lashed and loaded, and then you are sitting in there waiting for it to get dark.  You sit there, and then finally you get the signal that we're going to go. 

LC:  Now, did you have the fold-down seats on your plane or did you sit on benches?

FS:  You sat on benches. 

LC:  Benches.

FS:  Around the outside edge, yes.

LC:  There were no fold-down seats in your plane?

FS:  Not to my knowledge because…

LC:  They came later.

FS:  You had the center empty so you could put your jeep or your artillery piece and you sat on the side.

LC:  So, they had thirteen fully-equipped soldiers and a jeep or an artillery piece on these things?

FS:  You could do that, yes.  It was tight in there, but…  And it didn't have to have both you know.  You could have just the men to go on a flight without artillery or a jeep, but later on you had to have transportation to pull the howitzer and stuff, that's all.

So then you sit there, and you find it's getting dark.  It might be dusk, I would call it, because the C-47s can see you and you can see them when you start out, but then they get hooked up, as I told you, where the nylon tow-line…and I thought the two gliders hooked to a single C-47 were parallel, but maybe that's not possible.  Maybe it had to be…

LC:  Staggered.  [Editor's note: according to one source, when two gliders were towed by a single plane, one was attached to a 350-foot towline, the other to a 450-foot line.]

FS:  Yes.  Whatever it was, the C-47 came by with a hook, and this hook caught into the towline.  When they'd fly by, the hook would go down and grab that elastic cord and the nylon cord – just like a rubber band – it stretches, and nothing is happening, but when it gets stretched out, then it's gestures "Schooo!" - like that.  It's like being shot, almost, out of a gun of some kind. 

LC:  Now, were you guys strapped in?

FS:  Oh, yes, definitely.  Oh, yes, tightly.  Yes, you were really tight in there.  You had the same type of safety belts and stuff everybody else had.  You usually had two straps over your shoulder, and then the strap over your stomach. 

LC:  How high was the C-47 flying when it would snag the glider? 

FS:  Well, I would have to guess maybe only 75 to 100 feet.  They came down low.

LC:  Any idea how fast the C-47 was going?

FS:  Well, see, I'm sure that they can't get below 100 miles an hour, so they are certainly whipping along.  They shut them down as best they can, but if they lose flying speed they'll just drop down, so they can't do that.  They have to keep enough airspeed so that they're not going to collapse and go to the ground.

LC:  OK, so you're in the air now – you've been jerked up into the air, and you're still on the towline.

FS:  Yes.

LC:  What happens when they let the towline go?

FS:  Well, to begin with, you fly an hour.  You see, it isn't just "pick you up here and they drop you over there".  To make this realistic, they pick you up with a towline and away you go.  So you're sitting in there in the dark, and you don't know anything and you're wondering what's happening.  But, if you know what's going on, it's an hour flight.  You see, it's got to be realistic for both the pilots in the plane pulling you, the C-47.  They have to know what this is like in combat, so they're not going to do something that is real simple.  They're going to give them a problem in which you're a part of it, but their problem is to pick you up with a glider and take you to where the assembly place is going to be.  That's going to be an hour away someplace, and they don't know - the pilots don't know exactly…  They're learning just like you're learning.  And you have two sets of pilots; you've got the two pilots that are flying the C-47, who are taking you there as a taxi and, when they get done, they're going to let you loose, and you already have two warrant officers who are the pilots of the gliders.

LC:  Did it make you nervous that they were kind of learning, too, at the same time?

FS:  Yes, but the whole thing was so damned scary, what difference did it make?  You couldn't get out of it, anyway. 

LC:  So, there was no way out of the plane?  You couldn't bail out?

FS:  No, no way to get out.  When that thing landed, you were with it, and that's why they called them "Flying Coffins", because once you're in that thing and they shut the…  The front end opens up so that you can load through the front end, especially if you have a jeep or an artillery piece.  If you are walking, you walk up a ramp, of course.

Then once you get to wherever this is, there is a…you have men who have radios with directional beams on them.  These people are dropped in advance at the place that you're going to go.  They drop them in there and then they set up so that when your plane comes along, you're not lost.  Your airplane is gone, so it's just you and your pilot, and you have to know where to land.  The C-47 knows where to go because you get the light from this communication box.  The communication box gets dropped in with advance people, even in the real war thing.  You drop in this guidance thing, and those guys, they're out there alone with this equipment and they set it up, and then when you come along, your pilot of the C-47 can zone-in on where that equipment is and where you're supposed to be flying. 

The pilots of the C-47s, of course, are in radio communication with the pilots of your gliders.  So they tell you that, "We're just about there, and we're going to let you loose, so, you're on your own."  That's what happens then, after you get to a certain point; the C-47 drops you and the cord is off, and now your glider has two warrant officers flying it, and they're now using that equipment on the ground to zero in on where they're going to land.  They have to be very accurate, because let's say you have eight gliders and they are stacked up two at a time.  Well, you have to be careful so that the second glider isn't going to land on top the first glider.  It gets very touchy.

LC:  Is it that just one crew that does the signaling from the ground?

FS:  Yes.

LC:  For all of the gliders that are coming in?

FS:  Yes, because, they know in advance – well they can visualize what's happening.  The C-47's going to go by, and they are giving them the signal to cut themselves off and go, and they know that the next two guys coming along are going to be landing parallel on this cornfield that they are in and so they've got to get them far enough down on the field so four more batches of people can all land there.  What's so scary about this whole thing is you're in the dark and you know these two guys up front really don't know much, either. They are just going by the lights that tell them where to go.

So then we have these gliders, which have a varnished cloth surface – like a drum, almost.  When you land in a cornfield and it hits dry corn stalks, it sounds like you've disintegrated.  There's so much confusion, because now you've got eight gliders on the ground with 15 people in each one, and they are running around in the dark and they have got to know where to go to their squad or their platoon because that's how they have to get organized or they won't know where to go for their mission.

LC:  Did you use crickets?

FS:  You know, I don't know what they did.  I don't remember.

LC:  Did they have sounds that they were using to lead the men to their assigned locations?

FS:  Well, they could have been doing that, yes.  And you know, it's so long ago I've forgotten what they did.  Yes, they said they did have different kinds of noises to get the particular group in the right place.  And then, of course, after everybody is down and you're now organized in one company, with three platoons and eight or ten squads, you are all on the ground and you're organized now the way the regular Army is organized. So you leave your gliders, and if they are all broken to pieces you don't care.  You're out of there and if you have a jeep, you've got to get it going.  If you have a howitzer, you have to hook it on to the jeep, and then those people have to drive to wherever our gathering point is.

LC:  Did you have any rough landings on your three flights? 

FS:  I would say all the landings are a little rough because, you know, this thing has no power, and you're just gliding in, and it's got to hit.  So, it's going to be rough…

LC:  …regardless.

FS:  It could not be smooth.

LC:  Did anyone get hurt on your training flights?

FS:  None of ours, no, but I know on one of our exercises, I think six paratroopers drowned.  There again, you have a stack of people and you push them out the door, and while they've looked at maps and stuff, they don't know exactly where to guide their parachute.  You can pull on the cords and slide them, but if you don't know what you are coming down to, where do you slide?  And so they would land in, let's say, a swamp or a lake, and they'd go down when the parachute would fall on top of them, and they'd get all tangled up in it.  I think we lost six on one of these exercises. 

LC:  Did they lose many gliders, or were you able to use the gliders a second time?

FS:  You know, I really can't tell you.  I don't know what happened to them.

LC:  They did reuse some of them, I know.

FS:  Yes, well if you landed without tearing them up there isn't any reason why they couldn't.  And, you had vehicles – like a jeep with a trailer – that the glider would slide onto.  So I presume they did salvage some of those things.

LC:  OK, so you survived the glider training.

FS:  Yes, I did.

LC:  What did you receive at the end of the training?  Did you get some kind of insignia or…?

FS:  Yes.  I do have – in fact, if you're a "glider rider", is what we call them, you get the same kind of a insignia, a metal insignia, and you have two – one is for the glider riders and one is for the parachute people.  It's a very distinctive thing, yes.

LC:  was it the symbol with the wings and the "G" in the middle?

FS:  Yes. 

LC:  OK, so now once you finished the glider training, what did you do after that?

FS:  Well, after the glider training, then we were ready to go to Europe.  And so that's the time when they moved me from the Airborne to the Ordnance EVAC Company.  That would have been about the first of January of 1945.

LC:  OK.

FS:  But the 13th Airborne was shipped to France, and it stayed in staging and never was used, because then the war was over.  They stayed in France, I would guess, for three-four months and then…

LC:  Was it disbanded, or were they sent somewhere else?

FS:  No, they went back.  To my knowledge, they went back to the States. 

LC:  OK.

FS:  Like I did, with the Ordnance EVAC thing.  After we'd done our work, they decided they needed us in Japan.  I suppose they even thought about maybe the 13th Airborne might go to Japan or someplace.  But, I don't know where they went.

LC:  So you…

FS:  Some of the guys at this [Harold C. Deutsch World War II Roundtable Glider Symposium] that they're going to have [held May 14-15, 2009], some of them I'm sure were in France.

LC:  Yes, very likely.

FS:  Well you see most of the data that I have, all kinds of pamphlets and stuff and the book of the 13th Airborne, I gave all that to [the Minnesota Military Museum] at Camp Ripley.

LC:  Oh, good.

FS:  And put a big, they had a big Airborne display on about a year or two ago, so they would have the stuff I gave them, and it's still up there. 

LC:  Good.  Talk a little about the Ordnance EVAC Company.

FS:  OK.  So, the Ordnance EVAC was made up of tractors, tractors in this case being a truck.  We called them tractors, they're a truck.  It's almost like having a semi, but instead of a big trailer behind you have a flatbed.  This is made so that you can drop ramps down so that the tanks can either be driven or snaked – that's not the right word – with a… Well, all of the trucks have great big steel cable drums so that they can unroll large distances of steel cable and hook it onto a tank and then turn on the …

LC:  The winch.

FS:  …there you go!  Yes, you turn on the winch and it brings this thing, if it's disabled, it brings it along and pulls it up on top, and then you bring up the ramps, and you've got everything there you need, and this guy then takes his squad of men, one squad of men, maybe five people for each of these transporters.  When they're loaded, then they're told where to go with it.  They either go to the base depot of some kind where they can rebuild tanks, or wherever they might be told to "drop your tank, and pick up a new one over here and take it up to Patton."  That's the kind of thing this was.

About half of my tank transporters weren't doing tank transporting because the war was slowing down some so you didn't need as many.  So then our job was to gather up stored German artillery shells and load them onto our tank transporters and drive them to a gravel pit and drop them in.  Then you had an Ordnance outfit that detonated these.  So, my people did just as much of that as of hauling tanks, but we had three platoons and each one could be doing something different. 

LC:  Interesting.

FS:  Yes.  And we had a base which I said was Nahbollenbach, Germany.  We found an old German maintenance facility, so we took it over and that's where we did the maintenance for our own company. 

LC:  I see. How long were you over there?

FS:  Well, let's see.  It had to be only about three or four months, because once they decided that the war was about over, then they were looking for what do they do with us now.  Then they decide, well, you're due to go to Japan.  So, they sent us back to the United States.

LC:  Do you remember when that was, what time that was?

FS:  I would say that would be about…  You know, strangely enough, I've got all these orders in a box here and I can look anything up way back to the beginning of World War II.  I would say it was about June of '45.

LC:  '45.

FS:  June '45, yeah . We were ordered to Le Havre and I hope that's the way you pronounce it.  In most cases we were just told to drive our equipment to a depot, which was really just a big parking lot in those days and all this stuff that we had – tanks, and ambulances, and 2x4 trucks – I can't even remember what they were – anyway, all this stuff you just take and drive it into this big thing, take your stuff, get out and walk to the ship and…  In fact, I had a jeep of my own and I drove the jeep right up to the ship, got out and took my stuff and left the jeep there.  [Laughs]  Somebody would come and get it.

LC:  Sure.  How long did it take you to get back to the States then from Le Havre?

FS:  Oh, I would say two weeks.

LC:  Two weeks.  What was it like for you to be on the ship?

FS:  Oh, I had a great ship.  We were on a ship which was returning about 2,000 GIs.

LC:  Oh, wow!

FS:  2,000 GIs and there were only a couple of officers and they had a full medical complement which had 3 or 4 nurses, and all that.  So of course I had a nurse girlfriend, obviously.  She and I almost lost our lives.

LC:  Really?

FS:  Oh, yes, because at night we went to the front of the ship, and it was real rough weather coming back and we didn't realize what was happening, but when we got near the front of the ship it started going down.  You know how they…

LC:  Oh, yes, over the swells.

FS:  And so we got underneath that front thing and the water, if we wouldn't have been under there, if we'd been back ten feet, we'd of been washed right off into the ocean and they wouldn't have any idea where we were.

LC:  Oh, my!

FS:  So, needless to say when it came on the upsweep…

LC:  You took off. 

FS:  We ran fast, yeah!

LC:  You arrived back in New York Harbor?

FS:  I don't think – where did we come back?

LC:  Or, did you come down the coast a ways?

FS:  You know.  Well, it was either New York or New Jersey; one of the two is where we landed.  All got put on trains and I was the company commander at that time, so I had to stay with the company records and all that sort of stuff.  So, two enlisted men and I took all of the company stuff and took it to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  Everybody else was sent home on leave, understanding that when they came back we were going to Japan.

Well, so we got all set coming back at Camp Polk, I think we trained there about six months.  Then we were getting ready to go to Japan.  Then we got orders that said, "Nobody is going anywhere."  So, we just stayed in Camp Polk and then they decided well, they'd rather have us in Camp Hood, Texas rather than Camp Polk because of the kind of equipment we had.  So, we took a motor march from Camp Polk to Fort Hood in Texas.  Then that's where we stayed as long as I was with them.  They may be still there for all I know. 

LC:  Now, let's backtrack a little bit.  V-E Day – do you remember V-E Day?

FS:  V-E Day, yes.

LC:  Do you remember where you were and what you were doing? 

FS:  Yeah.  On V-E Day the military, someplace up high – Washington DC – decided they ought to have a victory parade in Chicago - a huge thing.  So, they sent me orders that I should get six tank transporters and six tanks to be in this big parade.

LC:  Now was this V-E Day or V-J Day?

FS:  This must be…

LC:  The end of the war?  If you were back in the states it was probably VJ.

FS:  It had to be VJ, yeah. 

LC:  Continue the story.

FS:  Where was I on V-E?

LC:  You would still have been in France, probably, or somewhere, or Germany.

FS:  Yes, or in Camp Polk, maybe.

LC:  Oh, yes, maybe, well, if you came back around June of '45…

FS:  How much difference was there between V-E and V-J?

LC:  V-E day was May 8.

FS:  OK.

LC:  V-J day was August 14.

FS:  So there wasn't a big…

LC:  Not a huge difference.

FS:  Yeah.

LC:  So, tell about V-J Day with the parade.

FS:  Well, anyway, so I uncrated, if you can believe this, and got ready six big tank transporters with six tanks.  And then we're instructed that we're going to go up here and we're going to go down Michigan Avenue because that's where this parade was held.  So, I went to the fellow running this thing.  I said, "I know they're garages under Michigan Avenue because I've been in Chicago often and got my degree there."  So I said, "You can't possibly run me over the top of those things.  I said this is 100,000 pounds for each one of these."  I said, "We'd go right through that just like nothing."  So, they routed me around the garage part and then hooked us up when we were back on solid ground.

Then, when the parade was over, we had to take these tank transporters back to Lima, Ohio, [where they were] built.  So, we had to take them back there before we went back to Fort Hood.  We had to be doing one of these two things because I remember I had to take a couple of tanks to - I'm thinking New Orleans.  It had to be V-E Day, maybe.

LC:  V-J?

FS:  I wish I knew this a little more clearly, because everybody was trying to have a big celebration and if you had big equipment they were always looking for you to be there.

LC:  Oh, be in their parade.

FS:  Yeah.  Mentally I just can't unhook these clearly.

LC:  It can be hard to remember the chronology.  Do you remember when you were discharged?

FS:  When was I discharged – well, see, I didn't go home right away.  When I was in Camp Hood, Texas they were sending out invitations for people who wanted to go to Germany to be in the occupation.  Well, I didn't want to sit in Fort Hood, Texas, and so I put in my papers and I was gone. 

LC:  You were volunteering again.

FS:  Yeah.  So, I went right to Bremerhaven.  From Bremerhaven they took me to the REPL [Replacement] Depot at Bamberg.  That's where I sat until all of a sudden a letter comes to me different than everybody else.  They're going here and there and everywhere and I'm going to Eschwege.  I said, "What am I going to do there?"  Well, there's an American military maintenance school there.  I'm going to be the G-3, which means the training officer.  So then I went there, and we had all GIs like back in Fort Sill, we had all GIs running this maintenance school teaching American soldiers, how to do maintenance on our equipment.  I was there only about three months when a full colonel from Frankfurt came into my office one day.  "Steinhauser," he said, "I've been looking this thing over and you're the only spark plug here."  He said, "So, you're going to be leaving here."  And I said, "Oh?"  "Yeah," he said, "I'm picking three people that I know from the whole European operation.  Three people, and you're one of them, and you're going to go to Esslingen, Germany and you're going to set up a maintenance school to teach German mechanics to do the maintenance needed on the American equipment over here, because all the GIs have gone home, or they are going home.  We can't leave this stuff, it's got to run and somebody has to take care of it."

So, we had sort of a commander who was in charge of the three of us, and he wasn't worth – well, anyway.  We, of course, had some experience in teaching motor maintenance.  So, the first thing we had to do is find people who were able to translate the American manuals, maintenance manuals, into German.  It didn't take any time and pretty soon we had twenty-five German guys coming every two weeks to learn to do maintenance on American stuff.  After three months, I guess when that…I guess what was happening, my sister got tuberculosis and I decided it's about time for me to go home.  This would be in about February of 1947.

LC:  1947.  Did you have difficulty in getting permission to come home?

FS:  No, there were a lot of people like me that wanted to be over there.  So, they weren't cramped…

LC:  They could get a replacement for you.

FS:  Yeah, and, there were enough people, the Germans where I was could have carried this school on themselves now because the people who did the translation stayed there and worked with us.  I stayed friends with some of them for years.

LC:  That's nice.

FS:  Yes, that was very nice.

LC:  So you came home, and was your family glad to see you? 

FS:  Everybody was delighted to see me.  I don't think I was home a month and I was already signed up in Mankato to work on a four-year degree.  I had built up some credits but I wanted to get the whole thing done.

LC:  Now, I asked you before we started taping today about the GI Bill.  Talk me through that again.  Tell me the story of how you used the GI Bill. 

FS:  Well, the GI Bill was such that it would pay you enough for tuition and some sustenance.  I forget what the name of the bill – Montgomery Bill was passed purposely to do just that:  To take GIs who had put in their time and guarantee them going to college, and that sort of thing.  Then I found that I was spending too much of my tuition at $15 a quarter, where when I went to the University of Chicago it would be five times that.  So, I paid my own way for the rest of Mankato, two years, and then when I went to the University of Chicago. Then I had enough GI time to get me through my Master's Degree.

LC:  What is your Master's Degree in?

FS:  Geography.

LC:  Geography. 

FS:  Yes.

LC:  Did you go on for a PhD?

FS:  Not then.  I'll have to tell you what happened because this is interesting, and Joan would be in on that.  We got married in 1949 and so this whole thing involved her as well, because we were at the University of Chicago and I had just finished my thesis and was getting ready to graduate, when I got a call from the Minnesota National Guard.  When I went to Mankato State to get my four-year degree, I immediately joined the Minnesota National Guard so there would be no break in service.  In other words, my longevity stayed with me.  They wanted me, they came looking for me, and so I joined the 135th Infantry.  That was the infantry unit with headquarters in Mankato.  So then I fell right in with them, and we were there until I finished my degree there, which would have been…in 1949, I finished my degree there; so two years – '47 to '49.  Then Joan and got married and moved to Chicago.  We just got set up there, and the next thing that happened she's pregnant and she wants to go back to Mankato to have our son, which she did.

LC:  Now, is she from Mankato?

FS:  She was.

LC:  How did you meet Joan?

FS:  At the school.

LC:  At school.

FS:  yes that worked out just nicely - old men and young women.

LC:  What was she majoring in? 

FS:  I don't know – English or literature or something.  But then, when we got married, she quit college, because we were out of Minnesota.  We're now in Chicago, and we're there only two months and, as I say, by that time I was done with the thesis and everything -   almost everything but graduation.  So, I got a call in December from General Cook - he was the head of the Guard unit that was headquartered in Mankato.  I'd known him because he was a Redwood county engineer and I often counted traffic stops for him when I was a high school guy.  Anyway, I got a call from him.  He said, "We just got a call from the President and the 47th Infantry Division is being activated, which includes you."  I bought a trailer, and Joan and I, with son, Mark, threw everything in we owned and went back to Mankato.  So I'm leaving her there, because I'm immediately in charge of a motor maintenance convoy.

It was my job to move about a hundred trucks from Minnesota to Camp Rucker, Alabama.  That was about a 4-day trip.  We got everybody there and never lost a truck.  Then we were told we can't have private cars there.  Well, I wasn't about to follow that, so I had to have an officer in front of us to make arrangements for where we'd stop every night with the convoy.  So, this guy I knew real well, I said, "Look, you're driving my car and I don't want to see you in it, and don't want anybody else to see you in it.  You just stay ahead of us a day or so, and make the stops where we have to go.  Well, the funny part of it was, once we got to Camp Rucker, I was the only one that had a car there and I had stolen some plates in Mississippi.  So, I put the Mississippi plates on my car and that's how we got around down there.  We needed that.  Then almost every officer in the world including the commanders were using my car to find private rentals to bring their wives and families down.

Anyway, we were at Camp Rucker for, I suppose, a year and a half.  Then I got orders to go to Korea.  The Army didn't want our senior officers. They wanted to have bodies that their own West Pointers would have.  So, they kept the division officers of the – you know, the General, etc., and all the rest, they just stayed there in Fort Rucker, but all of the people that were younger got sent separately first to Japan, where they had a place that went through people to see who you were and where you ought to fit and everything.  Well, most of them, of course, just got globbed onto a ship and sent off to Korea, but I suppose because of my Master's Degree, they pulled me out and put me in the Theater Headquarters. 

LC:  Thank goodness for the GI Bill! 

FS:  Yes.  So the Theater Headquarters took over the buildings that Tojo had.  Tojo, of course, was in jail now.  It was Pershing Heights where his headquarters was; now it's the Theater Headquarters that runs the whole Korean thing.  So, I got stationed there and I became the Chief of their Strategic Intelligence section.  [Laughs]  I stayed there, but then they wanted us all to be a part of Korea, too.  So, they'd send us to Korea for a couple of weeks so we'd have it on our record and all, you know how that goes.

LC:  Yes . 

FS:  So I went to Munsan-ni, where all of the Americans were who were supporting the negotiations there at Panmunjon, the DMZ, Demilitarized Zone, 38⁰ north latitude.  So I'm eating in the mess hall one night and there are 200 people eating there, and I hear a guy laughing.  I'm saying to myself there is only one person in the world that laughs like that.  It's a guy from Worthington, Minnesota.  So, I walk up and down the mess tables and sure here's this old joker sitting there – Wilfred Bremer, a major.  We started to talk and he said, "Well," he said, "look, I'm in charge of this place."  He said, "So tomorrow you come over", he says.  "I'll take you to Panmunjon and through the whole thing and you'll see stuff that nobody in the world but us will see."  So, that's what I did.  He loaded me in his jeep, he took me into the demilitarized zone, he took me through the Panmunjon stuff and so we had a great time together.

LC:  What was your rank at that point?

FS:  I was a Major - a Major.

LC:  When did you get your promotion to Brigadier General?

FS:  Oh.  Well, when we came back from the Korean War, then I went back and joined the National Guard again in St. Paul.  So, the first thing they did was they made me the G-2 of Intelligence.  That carried the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  So, in due time, that's when I became a Lieutenant Colonel.  I stayed at that rank until they moved me to the Adjutant General's Headquarters Troops.  Then I was in a position to be a full colonel.  So, I was a full colonel for, I don't know, a couple of years, and then I'm getting too old and I'm going to have to get out [of the Army], and so they promoted me to Brigadier General.  Then, after that, I'm out.  Thirty-seven years on the books.

LC:  That's something.  That's really a contribution, isn't it?  When did you end up going back to school for your PhD?

FS:  When did I do that?  When I came back to St. Paul, I signed up for the University immediately, for a PhD program.  Joan and I were given quarters on the St. Paul campus on the north end of St. Anthony Park.  They had those metal barracks.  That covered that whole thing up there.

LC:  Quonset huts, you mean?

FS:  No, they weren't Quonsets.  Quonsets were in the Midway. 

LC:  Oh, I see.  OK.

FS:  But these were actual barracks made of corrugated metal.  To describe where it is -   do you know where the faculty thing is up there…where you have to be a faculty member, University Grove.  On the east end of University Grove there weren't any homes built yet for faculty.  So that's where they put these barracks.  I don't know how many were there, but a lot of them.  So Joan and I moved into the barracks and we lived there until I got my job at the University as an instructor in 1957.  Then we bought a house on Langford Park, St. Paul.

LC:  Tell me about life in the barracks.  What was that like?

FS:  Well, it's really strange.

LC:  You had a child at this point, too?

FS:  Yes, we did, well most of them had kids.  I think that they put the "kid people" up here in the barracks, and maybe the other characters over in the Quonset huts or something.  Yes, it was a nice thing and most of the people that we associated with there we still associate with.

LC:  Really?  Oh, that's neat.

FS:  Yeah .

LC:  Did you have a lot of room in the barracks?  What was it like?

FS:  It was pretty tight.  You know, they were small apartments and you heated them with oil in a little room heater.  I think you had two bedrooms, small bedrooms and a living room, dining room combination.

LC:  So, bigger than the Quonset huts, probably?

FS:  Well, I really couldn't say.  I never was in a Quonset hut, so I don't know what...

LC:  Were they comfortable accommodations?

FS:  I think so.  Yes, we had a good time there.  We were all in the same boat.  Nobody had any money, we were starving to death.  So, we all got along pretty well together.

LC:  When did you finish your degree at the University?

FS:  1960.  So, you see I taught for three years while working on my dissertation.  I worked there for three years before I actually got my degree finished.  In those days it took you a long time to get a PhD because you had to do a dissertation, and you had to have a job for support.

LC:  Oh, yes.  What did you do your dissertation on?

FS:  Southeast Minneapolis – can you believe that?

LC:  Really?  How fun!

FS:  Yes.  I don't even have a copy here because I've given my copy to my son. 

LC:  Do we have a copy at the State Historical Society?

FS:  I don't know, but they have one over at the University of Minnesota, of course, in the Brown Room of the Geography Department.  Well, my two theses are out at my son's house.  I thought he deserved to keep them, with us moving around the way we did.  Yes, I finished in 1960 – I was almost an old man already.

LC:  Then what happened after you graduated from the University?

FS:  Well, then we bought a house on Langford Park.  I was an instructor first, and then an assistant professor, and then an associate professor, and then a full professor by the time I finished.

LC:  Tell me about the classes that you taught at the University. 

[Break in interview.]

LC:  OK, we took a pause to look at the text books that Fredric used in his classes.  Would you please tell us a little bit about those, and how often they were updated, and how you prepared those?

FS:  The courses I taught were not courses that you could go buy a textbook and the students use that.  I wanted very personalized courses pertaining to, for example, where we live.  I began with St. Paul, let's say, or Minneapolis, and then you move to the state, and then you move to the national, and then you move to the international.  So I decided I had to have my own textbook.  And so I prepared a student guide that is about an inch or more thick, which actually was a textbook plus workbook exercises, and that sort of thing.  I had a hundred students twice a day beginning in the Fall, so that I had 12,000 students [during my career at the University].

LC:  What grade level would these students be? 

FS:  This level would be freshmen, sophomores.

LC:  Was this a required course that you taught?

FS:  No, it wasn't. These were all elective.

LC:  You must have been a good teacher, as you have been given many awards.  And you have updated this book?  You wrote this book yourself…

FS:  I usually had a graduate assistant working with me.  I decided that we'd have to renew this about every two years to be sure that the data we had was up to date, except for things like geology, or things that don't change every year.  So, we would redo the book every two years, and then the students would buy them from the bookstore, and then that became their text for the course. 

LC:  OK.  You mentioned correspondence courses?

FS:  I think I taught, wrote and taught six of them.  One was Minnesota Resources - that was very popular.  Then I did more regional ones like South America, Europe, Asia – that sort of thing in which you would take a specific geographic area and then you could buy a textbook for that.  You could buy a textbook that covered Europe, and…

LC:  Did you write those, too, or…?

FS:  No, those I used right out of the bookstores, because you couldn't be a specialist and write something for all of these.  The only thing I wrote was a workbook that went with the course, because that is how a correspondence thing works.  They take the lesson and do it, and send it in, and you grade it and correct it, and then they go on to the next one, and the next one, and…  I think I had six courses all together.

LC:  How many would enroll in those correspondence classes?

FS:  Oh, I suppose the highest would be six or seven.  You didn't get huge numbers.  But, then it was sort of a constant thing.

LC:  When did you retire from teaching?

FS:  I retired in 1986, after thirty years at the University.

LC:  What's your favorite memory of your career at the U?

FS:  Well, in the college where I was teaching, you were pretty much free to do what you wanted.  I found that to be good; to be able to do what you want to do, and do a good job of it.  I think that's what I liked the best.  Then I am a Minnesotan, and I always loved Minnesota, and to me the University was the ultimate.  I didn't want to go anyplace else. 

LC:  Right.

FS:  So, I came back to the University of Minnesota.

LC:  Do you have a - have you kept up with any of your students or did you have any students that really stood out?

FS:  Strangely enough, yes, but the student who's been the most friendly was a girl that I had in the rural school I taught in 1938.  She and I have corresponded back and forth since then, if you can believe that – 1938 even until just the other day I wrote to her.

LC:  Oh, that's marvelous! 

FS:  But the other people, yes, you run into some strange things.  My wife and I were going into church not long ago and some man, older man was standing there and he said, "Do you know who I am?"  And I said, "I haven't the slightest idea."  He said, "Well, I was in your Geography course in 1965," and he said, "I really loved that course."  So here it's been 30 years, or 25 years, and he still knows who I am.  Surprisingly, this has happened on numerous occasions.

LC:  What a gratifying thing that must be for a teacher.

FS:  Yes, and I've had 2 or 3 that – the lady who was our senior secretary in our college office, when she retired we were talking and she said, "You probably don't know this, but my sister and my brother took your course and they loved it."  I said, "Well, why did you wait until I retired to tell me?"  She said, "Oh, I don't know, I never thought about that."  They had a different name than she because she had a married name, so I didn't associate the two at all. 

LC:  When did they take your course, do you know?

FS:  Oh, well it had to be sometime before '86. 

LC:  Yes .

FS:  I don't know.  I suppose '79.  He was a well-known football player, as I remember, Stevens was his name.

LC:  Wow.  So now you retired, you said in '86?

FS:  '86.

LC:  What have you done since your retirement?  Tell me about your retirement years.  What have you been doing since you quit teaching?

FS:  Well, the main thing - I have been doing a lot of community work because most of the work that I did in geography for my PhD, even on Southeast Minneapolis, were actually urban geography kinds of things.  So in this community the Lutherans took the lead in which they, in the newspaper and everything, said that St. Anthony Park needs to study itself and know what we are, and what's going on here, and what we ought to be doing with this place.  We want to have a community study.  Well, there were 200 people showed up and they all agreed that we should - all the people who live here - should be a part of a study of what St. Anthony Park is and what it ought to be.  Well, the crux of this thing was that somebody got up and said, "Yeah , and the guy that's going to be the head of this is Fred Steinhauser."  [Laughter]  Nobody's ever talked to me, see.  I thought, "Well, with all the guys here, because you know you've got a lot of professors living out here."  So, well, yes, I'd do it, so that's what we did.  We did a community study that when we ended up we had questionnaires filled out by 97% of the households.

LC:  Wow!  That's a good return.

FS:  That's better than anybody's ever gotten.  If you want to take that along to look at it, you can, too. 

LC:  This is really interesting.  I am looking at the bound copy of the community study here.  There's just tons of information here, tons of data.  What was the most important thing that you felt came out of the study?

FS:  Oh, that everybody was totally pleased that many of the things we recommended St. Paul accepted.  That was the thing that was the best.  If you went down to City Hall to any one of the – what do we call the people in charge of each of the districts – well, whoever it was – you had people in charge.  Anyone of them you'd go to and you'd tell them what you want done, because the St. Anthony Park Association, then, really became the sponsor of this, took it away from the Norwegians and all those and so the St. Anthony Park then became the base for this study.  That's where I got the people who went around and got the questionnaires done, and all that.

LC:  So they literally went door to door?

FS:  Oh, yes, door to door, and they would sit down with people and fill out the questionnaire.  This is the study that came out of it.  The zoning that was passed was almost exactly what we had proposed.

LC:  Is that right?

FS:  It was very good.

LC:  Very persuasive.

FS:  So, that's what I've been doing; community work mainly.  I haven't done much in going back to the University to do stuff.  When I left there I was a little unhappy with what was happening over there, so I sort of became a person here and put my energy into the community here.  Of course, I stayed with this…it was twenty years in which I did stuff, like I used to do all the firing of fireworks for the 4th of July for ten years.

LC:  Really?  Oh, how fun!

FS:  I would buy the stuff; store it in my house, and my kids would help me fire it.  Well, we did that for ten years and it was ghastly unsafe.  So, I went back to the St. Anthony Park people, even though I was one of them.  I said, "Look, if we injure just one person here it wouldn't be worth this.  We're trying to run a fireworks display in Langford Park.  The space isn't big enough.  When you are shooting things that go up 100-200 feet in the air and then they explode, what if one explodes on the way up?"

LC:  Or on the ground.  Yes.

FS:  We did have a few things like that, and here are my kids.  I just told the Association to quit, and they did.  So that ended the fireworks thing.

LC:  What other pastimes and hobbies do you have?  What things do you like to do in your spare time?  Do you have spare time?

FS:  Well one is that I am involved in music, picking out songs that I like and putting them on tapes and CDs, and that sort of thing.  But, when you get my age, you've got to exercise every day and you've got to do all kinds of different things and that's where my energy…  And then I have 4 kids where they need help all the time.  They all live within 20 miles of me.

LC:  What are their names?

FS:  All right, we had Mark, the oldest, then Paul, then Kurt, and then Louise.  Kurt got diabetes and after 52 years it got the best of him and he died last September.  It's a very sad thing.

LC:  And you have how many grandchildren?  You told me once…

FS:  Six.  Two in each of 3 families.  My daughter decided not to have kids, so she and her husband don't have.  Amy is a flight attendant for United.

LC:  Do you have granddaughters and grandsons?  Or just grandsons? 

FS:  I have five grandsons and one granddaughter. 

LC:  That's quite a legacy right there. 

FS:  Yes, it is.

LC: That leads me to my last questions on lessons and legacy for your generation.  What lessons do you feel you learned by growing up in the Depression, and serving your country during the War, and then building a career and a family during the post-war years?

FS:  Well, there's one thing for sure.  You didn't have any money, so whatever you had you had to work for it.  Nobody gave you anything.  The fact that I went to teacher's training and taught four years in rural school – that only happened because I didn't have any money to go anyplace else.  So, that's what I took, the easiest thing.  In fact as we're having a ceremony for a guy who just became 90 and I'm giving a talk.  I'm going to start off by talking about the great - what is it?  Who's the fellow that wrote the book?

LC:  The Greatest Generation?

FS:  That's the one, yes.

LC:  Tom Brokaw.

FS:  Yes.  I'm going to be using that at this talk I'm going to give because, well, we just grew up.  People were real.  We were brought up quite strictly, most of us, everybody was pretty religious.  You went to church and you did what you were supposed to do.  For some reason, you learned to do everything.  Like in my case, I became an electrician, a plumber, carpenter.  You didn't hire anybody because you couldn't afford it.  So, we learned to do everything.  Therefore we became quite competent, and felt that we knew what we were doing because we had to.

I think we had the work ethic.  The work ethic was there and nobody ever thought about "I'm not going to do that."  I mean, you went ahead and did it, and that was it.  Of course, in those days, a lot more people lived in small towns in comparison to the city.  So, when you were in a community, that was kind of a set thing that guided you in going on to be whatever you were going to be.  Then, of course, you not only had the Dustbowl and its problems, you had the Great Depression with its ramifications, and then you got drafted before World War II started.

LC:  You had a lot of things piled one on top of the other.  I think that's why Tom Brokaw coined that phrase – the "Greatest Generation".  You got through all of that – you rose to meet the challenges that you faced.  What was it like for your family during the Depression?  Was it a hard time for you?

FS:  Well, my dad owned a general merchandise store, so we were a little better off than most of the people.  But, things were so bad that people would charge in the store.  They charged $17,000 which we had to throw out because we couldn't get it back.  Well, if you take $17,000 from the Depression years and figure out what it would be today.  But, people didn't have any money and my dad would give them credit and they just never paid him.

The other things that were so unusual:  you normally burned bituminous coal in your furnace if you had one.  We got down to the place that farmers wanted to pay off their debt and they would bring us wagon loads of corn that was not shelled and throw it in our coal bin.  For a long time we were burning corn at 8 cents a bushel.  8 cents a bushel! 

The other thing was that many people, when we grew up in those days, had outhouses.  There were lots of people that didn't have indoor toilets.  We were lucky, because my dad built a new house in 1917 and so he had it with everything you needed.  So, we were the only people that had a flush toilet, and that sort of thing.  He had a ditch dug from our house to a creek about a mile away.  He had it dug all the way so we would be able to flush our toilet into the creek, which is what they did in those days.  Terrible sanitation, of course.  But, all of the people across the street had outhouses and that's the way it was.

LC:  If you had to give one piece of advice to younger generations today, what would that advice be?

FS:  Work hard, be honest and help people. I find that I go to all kinds of nursing homes and talk to old friends, and it's amazing.  You feel better that you've been there, and they feel better that you've come and remembered them.  In fact, I went to four rest homes just this last week, way out, driving miles between them, you know, to go to the right places. 

LC:  That's a very good thing to do.  Do you have anything else you would like to add?

FS:  Well, I know that if I sat down you'd have me talking one of those whole books.  That's not possible, so…I think it's nice that you are doing this and, of course, being a person who was in education all my life...  In my case, I've had three parallel lives that I lived.  One is being in education, starting from a one-room schoolroom and moving all the way through to a PhD and a full professorship at the University of Minnesota, which in itself is a big job.  Then, you go back and you pick up the military.  You get drafted and you go in the military.  You start out as a buck-ass private, which is the lowest beast there is, and you work your way up after 37 years, and finally you become a general.  So, that's a second thing.  And then, the third thing is this community thing.  If you read Norman Moen's article in that book that we had, he started out by saying, "Fred is three people," and he brings out education, military, and community service.  That's three things that I've done, and the surprising thing is I live on three incomes.  Without that we'd be broke.  I live on three incomes; the military is one, the social security is the other, and the third is from the educational side.  So, that's what keeps us going.

LC:  That's good. 

FS:  Yes.

LC:  Well, I want to thank you so much, Fredric, for taking time to let me interview you for our project. 

FS:  Glad to do it.

LC:  This has been really fun.  Thanks very much!