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Exit January Laughing

Another interview I did with my dad, which published in The Harris County Journal in 2007.

Benny Baum was one of the captains under whom my dad served during WW II.

The officer was from New York and was not, under any circumstances, enamored with the rigors of war. In fact, he was terrified of the conditions in which he found himself.

When my dad’s company traveled from North Africa to Italy on a large troop ship, some of the more notorious practical jokers, including my dad, conjured up a story about an idling torpedo the Germans had invented.

They told Benny the deadly weapon simply hovered in the water, waiting for an unsuspecting ship to travel within range. The undetectable threat could stay for days, never losing its strength, until a target traveled close enough to set off the attack.

Consequently, Benny wore a life jacket for the entire trip and did not sleep a wink until they made it to dry land…

…And they never told him there was no such thing as a hovering torpedo.

When they arrived in Italy, it was in the dead of winter. They traveled to the northern part of the country, where the temperatures were quite nippy. Although they were in a relatively safe place, where few battles were being waged, Benny was still terrified. Consequently, he had some of the soldiers dig him a very deep fox hole near his barracks.

One very cold evening after the captain was sleeping and snoring quite soundly, dad and some of his buddies filled up the foxhole with water – very cold water. One of the bravest among them, banged on Benny’s door and screamed, “Air raid, Captain!”

Benny came running out of the barracks, never stopping to see if he heard any sirens.

And, yes, you guessed it. He ran to the foxhole and jumped in. Dad says he’ll never forget Benny’s splashing and yelling.

“Did he do anything to y’all?” I asked.

“No,” said my dad. “He knew if he did there was no telling what we would do. “But, Benny was great. He took it well. A person has to know how to take teasing. It makes life easier.”

I agree. There is nothing like a good joke…like the one Judy Adams from Pine Mountain sent me almost a decade ago.

Here’s to exiting January with a laugh.

Sarah, the church gossip and self-appointed supervisor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several residents were unappreciative of her activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup truck parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon.

She commented to George and others that everyone seeing it there would know that he was an alcoholic.

George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just walked away. He said nothing.

Later that evening, George, quietly parked his pickup in front of Sarah’s house… …And he left it there all night.

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