Friday, April 4, 2008


On the hot August afternoon, when this photograph of Bernard Sullivan (left) and his first cousin James Fecht was taken in Chillicothe, Missouri, they would have had little inkling that within a year war would disrupt both their lives. Bernard would be in the U.S. Navy and Jimmie in the Marine Corps. The little boy Gerald Fecht (Jerry), now 70 years old, still remembers this family picnic, half-way between Corning, Iowa and Mexico, Missouri.
I was about 4 years old in this photograph. The picnic-reunion was probably the first big automobile trip of my lifetime. I recall the excitement of my dad and others fixing a flat tire - there were patches to be applied to the tube - and, my first recollection of my dad calling the tire a "sucker!" (Bill Fecht never used any other swear words, save a very rare "damn.") The Missouri family traveled in a caravan on the journey.
I don't recall where we slept, but on Sunday we went to a Catholic Mass in a massive church. Saint Brendan Church in Mexico, Missouri was a tiny chapel on the second floor of the parochial school. Years later I saw the church in Chillicothe and it was itself very small as churches go. On the picnic day, I recall looking through a fence to see real alligators! And, being held up by my big brother Jimmie to look through a dusty garage window to a car that belonged to Mark Twain.
There are several group photos of this reunion. But, I had never seen this photograph before Dr. Dan Sullivan sent it today.

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