Veterans Day is time to ponder sacrifices made
Glimpses of Yesteryear
Wednesday, November 07, 2012 2:25 AM
Veterans Day is approaching and we ponder the sacrifices made by countless families as their loved ones went off to war. Twenty-six years ago, LaCrosse, Wis., was planning a parade, and the reporter from the La Crosse Tribune interviewed Quincy Hale, one of their prominent citizens.
The World War I Memorial at the intersection of Broadway and Courtland, later moved to the 'park' north of the Molstad School on the South Broadway hill, where it eventually deteriorated.
At age 93, Hale had practiced law in LaCrosse for 67 years. He grew up in Spring Valley, one of six children whose father was Herb Hale, a farm implement dealer. He graduated from high school and was attending the University of Minnesota Law School when World War I began in April, 1917. Quincy and his brother Everett, caught up by the patriotic fervor, decided to enlist. Everett was accepted at once in the Army, but Quincy was rejected, being underweight for his height. The Army thought he looked "tubercular." (Several years later he was stricken with tuberculosis and spent a year in a sanitarium, where he recovered.)
Hale returned to law school, then learned the military was accepting earlier rejects. After considerable tests and delays, he finally was able to join the Army Air Corps, and reported to pilot training in Austin, Texas. A problem arose while the pilots were in training - the biplane had a design flaw (they were called flying coffins!) and the fuselage was too close to the engine so it often caught fire, so the prospective pilots were put on "wait" while the design was redeveloped. Quincy worried that the war would be over before he got to serve. He and some buddies soon signed up for balloon observer school in California, where they could complete training and be shipped at once to Europe.
In the meantime, a flu epidemic swept the country, killing civilians and soldiers alike. He luckily avoided the flu and completed his training, but only about the same time the Armistice was signed.
Two brothers also served in World War I - Arlow, an electrician at Ft. Lewis, Wash., and Everett, who was killed in France just a few days before the Armistice. The local Everett H. Hale Post #68 is named in his honor. A third brother never saw service, turned down because he had "fallen arches."
Local historian John Halbkat recalled the wild celebrations that erupted in town when it was learned the war was over. He remembered church bells were rung, fire whistles blew, and folks gathered downtown to lustily shout, cheer and sing, expressing relief and joy that their "boys" would soon be coming home.
In the adjacent photo we see the 10-foot monument erected at the corner of Broadway and Courtland during World War I. Three feet square, of wood planks, and painted to look like granite, it honored soldiers who were fighting overseas and printed on the side were names of those who died in service. We see memorial wreaths, red crosses, and the band that was playing on this particular occasion. You can check out the Fillmore County Veterans Memorial on the west side of the Methodist Church Museum on West Courtland; it names those who gave their lives for our gift of freedom.
Quincy Hale founded his law firm in 1936 in LaCrosse, where he began a lifetime of professional and community service. Among his many accolades - a term as president of the Wisconsin Bar Association, president of the board of trustees at the Oak Forest Sanitarium, and 15 years as chairman of the LaCrosse Public Library. He was also a generous donor to the Spring Valley Historical Society when it was formed in 1956, and continued his interest and support the rest of his life. He died in February 1987.
Halbkat & Son, one of our longtime merchants, handed out "Wartime Recipes" to their customers during the war when folks "made do" with what they had, but endured hard times as all hardy and frugal pioneers have done throughout the years. The handout told the story: "Saving the Wheat for our Soldiers and the Allies: NO WHEAT! Use corn, barley, oatmeal, rice, rice flour and other cereals. Oatmeal, the Food of Many Uses: breakfast food, puddings, baked dishes with nuts in place of meats, bread, wafers, cookies, soups."
Recipe for Combination Muffins: Add to one cup of milk, one tablespoon of melted fat, two tablespoons of syrup, and one large slightly beaten egg. Sift together four teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon of salt, 3/4 cup ground rolled oats, and one cup of corn flour (or l-l/2 cups of barley flour.) Combine the two mixtures, stir lightly without beating. Bake in a hot oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the muffins.
Enjoy the muffins, and hats off to our military personnel, those who paid the supreme price, and those who are still serving us today. Bless 'em all!