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  • Robison Wells

Willie and Red - Memorial Day

Memorial Day always makes me think of my Grandma and Grandpa Wells. Her name was Wilma and his name was Lowell, but they went by Willie and Red. I practically grew up at their house, and while my brother was definitely Grandpa's kid, I was Grandma's. We had a special bond.


Grandpa, as I'm mentioned here before, was drafted into the Army in 1942 and served in the 333rd Regiment of the 84th Infantry as a Supply Sergeant. He had many stories about the war, most of them lighthearted and fun, but as he got older and dementia set in he'd start to tell us more about the horrors of war. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland, and the Battle for Germany. He saw combat. He had shrapnel in his knee, but never got a Purple Heart because he was afraid if he went to the aid station they'd reassign him to a different unit, so the local medic took care of him. As far as I know, that shrapnel stay in his knee his whole life.


He came home from the war and lived a very good life as a wallpaper salesman for Bennett's Paint and Glass. He was retired by the time that I knew him--he got drafted into the war at 32, didn't marry until after, and my dad wasn't born until Grandpa was 45.

He died in 2002 at 91 years old. He was a very good man, and I miss him.


My Grandma grew up on a ranch in Round Valley, UT, (about ten miles from Bear Lake). She always loved animals, particularly sheep, and when she was older she'd make my dad take her on drives to places where she could see baby lambs.


But she was a gruff ranch kid, and during World War Two (before marrying my Grandpa) she was working at Bennett's Paint and Glass. One day she was helping the boss's son do some work in the warehouse--certainly not her job--but he wasn't working fast enough for her and she told him so in no uncertain terms. Well it just so happened that the boss's intercom had been on the whole time. She was called into the office, expecting to be fired. It turned out that, because of the war, there was a shortage of men to work many jobs in the plant, and the boss loved Grandma's sharp tongue and no-nonsense attitude and determined that she'd be perfect for handling the gruff teamsters at the shipping dock. So from then on she ran the order desk and bossed around all the men (and I have to believe she loved every minute of it).


Eventually the war ended and Willie and Red dated and got married. It was said that they went dancing a lot which, to my mind who only knew them as "old" and "very old" seems weird.


Anyway, she died three weeks before I returned home from my mission in 1999 at the age of 78.


I miss them both very much and wish them a Happy Memorial Day.

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