Howard Brown was a field gun ammunition handler in the battle for the Gothic line in 1944 and the advance into north Italy in 1945, campaigns that saw the deaths of more than one hundred and ten thousand soldiers. The war was over before he was twenty. By the time he was twenty-one, he was back in New Castle, with a job in the Lingerlight dairy, a wife and a baby daughter, whose birth moved him to compose a poem entitled, “My Thanks”, which was printed in the personals column of the New Castle News in November, 1947.“Our Father, who are in heaven above,
I want to thank you for your endowing love,
Of giving me a daughter, whom I love from,
The bottom of my heart.
Thru your wondrous grace and my devotion,
We shall never drift apart. “Each night I prayed to you for a daughter fair,
With skin so smooth, and soft silken hair,
A turned up nose and eyes of blue.
It all seems so hard to believe to be true. “Thank you God for sending this little angel,
Each time she smiles she shows,
A cute little dimple.
With two chubby little arms to hold me tight.
Oh dear God you know what is right.”
There is no further record of Howard’s life other than his arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor in 1949.Sources: New Castle News (2 Jun 1944, “In US Armed Service”; 7 Oct 1944, “Five Local Men Serve With 168th”; 7 Nov 1944, “In US Armed Service”; 29 Jul 1946, “Dorothy Sanis and Howard Brown Wed”; 22 Sep 1947, “Births”; 22 Nov 1947, “From Me To You”).
Horrible poetry but somehow sad and dear and powerful in its dreadfulness.
It’s certainly heartfelt…
Not sure if you saw this. Do you think this is him?
HOWARD D BROWN
Born: August 26, 1925 Died: November 7, 1995 70 years PA 16101 (New Castle, Schuylkill County)
It could be, and it most likely is — which means that he was just 44 or 45 when he died. However, there was another Howard Brown of roughly the same age in New Castle (he went into the merchant navy when our Howard went into the army), so I wouldn’t want to say for definite. Nice detective work, though!
I wanted to drop in again to say that I really dig your work. It all resonates in some mysterious way, doesn’t it?
I hope so, Lance. And thanks for saying hi — I appreciate you dropping in!
How can this entry (and others) not remind us of the battle horrors so many of the men in this blog had endured in Europe and the South Pacific? “Shell shock” was the term used. Now it is PTSD. Alcohol was the self medication -for them, for their sons who fought in Vietnam and their grandsons and daughters fighting more recently in other places. The impacts of war visit generation after generation. This blog reveals how “there is nothing new under the sun.” But this was The Good War fought by the Greatest Generation.
I walked by Lingerlight Dairy every day on the way to junior high.
I can’t imagine how people manage to carry on with real life after going through the kind of things that soldiers see.