Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fathers and Dogs Suddenly Disappear: Excerpt #6

Excerpt from Follow the Dog Home book
As told by Bob Walsh:

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, sending shock
waves across the globe, the U.S. mainland, and certainly down Atwood
Street. For my dad and a lot of men, the attack stirred
something inside. Dad wanted to do something about it.
Eventually he did, with ramifications that would affect us
all. My older sister remembers Dad becoming very quiet
after Pearl Harbor and having discussions with my mom
about what he was going to do.

We’re pretty sure the unfortunate circumstances of
the war gave Dad a chance to fulfill what, for him, was
unfinished business. Dad went to the United States Naval
Academy and graduated in 1924. Most men who went to
the service academies back then were expected to make
a career out of the military. But while at Annapolis,
Dad’s eyes deteriorated. It didn’t affect his studies, but it
would have a lasting impact on his military career. His
poor eyesight meant he couldn’t serve on warships. That
essentially put the kibosh on Navy upward mobility.

With his career a
advancement limited, Dad was given the option
to resign from active duty and join the Reserves upon
graduation. That is what he did.
After a few months of cooling his heels and successfully
playing cards with his friends, Dad joined his dad at the
phone company.

The telephone industry was our family
business and nearly everyone else’s back then. Grandpa
(Daniel Walsh) got Dad the job. That was how things worked.
Dad’s return to active duty during the war came
with a caveat. His job in communications at AT&T was
considered “essential” to the war effort. His superiors
didn’t quite understand why he thought he could better
serve his country in a capacity different from what he was
already doing. Clearly, Dad wanted more.

In the spring of 1942, Dad left for the Navy. It was a
sad time for us, but we were very proud of him. He still
couldn’t be on a warship because of his eyes, so he was
assigned to Solomons Island, Maryland, the initial base for
training crews in amphibious operations. The training at
Solomons Island and at the U.S. Naval Amphibious Base
in Little Creek, Virginia—where Dad later served—would
play pivotal roles in the amphibious assaults in places like
Normandy. When his work was done in the Mid-Atlantic
region, he would later serve in Hawaii.

The Walsh Family,
1944: Back row:
Albert Walsh, Jr.,
and Marie Beth “Boots”
Front row: Bob Walsh,

Elizabeth Walsh, and
Dick Walsh

Joining the war effort was a family affair filled with
upheaval and uprooting. When Dad left, we moved
from Wellesley to Providence, Rhode Island. We moved
in with Momma and Poppa MacAdam, my maternal
grandparents. It was especially tough on my older siblings
because they had to change schools. That’s never easy on

While the rest of us missed our dad and worried
about our future, Dee Dee was in doggie heaven in the
home on the one hundred block of Benefit Street near
Brown University. Poppa Mac doted on that dog and took
her everywhere he went, including to work.
Poppa Mac was a tough Scotsman who smoked sweetsmelling
tobacco in a pipe. If you were looking for him,
you could just follow your nose. Or you could call out Dee
Dee’s name and retrace her steps. She would lead you to
him because she was always with him. When he left for
work as a night watchman at the Walsh-Kaiser Shipyard,
Dee Dee walked with him. She’d stay at the shipyard for a
while before walking back home, arriving promptly each
night at eleven. And then one day Dee Dee disappeared.

Find out what happened to Dee Dee in the next excerpt of
Follow the Dog Home.


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