TLC logo TLC #129  February 5, 2011

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road.
    - John Greenleaf Whittier
Dear Hearts and Gentle People:
The old hometown looked like a Christmas card, but that charm faded fast as life needed to be got on with. More accurately, your scribe is Housebound. Having no garage, there is a white lump next to the house where once stood a faithful sedan. But we'll dig out soon. Manana, maybe.
Yes, we had a "winter event" a bit more dramatic than we're used to. For your enjoyment, visit the website pages for this issue of TLC the website pages for this issue of TLC.
Barrister John Giorza ventured out with his camera, and those of you who live in warmer climes will be interested to see our winter wonderland. Those of you who live here may re-visit the "winter event" or simply look out your window.
The photos may not be up yet, but the webmaster will do that sometime today.
Before we get to the mail, I must take care of my sad duty, which is to relay recent passings.
June Kerbrat Elsea, LHS 1953, died last week. Mary Margaret( Ruehter ) Riley passed away on Dec 23, 2010.   Her sister-in-law Bonnie Ruehter wrote:
She lived in Universal City Texas and was 78 years old.. I have always forwarded TLC to her and her husband.   She is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonia, TX.    Maybe you could include in the next newsletter as some of the classmates might remember her.
Glad to do that, Bonnie.
For the first time in years, here is question from Webmaster Bob '58 Ball, and I can't answer it. Anyone?
In the City of Dover, MO, on the south side of Highway 24, just opposite the present-day church hall, there was a general store.  If I recall correctly, it was a real general store, selling groceries and auto parts and, probably, feed and seed.  Here's my question: what was the name of the family that ran the store?  This has been driving me nuts for several months.  It's just on the tip of my tongue, but I just can't seem to quite remember the name.  The building is still there, though now painted white, I think.  As I recall in my childhood days, it was red.  But otherwise, the building looks the same, only empty.  Please, can someone help me?
Jerry Mischon was president of the LHS Class of 1956:
The comment in TLC 128 about what a great place Lexington is reminded me of my opening comments at my 50th LHS class reunion.  I began with something to the effect that growing up, many of us felt like they rolled up the streets around 7:00 p.m. and Lexington could certainly be boring for us young people.  However, in retrospect, I had concluded what a wonderful place Lexington was to raise a family.  I do recall my parents finding out about a misbehavior on my part  sometimes before I even go home.
Don't we all.
This next came from John '46 Rostine, who has fond memories of Tabo. He fills us in for those of you too young to remember:
Back in the 40s, I was in high school and us kids went to Tabo Creek to dance. Tabo was located about eight miles east of Lexington, almost to Dover. Back then we danced the Jitterbug, and slow danced to the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Glenn Miller music, and Hoagy Carmichael songs. Wonderful music. Good old days. Thanks for sending me the TLC.
Here's a topic. What song most reminds you of high school? I'll go first: "Blue Moon."
The next note came from Sharon Shurmantine '65 McGinness:
I love your "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" reference.  The song plays in my head every time I get one of your newsletters.
When I was in grade school, there was a little bitty grocery store that you entered from 18th Street just across from the funeral home.   I think it was an apartment building at that time; it has since been turned into a parking lot.   I still remember the face of the sweet little man who ran the place.  I had it in my head for years that the store was run by Phil Stompoly's grandfather.  I happened to see Phil at his class reunion last summer and asked him about it.  It turns out that it was not run by his grandfather.  I would love to find out who that dear man was.
I responded to that one. Sharon, you asked the right person. That teeeeny store was Pete's Market, and that nice man was Pete Hood. That's all I know, except I can picture the entire room in my mind's eye. I know exactly where the fudgesickles were kept.
That was the Dankers Apartments building at the time.
Anyone else have memories of Pete's Market?
And now a rather long story which you may skim. HOWEVER, please notice the interesting mention of Our Town, and if anyone remembers this, please let me know.

Navigating to a climactic moment

By Lou Michel


Updated: January 24, 2011, 8:58 AM 

The Army Air Forces tried to do a lot a different things with Gordon H. Tresch, but he was determined to become a combat navigator, despite many twists and turns.

After he graduated from the University of Buffalo with a business degree, he was drafted and sent to pilot training school, where he soloed, but he kept pushing to get off the ground as a navigator.

Finally, in 1943, he found a sympathetic captain who approved the transfer. Tresch, a math whiz, did his commanding officer proud. He graduated first in his class from navigation school.

“When I was at East High School, I graduated with a 100 average in math. I took every math class there was but calculus. I was good in math, and there’s a lot of math in navigation,” said Tresch, who was also the high school class valedictorian.

But even after graduating with high honors from navigation school, things did not add up for Tresch in his push to navigate.

He was sent to gunnery school to learn how to operate the various guns on bombers.

Tresch was also given courses in how to be a bombardier and radar operator. There was hardly a job on a bomber that he couldn’t perform.

He eventually arrived in Savannah, Ga., where he served as an instructor navigator on B-24 Liberator bombers.

His goal, however, was to get into the thick of the fight.

“I requested a transfer to B- 29 school, which I knew would send me overseas.”

Again, he had a detour.

While navigating what he described as “a worn-out B-17 Flying Fortress” transporting 19 flyers from Florida to Nebraska, the plane suddenly started losing its fuel during a thunderstorm in the middle of the night.

“We all had our parachutes on and were ready to get out when I spotted what I thought was a landing field — two rows of lights. But it was the main street in Lexington, Missouri, and when we got down over the town, we were completely out of gas and we crash-landed into a willow tree forest just outside the town.”

All on board walked out, despite the fact that the aircraft was destroyed. “I was in the nose of the plane and temporarily knocked out,” Tresch said. “When I awoke, I turned around, and the whole nose of the plane was off. I walked out of the nose.”

In early 1945, he finally saw action. Based in Guam and assigned to the crew of a B-29 Superfortress with the 20th Air Force’s 502nd Bomb Group, he and his fellow airmen were given the mission of bombing Japan’s oil supply.

“Our group bombed out 95 percent of Japan’s oil supply,” he recalled. “We flew low-level because we were carrying full loads of bombs, and we only had a tail gunner, no side gunners. This was done to conserve fuel because they were the longest missions of the war.”

The flights were at night, putting Tresch’s skills to the ultimate test. “With celestial navigation, your timing in shooting the stars has to be exact,” he said, “and you have to shoot three stars as a triangle so that you can get a fix and determine your location.”

Little did he know that the final mission he would guide helped play an instrumental role in the conclusion of the war with Japan. Even after the world’s first two atomic bombs had been dropped, the country did not surrender immediately.

So Tresch and his fellow crew members were sent out to bomb an oil refinery in Akita. It would turn out to be the longest combat flight on record, just short of 17 hours aloft.

But this mission also had much greater significance.

When they were flying over Tokyo at about 10,000 feet, the city was plunged into a blackout as a defensive move.

“They thought we were going to bomb them, and the blackout prevented a potential coup by the Japanese military over the emperor,” he said. “The military wanted to continue the war, and the emperor had made peace.”

After bombing the refinery, Tresch said, he and the rest of the crew heard great news over the B-29 radio Aug. 15 as they flew back to Guam:

“President Truman announced the end of the war.”

When Tresch got home, he charted a successful course in business, selling Studebakers before owning a Chevy dealership in Niagara Falls.

In later years, he became a familiar face at Tonawanda Town Board meetings, serving first as a councilman and later as town clerk.

From Charlie '56 Pieper:

Thanks for getting me back on the mailing list.  The last issue I had received was TLC #121.  I feel that I am to blame for not receiving any since then. Along about that time I accidentally SPAMMED an entire page of my in-basket.  I lost a lot of contacts because of that,  I have gone back into your archives and have read the TLCs I have missed. Thanks again for your service.  I hope I can to continue to read your TLC's. I do enjoy them.
Thanks, Charlie. And this gives me an opportunity to not only plug our website (and the archived issues), but to remind everyone to send me your new email addresses when you change. Otherwise they will bounce back to me until I hear from you. Also do check your Spam boxes, because they do land there occasionally. I trust that is an accident!
Until spring arrives, the very best to you all...
Your devoted scribe,


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