Donna Unknown Yank The Army Weekly Magazine Issue dated August 17, 1945 Page 16 and Page 17 WAR MEMORIALS By Sgt. Bill Davidson YANK-Staff Writer Blytheville, Arkansas.---When the men of the 5th Division smashed into Verdun last summer one of the first patriots to greet them was old Louis Cornet, caretaker of the world-famous Douamont memorial to the French dead of the last war. Later, M. Cornet took some of the 5ht’s men through the impressive structure on the battlefield just outside the city. He showed them the marble corridors and crypts, the golden windows, the chapel and towers. Then M. Cornet came out with the remark that sounded curious, coming from him. “This is probably the most beautiful memorial in the world,” he said sadly, “but what good is the beautiful marble today to the hungry and the homeless descendants of these dead? They cannot even live here. The marble is too cold.” This was a Frenchman speaking, but the thought seems to be confined to no one country. In the U.S., the Wisconsin’s legislature has passed a resolution urging practical war memorials this time instead of the occasionally handsome but useless stone ones so common after the last war. William Mather Lewis, president of Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., calls for “memorials like hospital beds, medical research projects, perpetual scholarships in institutions of higher learning, playgrounds, community halls, crippled children’s clinics, music foundations, and others which will probably immortalize the country’s heroes.” Some American towns have already built playground and recreation centers in the name of their dead of the second World War. In Denver, Colorado there will be a $3,000,000 war-memorial hospital. Cities in Britain and Russia are building memorial colleges and libraries. But it remained for the people of this small Arkansas town to think up one of the simplest, most human and moving tributes of all. Blytheville’s tribute is to the memory of Pfc. J.C. (Jake) Privett, killed last winter in Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge. Jake Privett was a 37 year old Infantryman who had a little garage on Division Street before the war and at one time or another had fixed a car for nearly everybody in Blytheville. He had a wife and eight-kids, the eldest Billy Gene is now 13, living in a rickety old four-room shack. When he was drafted worried plenty about his family. Jake worried even more when he came home on his last furlough in August 1944. Finally he went over to see his old friend, Jodie Nabers, a tall kindly, thin-faced veteran of the last war, who ran a grocery store in Jake’s neighborhood. Jodie was just about ready to close for the day when Jake drove up. “Drive downtown with me, Jodie,” Privett said. “I want to talk to you.” “Sure thing,” Jodie said. And he got into Privett’s car. “I’m leaving tomorrow,” Jake said after a while, “and iwonder if you’ll make me a promise.” “What is it, Jake?” Jodie asked. “Well,” said Privett, “if my allotment checks come in late, will you give my wife the groceries on credit for a while? And if they need a man’s advice, will do you do what you can for them?” “Sure thing,” Jodie said. Then Jake said suddenly, “Listen, you made me this promise. Maybe you don’t know what I mean. It may be for a long time. It may be forever.” “I know what you mean, Jake, “ Jodie said. “But take it easy, son. Don’t you go away feeling like that.” “I can’t make it, Privett said. “I know I can’t make it.” Six months later, on February 5, the telegram came. Billy Gene brought it over to Jodie’s place around noontime, and after Jodie read it, he had to close the store for the rest of the day. Jodie did what he could for the Privett family, but he kept thinking about Jake. Occasionally someone would say to him, “What a shame that a guy with a wife and eight kids had to go,” and Jodie would feel even more troubled than before. For three weeks he tried to figure out what he could do. Then he had to go to St. Louis on business. It was while he was looking at the big war memorial there that the idea came to him. “How many children,” he said to himself, “could be fed and educated with the money that went into this memorial?’ The idea stuck in his mind, and he mentioned it in the Glencoe Barber Shop in Blytheville when he got back the next day. There were 10 other men in the shop at the time. “Suppose, Jodie said, “that we took the money we were all going to give to raise a monument for the war heroes of Blytheville and bought a house for Jake Privett’s family instead?” Without his saying another word, the 10 men dug down into their pockets. Each handed Jodie a $5 bill. From the barber shop Jodie went to the Blytheville Courier-News office and talked about his idea to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Norris, editor and city editor respectively, of the local paper. Sam Norris wrote out a check for $25, then called in to the composing room. “We’re going to remake page one,” he said. Jodie Naber’s idea went into that afternoon’s edition. The first day after the story appeared $287 came in, mostly in dollar bills. Next, Jodie brought up his idea before a meeting of the local American Legion post. One member asked whether it would be fair to the families of other veterans of this war to single out the Privett family for help. Jodie answered, “Help other families, too, when each case comes up. But right now I don’t know of any other man with eight kids who has been killed in action. Make your donation. Then go over and visit Rachel Privett and her children. If you’re not happy then, I’ll give you double your money back.” The Legion gave Jodie a check for $50. Jodie also talked to the Lions Club at a regular luncheon-meeting at the Hotel Noble. The Lions have a strict rule against collections at their meetings. Bt after the meeting was adjourned, every member of the club came up to Jodie in the hotel lobby to give him money. One afternoon Jodie started at one end of Main Street and walked all the way to the other, stopping in at every store. Jodie has a bad leg and can’t climb stairs. But when word go round that he was coming, people in offices on upper floors were waiting for him with checks in the ground-floor stores. Jake collected more than $2,000 that afternoon. The same day Jodie went into a pool room for the first time in his life. He walked up to the cigar counter to speak to the proprietor. Before he had a chance to say a word, all the men in the place left the pool tables and filed silently past him, dropping their money on the counter. Their contributions came to $87.50. A church turned over all of a Sunday service collection to the Privett Memorial Fund-$113.15. Wherever Jodie Nabers went, people gave him money for the fund. Poor farmers in the swamps sent their kids walking 15 to 20 miles to his store to turn in 25-cent contributions. Meanwhile, money poured in by mail to the Courier News. At the end of 10 days, more than $4,000 had come in and Sam Norris tried to put a stop to the campaign. But newspapers all over the country had picked up the story, and now money was being mailed in from all over the U.S. Some editions of Yank ran the item, and the Middle East edition of The Stars and Stripes ran an editorial. Before long, GI’s and sailors in all parts of the world were sending in their dollars and francs and lire and rupees to Blytheville, Ark. The men of an isolated ATC base in the desert came through with $133.84. A 50 year old sailor in the South Pacific, with two sons in the Navy, gave $10. “This is the sort of thing,” he wrote, “that makes an old man like me feel like its worth going on.” In April, when the collection had come to more that $7,000, Jodie Nabers and Mrs. Sam Norris became a committee of two to find a suitable house to buy. In war-congested Blytheville they faced quite a problem. But on West Ash Street they found a pleasant 10 room, white frame house that hadn’t been occupied in some time. There was plenty of ground around the house and plenty of room inside for the kids. The house was in a nice neighborhood only a block from the Baptist church, and a school for the children was only two blocks away. Mrs. Privett could live here quite comfortably on the $200 a month she received from the Government in pension and insurance benefits. Jodie and Mrs. Norris made Max. B. Reid, a lawyer, a third member of the committee, and he closed the sale of the house. An architect, U.S. Branson became the committee’s fourth member. Completely redesigning the house, Branson got kitchen cabinets built in, a lot of re-partitioning done, an automatic hot water system installed, a new concrete walk and steps laid in front of the house, closets put in every room, new oak floors for the entire house and a new bathroom to handle the overflow of small-fry Privett’s. But a lot of things were still needed. And agian the people of the town offered their spontaneous help. Furniture was given. Someone sent over a playground unit for the kids. The plumbers of Blytheville kicked in with a complete new plumbing system. Electricians gave $262 worth of services. Every one of the 18 members of the Painters’ Union, Local 1264, contributed $50 worth of labor and inside of a few days the 10-room house had been entirely repainted, inside and out. One day the county Farm Extension man, Keith Bilbree, came over to talk with Mrs. Privett. He asked her about the kinds of vegetables she and the children liked. The next afternoon he showed up at the new house with a contingent of kids from the Future Farmers of America. They set in to work and within a week a vegetable garden had been planted in the 50 X 100-foot lot alongside the house. A short time later Blythevilles’ scoutmaster, Warren Jackson, showed up with a detail of Boy Scouts and got the peach, pear and apple trees into shape. About the same time 50 chickens mysteriously appeared in the chicken yard. Screens, rugs, lamps, bedspreads, and shades were given by Blytheville housewives. Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Marie Pollard spent three days sweeping and cleaning the rooms and arranging the furnishings. Old Willie Dickens helped with the heavy work. By midsummer the house was ready for occupancy, down to the last bath towel in the bathrooms and a copy of the Reader’s Digest on the living-room table. Then Blytheville held a brief, informal ceremony. Hundreds of people from miles around gathered on the shady lawn on West Ash Street. The Calvary Baptist church minister, the Rev. P.H. Jernigan, made a little speech. He said: “It was love that built this house.” Max Reid gave Mrs. Privett the deed. He said simply, “This house is donated by your fellow citizens in grateful recognition by your husband’s services.” Jodie Nabers handed Mrs. Privett the key to her new home. He didn’t say anything at all. Afterwards, the townspeople - 820 of them - walked through the house, looking at the furnishings and marveling at what had come about. The Privett Kids played on the swings and read comic books in the backyard. Ten year old Patty Jean, a redhead, fed the chickens. Eight year old J.C. Privett Jr. got a bellyache from eating green pears off the tree behind the kitchen window. One year old Linda slept in the hammock. Mrs. Privett sat on the front porch. She sat there crying. Photos accompanied articles and is posted at Ancient Faces.com for viewing under the title of J.C. “Jake” Privett. Article contributor: Donna W.
Jan 11, 2006 · posted to the surname Privett
Donna Unknown If you'd like a larger copy of the photo contact me and I'll email you a copy. Cherokee
Apr 29, 2009 · posted to the photo Sgt. John Ramirez, 1945, painting B-29's
Donna Unknown There are some Oklahoma Gann's that I contacted that may be able to help you solve this question. Good luck. Donna
Apr 29, 2009 · posted to the photo C-1 Cargo