Saturday, October 15, 2016

Eugene Gochenour's Memoirs: Floods and Subs

Gene with baby Nancy and niece Linda Guenther
at Kuhn's house across Rosemont Ave with
the station and the Military Road house in the background.
In this section of his memoir Dad writes about touring my Uncle Dave's Navy submarine and the flooding caused by the development of the farm land in the post-war building boom.

"A few years after we married we had our first child, Nancy Adair.
My parents with newborn me in our Military Rd house. Dad was 22 and Mom was 21.
Gene with 14 month old Nancy at the station
"My sister Mary and her husband Clyde lived in the apartment below ours, and they had a daughter named Linda. My younger sister Alice was still living with my parents at the apartment next door.


"This picture was taken at the rear yard of the house. The girl with the cowboy hat is Linda Guenther, the other is Nancy. The lot behind them is where the Town dumped trash, and where a Texaco gas station and a bicycle shop would be built. Connie Ippolito ran the bicycle shop, and his brother Joe ran the station. Also in the background is the Brace Mueler Steel warehouse. The house on the right was owned by the Kellers, and it sat on the other side of Waverly Street.

Rosemont Ave, 1953. Mom and Mary Becker (wife of Levant Becker) with
me and cousin Debbie Becker.
Rosemont Ave houses. I rode this tricycle until Dad bought me
a blue Schwinn bike from the shop next door.

Along Rosemont Avenue, 
*****
"When all the soldiers came home after the Second World War, there was a terrific building boom. After all the fields we had once farmed were developed, our house was now below the grade of the new ones, and when it rained, water would come gushing out of the sewers and flood Military Road. 


Military Rd flooding- our house,the station, and  the Texaco station.

Military Road flooding. The Kuhn house.
"During one particular severe storm the water raised to within inches of filling the basement of our house. The house had been there for over a hundred years, and just then was threatened by a flood! When the water receded, there were fish all over our yard. The fish were suckers, and they probably thought they were swimming up a stream, and when the water receded, they were stranded. We picked them up and dumped them back into the sewer grates on the street from which they had come.

"The photo below shows the Erie County Highway Department garage across the street from the station on the right, and the bowling alley on the left. Ensminger Road lies between them. I
August 1965 dated photo of flooding

The bowling alley at Military Road and Ensminger Road from Rosemont Ave. 1965.
The bowling alley at Military and Ensminger Road. 1965.
The bowling alley at Military and Ensminger Roads, 1965 flood. In far distance
are the Sheridan Park project homes.
"There were many more floods after the fields were filled with houses. The photo below shows the Erie County Highway Department garage across the street from the station on the right, and the bowling alley on the left. Ensminger Road lies between them. In the distance, to the left of the bowling alley, on the last flood photo, can be seen some of the Sheridan Park Housing project homes. The railroad tracks is just on this side of them.


*****
Dave Ramer
"Joyce had a sister named Nancy, and twin brothers, Don and Dave. Dave was in the U. S. Navy and one summer day Joyce and I drove to New Haven Connecticut where Dave was stationed. From there we drove to New London where his sub, the U. S. S. Angler was stationed. In the harbor where the sub was docked was a large fleet of moth-balled sub tenders. They were docked side by side in two groups. Across the river was the Electric Boat Company, and at their dock floated the Sea Wolf, an atomic submarine that they had just completed building for the Navy. 
The U.S.S. Angler 
"All the crew of Dave’s sub the Angler had invited girlfriends and family to spend the day sailing Long Island Sound on the sub. While we were on the sub, each of us operated some part of the sub, such as the periscope, or angle of descent, as we submerged. When we were top surface, a sailor with a life jacket was thrown overboard, to show long it would take for the sub to turn around and rescue him. We went in a big circle covering a few miles before we got back to him. All the visitors got a chance to look through the periscope. It had two settings, one for objects nearby, and another for distant objects. 
My mom is second from left in scarf, dad is behind her to the right. On the deck
of the U.S.S. Angler.
"Then we were taken for a tour of the sub and shown the huge engines and the bank of batteries that weighed many tons. In the front of the sub were the torpedo tubes and torpedoes. There were bunks for sleeping built in between the torpedoes because all the space was utilized on submarines. The wartime complement of men on that sub was one hundred. 

Dad in center, inside the U.S.S. Angler
"After we submerged and the diesel engines were running, the captain opened and closed the air intake in the periscope, to simulate how it would feel in rough sea. When the sub is submerged and the diesel engines are running, the air they need is delivered to them through a tube in the periscope. When waves pass over the periscope, a valve closes and the air is taken from inside the sub. When this happens you can feel it in your ears, like when you drive up a mountain. While we were submerged we were served an excellent diner of steak and mushrooms. Joyce and I enjoyed our day cruise on Long Island Sound, a day we long remembered.
Dave Ramer on the SSX-1 Sub

"The next time we visited Dave and his wife Pat, he was stationed at Annapolis. They had three girls, Debbie, Cindy, and Linda. Joyce and Nancy stayed with Pat and the girls and Dave and I drove to the Naval station where he worked. It was a small building with a dock on a river that flowed into Chesapeake Bay. 
My Grandmother Ramer on the SSX-1 Sub, Annapolis, MD

"No one was at the base when we arrived there so we played a game of pool on their table, then went to the dock to see the sub he worked on. It was the U. S. Navy’s only fifty-foot experimental sub, and it was painted fluorescent red. Dave was part of the crew, and occasionally they would sail out onto the bay where they would run submerged at different depths under a bridge. The bridge had equipment suspended beneath it that was used in an attempt to detect the sub as it passed under, by the effect it had on the surface of the water. After checking out the sub we took a Navy boat, a Whaler, and went out on the bay to fish. We did not catch any fish that day, but we did have a nice boat ride. 
The SSX-1 Sub, Annapolis, MD
"When we got back to the dock it was getting dark and the tide was coming in bringing many jellyfish with it. With a flashlight we could see many strange ocean fish I had never seen. The next day we bought some crabs from a street vendor and brought them back to Dave’s house. We all had a feast, and Dave’s daughters were experts at dissecting and eating crab. Then Dave gave Joyce and I a tour of the Annapolis Naval Station. There we saw huge sailing ships that were used by the cadets for training, the barracks where they stayed, and the parade grounds. Groups of cadets were on the grounds parading. We enjoyed that vacation."

I remember this vacation very well. I loved those crabs, but the next day driving home I felt sick. It was hot, the windows were blowing hot air. Mom took a home movie from the car, and I show up red faced and woozy.


Read more about the SSX-1 at
http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08548.htm
Read about the U.S.S. Angler at
http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08240.htm