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Chapter XXVII - Richard to Service

Our son Richard had been drafted but had not yet been called to serve. He realized it would be hard to get a job because of the draft, so he went to see the board and asked to be processed. He wanted to serve so he could get settled.

I tried to have him exempted because he was needed at home, but my plea was rejected. He had to go and do his duty. It was ironic that at the end of World War II he was only fourteen, and I had thought that I had at least one son who had been spared and wouldn't have to fight. The war in Korea was over but we maintained troops in many parts of the world.

Richard was sent to Fort Dix for basic training and then to Maryland. Eventually he went to Japan.

While at Fort Dix he contracted a heavy chest cold. He didn't report his illness because he was at the end of his training period and he didn't want to repeat the training for another six weeks with a new unit.

On the last of training at Fort Dix he had to pass a physical examination. He was running a fever as he stood in line with the other recruits, his knees could not hold him any more and he collapsed.

He was scheduled to come home before leaving for Maryland. He spent those two weeks in bed in our home under the care of our family doctor. The day he was to report he was still sick. He was sent to the hospital at Fort Monmouth where he spent a full month before being shipped to Maryland.

While he was in the camp in Maryland our doorbell rang one morning. I went to open the door and there was a policeman looking for my son. He said he had a summons for him because he had neglected to pay a parking ticket.

I said, "He is not here. He is in Maryland in the service."

Then, said the policeman, "Your husband should appear on his behalf."

I told him that my husband was a sick man and that he couldn't possibly appear. He told me someone would have to answer the summons so I decided to go myself. The next day I went to the Newark post office where a clerk was collecting the fines. I handed him the summons and he told me it would be $25.00. I was shocked and said, "Why $25.00?"

He answered, "There is a penalty for not having paid on time." I said, "But I am answering for my son who is in service."

He said, "Go and see the man over there," and he pointed to a higher counter where a man was sitting in an imposing chair. He asked me what the trouble was and I repeated my tale.

He said, "I can't lower the fine. You'll have to appear in court." I said, "I don't have $25.00." He shrugged his shoulders, and I asked when I would have to appear. He said, "Tonight."

At the courtroom that night I sat and waited for my call. The courtroom was a very large room with benches to sit on. The cases were mainly traffic violations and the offenders were very young. When my name was called I rose and went in front of the judge. He asked me the reason I was refusing to pay the fine. I said, "I am here in place of my son as he is in service in Maryland. I didn't know about this ticket until the policeman came to the door."

"Why didn't your son pay the ticket?" the judged asked.

I replied, "My son came home sick from Fort Dix. I had to nurse him for two weeks and then he spent another month in the hospital camp in Fort Monmouth. From there he was sent to Maryland. I am here to honor his ticket. Twenty-five dollars is too much of a punishment for something that could not be helped."

The judge turned to the attendant and said, "Let her pay the original $5.00 fine." The attendant accompanied me to the collecting clerk. I paid the $5.00 and went home.

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