Carrying my freshly-filled 32-ounce mug of iced tea from Hardenbrooks at the Iowa State Fair, I scanned the Pella Plaza looking for a place to rest a spell. I noticed an older gentleman seated on a bench by himself, so I asked if I could join him for a while.
He was wearing a Korean War military ballcap with a medal pinned to it. He welcomed me to take a seat.
It wasn’t long before I struck up a conversation. I’m good at talking to folks and meeting strangers seems to be one of my specialties.
As I sipped on my iced tea, I asked the gentleman if he was in the Veterans’ parade.
“No,” he said. “I came to watch the parade.”
I introduced myself and he told me his name was Philip with one “L” and that he was from Pleasantville. He said his last name, but I didn’t write it down.
We visited a bit and by the time I was done, he had shared most of his life story with me.
I asked his age and he said he was 91 and had been blessed with good health.
“I have a good heart,” he said. “I’ll be 92 in October.”
Philip was drafted into the Army as a young man and served in the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, 3rdDivision.
“I was in the same unit as Audie Murphy, but just in a different war,” he said.
For those who may not know, Audie was from Texas and served in World War II. He was the most decorated soldier in the military.
Philip was shipped off to Camp Crowder in Southwest Missouri. From there, he rode a train to Fort Ord in California for infantry training. For Ord has since closed.
“We were going through a mountain pass and the steam from the train would fill our train car,” he said with a smile.
He saw action on the frontlines in the Korea War from November 1952 to July 1953, where he earned an Army Combat Infantry badge. It was pinned to his hat. He spoke highly of his time in the military, making reference to his badge a couple times. Philip spent eight years in the Army, two active and six inactive as a member of the reserves.
After the war, he returned to Pleasantville. He said times were tough and his folks were about to lose the farm. The banker suggested he go into partnership with his parents. Philip said that wasn’t too good of an idea, saying he and his parents would have lost everything. Somehow, he stayed on and saved the family farm.
I asked if he had married and he told me that he hadn’t. He shared a story of his first love before going to war
“She was a beautiful girl,” he said. “We dated a couple years.”
I could tell that it was bringing back memories from a time long ago.
He said he saw his first love’s father one day after the war and told him that he couldn’t marry his daughter, that he needed to stay and help his parents on the farm.
Philip said he dated different gals off and on through the years, but never married and he seemed to be fine with that.
Well, it was time to go, so I asked Philip if I could take his photo, which I did. We shook hands and I said something about hoping to meet him again. He agreed.
Philip was one of many people I stopped and visited with at this year’s fair. I always talk about meeting Debbie the first time at the state fair. We will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary in September.
Prayer makes a difference
On Saturday prior to the Iowa State Fair Queen contest, I was mingling about the queen candidates behind the Bill and Anne Riley Stage looking for the Poweshiek County Fair Queen, Miss Hailey Heishman. I found her and asked how she was doing. She said she was having a good experience. I asked if I could take her photo, which I did.
One of the nearby queen contestants asked some of the girls if they would like to pray. A dozen or more of them held hands and prayed, asking God to bless and be with them.
In this crazy world we live in, it was refreshing to see these young ladies, all of them vying for the state fair queen title, taking time to pray.
I live a blessed life and am thankful for every opportunity that crosses my path. I hope you had a chance to attend the Iowa State Fair where memories are made.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.