A MOVE TO DALHART, TEXAS
We finished first phase at Pyote and the entire provisional
group of 30 crews moved to Dalhart Army Air Base, at
Dalhart, Texas. The housing situation in Dalhart was as bad
or maybe a little worse than Monahans. Word was out that
the nearest quarters available was at Clayton, New Mexico,
60 miles west of Dalhart. The only thing available in
Clayton was at a tourist court for my family.
If the words “tourist court” are foreign to you, motels were
not yet in the picture in those days. Tourist courts were
individual units with an attached shed for parking vehicles.
The things were nothing more than a bedroom and bath
with linoleum rug on the floor. Heat was accomplished
with gas, steam or electricity. The type heating system was
dependent on what section of the country you were in.
The Clayton tourist court had steam heat and the place was
filled to capacity immediately with the arrival of the new
provisional group. We were near some friends we had
known in Pyote and we took turns driving the 120 miles a
day to and from the airbase, depending on whether or not
our respective crews were flying at the same time. We were
only a few miles from Colorado and it was fall when we
arrived at Dalhart. The weather was cold with frequent
snow flurries. The crews finally arrived at the base. Most
of the officers were married and had traveled by automobile
to Dalhart. Few of the enlisted men were married so most
of them were brought in by troop train from Pyote. I was
the only married member of my crew, so the rest of the
crew were on the troop train. The crew was rounded up
and we all checked in at headquarters.
The next order of business was to obtain quarters for the
men and secure bedding from the quartermaster warehouse.
I was delighted to finally get a copilot and navigator to
complete the crews roster. Lt. Robert S. Flannigan was
Copilot and Lt. Charles T. Hardiman, navigator. I sized up
both men and immediately liked what I saw. Flannigan was
from the Finger Lakes area in New York, while Hardiman
was from Rhode Island. Lt. Arthur Cox, our bombardier
had a twin sister living with their mother in Springfield, Ill.
She called him “Buddy” so we adopted that name for him.
We all loaded in my Mercury convertible coupe and headed
west for Clayton, New Mexico. The guys wanted to see my
baby daughter, Jan. While we were in Pyote, the crew had
decided to call her the “Buffalo Gal” since Buffalo Gap,
Texas was her home. They subsequently named our World
War II bomber The Buffalo Gal for Jan who now was
about 4 months old. Her eyes brightened up when she saw
the crew. They loved her and she loved them. They used
her for a football, tossing her from one to the other. She
loved it, and was always sad when they left.
I found rooms at the old Clayton Hotel that night for a
celebration commemorating our becoming a fill crew. We
found a real live honest to goodness old west saloon - brass
rail and all - across from the hotel. We were in cattle ranch
country and the place was crawling with real cowboys.
They wouldn’t let us pay for any of the drinks and it doesn’t
take much imagination to envision the hangover we carried
with us the next day. But it was good. We were a full
fledged crew - one for all and all for one!
Next...A New Aircraft
To read the whole story, Contact
Us for more information.