Monday, June 15, 2009

Come Monday...Dad

“Come Monday…” is a weekly series that will involve a review of, or commentary about, websites, movies, documentaries, television shows, sports, music, and whatever else may tickle my fancy at the time. Be assured that these reviews will be generally positive, as in accordance to the Jimmy Buffett song “Come Monday.” This is subject to change, however. In fact, I would be most derelict in my duties to neglect going on a rant every once in a while. For rants promote change, and change can be good—right? Therefore, since good is generally considered as being a positive force in 99.3% of the parallel universes that I am aware of, even a rant could be considered as being something positive, and a genuine hissy-fit would be even better (so I’m told).

As if one could tell (or care to), I have been rather distracted lately. For the time has come to complete the rewrite of The Crackerhead Chronicles, which is an abbreviated account of my life so far, and it is for this reason that I did not have much of anything for this series last week.

About the same was going to happen this week, but it was suggested that an excerpt from the rewrite might be good. For there are some out there, and you know who you are, who just might be willing to tell me if I am wasting His time.

Since Father’s Day will be here before I know it, the chapter (crumb) that provides some background on my dad before he met and married my mom seemed appropriate. Be assured that I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback—even from ne’er-do-well Scots.

The Third Crumb
The name of my dad was Fred Marshall Beuterbaugh. He was born on February 4, 1920 in the small farming community of Blue Mound, KS, which is around 65 miles south of Kansas City, KS/MO.

I do not remember if he was born in a hospital or not, but it sure wasn’t under the same conditions as my mom was. For my dad’s family was much better off than her’s in a number of ways.

Sadly, I do not know all that much more about my dad’s lineage than I do my mom’s. For I did get to actually meet his mother just before she passed away, and I got to have a fairly close relationship with two of his sisters, but there is so much that is still a mystery to me.

What I do know is that Beuterbaugh is Dutch—Pennsylvanian Dutch, if you are so inclined. For I can remember my dad getting very upset over me telling him that the name was of Germanic origin.

Okay, the Pennsylvania Dutch part is on me. For my dad’s bunch eventually settled in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania after coming over here from the old country, and I thought it was a nice touch.

Whether or not they were Mennonite, I do not know. For my dad’s mother and father considered themselves to be non-denominational Christians, and I was not made aware of any evidence of what prior generations were.

Neither do I know just when they came over, but it had to have been before the Civil War. For Samuel Buterbaugh (same name with a different spelling) served under the Union General Sherman on his march to the sea through Georgia and South Carolina. After the war, he rode under General Sheridan in a U.S. Army Calvary unit, and later became one of the earliest settlers of Kearney, NE.

My dad’s father was raised in Omaha, NE, and how he came to settle in Blue Mound, KS is another part of the mystery. The same can be said of where he met my dad’s mother, who was about as Danish as one can be.

Anyway, there is no mystery where the anger in my dad over insisting that Beuterbaugh was a Germanic name came from. For he served with the First Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War II, and saw his first action when he went ashore on Omaha Beach with the second wave of the division on June 6, 1944 (D-Day). Severe wounds that he received while out on patrol in the Ardennes Forest region of Belgium several months later at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge landed him in a hospital in Paris, France for several weeks.

It could be argued that being wounded like that saved his life. For when he woke up in the hospital, he saw his first sergeant lying in a bed across from him, and when he asked him what he was doing there, his first sergeant told him that they were the only survivors from their company. For what ones were not shot first were crushed to death by the German tanks that had rolled straight over their position a day or so after he was wounded.

As if that was not enough, when he was released from the hospital, he was assigned to another unit that helped liberate the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany. The only thing that he really had to say about it was that it was then that he was glad that the army had stuck a rifle in his hand instead of letting him do what he knew the best, which was run a bulldozer.

You see, my dad was a pipeliner, which is someone who travels around the country (the world, actually) building pipelines for the transport of such things as natural gas and oil. They can be heavy equipment operators, welders and a host of other things, and my dad was a master bulldozer man until back problems forced him to start operating a ditching machine a few years before those back problems forced him off the job completely.

It all started when his sister Maxine married Paul Williams, who was a full-blooded Choctaw from the reservation in Oklahoma. Uncle Paul was also a pipeliner, and he got my dad jobs as a bulldozer greaser during summer vacations from school.

From then on, my dad was hooked. For the money was very good—especially during the days of the depression, and tales of far away places, like South Carolina and Connecticut, fueled the imagination of a boy who knew only the prairie of eastern Kansas.

No, not even an offer of a full scholarship to play basketball for Hog Allen at the University of Kansas could dissuade my dad. For he was going to be a pipeliner, and be the best bulldozer operator that had ever been seen.

Speaking of my dad playing basketball, he once told of his high school team getting beat 100 – 2, and that he had scored the only points for his team on a pair of free throws. The rest of the story was that the principal called the entire school to an assembly, and after placing the members of the basketball teams in chairs behind him so that they could be clearly seen by all, he then proceeded to declare in no uncertain tones that he would dissolve the team and forfeit the rest of the games if anything even remotely like that 100 – 2 defeat happened again. Considering the fact that my dad was the shortest player on the team at six feet tall, and that the rest of the starting line-up consisted of two at 6 feet 10 inches tall and two at six feet seven inches tall, who could blame him?

Yes, I cannot blame you for thinking that his story was quite a tall tale in itself. For there being so many white boys that tall around such a small community back in the 1930’s is hard to imagine.

On the other hand, my wife and I saw an older gentleman, who appeared to have been born around the same time as my dad, have to duck to go under a seven foot tall doorway in a restaurant in Liberal, KS one night. So, maybe they just knew how to feed ‘em right back then?

My dad was also quite a shortstop for his Blue Mound High School baseball team. In fact, he even got some offers to play in the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns (that became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954) farm systems, but the money they were talking about was not nearly as much as he was already making pipelining.

So, after sticking around Blue Mound for a year or so to care for his ailing parents upon his return from the war, my dad return to the life that he loved. Granted, it was a lonely life, but that all changed when he met red-headed Cherokee from Arkansas in 1951.


  1. Thanks for sharing the history of your family and your dad. Have you been to Lancaster PA lately? I was there recently and traveled to the battlefields in Gettysburg (I enjoy history). I discovered a neat Christian theater in Strasburgh - Sight and Sound Theaters. They perform full musical productions on the stories of the Bible. Visit their site If you make it to PA sometime, it is well worth the effort to find them and attend an event.

  2. I went through parts of the battlefield at Gettysburg several times while I was still driving a truck, but I never had an opportunity to stop and actually walk the grounds. I also went through Strasburg several times when the company I was driving for did not want to pay the toll to run the PA Turnpike between Philadelphia and Carlisle, but I cannot recall hearing about the Christian theatre there before. Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Mike!!!

  3. What a wonderful story you are sharing. Learning about our parents too often happens after they are gone. What you have is a family history to pass on to generations so that they may know from whence they came. My husband often tells me that my children really do not know me (he is not their father). They have always seen me as strong and a problem-solver for them, as well as a bank at times. :) How I wish they would take the interest in family background that you have.


  4. Thanks for the encouragement, my dear Cherlock!!! Please, at least write down everything that you know about your family history for your kids. For there may come a day when they, or their children, are interested.

    Alas, although I now know that I was adopted, I still wish that my parents had of been more forthcoming about their pasts. For even if it is true that none of their blood runs through my veins, they still helped mold me into who I now am, and their past experiences had much to do with that.

  5. What an interesting story. Are we going to hear the rest of the story? I sure hope so. Thanks for sharing this.

    Love and Blessings,

  6. Thanks for the encouragement, my dear AngelBaby!!! If you look under the archive section on the sidebar, you will see a link to the first edition of the The Crackerhead Chronicles, and if you will click on the tag-link by the same name at the end, the complete first version is already posted here. The rewritten version will be somewhat different, however, and having to scroll back down after each segment is a pain.

    Sorry. I am in the process of making it better.

  7. WOW...was everyone in your family story tellers, those are some pretty tall tales. Particularly when you first say you know so little about the family. I would say you know quite a bit. Though in my genealogy research I've often found family lore and proven facts don't always mesh quite the way people want them to. The family lore, true or not is fun to pass down through the ages.

    Used to enjoy doing genealogy for others as much as I did myself; but due to terrible cut backs at several good historical libraries around, I had to give up doing that.

    I do thing it's nice now that people besides old grandmothers are interested in family stories; for several generations it seems much was lost.

    Good of you to share, and to encourage others to write down some of their own family history for those that follow them.


  8. Well, they are not supposed to be tall tales, my dear Sandy. For I am just passing along what was told to me, and I have done some research to verify much of it. Anyway, thanks for stopping by again.

  9. Well, thank you so very much, my dear Mike!!! For a ne'er-do-well Scot, you're really not half bad.


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