After my husband passed away in 2009, I ran across a little black notebook that he had carried with him on the ship in the Navy in WWII. It had notations and addresses of people, and notes, and I could follow his life those years, just by reading the little black book.
The Little Black Notebook
It was the litttle black notebook that Eddie had with him on the ship during World War II. As I leafed through the worn tattered book, 66 years old, the pages yellowed with age, I imagined the 17-year old boy in December of 1943, going to the train station in San Antonio to go into the Navy. His mother probably bought the book for him, because it was her handwriting that was on the page with all his loved ones’ birthdays! There were his four brothers, one sister, his mom and dad, and his sister-in-law, his little nephew, Dickie, his grandmother, and even his girl friend’s birthday! So he wouldn't forget!
I followed Eddie’s life during the next few years by going through the little black book. There were pages of names and addresses of loved ones left in Texas, pages of names and addresses of buddies in who he met in San Diego, in Bremerton, Washington and then on the ship when it sailed from San Francisco, several months later. There were girls’ names and addresses that he became friends with in those place. Then there home addresses of sailor friends on the ship, and families from their home who wrote him when he was in the South Pacific.
He always told me he was the gin rummy champion on his ship, the U. S. Sandoval. The book has many pages of scores of gin rummy games with his buddies. So I guess it was true .
I found two pages where he listed the places the ship went during the war. He listed first Seattle, Washington where he boarded the ship in September of 1944. Then they went down to San Francisco, San Pedro, San Diego, Ca. then left for Pearl Harbor, Hilo, Maui, then back to Pearl Harbor, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Saipan again, Guam, Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Espiritu Santo, Okinawa, Saipan again, back to Okinawa, Saipan again, back to Pearl Harbor, San Franciso, Oakland, Manila, Tokyo and home to San Francisco with tiny islands in between. The U. S. Sandoval stopped at over 35 places – cities, islands, and countries.
I looked up the history of those war years for the U. S. Sandoval. He had not told me even a tenth of what he went through. And they did go to all those little islands while being attacked by enemy aircraft. I wish I had asked him more questions. He was in harms way most of the time! He was just a skinny young kid from Pleasanton.
When he got home from the war, he went to work at Western Auto in San Antonio, as a salesman in 1946. The little black book had names and addresses of the persons he had sold a tricycle, or little red wagon, bicycle. One page lists “James Guzman, console or radio”, and “Mrs. Gion, waffle iron, lives on Delaware St”. There was even a notation for someone who wanted light bulbs!
I guess he carried the little black book in his shirt pocket when he was working at Western Auto. He always carried his valuables in that pocket of his shirt, even up to the day he went to heaven.
He put the little black book away after we got married in 1950. But he must have found it 30 years later. Because I saw a notation in his handwriting where he wrote our address in Hurst, Texas, where we lived for over 35 years. I wonder why he did that? It was on a page where he had listed his navy friends from the ship in the war. I remember one time he wanted to try to find some of his old buddies that had come back from the war. But that was before Internet and was difficult to try to find someone from 30 years ago. We didn’t know where to look!
That little black notebook has lots of history in it. Most of it was before I even knew Eddie Wauson. I wish I had known him then. He was 22 when I first met him. I was just 15. He was a handsome ex-sailor and seemed so mysterious and out of my league! After all, he had been to all those South Sea Islands and there were all those girls’ names and addresses in his little black notebook to prove that old adage, "a sailor has a girl in every port". But I was the one he married!