|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Bud Maier shares memories of WWII-Era Pittsburg

  • If a man threatened today to shoot down an Army airplane with a shotgun he’d probably be in considerable trouble with the law.

    But, back during World War II days in Pittsburg, August Maier Sr. got the results he wanted with his threat. His son, August “Bud” Maier Jr., who was a young boy at the time, remembers the incident well.
    • email print
  • If a man threatened today to shoot down an Army airplane with a shotgun he’d probably be in considerable trouble with the law.
    But, back during World War II days in Pittsburg, August Maier Sr. got the results he wanted with his threat. His son, August “Bud” Maier Jr., who was a young boy at the time, remembers the incident well.
    The 1953 Pittsburg High School graduate, who now resides in Overland Park, noted that the U.S. Army had taken over the Pittsburg airport  to train glider and Bulldog pilots.
    “We lived on East 22nd Street and Dad kept a milk cow behind our house,” Maier said in a telephone interview. “Two nights in a row student pilots buzzed the cow and it kicked over the milk bucket. The next day he said, ‘Come with me,’ and we went to the airport. He took his shotgun.”
    His father told the post commander that if any pilots buzzed his cow again, he would shoot down the plane with his shotgun.
    “That was the end of the buzzing,” Maier said. “If you threatened to shoot down a plane now, you’d wind up in Leavenworth.”
    The pilots stayed in the Hotel Stilwell.
    “My grandmother was a cook at the hotel, and my aunt was a maid there,” Maier said. “They would run shuttle buses from the hotel to the airport.”
    His father was employed by the Kansas City Southern and it was his job to see that the railroad pumping stations were kept in good condition to service the troop trains as they rolled south.
    “The points of embarkation for troops going overseas from this area were New Orleans and Port Arthur, Texas,” Maier said. “Dad had to be an electrician and a boiler maker. He had about as important a job as a civilian could have in the war effort. He had to drive to the stations, so he had unlimited gas ration cards.”
    He and his friends would often go to the depot to see the troop trains go through Pittsburg, and one of the older boys, Sammy Smith, a born entrepreneur, had a business going.
    “There was a grocery store across from the depot, and Sammy would go over there and buy pop and candy bars,” Maier said. “Then he’d bring them back in a wagon and when the trains stopped and the boys got off, they’d buy this kid out. Later on he started the first laundromat in Pittsburg and had Smith’s Top Shop.”
    He and his friends would also play “Army” in the abandoned strip mines around Pittsburg.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The remains of a kiln were near our house,” Maier said. “We pretended it was a machine gun bunker. I built a fighter plane from orange crates.”
    One of the kids had a metal toy gun made before the war started, but the others whittled their guns out of wood. During World War II few, if any, metal toys were made because  the metal was needed for the manufacture of weapons, ships and planes.
    He and his friends also enjoyed going to the movies and eagerly watched the news reels to see what was going on in the war.
    “We’d walk three miles to town to the movies,” Maier said. “It was 14 cents for the movie and 11 cents would buy a big bottle of pop.”
    While his father was not drafted, he did have other relatives in World War II.
    “One uncle was in the Navy and another was in the Merchant Marines,” Maier said. “My cousin had one ear blown off in France. Our neighbor, Freddie Hugy, came over to say good-bye before he shipped out. He was a parachute jumper and died on his first mission.”
    He remembers visiting relatives in Neosho, Mo., where he saw German POWs on the streets and in the stores.
    “They were interned at Camp Crowder and hired out to local farmers, who would send them into town on errands,” Maier said. “My aunt said the POWs were insulted when they were served corn on the cob because, in Germany, corn was pig food.”
    All in all, he said, it was quite an era he grew up in.
    He flew his own airplane for a time and enjoyed his Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.
    “We have four great-grandchildren aged 3 months to 7 years whom we love dearly,” Maier said. “We recently had our 60th high school reunion and a third of our class is gone.”
    However, he’s still active. After graduating from high school he worked a year for the railroad, then attended barber school, moved to the Kansas City area and opened the Corinth Square Barber Shop.
    “I’m still cutting hair,” Maier said.

        calendar