Friday, March 20, 2009

In the Navy

When I was nineteen, I joined the Navy.

Yes, the United States Navy. You may recall that as I was growing up, I had always figured that if I was going to go into ANY service it would be the Air Force even though I couldn't fly because my eyes were not perfect. My, that was quite a run-on sentence, wasn't it? Sorry.

It wasn't until years later that I discovered the number of relatives that served in the Navy. It got a little weird. I had a cousin, two uncles and my step-grandfather all in the Navy and no one in any other service. No Marines, no Army, not even the Coast Guard. Oh, wait, my brother was in the Army Reserve, but apparently, he was in the Navy first.

That's quite a toy you've got there, buddy. Don't break it.
And comb your hair.

My uncle Tanny was also in the Navy. They
called him Tanny because my grandmother, in her infinite wisdom, named him Stanford. My father's youngest brother was named Nimrod, he went by Nim. He was named after his grandfather Nimrod Harrison, Jr. and his great grandfather Nimrod Harrison, Sr. Nimrod Sr.'s father Kinsey Harrison fought in the Revolutionary War. He was a Private in the Maryland Line for those of you familiar with Maryland history.

My father, Leon Kleylein and his brothers Stanford and Nimrod grew up in Maryland, for the most part in Baltimore. They did have to leave town for a while in 1917 and 1918 because their father, Peter had to abide by a rather peculiar law passed during World War I (actually, it was called the World War at that point)

If you had been born in Germany as my grandfather was, during the war you were not allowed to live within a hundred miles of Washington DC. Can you imagine them trying to pass such a law today? The court docket would be so clogged with lawsuits the commerce of the nation would grind to a halt. But not so in 1917. So Peter and the boys, Leon (the tall one) Stanford (the middle one) and Nimrod (the youngest one) packed up and moved to Pittsburgh.

I can't prove it yet, but I believe they made this decision because William J. Kleylein, son of John and Anna Kleylein was living there. William may not have been a close relative of Peter's, but they were both Kleyleins which meant their ancestors had all come from Unterrodach in Germany. The place was loaded with Kleyleins.

When the war ended, since Peter had not blown up the US Capitol Building, they were allowed to go back and live in Baltimore.

While he was in Pittsburgh, Peter still worked as a baker.
He was always a baker. I wonder if he enjoyed his work. I can't ask him, he was dead for twenty years before I was born. I wonder what he was like. Did he have driving goals? Was he really intelligent, but never had access to education? Or was he small-minded and belligerent and did he pass those qualities on to me?

I'm glad he had enough sense to get some good professional photographs taken of his boys. I know he had blue eyes from the photographs I have of him and I know he could smile because he has a broad smile making his bread deliveries.

I know this has taken us a long way from the Navy, but we'll get back to all that in due time.

1 comment:

Dave said...

You are definitely NOT small minded and belligerent!