Friends know I enjoy used bookstores. There are many within easy driving distance of our place in Bloomington, Minn.
I recently purchased the above book for $1.50 at a Salvation Army resale outlet near the place that sells me Starbucks Italian Bold coffee.
“What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?” was self-published by Gordon C. Krantz, who like Dorette and me is (or was) a resident of Bloomington, Minn. It is subtitled “The Reminiscences of an Ordinary Draftee in World War II.”
Krantz was a member of the 537th engineering company, involved in combat during 1944 and 1945 after shipping to Europe aboard the passenger liner “Queen Elizabeth.”
The book describes his wartime experiences (as well as a tour of the battlefields he took with his wife many years after the war).
Here’s a brief excerpt, apparently from his diary:
“I don’t expect to come back. In a war you get killed. The ways things are going in Europe, we are in for a grim time. We know how to kill the other guy and he knows how to kill us. I may be alone in this expectation of getting killed, but I don’t think so. We have a song, a parody of the WWI song “over there.” It ends with ‘We’ll be over, we’re going over, and we’re all coming back in wooden underwear.’ Wooden underwear is a pine box.”
The 16.1 million veterans of World War II are rapidly disappearing. Only about 3.4 percent of those who served are still alive.
The book has a warning notice on its title page: “This version is a private publication for family use only — Not for sale.”
If my calculation is correct, Krantz would be 93 years old. Not impossible, of course.
But given the fact his request that the book not be sold was ultimately ignored (recall that I bought it used at the resale store), Krantz may have crossed to the other side.
Dead or alive, I salute you.