By Richard Mabey Jr.
In early November of 1945, my Dad came home from the war. It was a wonderful, joyous time for my Dad. My Dad served in the Seventh Army Air Corps at Hickam Air Field during the Second World War. Hickam Field is adjacent to Pearl Harbor. One portion of the base’s border actually touches the border line of Pearl Harbor.
Dad was sent, with hundreds of other men, to help clean up the terrible damage that had desecrated Pearl Harbor and Hickam Air Field. Even to just days before Dad went Home to be with the Lord, he could hardly even talk about the devastation and destruction that the Japanese attack had left.
Dad worked on some of the greatest planes of World War II. Among them were the infamous single seater fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang. And, also the B-25 Mitchell bomber plane. Dad learned to become a good airplane mechanic during his time of service at Hickam Air Field.
Japan surrendered in early September of 1945 and in early November 1945, Dad returned home to his Mom and Dad and brothers and sister, in their humble home at the end of Mabey Lane in Old Lincoln Park. This was the very home that my Dad was born in. The very home that my Grandpa Mabey built, when he was a young man.
I think that the Thanksgiving of 1945 was very special and very dear to my father’s heart. He spoke of it often, over the years. Things were different then. Old Lincoln Park was a rural farming community, filled with open fields, farms and wooded lands. There were no big supermarkets around then. In fact, Dad often talked how Grandma Mabey would buy her groceries from Mr. Wolfson, who went from house to house with his panel truck, selling groceries.
The Thanksgiving of 1945, is the very time when my Dad and his brother, Edward, went hunting for a turkey in the
woods behind their home. Grandma often told me how they came home with a turkey, both of her sons taking credit for having been the better aim. It was always a friendly, good-willed debate between the two brothers that extended throughout both of their lives.
The Thanksgiving of 1945, is also the time when Dad began setting up his elaborate train village. There was a little hall area, just outside of Dad’s bedroom. It was there that Dad built a long wooden table, upon which to set up his imaginative train tracks, filled with homes and stores along the tracks.
It was also the era in which my Dad got his first real, full time job as a truck driver for Moon Carrier, located in Paterson, New Jersey. After a few years of working for that company, Dad and his brother Edward started their own business, Mabey Trucking and Rigging. They rented a small trucking terminal in Paterson. The company flourished for many years.
Whenever my Dad spoke of the Thanksgiving of 1945, he would have a twinkle in his eye and a bit of a smile on his face. I regret that I never videotaped some of my father’s recollections and stories of life “right after the war.” It was a phrase that Dad often used. It was a marker of sorts. There was the time “before the
war,” and the time “after the war.” I think it marked, for my father, his days of boyhood and then his days when he became a man. World War II was a mark of manhood for my Dad.
I loved my Dad with all my heart. My Dad went Home to be with the Lord in May of 2006. I still deeply mourn his passing. There were so many stories that Dad would tell about his time at Hickam Air Field and about his return home to peace time, when the war ended. I think that the Thanksgiving of 1945 was one of the most special thanksgivings in my father’s life.
Dad loved the old Mabey Estate. So much so that when his grandmother, Dora Mabey, passed away in 1959, Dad bought the old Mabey Homestead. It still stands on the corner of Route 202 and Mabey Lane, a testament to the carpentry skills of my great grandfather, William Mabey. This was the very home where Mom and Dad raised my sister, Patricia, and I.
My Dad was a dedicated Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170 of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Dad served as Scoutmaster from 1965 till 1993. Dad loved scouting. He had a deep conviction that it was a good and worthy thing for a boy to be a scout and learn self reliance, morals and how to use a compass.
I can still hear the echo of my late Uncle Ed, “I know you took the first shot at that turkey, Dick. But, I’m telling you brother, it was my shot that got that old Tom Turkey.” I’d give an eyetooth to hear that brotherly debate, just one more time.