The Cake…


Barney & Juleen Reher after their wedding
with all those who attended...


The Cake…

Barney & I were married on October 19, 1941 and left after the wedding and wedding breakfast for California to seek our fortunes. No job and about $250 between us. Nine months later we were called by Uncle Sam to return to Nebraska for Barney to be drafted into the armed services. We didn't realize he could have had a deferment because he was a sheet metal worker at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California. We came home as duty called and he was assigned to the US Army Air Force with the basic training to be in Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, close to St Louis.

And so begins my story........

Several months into his basic training I received a letter from Barney or maybe he called. I doubt he called because in those days long distance calls were made because of a death or some serious emergency, not to chat! Anyway the word in the Barracks was that within a week or 10 days they would be shipping out and no doubt it would be overseas!! Could I come see him, he was homesick, anxious about the war and after all we were still newlyweds.

I borrowed money from my Dad. Northwestern Bell Telephone Company where I had gone back to work gave their blessing and assured me I could come back to work when I returned. Everyone was supportive and Barney's sister-in-law, Irene, insisted she had to send along a cake! Plans were made for me to leave within the next few days.


North and South transportation was not good and the only train I could take was "the Motor". I was familiar with it because we took it a lot to Lincoln to visit my Dad's sister when we were growing up. It was a strange car with round windows and it bounced along stopping at every little town to load up the mail, cream cans etc and collect the same to take on down the line.


Any type of transportation during the war left a lot to be desired. Every seat was taken and some soldiers were sitting 3 in a seat or on suitcases or duffle bags in the aisles. Soldiers and sailors were always polite and I was offered a seat. The sailor beside wanted to share more than the seat and wanted to use my shoulder as a pillow. Between that and the cake it was a long ride. Irene did bake Barney a cake. She put it in a hat box... a big square hat box… tied it with string so I could hook my fingers in the knot and carry it like a bag. I had my suitcase, my purse, my coat and the cake. I'm wondering now why didn't we just eat the cake, pass it along the aisle and let everyone tear off a hunk and be done with it? Why didn't that ever enter my mind until just now?

Finally I arrived in St Louis... now how to get to Jefferson Barracks? I went out onto the street and walked up to a yellow cab and said, "I want to take a cab to Jefferson Barracks." He looked at me and said, "Lady, you couldn't afford to take a cab to Jefferson Barracks." When I asked what I was supposed to do, he told me to get on the street car and take it to the end of the line, there would be a bus there that would take me the rest of the way.

The street car was even more crowded than the Motor and to get up that step and through those doors while it was practically already moving with my suitcase, my purse, my coat and the cake... well if I hadn't been so scared it probably would have been funny. Again, a service man offered me his seat and helped to protect my suitcase with his feet while I held (by now) that damn cake.

It was the same scenario getting off the street car, getting on the bus and off the bus. We were met by a military policeman who asked, "Name? Address? Who did you come to see? Did you bring your wedding license?" DUH… It never entered my mind they'd doubt my marriage... I had on a wedding ring didn't I?? I was told to go sit on a bench, not knowing if I'd get to see Barney or if they had called security or what.

Jefferson Barracks, Mo airial view...

All of a sudden over the hill came a troop of soldiers headed for the barracks. They had been on a hike and had on fatigues and those hats with the brims all around. They were checking out the arrivals from the bus and I didn't even recognize my own husband! The MP didn't stop us from hugs and kisses and tears, so I guess he did see my wedding ring.

Barney was still in quarantine, meaning he couldn't leave the base until the weekend coming up when he would have a 3 day pass. There was a guest house on the base where wives and relatives could stay for 2 nights and then I would have to find other accommodations. The guest house was a barracks type building with 6 cots for 6 people and not a very appropriate or romantic setting for horny, sex hungry soldiers who have been separated from their wives for several months and are expecting to be apart for who knows how long. We could handle it though, after all in 3 or 4 days we’d have that 3 day pass.


It was hard to be together and yet not together but we had a 3 day pass coming up. I stayed the 2 nights in the Guest House and then took the bus and street car into St Louis proper to find a hotel room. Still scared, I'd push the dresser in front of the door at night. Somehow the days passed, I'd go out to the base about 3 PM and stay until they told us we had to leave. When I'd get into the city I had to walk a couple of blocks from the bus to my hotel. There were always drunks or wine-o's laying in the door stoops and for me, well, I surprised myself that I was so brave.

The weekend arrived and I won't get into that! Sunday morning about 2 AM the phone rang and it was the base. Barney was to report back immediately, they were shipping out! The good news was they were going somewhere in the states for further training and not overseas. Monday morning I was checking train schedules and headed back to Nebraska. It was a short 6 or 7 days but every bit of it worth the worry, the frustration and the fear... and at least I'd gotten rid of the cake!!

NOTE: This story was written by Juleen Sipple Reher... she was afraid to post it from her Web-TV for fear of losing it after all the typing... and she can't add photos so I typed it in and posted the photos for her... Jodi

4 comments:

Matty G said...

That's a great story, and neat that you found those pics to accompany it. I look forward to reading more!

Marci said...

My grammy knows the word horny?

Oh My God! ;)

Stacey said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing!

JHaussler said...

How funny! I'd heard this story before, but I had never seen that picture of everyone at the wedding. The other pictures were great, too, but I especially got a kick out of the story. Thanks for sharing, Mother dearest. Love, J.