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Big Chuck

December 16, 2013

Reunions all the sweeter amid WWII


Deakin also commented that “the four must have established some sort of a record for Cooperstown hometowners meeting oversees.”

These faraway meetups must have been especially poignant when you consider that families were pulled apart during the war, American men were scattered to the wind to fight in Europe and the Pacific and that because of the long lag time in getting news back home, loved ones rarely knew if someone was safe or not until a very old letter appeared in the very old mailboxes of our rural area. To be sure, many of these letters carried sad news. But for these lads the times spent laughing and reminiscing about home must have been a warm and joyous occasion.

And here is one that takes the cake. No fewer than five servicemen met during World War II in an unscheduled, unplanned rendezvous in Sydney, Australia, also in July of 1944. All were young, far from home, no doubt lonely for a friendly face and, yes, all were from Oneonta.

I am sure the five spent their time over a cold Australian beer, chatting about home, Mom’s apple pie, Laskaris’ candy store, the railroad yards of the Sixth Ward, hometown football games and, yes, I’m sure they pined for their City of the Hills sweethearts waiting for their safe return.

All reunions are wonderful, but imagine how sweet these must have been. I have no idea if any of these guys are still around, or if they all even made it through the war, but if they did I’m sure they can remember just like yesterday once hooking up with long-lost friends and neighbors thousands of miles from home just like it was yesterday.

The five Oneotnans who ran into each other in Sydney, and actually posed for a photo together on the front page of the Sydney Sun on May 16, 1944, were Gerald Terpenning, an adviser for the U.S. Army; James Stewart, president of the Oneonta Ice Works; Benedict deAngelo, an Oneonta college football coach; L. Colville Winsor, an Oneonta stock broker; and A.M. Learned.

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