Loading the player...


This is an interview with Kenneth Jerome Turner, born in Nash County in 1926 (son of William Otha Turner and Leller Privette Turner), conducted as part of the Nash County Cultural Center Oral History Project. Most of Turner's remarks are about his Army experiences in World War II. He was 15 when he heard about Pearl Harbor on his aunt's radio, but thought war would be over soon. He was in his senior year of high school when he was called up for the draft in Spring 1945. His English teacher helped him write a letter to the draft board requesting a 20-day deferment till he graduated, which was granted. He went to Fort Bragg for induction and to Camp Joseph T. Robertson in Little Rock, Arkansas for basic training. He says his Private's pay was thirty dollars a month, out of which the Army deducted seven dollars and fifty cents a month for war bonds and five to six dollars a month for life insurance, so he had less than twenty dollars a month for himself -- but notes that cigarettes were only sixty cents for a 12-pack carton at the PX. He characterizes early Army life as waiting, waiting, waiting. The war in Europe ended in May 1945 so he became part of occupation forces. He was moved out by troop train and bus to Camp Shanks, NY, in the winter, via Memphis, Atlanta, a stopover in Raleigh, and Blackstone VA. While waiting at Camp Shanks to ship out he had a number of weeks of getting passes to go to New York City every other weekend. Barely ever having been away from home, Turner enjoyed the exciting New York nightlife (bars, shows with big bands like Benny Goodman's, and mostly movies, where live bands would play between films). Turner finally shipped out to Germany, seasick for several days on the troop ship. They disembarked at Le Havre and ended up near Marburg and Bremerhaven, Germany, where his company guarded bakeries and quartermasters' depots and later schools and a hospital. He describes duties in the village, what life seemed to be like for the few local Germans he got to know (existing through the war on potatoes and beets, he thought; "nice," generally supportive of the Nuremberg Trials). Turner was sent back to New York just before Christmas and was discharged at Fort Bragg. He worked on the family farm with his brother Romie briefly, then Romie went to State College and Turner went to Kings Business College in Raleigh, both on the G.I. Bill. Turner met his wife-to-be Rita in Nashville and they married in 1955. They have two daughters. Church and singing are important to Turner. He and his wife attend the Nashville Baptist Church, where Turner has served as Deacon, Chairman of the Board, and Secretary. He talks about singing with his family when he was a boy (a "family quartet" at home) and in the church and local choir growing up. Nashville only had one music (piano) teacher when he was a boy, so the church raised money to bring one to town; Turner and his sister helped raise money singing a duet.





Downloads Statistics

Download Full History