John Balthrop and Sheila Michel

Recorded October 15, 2010 Archived October 15, 2010 36:58 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX007290


John Edward Balthrop, 91, talks to his daughter Sheila Michel, 52, about his military career, his wife, and his medical career.

Subject Log / Time Code

EB was born in Mobile, Alabama. The Depression affected his father greatly. “I was aware of the extreme poverty around me.”-EB
EB was drafted in 1942. He trained in New England and California, and he was then shipped to the Pacific Theater. His job was to set up beach heads after a beach was taken over, often stacking the dead.
“The men [of the military] were splendid.” - EB
EB married his wife after the War ended. He was on furlough. His wife is from outside of Sydney, Australia.
After going to medical school on the GI Bill, EB became a family practitioner, often delivering babies. In Pensacola, Florida, he established a practice serving mostly African Americans despite segregation.
EB shares poems he wrote for his wife and children.


  • John Balthrop
  • Sheila Michel

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


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00:04 My name is Sheila Michael. I'm 52 years old today is October 15th, 2010. We're recording and Knoxville Tennessee and I am interviewing my father. His name is John Edward baltrip. He is 91 years old.

00:24 So daddy where and when were you born August 12th 1919 on Cervantes Street and won't be able across from Russell School.

00:42 And how long did you live there or let's start with something else. How did the Depression affect your family?

00:55 My father at that time had five children that you oldest will Girls 3 boys and we didn't know usually what was for lunch would be at lunch. He was Obama and Yuri, never quit his job never lost to a customer that I know of.

01:26 Birthday

01:28 Oh, I was aware of the extreme poverty Around Me by that time. We lived in downtown mobile.

01:37 And the boys that I

01:45 This just didn't have the resources that you would expect them to have.

01:55 Why did your parents move to mobile?

02:02 I was born in.

02:05 Tennessee close to a place called

02:14 And when he started to raise a family

02:20 He went on the railroad.

02:26 From Nashville as far north as it went and then he went.

02:33 South of the railroad as far south as it when it ended at that time in Kentucky in the North and then Louisiana close and my riding on the train he decided that he wanted to live in Mobile.

02:57 Tell us about your education.

03:02 I never went to a public school.

03:05 I went to eight years does a parochial schools in Mobile 5 years at Saint Mary's 3 years at the Cathedral?

03:19 I had four years at the Miguel Catholic High School for boys.

03:25 I had to

03:29 4 years college at Spring Hill after I graduate from college.

03:36 I consider my education inadequate, so I went to night school and I took courses at the University of Alabama. I took two courses every quarter from 1942 or 1942.

03:57 In 1942, I was drafted.

04:02 And am I dealing with the people there that help teach?

04:15 Is it from there? I wish from from my basic training in Rockford, Illinois. I was sent by train.

04:24 Is it up through calendar and down into New England and Willie went out to Cape Cod?

04:31 And I was at 8.

04:33 An army camp there I can't bed was on Cape Cod close to Falmouth from Falmouth. I went West

04:43 Do a California and I was in California at the

04:52 Oh man, the Army camping in Monterey. And from there. I went overseas first two.

05:05 New Zealand and then to Australia

05:10 I was in Australia for 8 months and then my unit was sent North to New Guinea I made.

05:19 Beachheads income bad and I made a total of 25 reach ads.

05:27 My job on the beach as you watch the girl in with the first wave set up the first aid Camp stack the dead Evacuate the wounded and then set up a first aid station to give what Comfort we could do the people who will hurt before we sent them on to the average rate for disposition in care.

05:57 I learned a lot of anatomy and physiology.

06:09 Tell me about the men you remember the army.

06:15 They were splendid.

06:18 As a man, I was closest to

06:22 What's the man name Harrell diamond?

06:25 Here, are you able to Connecticut boy, he was a trained.

06:32 Podiatrist he had four years of professional training and a Podiatry school and I'm a beat your ass together.

06:43 Remember boy named George Ruckman who was the Cowboy from Wyoming he could do everything. There was nothing he could not do.

07:00 That was a boy named Ellie from

07:04 Hey, Massachusetts. He was a robe.

07:09 If there was any trouble around he was in the middle of it.

07:18 We had 55 men and I got close to them and we should do you know if you had was a medical unit. It served as medical care for people making the individual Beach. It's because of that we moved.

07:39 About every six weeks

07:46 Tell us that story the shot at and hit story.

07:56 I don't know what you're talkin about.

08:00 I was shot at and hit.

08:07 I wish I hadn't missed and she didn't hear it.

08:17 Shrugging about comeback was

08:21 That's so many of the men got into a situation that they had never been there before.

08:28 And they got into a

08:31 Pentagon bed and the food

08:39 Dependable and so they had diarrhea.

08:44 George rugland was the man that said he was shot at and missed and should let him hit.

08:54 He said that in a place in the Philippines.

09:02 Where were you when the war ended? Which one? Where were you when the war ended when the war ended? I was on the island of Cebu?

09:16 And the middle part of the Philippines the Philippines is divided into three parts. The top part is loose on the bottom part is Mendon. No and in between there's a string of islands stretching across.

09:35 Which includes?

09:38 Lady say boo.

09:48 And

09:50 Loser

09:52 And I was on the island of Cebu.

09:58 Close to Sabo City what you was the capital of the

10:04 Capitalism

10:08 I don't know.

10:11 Unstable

10:13 We found a family in a little town south of here that had three nice daughters. One of them was.

10:30 Oh, man.

10:35 I've lost the names they were nice girls.

10:40 And their mother protected them from me.

10:50 My mother Ellen Costello

10:56 When they drop the big bomb on August 6th.

11:00 We know that the war was over.

11:05 So I went up to the regimental headquarters.

11:09 And Ashley

11:12 Grounding officer if I could have a photo you was outside. I had to been in the islands.

11:20 For a long time and I never had a furlough home sometime. I have a first draft pick so he gave me a 45-day for low to go south to

11:33 Down call, Newcastle.

11:37 What is the New South Wales in Newcastle they assigned me to a family to live with?

11:47 Nice little boys that I took to town and bought him clothes and hamburgers to be sent and they sent me South then.

12:05 Did you do the two Australian?

12:08 And on the third day, I was in Newcastle. That was a big dance.

12:16 And I walked across the hall and introduce myself to your mother.

12:23 How many children do you have?

12:30 The most important rule of our father

12:35 Is to love their mother

12:39 This is the second thing is to take care of his children educator.

12:45 Direction

12:48 Protective

12:59 I did plan to go to medical school.

13:02 I wish I had a bachelor's degree from Frank Hill.

13:09 In the first 2 years after I was home, I got another degree at

13:16 University of Alabama in in chemistry and biology

13:22 And somebody then suggested to me that I go to medical school.

13:28 I went over and asked and they filled out an application and I was interviewed very critically strenuously and they sent me to medical school.

13:43 Oh, I went to medical school on the GI Bill.

13:54 Tell us about your children my first job.

13:59 What is a boy?

14:04 And I still wait but was thinking about him.

14:08 Why cuz he was in my first and I loved his mother.

14:15 And Bridget came two years after fall.

14:21 By that time I was in medical school and I was just shopping and Prejudice cried all the time. First two years. He was born.

14:32 Very older than came after Bridget.

14:38 John Campbell

14:41 When I was just seeing you.

14:44 Katherine was gone when I was in medical school.

14:48 Packed and you and then safe and Denise will going after I move to Pensacola.

15:01 Where was Mother from?

15:08 On every street

15:11 In Tipperary, Ireland

15:16 She was born on the 26th and 22nd day of March.

15:30 1922

15:34 She lived in.

15:38 Tipperary town then

15:41 Until they went over says she and her mother and father and the younger brother.

15:49 Went from Tipperary.

15:52 Buy boat down around knee

15:56 But nature of Spain they went into the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal.

16:05 And after they went through the Suez Canal then went down and around Romania.

16:12 And then up to sitting there where they came up off of the boat.

16:30 So she was a war bride when I went to.

16:39 Australia

16:43 I went down to the town and

16:49 On the third day. I met her and I stayed with her then every day until I went back up to the islands.

16:57 One day when they announced that the world was ending.

17:03 I got it. I sent her a telegram that I was coming down. And that's if she would we want to get married. She never answered.

17:17 She said she just got ready for the wedding.

17:27 They lived at 25 Robertson street in Carrollton, which was a suburb of Newcastle Newcastle is a hundred miles from Sydney, which is the focal point of everything in Australia.

17:57 How long were you married?

18:02 You know, I don't know I was mad on the

18:09 15th of September 45 and she died or she died three months before my 50th 50th wedding anniversary.

18:21 They sent me word that she was dead when I was in a meeting with.

18:29 Some of the Catholic people in Gulf Breeze

18:42 Be notified at that time.

18:45 Where did she die?

19:01 She was buried from St. Ann's Church in the Catholic Cemetery and mobile and

19:11 She had gone to New Orleans.

19:18 A little vacation on one side and she died in her sleep in the

19:24 In the hotel on Royal Street

19:37 What type of medicine did you practice and general practice?

19:46 I got delivered the babies I did.

19:51 What I call it a major surgery. I did not do major surgery. I did hug years and happy and activation.

20:02 Tractors, but I didn't do it.

20:06 Long surgery I had surgery on neck surgery.

20:15 Tell us about Our Lady of Angels hospital when I first went to.

20:22 To Pensacola to announce my presence

20:26 I went to the various hospitals.

20:29 There were five hospitals in Pensacola the big Baptist Hospital.

20:38 The big Sacred Heart Hospital

20:43 Lady of the Angels was a little small maternity hospital on Government Street in Pensacola.

20:57 In Mobile and Pensacola

21:02 And I went in and introduce myself just doesn't know I know it's a responsible and ask her if I could apply for Privileges and she said you have them and they call me late that afternoon they had any affection in to have a baby and she was in the early labor. So I deliver the baby. It's my first day in Mexico.

21:35 Who were the patients there?

21:40 Oh, well the patient that I had.

21:45 Emotionally very poor

21:50 I had a

21:53 Mixed practice of mostly females

21:59 I did a lot of that office work get a lot of surgery.

22:08 NJ lottery

22:13 And when I was there, I was just a few months. I learned that they had the maternity hospital for the backs called Our Lady of the angels and I went there and went to work and at first I had a

22:36 A practice it was mostly White.

22:40 But as I work more and more with a black saw the need and let's practice it was oriented more to blacks. I think that it was too white.

23:08 Why we're black babies not born in the other hospitals because of the legal immigration.

23:24 They weren't allowed.

23:29 Wow.

23:32 Segregation between black and white and Pensacola was very very strong.

23:39 So, how did the Civil Rights Movement affect you?

23:47 When it came out I saw it was a very good idea. I thought it was dangerous.

23:54 I thought that's the the blacks would push and the whites is in wood with push back and bit because of the laws that's too bad. The integration of people that there would be trouble.

24:11 There was never any trouble that I saw.

24:20 What's the most amusing incident from your years of the doctor know what?

24:30 What is the most amusing?

24:47 I had a little boy.

24:50 Who was brought to the

24:54 Emergency room at this at 3 County Hospital

25:02 He had a foreskin that had been pulled back.

25:08 And because of the

25:12 Obstruction that this server at the mouth of the foreskin when they tried to pull the foreskin back.

25:22 It wouldn't come.

25:27 They waited and they looked and they tried to get divorced him info it again, and it wouldn't come.

25:37 So the sample of me.

25:39 And I went out there and looked and I couldn't reduce it.

25:44 So I finally took the photos of the foreskin that was swollen because of lack of return.

25:51 Of the blood until I found where the Restriction was.

25:57 And then I took a number 10 blade.

26:06 Honest galper and I nicked the Restriction until I can see a rabbit with a four steps and Pull It Forward and reduced it.

26:23 And then because it is better for back.

26:28 And I didn't know how much homemade been done.

26:32 I put on a circumcision clamp. I just circumcise the baby.

26:39 Without the permission of the mother

26:49 What is the greatest gift you have ever received? Well, first of all life second of all.

27:04 I grew up in the depression.

27:09 And I knew my father was a

27:13 Having difficulty financially

27:17 And my father and my mother never discussed that

27:23 But I was able then when I got older and bigger to help my father was what he was doing.

27:35 What's your

27:37 I was aware of it and was proud of it. He was he was aware of it and never discussed it.

27:47 I don't know how you stood it during the Depression.

27:53 It by that time sista Marauder.

27:56 Have been dabbing gone to the convent for several years. They were still home and let me and the little boy.

28:11 How long have you written poetry?

28:18 How long when I am?

28:23 I went to school.

28:27 Alan was very interested in words and the meaning of words and then language and I discovered that language if it was manipulated. It probably was very beautiful. So I started writing what I called forestry it probably was jogging.

28:48 But as I got older and bigger, I think it got better.

28:55 Tell us about your annual Valentine poems to mother tell us about your annual Valentine's your mother.

29:09 I gave her a sign it.

29:13 Was she never acknowledged? She kept it.

29:19 And then every Valentine's Day February 14th from then until she died. I gave her son a Valentine's Day. I used to write it.

29:32 I didn't type it. I rode into my own scroll and put it in the mailbox and gave it to her. She never got any of them. Will you read this one for us?

29:53 Infutor times when Knighthood was In Bloom and War Stiller have a simple thing. And what's your man could muster manhood do fights with Glenn and go that it would bring?

30:15 Aurora Road away to blare of trumpets

30:25 His ladies color on his visor Brave and pure he was

30:33 Review King last race trumpets and conquering brought his lady.

30:41 No prostitutes and Purity alone remain and Worlds of Fun cruise with men and mud holes. So they can donate comprehend that even conquerors look so I can send those slave heart. No, sir. No slave home. Only part of me. And where are you going to be in my heart?

31:10 That's beautiful.

31:12 Would you read?

31:14 This one that you wrote to your children after mother died.

31:26 A valentine poem

31:29 February 14th 1995

31:34 The fifty years I Stood Beside your mother and gently loved her.

31:42 Sometimes not so well and surely not too wise today yet. No other Response Team proper. What is there to tell except I Loved Her Love You by flash. I love The Flash in fire or emotions.

32:00 From strong and strange attractors Lovegood mess with her strong liturgies from Pierce devotions.

32:09 If life is told is being just to tell you we're still full of Sound and Fury signifying nothing.

32:19 Hirsch West Railway is blue highways celebrations.

32:30 Bold and Brash she kept in me each time undressed. And so she she probably covered up her nest.

32:46 Would you read one more poem for me?

32:51 You wrote this during the second World War.

32:56 On the coming of peace

33:00 Our Father

33:02 Jordan, Washington

33:05 How to build a draft board

33:08 Let that battle will be done on the earth and under the earth and the heavens are under the heavens on the water and under the waters as it is in the Congress and the US Senate.

33:24 Give us this day our daily schedule resins.

33:29 And they give us a muted mamalings.

33:41 Of the mud and the rain and the Eternal pain because you are well fed and clean and it's dry in a Lincoln limousine.

33:55 Where you at? But Deliver Us from atom bombs for the is the Army and the Navy and US Marines and the Air Force Base Misfits of the u.s. Marines.

34:13 Thank you.

34:37 What do you think of War?

34:43 What do you think of War?

34:49 Second world war was the

34:52 Set up one event.

35:10 And I was drafted.

35:13 From from the draft thing I was sent to a

35:20 Campground, Illinois

35:22 From Campground. I went to Camp Edwards on Cape Cod.

35:28 From Cape Cod I went to

35:32 Fort Ord at the Monterey, California

35:37 From from Monterey that I went

35:41 New Zealand and then to Australia Brisbane

35:49 Then they sent us to know us.

35:52 Do a town called.

35:55 Rockhampton

35:57 And there I was trained to be a combat medic.

36:02 They sent me a new game.

36:05 The New Guinea at first was at

36:09 Go to Nevada and then I may beat you at one after the other. What about every six weeks?

36:18 First one was at the

36:21 British actor

36:25 Homemade

36:28 And then and then good enough and then up the beach about ever.

36:37 About every 50 miles we made a beach.

36:45 Daddy I think we've run out of time, so I just want to say thank you. Thank you.