Alison Ligon and Alison Ligon

Recorded August 6, 2006 Archived February 16, 2007 37:58 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SCK000513



  • Alison Ligon
  • Alison Ligon

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:00 My name is Alison Ligon. My date of birth is 10:30 74 my relationship to the interviewee. I am his daughter wearing Clinton, Louisiana in my apartment. Today is August 6th, v v to 2006 6. Could you please state your name date of birth in our relationship in the date Junior 1740 relationship for the father-daughter?

00:37 The date of today's date is August 6th 2006.

00:43 Dad, I'd like you to start out. If you could tell me just my first question is what is your earliest memory?

00:52 I would say my earliest memories would be at the Grand Homes of my grandparents on my mother's side. That's good side g u t t z e r t when my father was off with gone off to

01:10 World War and I guess I must have been around 4 for 4 years old at that point. I just remember some things around the course. It could have been that there was before he went off to war but he did we stayed there with my grandparents my mother myself and my sister when she was born stay there with my grandparents while he was off at World War II so does that answer your question?

01:42 Yeah, so you were staying with your mother's parents then? Okay, that was that was kind of what I wanted to ask you about anyway, or some things of you know about Papa to because he you were born in 1940 and he went to the war in 1943.

02:00 Okay. Do you remember then when he came home and what that event was like?

02:11 Really not anyting vivid about him coming home.

02:16 I remember when my Uncle Sunny came home and that was available during some of the same timeframe actually know what we did it. We went to while he was still in the military. He didn't come home. We went and met him in Rhode Island is what I remember he was stationed after the war was over in either, but I think it was Newport, Rhode Island, and we lived up there for at least a year or so in Rhode Island.

02:50 After he will after World War II was over.

02:55 Okay, so it was established, you know, the farm the good site Farm was near Clinton or Ethel, Louisiana. So that was a long trip and you live there for a year. Do you remember anything about living there?

03:10 Hell yes, I remember coming into Clinton to go to church one Sunday and the water was covering the road and we had to my mother being dedicated to go to church. We had we drove the car in the water. And you remember how high that road was elevated in that tacomex swamp and we have found the road by the signs on the side of the road.

03:33 I remember that very vividly.

03:37 Well, it was while my dad was gone. That's all. I remember. I can't say probably in there somewhere 44 so.

03:45 Okay, when When papa came home from the war he but he later wrote a book about his experiences. And I know he told us some of the more interesting and less graphic type stories. Did he talk to you as you when you were young? And did you have questions for him into the answer them?

04:03 He talks very little about it when he was when when I was younger. I don't know whether he didn't want to talk about it or whether we just didn't asking the right questions, but as he got older as you know, he wrote the book and I think it was some he had a lot of his friends that the people that he had met in the military that would come down and visit with him and we talked about it on those occasions, but now I remember him talking about spending the night in the Foxhole with the bombs going out and going off at what he was on the beach in Italy. I think it's Angie or something like that, but he did not make it a practice to talk about it unless asked except when he wrote after he wrote his book that he was little more open about it.

04:55 As children since you grew up as an impressionable age like when the war was going on and he had two events around about nice Clips in your course your mother talking about in your father being away as children then even you know for the next five years 10 years to children in your age group for you personally. Did y'all play a lot of War games like did that affect the way children played at home?

05:19 I think we played cowboy and Indians more than we played Germans and Americans cowboy and Indians to say but I remember you if you were talking about it during the War. I remember listening to the radio for war report. My grandparents had a big old radio that look like a refrigerator almost it was so big and an evening would gather around the radio to listen to the reports of what we're going on overseas.

05:52 I think it's something that's interesting in our family. I think is the German side of our family. Your grandfather's family was from Germany. And that's potty your your mother's father. So did did he fight in World War 1. Do you know anything about that?

06:14 I think this was something that he will first of all my my great-grandfather came from Germany immigrated and spoke very little English. I think that they were some settlement in World War II came up that the Germans in this app is a big it was then it is still now. I'm pretty big German community in this East feliciana parish and I think it was sort of a sentiment among some of the anglos that you know, the Germans sent that the German settlers would be sympathetic to the Germans in World War II and my grandfather made an effort to prove that that was not true. He went into the Marines and where will want. Yes.

07:00 And then of course my uncle who's a good side junior he went in World War II and again, that was I think it was less of a issue then of your nationality. Are you where you emigrated from? But it's time world will want it wasn't issue.

07:23 Did poppy then did he talk to you? Did he ever discuss World War 1. Do you know anything about what he did in the service?

07:34 Not really. No, I don't I don't remember ever discussing anything more than the fact that he was in the Marines. So I know he was he didn't see combat in World War 1 but I know that was not something that he volunteered to talk about nor did we ask him?

07:51 And you mention your great-grandfather puppies father. Who did he emigrated here from Germany when he was about Seventeen or eighteen? I think we've established and did you do your how long was he alive liked it? How well did you know him? Did you have any relationship with him?

08:09 I don't remember him at all. I remember my great-grandmother gross my mom. She was called and I've heard talk about gross before but I cannot say that I even remembering.

08:27 How about you tell us a little bit about about the good fight for me? Cuz didn't you work a bit on Poppy's form. I know I know you had an incident where the tractor me to tell us an incident with the tractor.

08:45 Well, I was the only male descendant of on my mother's side for a good while and the family later told me I didn't know this at the time that I was destined to become the person to take the farm over and that was before my uncle had a son and things change but I never do this. But but anyhow, they made a made me part of the farm. I work there and lots of well, very menial capacities from shoveling manure to Gathering corn to grow up to be getting corn off of years to feed the chickens into baling. Hay hauling hay combining or harvesting old other grains picking up sticks clearing you cry on but

09:42 Is that what your question was? How old were you when you started having responsibilities at the farm?

09:50 Your mother doesn't believe this but when I was 7 years old, I was driving a tractor they would not let me use the

09:59 Anything that was really extremely dangerous never the small tractor by today's standards, but it was a I'm going to your scattered spreader. It was a just so I fly to implement that you pull behind the tractor to spread the calendar because if you left it in piled the animals would not eat the grass that grew up around the manure pile. So I do my job at that age was to take this small Ford tractor and pull this drag dragus board like thing behind to scout of the manure later on I was in war.

10:33 Well, I guess meaningful and more dangerous jobs cuz I would cut grass and that sort of thing.

10:43 At what age did the tractor incident occur and maybe you could just tell us what happened with the tractor?

10:53 That was before really I started working on the tractor by myself. And I don't know why they let me do it after I did that but they were tenant Farmers that lived on the property and they said they were friends of mine little black kids that we let me know play games with them because they were they were in the neighborhood. They were the people I knew and we were all in the barn one Sunday. I think my parents and Grandparents were sitting on the front porch of the old house and the barn was could be was visible from the house, but it was far enough away. They didn't know what I was doing in these.

11:31 Kids were what we were talking and I started bragging about how I knew how to start that tractor and drive that tractor will really I have been on it, but I didn't know a lot about it. I've been on it with somebody else and it was one of these older models that would start in gear and proceeded to show these people these young kids my age. Do I do how to drive a tractor and start a tractor and I started up in gear and it went through the side of the barn and over and through a fence and into the into the old field at that point in time my uncle who wouldn't be about 10 years older than me Chase me and caught up with the tractor and stopped at 9. Needless to say got my behind pretty heavily for that and have a good lesson learned.

12:25 Okay moving on. Did you and Papa and Grandma and Aunt Lynette? Did y'all take family trips? What was what were some average trips that you took her? Tell me about that.

12:43 We traveled a lot. I don't know what it was my Dad's military time of that that inclined him to travel, but I remember traveling to Colorado remember going up to Tennessee.

12:59 November Beach trips everything like that, but I remember a lot of trips to Colorado and and two

13:06 And up to Tennessee Mountains primary. That was I think their interest in our interest to was going to the mountains.

13:15 Did y'all go in the summer or winter? What kind of things did you do when you went?

13:20 Why we went in the summertime because it was as if we were in school during the winter and I remember back in the probably the middle fifties or somewhere in there. Maybe early fifties. My father had a fairly new Buick automobile. The week went to Pikes Peak in Colorado and the car started smoking and it was a hectic pretty hectic hectic climb up this mountain in the brakes started smoking in the motor motor started smoking and we were all terrified that we were going to fall off the side of the mountain but it turned out all right.

14:00 Okay. Well, you know we talked about the farm and in this is how we roll area. Like what kind of pets did you have? Did you have anything other than cats and dogs or tell me about any like a favorite pet in your childhood?

14:14 I would have to say my my favorite pet would be my dog Lassie but I had horses and a 1-1 horse. That was a gift for my birthday. I climbed on the horse as soon as it was delivered at my grandparents property, which is where it was supposed to say and it took off and it didn't stop until it gone through a barbed-wire fence and left me with a a cut on my leg and bruises all over it. And I still carry a scar about 3 inches long on my leg from that incident.

14:47 So you've driven a tractor through since and ridden a horse through a fence up to this point.

14:55 What would be your as a kid maybe before you know that you're a teenager. What was your average Saturday? Like as a kid? What did you like to do? Where did you like to go?

15:10 Well Saturdays and summer times and I have to separate the event. I spent a great deal on my weekends at my grandparents on my mother's side simply because I love to be in the country and love the freedom and I could get a a shotgun in a few shells and my dog and going to be in the take me a sandwich and I'll be in the woods all day just so I could walk all day long and never get to a road cuz I'm going around the not just on my grandparents property would on neighbor's property who would give me permission to to hunt on there. But I had a close friend Billy how good he and I would go out and make shelters in the woods, you know, things of that sort make enough kind of a lean-to and like we were going to be staying there cuz I don't think we ever spent the night in any of them, but

16:05 Outdoor things I have to self. Yes. I'd love to climb trees and I'll climb up to the top of a pecan tree and just spend an hour looking out over the landscape.

16:18 What was did you have like a favorite place like a special place? I know I had a special place at Falls form. That was just kind of a place like to go sit or is there any place around Clinton or at your grandfather's farm that it was in your favorite place?

16:36 I have to say if it be a tree if anything's didn't have nothing else. There was a tree behind not the barn around the tractor through there another barn that was on top of the hill and you can have a long very long view from there. And that was one of my favorite spots to get as high as I couldn't that tree and just look.

17:01 Okay, we're going to move on now to make a big jump to when you were in college at well, I'm not sure when you met Mom. I'd like to hear about when you met mom and your story. I don't know if you were at Southeastern or LSU that point but tell me about that.

17:20 Well, I was very mobile with my college career spent my first year at USL in Lafayette.

17:30 Got talked into buy some friends transferring to LSU spent a year there and it was a big party year with the dick paternity that I was part of and such a good party that my grades suffered to the point where the dean invited me to to take some time off and think about it which I did and after laying out for a semester and working at the Bushnell finance company is a bill collector and having guns pulled on me. I decided the value of Education was beyond what why was working on so I went which Southeastern and that was I guess you might say two and a half years after I finished high school and I Met Your Mother in a year.

18:21 Biology class dissecting factors in the lab dissecting frogs, so that's that's how we met.

18:31 Come on, I think there's some more details you need to tell us about that.

18:35 How did you how did you meet her disgusting frog? How did that come about where you at Partners or what?

18:42 She wanted some help as what it was and I look like I have somebody that didn't mind cutting on frogs, I guess so that's that's all I remember. I mean we from that point. I think we started we went out a few times and that sort of thing it just you know,

18:59 Okay, what is y'all like to do together, like what kind of things if you went on a date or spend some time together on the weekend or whatever what did y'all like to do together?

19:09 Well, we did a lot of partying this which is the nature of college note days. Anyhow, we go to Gatherings with other friends go out to go out dancing. We do spend a lot of time later and Outdoors. It was a river that had a nice saying Beach that was isolated. We'd go out there and I lay on the beach or swim in the river.

19:35 Okay, I'd like to talk to you about when you're in the Navy cuz I know you did a lot of traveling that and I know there's probably a lot of stuff but then I haven't even heard about I recently discovered some photographs that I think you took from the deck of a ship. I found photographs of sunset over the ocean from the deck of a ship and I found some photographs of some place in Europe that you took and so maybe you can tell me a little bit about the places. He went favorite places things you saw anything of historical importance or something like that.

20:14 Without seeing the photographs. I can't can't really tell you where they were taken.

20:20 We have been awesome cruises McAllen I knows but if it was a Navy ship they could have been taken with one's a year of August. It would take him when I was stationed in Norfolk. But the first of all went what do CS in Rhode Island by Newport and after about five months of that, what is the station in, Galveston, Texas?

20:47 And I please give us the date. When was this? Let us know when this was what was the date when you started enter the Navy?

20:54 I think it was 63 September of 63 when I went in the Navy and finished and I was like January or something like that then assigned to a ship or Destroyer Destroyer is with us because they are submarine in Galveston, Texas. It was a ship that was engaged in training reservist on the weekend. So in fact for 2 weeks Duty in the summertime, we would take reservist out for two-week tours of Duty from Galveston and go to places like he wear a star Guantanamo Bay Cuba some time to Jamaica to Grand Cayman. We just made all the all the ports in the Gulf because we were stationed in the gulf and we will take these reservist out and train them for for duty at the case.

21:54 Caught up in the reserves and that's where the square if we were stationed in your mom taught school there. I was not home a great deal. I was going a lot because we would take these two week 2 is coming Bring It a crew in leave back with another crew and sometime we were out for a pretty good while but

22:20 From there. I spent about a year-and-a-half. They are then I was transferred to a school called destroyer of Staff. The cop was calling the Commodore quadrant flutter troyer's has a

22:38 Captain McCullum a Commodore because that's that's about the equivalent of a full colonel in the Army, but they have a captain this title is a commodore and he's in charge of a squadron the chef which includes about anywhere from 6 to 10 shifts and I was on I was just as Communications officer for that, door and working out of Norfolk Virginia. And from there we went as soon as I reported for Duty there. We took off and went to the Mediterranean on the first cruise and it's been a good while in the place is like Spain and Italy and France even Gibraltar places like that participating in exercise of training exercises with other navies of other countries in some cases. Just waving the flag.

23:38 Ligon going into porch and I'm meeting with the people and so forth II II cruise I made on that tour of Duty which took me to Northern Europe and that maybe what you talkin about that you saw those pictures. I'm not sure I could probably identify the ship. So if I saw the picture

24:00 Okay. What what did you eat? Are there any particular like people that you met while you were there? Like any people you matter events that you witnessed or you stayed at a lot of ports a lot of them sound like pretty fun place in the Golf R in Europe. Did you get to have any time off to travel or meet people or see things?

24:22 All we met a lot of people that protesters in some cases because the Vietnam War was cracking up about that time. And we remember in French of this former resistance fighter Frenchman came to our ship and presented the captain with the medals that he turned in World War II as an apology for the protest of his fellow Frenchman that protested I ship docking there. But no I'm ever in in Ireland and I failed to mention that I went to England and Ireland and Northern Ireland and Ireland and England and Ireland. I know we met some very fine folks that would pick us up at the ship and take us out for tours. Just not the way to ask him to do it, but we think we met one of them in a bookstore and he was his book.

25:22 Door needs to go send it home and fetes and in Germany, which you something you wouldn't expect necessarily cuz this was in the sixties 20 years after World War II was over but the Germans were probably the most hospitable people we met and yes, we did get to know a lot of them and they even took us on their ships and I entertained us on their shifts and so forth.

25:50 What did you see in Jamaica? What was the political climate? There are the cultural climate when you went there?

25:58 Well, it was a lot of poverty. I think even more poverty in Jamaica then then you see now we were well-treated. Although I remember one time we were looking for some place to bless the music and find some entertainment and we took a taxi and went to some real place and found it was nothing but Jamaicans who were not too happy with our presence. So we heard hardly ask the taxi driver to take us back where we came from but there was some resistance to colonialism there because this is before Jamaica have been granted its independence. If I remember correctly in general will probably the most hospitable place that we saw in the Caribbean with Grand Cayman. I went to Grand came on in recent years on the cruise and it was so totally different from what I remember when we got there. We were the first Navy

26:58 Ship that had docked in Grand Cayman other you first US Navy ship that docked in Grand Cayman since World War II and we were greeted as I don't know what you say heroes are all the good guys certainly but I mean we were entertained they had that was one Motel on the island at that time and it was one story high and it was brand new and they were so proud of it and they even had little sailboats that they let us use. Let us stay in the motel free I had receptions for us. I mean, it was just well, it's like a dream really, I mean, they will show it all so nice and hospitable.

27:40 Okay, what was you mentioned what your what your kind of your title was or what your duty was but can you explain it and and language that non-military people can understand like what she did on a day-to-day basis on the ship.

27:54 Well, I don't think I mentioned to you. But after I finished OCS I was sent by the ship that I was designated to go to and in Texas. I was sent to a Communications school which lasted about 5 weeks and giving full of a crash course and navy Communications that to his message is leaving the ship message is coming home to ship the equipment and all the cryptography or ways of keeping your secret secret including I was given a crash course in registered Publications, which is all the secret material that comes on the shifting is there for identification of enemy craft and so forth. And so and my job in that first ship was I was a registered Publications off. So which means I had to keep all these Publications up-to-date as well as having to I was in charge of the

28:54 Audio through I wish I had a chief petty officer and some other radio operator. So keeping the equipment going the right are going I had that job also and really was a matter of having the right people working for you. Cuz obviously I didn't know how to fix all those things and I had to rely on these people to do the jobs for me, but

29:19 While I was in the on that first ship we were training Navy Reserve is to do what I was doing and to do what the other people on the ship were doing, otherwise training them out of handle Communications equipment out of to get the messages from the the came to us from outside. Make sure all the equipment ready to handle that and to be able to transmit messages off the ship as necessary or my jobs. There also was in second job as well was to plot the course of the ship from point A to point B.

29:57 Okay, what you mentioned the Vietnam War and so you are in the military service during the conflict. How how did you wrap up your military service? And I know my sister may have had something to do with this.

30:14 Well Vietnam much 73 if I remember correctly. And so this will talk on here in about 64. So Vietnam was just starting to get warmed up when I first went in the military and stack up when I was there when I was in the military when the Cuban Missile Crisis came up because I was in OCS during that time. But well, I mean we were we were actually in that was when I was in the officers candidate school is when that Cuban Missile Crisis came up, but we did part of our duties on that first ship that I was on what to patrol around the Cuban coast and we had some some Cuban torpedo boats make runs on us while we were there are instructions were that we would could not fire on them unless they fired on us and they would come at night when you couldn't see what they were doing and make these fast runs trying to provoke us into firing on them.

31:15 And we didn't know whether we going to be hit with a torpedo one minute or the next and fortunately they never chose to fire at us, but they were in the correct posture to fire one and it would have been too late really if they hadn't done so it would have hit the ship would have been in trouble.

31:30 So during the crisis you were in the Gulf.

31:34 During the Missile Crisis. I was not I was in OCS, but later things were still heated up down there. I mean, this is a year, so maybe 6 months. So after the crisis itself, they were still threats. It would have the Bay of Pigs and all this sort of thing threats of of they felt like we were going to invade and we felt like they were going to shoot missiles it off. So it was up a big nasty standoff, but

32:06 What's up? Oh, well Vietnam. Well, I was invited to go to Vietnam in and told him thank you. But no thanks. I did. Enjoy my Navy career ahead of a wife and a daughter at that time and I just felt like my obligation was to them after I served my four and a half years whatever it was and I've applied to the law school in a week ahead of time like between when I could be admit when it's lost his starting. I got out of the military and I worked during that time. I have to say my marital status kept me out kept me from gold being more involved in in the later part of the Vietnam War cuz we we never did go in that direction. We were in northern Europe. We were in the Mediterranean and the golf on the east coast of the US so I never did really face any hostile action.

33:03 Is that my sister Amanda was born while you were still in the Navy correct? So tell me about that in the first time you're able to see her.

33:14 Well, she was born when I was actually in the Mediterranean and

33:23 I remember I had asked them to send me a picture of her and the picture I got was she had a very difficult birth. I think I'm going to say difficult. I mean it was she was all bruised up. And now you know, I just said, oh my God, I got a child that's deformed hear something, you know how to get some that we didn't have cell phones and telephones to use of go back and forth. So I had to send a telegram saying, you know, what's wrong and and wait for days to get one came back and said oh if this is okay, she'll be better than a week or so, you know.

34:00 They tell us about the first time like how old was she how much later was it before you were able to come home and see her and tell me what that was like seeing your your daughter first child for the first time.

34:12 Well

34:16 We were there much longer than anticipated because we had an explosion on the ship. It was not from hostile action. But one of the boilers steam boilers boilers and create Steam on the ship exploded kill two men and injured a good bunch of more. And so this ship that we would put the Commodores on I had to stay for repairs and we pulled into Malta I which is off the southern coast of Italy in the Mediterranean and we spent about six weeks in Malta and it was a wonderful place to be broken down because it was very hospitable people. They were probably more line with England than they were with anybody in the Mediterranean. They were big allies of the English, but that's when I got the photograph of Amanda and that's when

35:10 Well, and I'm talking about when I first saw it was when we came back from that trip, which was probably I'm going to say maybe then she was born by the way and New Orleans and my ship was stationed in Norfolk. So what I had to do is when the after the ship came in I had to get some leave to go to come home to pick up Carolyn and and my and Amanda and in my little Corvair which was a little tiny car to pack everything and head to the Norfolk which is what we did. But in fact, I think maybe what happened was I I saw Carolyn up there before I saw the baby, I think maybe she wrote on the bus. I'm not sure. I don't think Amanda but maybe Amanda was on the bus. I'm trying to remember but we didn't move back until I can't gotta leave and came back and pick her up and we went back to the apartment. We rented in Norfolk.

36:07 Okay, what do your dad found a really beautiful photograph of Amanda's and infant that I believe he took of her lying on a bed with the sunlight coming in if you took that photograph tell me you like do you remember taking it and what that was like and the time you had with it with her and Mom at that point?

36:29 I had bought like a shika camera in the ship store on our ship headed had to sell in store there that you could buy things in and I bought this camera which was to me a pretty nice camera time. But looking back on it is not was not that great. But I remember yes in the apartment that we had a Norfolk on the the king size bed. We had got to Stage this thing to take the picture. But if I was very proud of Amanda and very happy to be there because I just say I didn't get a chance to see her mother very much when I was in the military. I spent a lot of time away.

37:12 Okay, well that but kind of brings us about to the end of the interview. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you'd like to add?

37:25 No, starting the interview. I had some doubt about its know. What was what it was all about. But now I see more value to it after I finished it than I did when I start it.

37:40 Very good. I enjoy it a lot to thank you Dad.

37:49 That went really well.