Saturday, May 22, 2010

Albert H. Pounds - Searching for Al! (Part 3)

Finding Carol Loehr was a huge bonus in my search for Albert Pounds. The information she was able to provide put a lot of things into perspective and greatly expanded my thoughts and feelings about my father. I can't begin to thank Carol enough for helping fill in the gaps after all these years and for providing me with the personal information to understand the man that was Albert Pounds.

Carol told me much about the years she and her siblings had spent with Al. I learned about his struggle with diabetes, his transformative and fulfilling life with her mother Marie, as well as the different jobs he held in the building maintenance field. One of those job even included working for United Van Lines as a building maintenance manager. What really fascinated me was Carol and her siblings all knew about me, at least from the pictures and stories Al would tell. They wondered if I was real and would actually appear one day. I suppose my making contact was as much a surprise to them as it was me.

Al loved music and dancing, according to Carol, and was always encouraging others to dance whenever he had the chance. His favorite song was "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. One night at a wedding in 1977 Al was on the dance floor egging others on when he suddenly fell to the floor unconscious and not breathing. There were doctors in the crowd who tried to resuscitate him, but sadly he passed away shortly afterwards. The date was February 19, 1977. Ironically, he was buried four days later at Bethel Cemetery, near Pond, Missouri on my 16th birthday. In October 2009, a volunteer posted a photograph of Al's headstone on the Find-A-Grave website, but I didn’t discover it until March of this year.

Carol informed me that Al had nephews, which almost certainly means I must have first cousins. What's more I learned that the family originates from the Memphis, Tennessee area and might still be in that region of the country. Carol did recall that Al had a sister named "Marcie" who had a son "Chris" but couldn't remember any other names. It had been a long time ago, and memories tend to fade with time, but Carol’s help was enough to get me oriented in the right direction. I appreciate the information nevertheless. The goal from that point forward--start piecing the Pounds family together and hopefully make connections with any living relatives.

Armed with Al's date of death, I was finally able to send off for his Death Certificate from St. Louis County, Missouri. It arrived in about a week and presented me with another bit of vital data on Al--his birthday, September 12, 1936. With that piece of data, I was finally able to get on line and order his military records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. It wasn't until the early part of January 2010 when I received a package containing Al's U.S. Navy records (or what could be located). I wasn't sure what to expect, but I received 21 pages of documents containing his enlistment contract, leave records, various performance reports and discharge papers. Digging through the documents provided a wealth of information about Al's short Navy career and his physical condition at the time.

I learned that he entered the Navy from Caruthersville, Pemiscot County, Missouri in the Bootheel region of Southeast Missouri. That's a fascinating discovery since I was told by my mother that Al was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. He may have moved back to Caruthersville after graduating high school, but the records are unclear. According to his Enlisted Classification Record, Al was quite the athlete. It lists him as having lettered twice in basketball, three times in baseball, one time in wrestling, and all four years in football. In fact, he was the co-captain of his high school football team his senior year. The record also listed "Music Appreciation" as his leisure time activity. He graduated from high school in May of 1955, but there's no mention of the high school name or place. Put that on my research "to do" list!

Stay tuned for the final part of "Searching for Al". In this segment, I will provide more insight into Albert Pound's abbreviated Navy career to include an amazing connection I made to my late father through a former shipmate.

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