Thinking back in time, I can bring out of my memory my first thoughts about my Uncle Jim that were placed there by my grandmother. I can recall two times while I was growing up that my grandmother showed me a document, a Western Union telegram, and talked about Jim. I can’t remember what I said, if anything. At that time I must have been nine or ten, not able to comprehend the tragedy that had taken place.
At that age all I was interested in was going to the barn, building a fort, and destroy Granddad's straw mow! I spent much time in Fawn Grove with my first cousin Jim Morris, who was the same age as I and was also named after Uncle Jim. Our both having been named "Jim" created confusion, so when we visited, I was known as “Big Jim” and my cousin was “Little Jim,” only because I was the first born, lucky me. I miss those days and I miss my Grandparents.
I was lucky growing up; I had the best grandparents in the world. On my father's side were the Marstellers, Billy and Nellie. On Mom’s side were the Morrises, Dick and Buelah. Granddad Marsteller was a WWI veteran who was wounded in France, but that’s another story.
Time flew by and any conversation about Uncle Jim was from my mother, Jim’s sister, Betty. Mom is a genealogist and has hundreds of photographs of the family. I am sure I saw many photos of Uncle Jim and asked questions about him. My overnight visits to Fawn Grove became less frequent as high school, dating, fast cars and Uncle Sam came into the picture, however, the Morris family always had time on special occasions or just for the fun of it, to gather at the old homestead in Fawn Grove. Uncle Rolland, little Jim’s father, always made the ice cream and we ate, laughed, and talked years away (Delete, )with Grandma and Granddad as the glue that held us together. And that’s the way it was in old Fawn Grove in the 60’s and 70’s.
Granddad passed away on April 27, 1985. On December 3, 1986, Grandma followed. I remember as we left the grave at the cemetery I turned to cousin Jim and said, “What are we going to do now, its the end of a generation”. He responded, “It sure is”. As we walked away, we didn’t think about the grave next to our grandparents, their son and our uncle, Everette N. Morris “Jim”. The end of a generation, yes but it also was a beginning for us, (we didn’t know at the time), to finish the search that Grandma started, to answer the question she asked our country 42 years before, after receiving the Western Union telegram “tell me about my boy”?
After Grandma and Granddad passed away, most of their possessions were divided up among the family members with the remainder sold at auction. Months later my mother asked me if I were interested in having a box full of material on Uncle Jim that Grandma had saved.
An old box was all that was left, an old box with Air Force telegrams, photographs, and personal things. Not much compared with to the life of a person, the life of Everette N. Morris, “Uncle Jim”. The box was a silent witness to the war. I opened the box and began to read the letters Jim sent home, and the letters sent to him in England from the family. There also were many photographs of Jim growing up, and going off to war.
There were letters from the mothers of crew members on Jim’s plane who were also killed, that Western Union Telegram she showed me and his military papers. It was all there and it began our search of the past and to find out what happened to Uncle Jim that day in the Black Forest on March 18, 1944.