George Cann wrote in his book "The History of Westport, "The Richardson family was very active in the early development of Westport."

That history includes the publishing of The Westport Independent, the first newspaper published there. At various times, they owned and operated the Westport Courier-Independent. Another family member was a baker and operated a shingle factory. Another owned a restaurant and the first filling station in Westport. That filling station is where our story begins today as Wayne Richardson shares some of his memories. Wayne lives in Florida so this is the result of long distance communications between Wayne, his sons Ben and John, and me.

On Dec. 7, 1941 Wayne, son of Dean and Florence Low Richardson, was working at the family filling station. This is how Wayne described that morning; "It was Sunday morning and very little traffic on Main Street. It was extremely warm for December in Indiana, few people were out which was normal for a Sunday morning. I was sweeping the driveway when Ulmont Stuart, who lived east of the station and had a ham radio set, came walking down the street and said, "The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbor." Then he went on down the street to tell others. I went ahead sweeping the drive, wondering, where in the heck Pearl Harbor was."

He said the news traveled fast that morning in Westport. "Downtown restaurants and gas stations have always been places where news travels fast. When we all heard what had happened we really didn’t know what to do except go on with whatever we were doing and wait for the next news flash. Everybody who came into the station would talk about it and they too would ask where Pearl Harbor was."

Wayne continued to work at the station for the first two years after the United States entered the war. "The tires and gasoline were rationed but we were kept very busy, often fixing the old tires and tubes that would normally be thrown away. We also made a little money, which was a lot different than we had it during the Depression days of the 1930s."

One big problem, however, was that they had a hard time getting help because all the able bodied men were either off to the war or working in factories making war materials. So Wayne and his mother (with the generous help and expertise from uncle Herbert) spent a lot of hours there. He said his mother was always very scrupulous about abiding by the law. "But she made sure that ‘the boys’ that were home on leave had gas, oil and tires.

"By 1944, the Pentagon decided they needed more men. Earlier on in the War, the men who were older, physically feeble or had poor vision were not taken. Later on they were drafted. One guy from the Sardinia area and another from Westport were blind in one eye, but the military took them anyway. They also took guys who today would be called, ‘mentally challenged’"

The decision to take married men put Wayne, his friend Mose Faulkner and a few others around town and millions around the country into the 1-A category. Wayne decided he’d rather take his chances by enlisting than being drafted. He and Mose drove over to Freeman Field in Seymour to enlist in the Army Air Corp to be Air Cadets. That was around the middle of March in 1944 and was the day the Air Corp top brass gave the orders that ‘All married men with families, past age 26, as of this day can no longer enlist in the Air Cadets’. Wayne was 26, married to Florine (Carder) and had five children.

"A few days later, March 30, 1944, Norman Billieu, Mose, Bob Cruser and I went to Indianapolis for a pre-induction physical. I passed the physical and was deemed eligible for any branch so we were free to choose. I couldn’t get into the Air Cadets and didn’t want to be in the Army so I chose the Navy. In my ignorance I thought that if the Air Corp didn’t want me then maybe I could fly for the Navy. I didn’t realize that to be a pilot they preferred single guys with a college degree."

Wayne took boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago. After boot camp he could get a train to Indianapolis then to Greensburg and catch a ride with someone or hitch hike to Westport.

"All train stations were busy during the war and servicemen never had to buy a beer or drink. Civilians always insisted on buying you one or more," he said.

Submarine duty and why he chose it next week.

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