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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

Social Media---80 years ago

One post card is the only "social media" we have from my great Uncle Irel Hofheins while he served in WWII and it is was sent to his only sister, Mattie Barton. Too bad Uncle didn't have facebook or instagram in those days... maybe we would of had a more complete record of his life. But I guess that is what makes this postcard an absolute treasure.

I had to dig deep, but I managed to piece a little more together about my Great Uncle's life. I guess it is up to me to complete his "profile page."

Thanks so much to my mom for helping complete this journey- My memories of my uncle are scant---he was the man in bed who grandma looked after while grandpa worked the farm and then we buried him. We remain as his story keepers!

Life Story—Edward Irel Hofheins Compiled by Janet Hofheins Weaver with anecdotal stories by Edward Bernell Hofheins (niece and nephew of Irel Hofheins) On May 16,1912, a baby boy was born to John Michael Hofheins and Martha Jane Morgan. He was to be the oldest of four children and they named him Edward Irel Hofheins. His younger siblings were: Cecil (who died as a child), Ora Cleve (our father) and Mattie. He was born in Beaver, Utah and spent his entire life there except for the time he served his country in the military. According to Military Records, he was a private (even though we remember always thinking he attained the rank of Sargent). We know very little about his childhood (other than that it was pretty much like that of other boys being raised on the farm during that period of time). He finished Grammar School and then dropped out to help his father on the farm and in other ways in order to make money for the support of the family. For instance, they hauled wood and sold it and hauled freight to and from Milford (a railroad town about 40 miles from Beaver). On October 1, 1942, (at the age of 30) he enlisted in the U.S. Army. World War II was taking place and the United States was recruiting all healthy young men. Irel was probably one of the older enlistees. His brother Ora probably would have enlisted also, but at that time the government was suggesting that those who were married and had children, were responsible for parents or for a farm probably should not enlist. Ora met all of the criteria. Their father had married when he was older and was (at that point in time) in his 70’s, and having worked as a brick layer and builder throughout his life was in poor health. So, Ora stayed home, and Irel went to war. Irel enlisted “for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to the law.” (U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about Edward I Hofheins) According to this same record he served in Branch Immaterial-Warrant Officers, USA. This included semi-skilled occupations in building of aircrafts. If he were involved in building aircraft, he probably would have been stationed in the United States. However, the few stories that we remember definitely place him overseas (France and Germany), and I seem to recall that he was a Mess Sargeant. On May 8, 1945, World War II came to an end. I was four years old when the war ended and Bernell was almost two. Needless to say our memories are based on the few stories we heard as we got older. He was a quiet man who talked little and never really shared his feelings or experiences, and to us (his nieces and nephews), he was just “Uncle”. We seldom said Uncle Irel. His friends and the guys he rode the range with called him “Ike”. As we got old enough to know him it seems that Uncle was just there, like a second father. Dad told us that Uncle had never married because he had fallen in love with a girl in (I thought France; Bernell thought Germany). Even though our Dad tried to talk Uncle into sending for her he didn’t, and so we became the closest thing he had to children. I do remember that Uncle could do some tap dancing steps and that I thought he looked like Glen Ford (the movie star). During the years of our growing up, Bernell went to the field with Dad and Uncle more often than I did and so he has more memories. At this point I will share Bernell’s memories: “I know Dad always said that he (Uncle) and Grandpa did not have that great of a relationship. In fact Dad often said that Grandpa died of a broken heart because of their relationship. I know that when Uncle and I spent time either on the farm or riding for cattle he never spoke of his time in the war. It runs in my mind that he attained the office of Sargent in the service. One fall while gathering cattle his horse fell on him and his foot was caught in the stirrup and the horse was pinned against a tree, which was a good thing. Otherwise he might have been badly hurt or killed. He was alone and yelled for help. I don't recall who was with him, however that person heard him yell and found him. At that time he was not wearing cowboy boots which is the reason his foot was caught. I received my first pair of boots that Christmas from him, and I don't recall him wearing anything but boots after that. He was always my advocate when we worked together, if I did anything wrong and Dad would get after me, he would take my side. I remember vividly him dancing with Grandma Morgan on the big front porch of their house. He was good to her and his mother. He lived in a small four room house with them. I remember when he and Dad built those two cinder block rooms on the north end of the house for Grandma Morgan. I don't know for sure, but I don't think Grandma Hofheins ever had desert for lunch because in the summers when we were haying, we would go by the Dairy Queen and get milk shakes. He would always buy and he always got chocolate. I have often felt bad that he was not active in the church. Uncle was great with young people as long as they didn't mess with his hat. He liked nice western hats and no one better mess with his. I recall one night at the service station when a young man took his hat and ran with it. Uncle Irel grabbed a willow from the back of some one’s truck and chased him across the street beating him with the willow. I am sure everyone there got the message. One time when I was a scout, our troop was going to Cedar to go swimming. I don't recall if it was because of lack of money that I was not going or not, but all I remember is that we were haying at the Creek bed meadow and him handing me the money so I could go. He liked to make things that made work on the farm easier. One summer he built a self-unloading hay wagon. He just used things that were lying around. At the time I thought we could have had the hay up while he was building the wagon, but it worked and he was proud of it. When we put up the hay loose, Dad ran the derrick fork, I rode the horse and Uncle stacked. I don't know how the order of things was established. That was just the way it was. Old Bally was the derrick horse. She was good and all I had to do was sit there. (*Hey brother dear—sometimes your older sister rode the derrick horse). I recall the day we were using the horse Bess, I can't remember why, I just remember on the return trip to the derrick for the next fork load she started to buck. When she got to the end of the cable a part of the derrick flew across the hay stack just missing Uncle, and my leg got caught in the back strap of the harness. That is all that kept me on. When the horse stopped bucking they unhooked her and Uncle Irel got on her with a whip and tried to get her to buck, but she wouldn't. He was very protective of me. We determined later that a bee must have stung her. In my later teenage years he left the farm to work drilling wells. The morning I left for my mission he was standing by the stove in the living room and when I returned 30 months later he was there once again. All though I don't recall him ever telling me he loved me; I think I just knew. One night after my mission, a girl I knew was at the service station waiting with her family for their car to be fixed. She happened to be clothed for summer, and since she had a long wait, I invited her to go for a ride while she waited. Needless to say I got an ear full the next morning from Uncle Irel. He had been there.” (Edward Bernell Hofheins I think we all knew Uncle loved us. When I left for college, got married and began having my own family, I didn’t see much of him. Life does that to us. We change and circumstances change. I remember knowing that Uncle was ill. He had Emphysema. During World War II, the cigarette companies said they were doing the soldiers a big favor by often giving the soldiers free cigarettes. In many ways, they were the enemy because they were killing those soldiers more slowly. I’m sure many of those young men got hooked (addicted) to tobacco and like my Uncle died from Emphysema or cancer later in their lives. I guess Uncle Irel continued smoking after he came home and never quit. It’s funny, but I never saw him smoke, and I never remember ever smelling cigarette smoke on him or his clothes. However, some of my older sons say they saw him smoke. Edward Irel Hofheins died April 22, 1981 at the age of 68. He was in a small bedroom in my parent’s home. Mom and Dad had been taking care of him during his last days. Sometimes I wonder, “Is he with the girl (woman) from France?”

my "Search" also led to the discovery of this rare photo of my grandpa Ora Hofheins with "Uncle" Edward Irel Hofheins. (my Aunt stumbled upon it) It was taken August 28, 1967. It is a treasure!


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