The Herron Family I Knew

My father is Elden Herron, the middle of five sons born to Frank G. and Beulah (Black) Herron. Granddad was the eldest son of George S. Herron and Barbara Stambaugh Herron. He was born sometime around the second of February, 1886. We always had his birthday on February 3rd because, at least I think I heard this story, he didn't want to be born on groundhog day. He died three days after his 82nd birthday in 1969. Grandma was the daughter of John and Maude Black. She was born on May 4th or thereabouts, 1896 and she died about the same time in 1979. I remember her burial in the Spratt cemetery was on one of those sharp, cold and windy spring days in northern Michigan that sort of makes one feel that it is a timeless place. There were quite a few in her family and one day I hope to fill this side out a little bit. One slightly younger brother, Cecil Black, who was a member of the 1900 club in the neighborhood died in the summer of 1998 at age 98. A sister, Alice Duncan, died in 2002 at age 92, I believe.  Two other sisters, Thelma Baker of Alpena and Winnie Pomfrey both died on the same day in February, 2003.  It was Thursday the 27th.  They were both in their 90's, God bless 'em, both pretty frail, but quite alert until the day they died.

Dad was born on March 3, 1919, about a month before his grandmother Kate Link Herron died. He was born in the very primest of times to qualify for what Tom Brokaw calls "The Greatest Generation." He certainly got to spend his share of time in some tough spots. When he was a kid things in the southern part of Green Township were spartan at best. In his early childhood this part of America obviously was not participating in the "Roaring 20s." However, around 1928 granddad Frank did manage to build a nice house that is still standing on M-65. One of his granddaughters, Valerie Herron, is living there now with her husband, Steve Durecki, and their kids Ethan and Paige. I remember a few years ago they re-roofed the house and the original roof was the fourth one down.

Having survived the depression planting and picking strawberries and raspberries and eating canned venison, dad then got to tour the world courtesy WWII and Uncle Sam's army. He spent some time in Alaska learning to ski, and box (not so very well judging from his nose) and eat ice cream. Then he got to spend a bit of time in England (about 48 hours, as I've heard the story) and la belle France. France was not so pleasant. He got hit by a piece of shrapnel that opened up his helmet like a tuna can but only made him deaf, by and large. Fortunately, someone prevailed upon him not to send the helmet home to his folks. Then like so many guys, he got the honor of trying again.

The second time was quite a bit less humorous than the first for himself and those he was with. His platoon was mostly killed northeast of Metz and Strasbourg in the small Alsatian town of Lauterberg in the northeastern most corner of France - about a half a mile to Germany to the North or the East. He had another round with shrapnel. This time it got most of his voice box. The next morning he crawled back to the U.S. side. A tank crew shot him with a machine gun because he didn't holler back to their challenge. They then decided he would be harmless enough whatever side he was on and picked him up. From what I have heard the jeep ride back would have been unpleasant enough because of the cold and snow, but partway down the mountain the Germans shelled the highway. The medics decided the ditch would be safe enough. However, they decided to leave dad on the jeep so he could get a good view of the shelling and tell them what it was like.

After a couple of years in the hospital he moved back to Alpena to farm. He and my mother, Catherine Huston, had known one another before World War II. They became serious after dad's return from the army and my mother's return from "Rosie the Riveter" duty in Detroit. They married in 1949, and for their efforts they have to put up with me writing about them. That is another story.

You can find a few details of the Huston side of the family here. I hope to expand this section in the relatively near future.