World War II Central Illinois Stories

Oral History Interview with James Stallmeyer


Pop Up Archive Item: “Oral History Interview with James Stallmeyer” :
Transcript for file: james_stallmeyer_2008-07-01.mp3


we are ready knows all the answers chapter 2
Neil Doaba pre pre interview and not talk about things that are you in
love will cover a lot of things from before so
no internet on off Victor Manuel Sosa
alright let me first of all of just start with the official pardon let me let me get your name


name on the tape so you know who I’m talking to you my name is James dahlmeier
I was born and raised in Covington Kentucky across the river from
from Cincinnati to help people located and Ike
I came here in July 1944 and I
except for 03 months interlude ive been here ever since let’s start
baby we talk a little about your time in high school and then drink high school
school bus with the time when when the war began why I take it or leave my old will my oldest brother


brother was drafted in early 1941
second one was drafted in 42 and the third
the third when was also drafted in 42 help I will slay you are probably thinking is Ohio
high school student what what what what happens what happens to you at a time
well I was going to be 18 in August of 1944 and Diane
news that I would be in the service
I would get my orders during that summer as several of my classmates did


so in the spring of 1944 in the side
decided to enlist in the Navy and since I was at that time
in the engineering curriculum at the University of Dayton
the Navy had me take an examination and when I got my orders
I was ordered to report to the Navy unit at the University of Illinois at store
that’s the total of the description with I received
you mention that you were able to take an examination


what’s this is an elective this is something you could have done or when but what if what would you have done otherwise
if I hadn’t taken the exam I would have gone where have I been
are the Navy sent me just as any enlisted person dead come in big Jambox not
guarantee that I would go to the college program it was
as a matter of fact I took the exam and I enlisted in the Navy then I waited and I
and they said you’ll get your orders and so my orders came and told me tube
go to Urbana Illinois what did you think of that time


time of the month when you got your orders and then what did you know
youknowit of love Urbana Champaign before that I knew nothing of Urbana Champaign I didn’t
I didn’t know of the University of Illinois it’s over
so I got on the train in Cincinnati at the bat 11
p.m. On June 30th at travel to Indianapolis
make a change in train arrived in Urbana what is now the
now the station theater at about 8:15 in the morning


burning of July the first and Elsa taxi driver to take me to the
way to the Navy units at the University of Illinois which he didn’t
didn’t know the location of and so he took baby to the Administration Building on Wright Street
Wright Street which is where I am with drop July 1st
1944 happen to be a Sunday so that there were no offices open
is open and few people around at 8:15 in the morning on Sunday
on Sunday so I started to roam around the campus and onto the quadrants


until I ran into a navy person who told me to go to
YouTube Busey hall which traditionally had been a girls residence hall
but at that time was occupied by the Navy units Ducey and Evans
so you you got to be used again
what was what was the situation are what was the wizard was a pretty much
pretty much out of barracks at that time out how are the living arrangements we lived in the room
the room store what novel say the same as they are today since they’ve both Bend


redecorated but we lived in the regular residence rooms
Wilson community bathroom I lived on
don the East Wing of UC which
what had about 9 rooms so they were 18 of us
bus to know that I’m sorry that were 20 other speakers the end room
Andrew m head 4 dead 2 double bunks the forum
four rooms on each side have double bunk store


4 rooms of 2 on each side in a room with 4 at the far end
and 1 bathroom and that’s where we lived and
and the we had meals in the basement of Evansville
whats I believe this still used as the they eating
the dining room for the Residence Inn Busey Evans and he’s world
who were all young men who wear the same situation as you would with taking the exam
Old Navy Pier they were all Navy yes all young men from


man from the Navy some black eye
this was were they were sent first
people who were in the fleet at that time were eligible to take an exam to see whether they
weather they could get into the programs are there were people in the unit
unit who had come from the fleet so it was a kind of a mixture
of sailors and an association in Davie
Navy uniform Savannah GA music college dude are we so you went to college in us


interacted with people came from different backgrounds but this was probably something altogether different
different bullet with a unique arrangement because we have
we had regular Navy activities on the weekend calisthenics what we had
we have to do when we have to have marching and we had to take course
take courses in all the Navy programs learn over the summer
summer for signals and everything else in addition to taking garlic pills generic classes
Swiss Swiss basic training help your ass or your basic training in the Navy


Algiers well oh yes we march to behind Busey Evans
sunset that time it was a big open field except for free or gym
the the present athletic facility which is Easter free orgy
Jim was not there it was a big open field it and that’s where we are
marched in ramen we use for your jump as argument
rope climbing and we have the swimming in
the hub off gym in the old pool in the weather like 5 supposed to still there


where the pool with your so 7 feet deep so you could
you couldnt touch bottom and that’s where we have all of our swimming lessons
so you learn Navy life hundreds of miles away from
for the nearest body of light cause I told all of my relatives I was a dry land sailor
can we talk about this photo
what was the day the day in the life on campus like at that time
well for us it was pretty much dick


dictator we rose at 6 revelry was at 6 a.m.
we had to assemble for calisthenics which one until about 6
630 exercises running
what’s 630 we were dismissed from that to do whatever we had to do
do clean up and have breakfast and then we assemble dance
734 what at the time was cold mustard essentially roll call to make sure of
everybody was there and then after roll call we were dismissed


miss to go to work classes in follower regular academic
stomach program at a time we were required by the Navy to take a minute
the minimum of 18 credit hours which meant that we were in class 26
26 to 28 hours a week classes ran from 7 in the morning until
until 5 in the evening Monday through Friday and 7:30 noon
good noon on Saturday after class
classes we had dinner ladies names were athletic act


what activities or study as you wish to taps was at 10 p.m.
MPM I am they
corpsman would come through the holes to make sure everybody was in bed with the lights
flights out and so does that was the end of the day so are they ran from 6
sex in the morning until 10 o’clock at night with glasses and studen
that was pretty much it how much different is that from from bookbub what is civilian live
up and going good schools have time to think 100


civilian could take whatever program he wanted to know Gotye
go to work many civilians in the engineering program so we didn’t
where to run in the suit the classes were for the most part all Navy personnel
maybe one or two civilians that they lived in their court
recorders and we were isolated in Busey Evans
and so most of our friends were Navy personnel
do you took some courses that were human shows the general college curriculum to talk a lot of other courses


we took the regular engineering program English history economics
course chemistry physics is all part of engineering
what we have the regular regular program the program was the
the academic program was not dictated by the Navy there was something that we went through
through the program civil engineering mechanical engineering Cerama
ceramic engineering whatever engineering discipline you happen to be in movies
what were you and I was in civil engineering and soul


so if that’s right spent my time civil engineering at that time with all the classes
glasses were in the old engineering Hall directly across from the Union Building
mn how much does a field that training have been different from a bill what up what what train
what training is a civil engineer would go through in civilian time what time is it with wizards
was there specific military civil engineering don’t know know know it was served it was
the regular standard academic program
no no no special courses because they were the Navy program


program how much interaction did you have taking some of those General college
college courses along with the engineering how much interaction did you have with other other students nun
my economics class with all Navy personnel live all of the classes for Navy
Navy personnel I don’t know what but I don’t know that the civilians were exempted from
former sections but the we never had any with us for whatever
whatever reason to get out of class very rarely does
does there wasn’t much time a few of the a few of the Navy men found love


local girls but not free money for the most part
it was pretty much an isolated program
when was there a chance for interaction adult human passing between bill
tween buildings during the day or social activities are my friend what many saw
many social activities during the 1940 424
46 during that period
Mandali I don’t recall any sponsor dances are anything of elector


Bedford what to do when your colleagues do on weekends
play football in the winter time
time played baseball in the summertime playing basketball
when when I first came here there had been a cig
Signal Corps group which was quarter
quartered in what is skinny gym there was a diesel school which was
what was quartered in water that time was known as the mens residence hall director


directly west of Huff jump and Wii review C Evans
the signal school had been disbanded the diesel school bus still
still here we were quartered in Busey in Evans
when the diesel school was disbanded then we were moved from Busey Evans 2
the mens residence halls a quart across from gym
hey in the that’s it will be
what was your question no social activities what what what what things you did over the weekend


considering you had to stay in the United within the confines of champagne
Urbana which pretty much respected are
activity some people ask me whether we want
tool and I said no most of the people who were at Chanute came to Champaign Urbana
because during the warriors of the word probably twice
twice as many girls on campus as there were men there for the Wii
was no reason for the men from Champaign Urbana to go to Rantoul it was


was rather the other way around but the airmen from Chanute Kansas to Champaign Urbana
because they knew that there were alot of above a little girls till there was you
it wasn’t too much interaction so was very very little interaction with few civilians at art classes
glasses are regiment was pretty much the dictator
dictated by the Navy when you had 28 hours of classes
during off essentially off 44 hour week there was not a lot of
down time and when the lights went out at 1000


the was not a lot of time for social activity Medford pretty serious
episode guide it was a very serious campus I would say
what’s different than today because suck
if you hit me you knew that a 1000 lights were going to go out in your head
you had to be in bed or you are going to be in trouble consequently
free hours during the day were you had to use those for
house for studying when you were taking 18 hours so if you had a free hour from classes


you didn’t do a lot of socializing you mostly went to the library in the North study
s***** without you
because of the Arab air haps was it just because he went with button
what kind of discipline was there is far is the discipline
discipline worth it if you did not satisfy the program there was no such thing
playing at least within the Navy program there was no such thing as probation and we have it today so good
don’t make your grade you get another semesters grace to try to bring them up to


up to par if you didn’t make the grade you went to the fleet
so people have said well you were really in the Navy well I was in the Navy I did
I did I went were they told me to go and I I did what they told me to do
and if I hadn’t been able to satisfy the program I would have ended up
someplace else in the fleet that was entirely up to the Navy
did they make that decision in the fleet you mean
on a ship or on a shift 4 at some other Navy base


base Norfolk you know San Diego San Francisco
wherever they had but wherever they have the Great Lakes were they
where they had a big Navy program for possibly saying action or possibly
possibly seeing action if I had classmates high school classmates
who did see action in the Pacific War in the Navy
word who were drafted into the Navy after
after I enlist what was what was it like no


like knowing that while your taking courses at there were there was the possibility that
you are so your colleagues couldn’t see action eventually worth
who was taking a photo taken for granted that was never
the number of big worry about me you just did what you had to do in LA
let the chips fall where they may Filipino anxiety is for sale
doing Daniel going to class and doing your best and that was it
what was the


physical set up of the campus of that time even even physically I guess
your groups were were separated or were there was an interaction between civilians in
very very little known things with you
that was pretty much traveling between the
residence hall and the campus and that was pretty much it
tell me a little about superior senior colleagues in the evening you mentioned all coming from different
different backgrounds the Sun from the fleet welfare yall very good friend


the first unit that I was in the first company that I was in we have the
a local boy it was actually
actually from Champaign Urbana who have been in the fleet and had been to see in
Kentucky exam and he was back in our group there were
33 men from New York
the my roommate was from Ely Minnesota
several people from Alabama there was a


what was i mix the mix bag did you hear some of their previous experience
experiences of some of the people that were in the fleet does that had no they never talk then nobody talk
money talk much about it was you you didn’t talk about past
past history at that time it was pretty butts tube
2 do what you had to do was then that was it
did you know what kinds of things you might have been doing heroin
171 s leaving the school when you’re when you’re taking civil engineering was or was it just sort of


what was the program the we were in
the civil into the civil engineer
the civil engineering program was directed to produce engineers for what
for what was called the Civil Engineering Corps the Seabees which was the construction arm of the
of the Navy those were the people who predominantly
ugly ended up in the Pacific building airfields
goats on a island


does the Marines and the army free dolphin and they would go
would go in and and build barracks and Fairfield
for the for the Navy for the Air Force sword
for me was to get into the civil engineer corps
weather typical class was were the classes of people would leave all at once or Worthington
people get individually called in the Sonos as you that you graduated
you went to the sleep of the the program that I was


why was it called the v12 the engineering program was initiated in 43
23 people who came into the program some graduated in 40
44 and then they went to the fleet than what were the Navy something
something some graduated in 45 and did the same thing
the program was disbanded in the summer of 1946
6th and we were all discharged at the convenience of the government
my Navy career ended very quickly hydrate quickly


what was it like I do it what did they just to hand you a piece of paper towel holder
how does all the way mean the end of the war when you knew the things with wine
wine down a well we went by truck from the mens residence halls to the railroad station
patient we went by train from there to Great Lakes and for some reason
we had to go to Great Lakes to be discharged
and we were discharged from the Great Lakes Naval Station and then we were just told to go
the go bar on way home after discharge live once


downtown Chicago caught a train went back to Cincinnati
back to civilian life did you have an idea what you what you would do
roar or how long how much longer you would be in the service once the war ended did you give any thought
thought to what civilian life would leave for you than know I know
I guess as far as I’m concerned I was in the Navy in butt
why did what the Navy told me to do and they just told me to stay here and go to school
finally when the program with the S Pen do they said you’re being discharged


that was it you talked earlier about this these does er mean
Army School being on campus at the same time and not knowing too much about
send all there was a program called ASTP army specialized training program
program they were housed in Newman hall
witches on armory Avenue bike by the library
hub they did their thing and we did our thing that there were no army
go army people in our class and I have I have no idea what the army program


what’s for all I know is they were here and that program was this
was disbanded in 1945 when the war in Europe ended in the old apartment
was there any rivalry army navy rivalry I know know know
no I know very very little interaction eyes I didn’t know anything as Teppen
but you also mention that that the Navy pretty much
how much kept up the traditions of the college football games well
yeah they were not many musicians I suppose


suppose on campus oh the the Navy of made up the band for the football
football team what I say that made up the band
168 peoples a word for haps for the instruments
and the other hundred twenty-eight were marchers in
the Navy personnel constituting the Bandit made all of the formations
license for the football games and on at least one year
Chief Illiniwek was a member of the Navy unit


are you at and several members of the football team were
Navy man and servo Navy member also
also part of the basketball teams during those years you must have been a different
difference games in wartime there was any other time Boulevard many people died
people there may be twenty five thirty thousand
the stands were priests Mars
it was still fun we can win money games because many of the football players


players who had been on the football team here one day
my baby got into the service for one reason or another many of them
the mended up at Purdue and when
Purdue came over here to play we were essentially playing against our own
personnel who were now students at Purdue can I change
changed again music somebody that change when the war ended they came back specific
Glee all I don’t remember all of their names I remember


Glee Alex Agassi who had been here before the war 1
what the Purdue play today Purdue and then came back after the war and played here
eventually ended up is the coach of Northwestern but he was 10
just one of those you’re talking about the
campus when you were there and I think you said about 14000 14000
what has changed in the time when you between when you left
left to get discharged and when you came back to campus and it started


with you with you with you as a civilians well does the veterans
started to come back in 1945 after
after the war in Europe ended by
1946 lower of many veterans on campus
Kenny gym was
residence hall the the gym was a series of bunk beds were they
where they studied I know not the ice rink was another dormitory


the ice rink itself was the floor was covered with bunk beds
doubles or triples and the rest of the veterans live
delivered wherever they could anybody who had space rental rooms including their basements
and west of the stadium since there was nothing between
between the stadium and the railroad tracks from 1st street to the
through the railroad tracks and from Peabody to
2 Gregory were prefabs where are the married veterans


veterans resided in a line I village screwed you tell the difference
Sony wizard window Fulton hospital difference in in just the feeling on
going on campus serve before and it was it was different
difference in the feeling of no because
when I came back and 46th I was still only 19
19 years old the returning veterans were
and I was single the returning veterans were


25 and they were married and so they had their own respond
responsibilities and let’s put it something more serious
serious I would say when the veteran started the returned it was still the still a
still a very serious campus because they had time to make up
friends they were not about through participate in any
any social activities I’m in except among the married families who lived off
unit in a neighborhood that was very little interaction between the


married veterans and the single that rings
and so it was us it was so much different atmosphere than this today
how is the transition from military life on campus to civilian life
why you didn’t get up at 6 o’clock
go to bed at 10 o’clock in the evening
the first probably the biggest change from uae
yveltal freer or hunt with a bow is actually really have solutely


although I did continue in the Navy program in the 18 and life
in my senior year in the Naval ROTC and when I
when I graduated in 1947 I was commissioned in the Navy in the cylinder
generic or so that I was still subject to being called back
back for many for many years
will the military still had a big presence on campus well afterwards oh yeah
US Army the Navy program was here


the their head not there in the Army obviously
the ROTC program goes back to I know not when
when’s the army program started but there was always an ROTC program on campus
but there has never been a navy ROTC the Navy ROTC unit
not on our campus started in 1946 with the
the dismissal of the v12 program control number
numberless dose who came back of majority of


Alaskan tinyard in the NROTC and God are commissions in 1947
37 and then we were essentially eligible as well
is veterans to be recalled whenever the Navy
okay just a second
I love you in the introduction to learning how to swim you have to learn how to
how to survive so you were they head up I don’t know
how tall is tower was 15 feet in the jump off with all your clothes on


who’s on and take your pants off and pine knots in the legs and throw them back over your
are your head and try to make an air pocket so you could use as a life jacket
you had to practice swimming under
Mobil 1 Oil in water that might be on fire so you head under water
back and forth you were permitted you were supposed to come up twice
twice in 25 yard so you would swim 25 feet and come up
f***** take a breath to swim 25 feet under water and come up and keep


keep doing that for 30 minutes or you
you had your hands tied behind your back conjunct into the pool in you
had to stop survive and stay above water cuz you couldn’t touch
touch the bottom for 30 minutes
until the you were told you can prove a lot to touch the side of the pool
so we learned all the same things Jesus didn’t do it you didn’t do it in the ocean
the Oceanaire in the lake seven little letters on wall in the house


the house temple what other kinds of training maneuvers did you do on cam
what campus in den Ben where is did you go off campus for me in those tight all we never went off air
soccer drill and and calisthenics and we had rope climbing
what we did in freer cuz I don’t know what for your gym is like
just like now but at that time it has the unopened floor in about a
25 foot ceiling and the rope was hung from the rafters
who did rock climbing up and down so that was a


what was the basic training that you would have gotten elsewhere
does all done here on campus is all done on campus and haven’t had with the facility
I love you had in that live in ocean MN in addition to the engineering courses we have
we had Navy courses we had to learn semaphore
we had those learn all the shift directions ball. Good stuff
stuff people wear the red light was where the green light was on
what the flag Mathan older all the semaphore signals


we didn’t we do that all on campus a lot of people
lot of people for Worth from outside Midwest correct we have free will from leg
east coast to the west coast and I had classmates from
California and they went from the Canadian border to
the Gulf of Mexico they were from all over the country and they all have to use to Illinois
learning naval exercise while we wait
will it was different I can tell you’re coming from Kentucky I couldn’t believe it when I got the feelin


does Illinois and realize that you know and then Kentucky if you conceive
300 feet over the hill why your lucky bud
red when I can be long or I am so that you could see for 10 miles with a home without a
without anything in the way it’s quite a few questions I should window
I recall the first time I have friends
buckmans car in 1945 when I had leave an ID
I drove to Cincinnati gun at that time I used to go down throut


1 route 36 whats goes through Tuscola on its way to Indianapolis IN
what’s in a corset straight as a string and you can put the
the pedal to the metal and I know that time the speed limit was
what was reasonable and proper which method you can do whatever you
you can go as fast as you want to go as long as it wasn’t improper
what did you get to know about Champaign Urbana for example outside campus
what was what was not much not much


Simply Red I didn’t mean a whole lot to me at that time
should I was until you mention not much interaction among students vote in Indiana
any interaction inside tell her no no not at all general go to the thief
movie theaters at all or when do the Virginia and through the Rialto with C
what’s used to be on Church Street ware
Robinsons department store used to be I forgot what they call it now but there was a theater there
told the Rialto the one in Urbana weather


how was called the princess on Main Street lots of time
the time and then you saw
salt civilians aerosol assault Residence townies I guess all counties but the
and I don’t know I believe in God I never
God created with any town is because
laden come to the campus unless they were students we didnt Rome about that
Southtown because we didn’t have all that much free time


you are supposed to stay in the Champaign Urbana area but we were times when we were
are confined to the Champaign Urbana area unless we had papers
Aleve however I mention live love the was
Amanda and are you good who was from Champaign Urbana and several of the peace
the people got to know young ladies from Champaign Urbana whose parents had autumn
automobile so it was possible to go off limits provide
provided you didn’t get caught which was not


not likely because there were no mp3 only around Illinois looking for Navy
maybe personnel so on occasion we would go over to the strip
strip mine from the south side of Route 150 on the northside of melancholy
Norcold Kickapoo but I’m not Southside we call it Kickapoo but its all strip mines
Mines of weed slide down the cliff and go swimming in the strip mines
I’m going over to the Boy Scout camp with a still there then back and forth
4 through the strip mines till we got to the Boy Scout camp and then use their diving board


board and then we got tired wave swim back to the cliff and go back up and getting
get in the car and come back home but that was that was a big knot with a big outie
what was the extent of Mischief to that was the extent of Mischief
York Fox car rental Comcast
did you meet your wife here I’m at my wife
why fear but not until 1952 all K that was not during the war when I met her in
52 we were married in 53 but you had been here


meet you after you came back to campus Everlast I get spring
are there any family left was when I
graduated in 47 in with the Southern Railway
who shot me to Tennessee on a construction job but then
but then I got notice that I had an appointment to go to graduate
school and I came back in September and started graduate school in September of 1940
1047 and have been here ever since he came back


can back it was a different of maybe a different school different characters and when you when you left
left yeah but goes by that time
we are all civilians there were no there were no military people on the campus after that
captain toad now we were free to live wherever we what is an
make your own schedule for whatever we wanted to do you think somebody who boo
who went to school now or 12 school the recent past what would recognize a kappa
the campus of 1940 441 North Hartley


Engineering to see the engineering campus
Engineering Hall was there
Electrical Engineering Research Lab to the north of that
cat and cow vet lab which is still there was here
the present Electrical Engineering Building was built
was built after the war
the old is the present I guess it’s in metallurgy building


on the corner of green and Matthews
was the physics building at that time does the new the new Eminem
how many building was built after the war the new physics building glute muscles
physics building was built after the war end except for Kenny
free County gym there wasn’t anything but normal wasn’t anything north of Springfield
can a gym is the only thing that was where the biggest load
behind County gym was a real road trip with another real running track


because thats a Richard Lee before Memorial Stadium was built that was worth a foot
are the football games were played and north of that was the baseball diamond
Beckman Institute is at the present time was the baseball diamond
that was that was a time and then south
the library was like us the Commerce building was there
in the AG building but the in the course the armory
it is all before the military was integrated to


Craig T Nelson weird were there any African American units
units on you like episode where student zone
I don’t recall perfectly honest I don’t recall in the African America
American students during that year out of I don’t know when they started
probably 19
see I’m trying to think I recall the grass
photographs 290 North prov about 1949 very Motorola theory


Elise small number but it was quite small number I loved her not for that
very very few African Americans on the campus
are there any any last things
things that you may water to impart about about your experience on campus now
no I was high all I can say is that I think that I was raped
very fortunate because I mention my
oldest brother has already been injured and was in the hospital my f****** brother


was in the Air Force with a headband it was in Africa
Erica and then after we chase the dream and out of Africa he will
he was in Italy at an Air Force Base my third brother
was it love combat engineers and as the day I graduated from high
how high school unbeknownst to earth as unit was in the d-day invasion on over
Omaha Beach and so I
I figured that I was approved for they were all fortunately all survive


the one in the infantry as I mentioned had been injured
and spend some time in the hospital but my brother in the Air Force
survived without any difficulty my brother who was in. Survive
without any difficulty accepting
set up a loft 3 or 4 years of their life where as I
I was fortunate enough to spend 2 years in the Navy end complete 3
3 years of college education because we went to school 12 months


sound of the year we went to school 16 weeks have a week off
16 weeks have a week off 16 weeks have a week off calendar faculty survive in
I have no idea and we were because we
I was weak you were off on we had no classes on 4th of July
why are Thanksgiving or I suppose Memorial Day
but other than that of course but Christmas
Easter what happened to be on Sunday so there were no classes on Sunday but other than that we had


we had classes they just went right straight through but itself almost his watch like a
what’s like a job is it to do it wasn’t all that s*** was a child and sold
I have always no people say what you didn’t really really
what really in the service of a well I wasn’t I wasn’t I was subject movie order
the orders I had to do what they told me to do
but I don’t that I was very fortunate to be able to do and
the add to that I guess for some people this would be


what do you call a adding something to something I was
is it despite the fact that I was in school for 2 years and completed 3 years of college I got the job
got the GI Bill when they discharge me so I got two more years a free education
Education Center Norwell can’t be that
probably the most profitable military service that I can imagine

wells I think I’ll do it very good enjoy it