Keep busy & be happy Jack Brownfield's story

Jack Brownfield is a 97-year-old San Angelo resident and a World War II veteran. He volunteered to join the military in May 1941 after a friend had been drafted. He was part of the Corps of Engineers and helped build lots of roads and bridges.

“I was just 21 years old. I didn’t have no worries. Scared? Heck no. I wasn’t scared of anything.”
On June 6, 1944 — also known as D-Day — he was on a beach along the coast of Normandy in France.

“D-Day the sky was black with airplanes going over, bombing. It was nine days before we got to the shore, it was so crowded with soldiers.”

The military sent him all over the U.S. and then overseas. Some of the places he’s been to: New York, Northern Ireland, England, France, Germany.

“When we landed in Ireland, it was foggy that morning. Then the sun came out. I have never seen such pretty country in my life. It was green. It rained quite a bit there and it sparkled.” Asked what else he saw in his wartime travels, he said softly, “I saw a lot of graves.”

On April 29, 1946 he married Shirley Havins, the sister of fellow soldier. The two had corresponded during the war and she’d sent him cookies. After the war, he visited and met her in person for the first time.

“She lived out on a farm in Robert Lee,” he recalled. “She was a red-headed lady. I liked that red head.”

They were married for 60 years.

He did a “little cowboying” after his return and this involved pulling mistletoe for cattle, cutting brush, and burning cactus. All this for a $1 a day and board. Of course, he said, back then beer was 15 cents. One of the last ranches he worked at was the Rocking Chair Ranch in Scleicher County.

Jack frequents the Santa Fe Crossing Senior Center for lunch.

He used to have a blaze-faced sorrel mare, which he traded for his first car -- a 1924 Model T Ford.

“Nobody had any money back then, we’d done a lot of trading.”

He owned a Victrola that you had to wind by hand. He’d place this on the passenger seat and drive up and down the street “like I had a radio.” He has fond memories of the car. “We’d done a lot of running around in it. Me and the boys would come down to San Angelo for stock shows. We listened to a lot of Jimmy Rogers.”

“You had to make your own fun back then.”
"Keep busy and stay happy, you have to make your own happy."

He joined Troy Laundry, then located 350 S. Oakes Street, in 1953 and worked there for 50 years. His routes included Big Lake, Rankin, Mertzon, Barnhart, then later (in 1973) he added Sterling City. When Troy closed down, he went to Bahlman Cleaners and told Mr. Bahlman his troubles and was told to carry on with his route.

“I picked up laundry from house to house and then delivered the clean clothes back. I still do that,” he said. “I don’t pick up that many dresses anymore. All the ladies are now wearing britches.

Today he still continues the Sterling City route as an independent contractor for Bahlman Cleaners

Jack Brownfield celebrated his 97th birthday on May 17, 2016. His family threw a party for him the prior Saturday .

“When the war ended, more than 12 million men and women put their uniforms aside and returned to civilian life.... They became once again ordinary people, the kind of men and women who always have been the foundation of the American way of life.” ~ The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw.
Created By
Yfat Yossifor & Rashda Khan
Rashda Khan and Yfat Yossifor

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