A Naval love story

When heading off to serve his country, the last thing Charles Carswell thought was that he was going to meet the person he would spend the next 63 years with.

Carswell, who was working for the Railroad when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, entered the military on Sept. 1, 1942.

“I wanted to get in before the draft so I could decide what branch I was going to go into,” said Carswell, who enlisted in the Navy. “There was a bunch of us who joined up that day and went to Albany and then on to Newport, R.I.”

Meanwhile, a young lady named Margaret was preparing to join the Navy in suburban Philadelphia, Penn.

“I had to wait until I was 20 because that was how old you had to be in order to be a woman in the Navy,” said Margaret “Peg” Carswell. “I was sworn in on my 20th birthday and the Navy had to appeal to get me into the service because I worked at General Electric in Philly, which was considered a central industry.”

While Peg started her career in Pennsylvania, Charlie was busy going through basic training. On a whim, he signed up for duty in an area he never thought they would assign him to.

“A chief asked us what we wanted to do in the Navy, and I picked aerology as my first choice,” said Charles. “The position was basically a weatherman and I chose it thinking that they would never assign me to my first choice.”

However, when Charles checked with the base Chaplain, who he said was always the first to see the assignment listings, he was surprised to find out where the Navy was sending him.

“I found out I was going to Lakehurst, N.J.,” said Charles. “I wondered what there was to do there? I knew that it was a dirigible place, and that was about it.”

In Lakehurst, Chalres started going to school to be an aerologist before going to Newfoundland, Canada to serve at the Argentia Naval Air Station.

“We were decoding messages from England and Iceland and other places along the route to Europe and fixing weather reports for the planes that were going over to Europe,” said Carswell. “We would make the maps and they went by teletype to where they needed to be. I came out of there as an Airman Second Class.”

While Charles was working in Canada, Peg spent her training time in Stillwater, Okla., before returning to her hometown to serve at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

“I came back after my advance training,” she said. “Then, I was assigned to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Pennsylvania.”

Peg worked in the main office at Willow Grove, holding a number of duties.

“I was in the central office and entered the logs and kept up the office,” she said. “Willow Grove was the base where officers would train as pilots.”

However, one officer came in who was not there to learn to fly.

“After I got out of Newfoundland, I ended up at Willow Grove,” said Charles. “That’s where I met Peg while I was being indoctrinated when we came into the station.”

“He came in at holiday time and we met afterwards at the base,” said Peg. “We were side-by-side at a movie one night. To us, it was a bad movie.”

“After the movie was over, I tapped her on the shoulder and we got to talking,” said Charles.

“That broke the ice,” said Peg. “We just kept bumping into each other on the base after that.”

Peg said that she would invite Charles to her house since the base was relatively close to where she grew up. The two also enjoyed going to see the local sporting teams.

“We both liked the ball games,” said Peg. “We would go to the Army-Navy game and other ball games.”

“We saw a lot of Philadelphia baseball games,” said Charles. “I saw Ted Williams hit a ball over the right field fence at Schnide Park that I think is still traveling.”

In the course of time, the two decided to get married, with the ceremony being held on June 27, 1945.

“The military had no problem with us getting married,” said Peg. “We were married at the Episcopal Church of St. Stevens where I lived, which was about the size of the Episcopal Church that we have here in Whitehall. My side of the chapel was my family members and his side of the chapel was the people we knew from the base.”

Charles left the military on Nov. 16, 1945 and was discharged from Bainbridge, Md.

“I was sweating because I wanted to get back to the house because we had tickets to the Army-Penn game,” he said.

After discharge, Charles returned to Whitehall with his bride and resumed his job with the railroad.

“I had my job, so we came back here,” said Charles.

“My superior thought that it would be crazy for him to come back to the railroad,” said Peg. “They thought he should stay as a weatherman and he would have had his pick of assignments.”

The two have lived in Whitehall, in the same house they moved into when they first returned, ever since.

“It was my father’s house and he had one side of it that he gave to us,” said Charles. “We have been right here for the last 63 years.”

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