|Math Kohn (1901-1971) in 1942|
Although Dad was already 40 years old by Pearl Harbor, he was still not exempt from the peacetime draft that was enacted in 1940. He enlisted or was drafted on 4 November 1942, and he was inducted into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Benning GA. However, he served only four months and was discharged on 5 March 1943 from Fort Belvoir VA. I believe that the short enlistment resulted from a change in the age range for conscription from 21 through 45 to 18 through 38, which became effective after December 5, 1942. Dad returned to Kansas and took a job as a mechanic at Voss Motors in Downs.
|Louise Deneke-Kohn (1913-1990) in 1939|
Mom began to attend nursing school at St. Margaret's Hospital in 1938, and she was awarded a diploma in 1944. A portion of that time was spent as a nursing assistant at a munitions factory near Kansas City KS. With her freshly awarded diploma, she returned to Beloit and worked at Community Hospital. Aunt Nora once said that Mom confided in her about a fear of remaining unmarried and had asked Nora, "Should I marry just for the security of it, if someone comes along, whether I love him or not?"
|Jimmy and Tommy Kohn, early 1952|
Mom resumed nursing at Community Hospital after both Jim and I were in school. I remember summers when Dad would take us to the public swimming pool in Beloit, and then we would pick up Mom at the end of her 7 a.m.-to-3 p.m. shift at the hospital. I also remember a couple of winters when she got stuck in snow drifts on the way home from work. It turned out that the 30-mile commute to Beloit was too strenuous, and Mom and Dad decided to forsake their farm life for "the city." They arranged for an auction of the whole farm to occur in summer 1959. The house sold separately, and it was lifted from its foundation and moved to Ionia. (I found the house there in 2001, long uninhabited and rotted through with a termite infestation. A return visit in 2014 found the same property empty, and the town itself deserted but for a dozen families.)
We moved to Beloit in time to enroll Jimmy and me in St. John's Catholic School for Jim's 7th grade and my 4th grade. My class was one of the largest for many years—33 classmates, give or take a few each year. I don't remember my 4th-grade teacher, but Mrs. Golda Poelma taught 5th grade. Each school day began with assembly for Mass in the large, stone parish church. I had begun to develop a deep religiosity, and this likely resulted from —or furthered— an estrangement from my new classmates. My mother and at least the two aunts who were nuns in the Congretation of St. Joseph (Sisters Henrita (Cecilia) Deneke and Edna Louise (Isabella) Kohn) encouraged this religiosity. I'm sure they would have regretted it had they seen me "celebrating Mass" alone at home in vestments pieced together from sheets and comforters with hand-pressed "hosts" and Coca-Cola "wine." These feelings increased as I was encouraged to learn to serve as an altar boy and subtly shunned from recess team games in which my coordination and strength were insubstantial. Near the end of eighth grade, I asked Monsignor Fraser if he would recommend me for entry to pre-seminary school at St. Fidelis Friary, but he suggested I continue study at the parish high school.
|Mike Kohn and Louise Ohnsat, |
married 1900.08.13 at St. Boniface, Tipton.
|Mike Kohn, age 71.|
Sometime between the 1880 census and the birth of Mike's first sister in January 1881, the family moved to La Crosse WI. His uncle Mathias Kohn (1829-1888) had lived there since 1855, and he operated a saloon that included boarding rooms and a restaurant. The Mathias Kohn family had grown to nine children by the time that the John M. Kohn family arrived, another two children came through 1885, and two orphaned children were adopted as well in the 1890s.
Mike's father John M. had a dairy at the eastern edge of La Crosse, and he delivered milk daily to customers in town. I suppose that Mike and his older brother Pete (1877-1941) helped in the barn and herded the milk cows to and from pasture. Mike and Pete likely attended school in La Crosse, and it's possible they attended a Catholic parish school. The family lived in La Crosse until 1887 or 1888, when they moved back to the Tipton, after their mother died from heat stroke in August 1887. Her mother and sister had come from Tipton to help John M with his five children (Peter, age ten; Mike, age eight; Katie, age six; Annie, almost five; and Ben, just turning three). They persuaded John M. that Tipton would make a better home for them, with plenty of land available for ranching and several families of in-laws to help establish a homestead for the family.
|Louise Ohnsat-Kohn, age 75.|
|Mike Kohn and Louise Kohn,|
50th wedding anniversary (1950) at their Tipton home.
Great GrandparentsJohn Mathew (John M., Johann Mathias) Kohn (1839-1919)
|John M. Kohn, seated right|
|Susanna Reinert-Kohn, seated left|
|John M. Kohn family, about 1895, on their ranch farm southwest |
of Tipton in Bloom twp, Osborne county KS. l to r: Ben (age 11),
Annie (13), Kate (14), Mike (16), John M (56); Peter (18) is likely
behind the camera.