Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

A sight to remember

During quiet moments of meditation my thoughts sometimes drift back to the impressive sights I have seen in Europe. These include such memorable structures as the Tower of London, Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the wonders of Venice. Yet all these pale in comparison to the latrine at a British army camp where I and hundreds of others spent the days leading up to the invasion of Normandy. We would be the first infantry replacements and few people envied us the assignment.
The first thing we saw after getting off the trucks at this camp a short distance from the docks at Southampton was a building bearing a sign "Ablutions." This had a sinister ring to farm boys from Iowa and city slickers from Chicago and New York. What awaited us inside? A couple of the most daring among us ventured close enough to open the door and peer inside. Laughing, they assured the less adventurous that it was nothing more than a place to wash up, shave or take a shower should someone feel the need.
That was quickly forgotten when we explored a low and lengthy building directly across the way. Along one wall were seventy-five toilets and across an aisle ten feet wide were seventy-five more. A one hundred and fifty seater!
And yet this magnificent facility proved inadequate. After breakfast the next morning a long line - or queue as we liked to say in England - of men awaited their turn to enter. After reaching the front of the line, an awesome sight stretched out ahead of me: one hundred and fifty men seated facing each other and a corporal named Corrigan urging them to perform their business and move on out. He would pace back and forth between the lines calling out, "Let's cut it off short, men! Let's cut it off short, let's snap shit!"
When a seat was vacated, Corrigan would rush toward it and drop into a semi-crouch, pointing to the next man in line with one hand and the available spot with the other.
This was not a place to dawdle. Not the place to bring the morning newspaper or a paperback book. No malingering was allowed. Should someone find it necessary to stay longer than Corrigan found acceptable, the unfortunate fellow felt the full effect of the corporal's wrath.
Yes, this was indeed a never-to-be-forgotten experience. A vision of this overwhelming facility was permanently engraved upon my mind so it seems a shame that history has overlooked this prelude to the battles that lay ahead. After all, this was the last chance many men would ever have to spend a relaxing moment seated on a throne.


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