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Legacy on until: January 2013
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After the war you went into the shipping business for some time. Can you tell me about that?

After the war there were thousands of men coming back from the service and many of them had Frank Bucklesno particular plans and were wondering what they were going to do. I would hear them discussing their plans, and I realized that I was on my own.  I declared my independence and accepted the fact that I was on my own.  I had made an observation in the service that being close to headquarters was a good place to be and I have followed that rule ever since. 

When I came back I was still 18 years old and had been in Europe for 2 years. On October 28th, 1929, as we heard of the turmoil on Wall Street, I received notice that I would be without a job. Later that day while down in Philadephia, I received a telephone call from New York from the operating manager of the Roosevelt Steam Ship Company telling me to come up to New York because he had a job for me.  So on the day that Wall Street crashed, I lost my job, but managed to get another one. I was very grateful to have a job during this difficult Frank Bucklestime, particularly this job, because it was as an assistant to Captain Lee, who was at that time Port Captain.  From 1928 until 1938 when the trouble started in Europe and our ships were taken off of the European circuit, they ran from New York to San Francisco, and then to the Orient, Singapore and Penang to bring back tin and rubber to build up our stock pile for the second World War.  As the purser during this time, I was in a position that I had to know every member of the crew, and had to deal with every passenger and cargo official, and I got to know everybody.  Of course in those days they couldn’t reach you by telephone, so when you left the pier in New York people said goodbye and you were on your own until you got back.  Now some nickumpoop in the office can just get on a cell phone and call you up.


How did you meet your wife?

One thing I did for recreation was horseback riding.  Wherever I could find good Buckleshorses I would ride.  Over at Mills College there was a riding academy, and my future wife Audrey went to these classes.  I had seen her before, but hadn’t talked to her. On this day I was asked to take her home because her cousin who was accustomed to calling for her, would be unable to come.  I was asked if I could take her to the nearest streetcar, but I took her home, met her parents, and ended up taking her to Trader Vic’s once or twice.  When I sailed for the Orient, they all came to see me off. While I was gone she sent me letters, one of which I got while in the prison camp.  It was a three to four page letter talking about all the things that happened in the states. After the war I got in touch with Audrey, and a year later we were married.



Did you ever think you would be the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran?

No, I thought that I be would among the last 100 or so due to my good health and how young I was when the war ended, but I never thought I would be the last, especially out of over 4 million people. I had lived a life that included having scarlet fever as a young child, a disease that took my brother, a lifetime of traveling, having malaria, and surviving two World Wars, not to mention over 3 years in a P.O.W camp. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I was pretty close to the finish.

I was still driving tractors when I was 102 years old, and I was also driving my own car to Martinsburg, WV for exercise at that age.  I felt that I could actually continue driving until I was about 105, but the traffic was getting pretty bad.    

We had an organization called the Veterans of World War I.  It was started in 1948 and the woman who organized it and acted as editor of the magazine was a very knowledgeable person.  The publication came out I believe it was 10 times a year.  In this publication she would say on November 11, 1918, the day of the Armistice, there were 4,734,991 veterans.  I remember as year after year went by and I attended some of the annual meetings all over the country that after awhile I noticed the total number of present day living veterans I said oh my gosh, I’m going to be one of the last survivors.




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