Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Little Man (part 1 of 4)

He was not expected to live following his birth on April 26, 1939. “He was as limp as a dishrag and skin and bones”, said Lettie Lorena Doub Moore, his older and only sister.

Aubrey Allen Doub (last name pronounced “dab”) was born full term to Jennie Irene Woosley with normal body weight. After birth, no formula would stay in his stomach. His condition became serious and three doctors at City Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina exhausted all feeding ideas. According to Lettie Moore, the baby’s father, Lanier Laurrine Doub, told the doctors “He’s not going to stay here and die, I’ll take him home and he can die there.” Someone in the hospital waiting room overheard and said, “Try goat’s milk”.

Over the next couple of years, the infant became a toddler as Aubrey drank goat’s milk until solid food replaced the life saving nourishment. At four years of age young Aubrey’s legs were bowed and his stomach extended out like a malnourished Third World child. His stomach and digestive system eventually developed such that Aubrey now says, “I can eat anything except goat’s milk and never get indigestion, heart burn or other pain.” A time came when his body found the life saving goat milk repulsive.

As time passed and Aubrey grew, Lettie said, "I remember the family gathered around the table at mealtime and daddy would often stop eating to watch Aubrey.” Lettie quoted her father as saying, “I love to watch the little man eat.”

Aubrey loved his daddy. Wherever Lanier went so did this son who followed like a puppy to the fields, garden, around the yard, to the store, and to the baseball games. Aubrey separated himself from daddy enough to attend Old Richmond School and complete the eleventh grade at Northwest Forsyth High School in 1959. During the fifties, the game of baseball was deep-rooted in his family and in the community culture. Neighborhood teams were all around Forsyth County and Saturday afternoon games were often played during the summers. Aubrey played on the high school team as catcher.

Aubrey was drafted into the Army in April 1962 and served two years. I asked him, “What was it like for a farm boy from the country to enter basic training?” He said, “My Drill Sergeant at Fort Gordon, Georgia was about 6-4, black, and could run backward faster then recruits could run forward. That mean son-of-a-bitch ran circles around our company formation as we marched at double-time along the street. He made damn sure we were in-step and in alignment.” Aubrey performed well in training, earned the Marksmanship Badge with the M-1 rifle, and got along well with all recruits and drill instructors.

Private Aubrey Doub graduated basic training and was assigned to U. S. Army Garrison, Yuma Test Station in Yuma, Arizona. There he drove a variety of military track vehicles and heavy trucks to test different fuels in desert terrain. Pvt. Doub carried out driving assignments and recorded test data to help evaluate performance of CIE, diesel, and gasoline fuels in the vehicle engines.

Carol Jean Caudill married Aubrey on September 2, 1960 almost two years before he was inducted. After basic training, she moved to Yuma to join her husband. They lived off post in downtown about twenty miles from the military camp. This allowed Doub to miss early morning reveille. Their first son, Allen, was born in Yuma. Sons Jeffery and Jimmy Ray were born later.

The southern Arizona desert was hot and inhabited with scorpions and rattlesnakes. Aubrey explained, “Those scorpions stayed in any shady spot they could find. Hell yeah! And those rattlesnakes crawled sideways. The reason they crawl sideways is because if they didn’t, they’d bury themselves in that sand if they crawled straight. The snakes had a horn on their heads. They hid under the sand except for the horn sticking out. That’s how they got air.”

Aubrey served his two-year commitment honorably and was discharged from active duty with the rank of Specialist Fourth Class. He, Carol, and Allen returned home to Pfafftown from Yuma by Greyhound Bus. The trip home took 3 days. He served two more years in active reserves and the remaining two years were inactive reserves. Aubrey retained every document and most items associated with his military service. A neatly labeled file folder contains all pay vouchers, promotion orders, relocation orders, picture ID card, and discharge papers. His dog tags, medals, decorations, and dress uniform are all placed in prominent positions in his home.

The pictures at the top are Aubrey as an infant and toddler in the early 1940's. Ten-year-old Lettie is holding him on her lap while she sits on the car bumper and his grandmother, Rosa Dorse Woosley, holds him on her lap in another photo. The child holding the ball is Aubrey. He stands in front of his father, Lanier, in the next photo. Below, he is in military uniform sometime in '62 or '63. The last picture shows him opening a Christmas present from his mother, which was a one-cent piece, wrapped inside multiple boxes.

Click on the pictures to enlarge for better viewing.

Return here next week for more about Aubrey Doub.

Have a good Week!

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