THE REFLECTIONS OF A HAPPY COUNTRY LAWYER FOR FIFTY YEARS.
All lawyers are crazy, and the craziest of the lot are the lawyers that are genuine country lawyers. It always provokes me a little to go into one of the real big law firms with about eighty or one hundred members and have one of the pink-cheeked, hotel-fed senior members refer to himself as a country lawyer. I look at him with inward disdain and I say to myself, “Oh brother, for many long years, I was piloting planes across the oceans and in the South Pacific, instead of staying home and tending to my law business.” But, as I said, all lawyers are crazy, and I’m going to try and tell a few incidents in a crazy, mixed-up legal career.
Before getting into my legal career and Air Force activities, I think it might be well to give a background of my childhood and early school days, then something about my college years. One can then better understand my legal experiences and perhaps what motivated me also, to have a career in the Air Force. So let us begin.
Family of D. Arthur Walker.
I was born in Coffeyville, Kansas, on July 28, 1898. My father was Daniel Uen Walker. Now the Uen was not Ewen, but Uen (I’ve always suspected that maybe some of his folks didn’t know how to spell too well, although it is quite possible that it was a name that I was not familiar with.) Be that as it may, my father, D. U. or Daniel Uen Walker was affectionately known as Rodney Walker by hundreds of people. He was a man about six feet in height, well built, and he was a kindly man with a ready smile. Everyone who knew him, loved and respected him. My mother was Rosa Ellen Walker. Her maiden name was Nash. My paternal grandfather, James Walker, was born in Tennessee and moved to Fannin County, Texas, where my father was born. Thereafter the family moved to Labette County, Kansas, and homesteaded a piece of land that later became a part of the town of Parsons, Kansas. My paternal grandmother was Rebecca Riley Walker. She also had been born in Tennessee.
While I was growing we had several temporary homes at various locations. My mother’s health was none too good, and one year, my mother, my sister, and I went to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and I attended grade school there for a short while. Another time my father was transferred to Conway Springs, Kansas, so one year I went to Conway Springs High School; then later on I attended one year of high school at Winfield, Kansas, and part of one year of college at Southwestern College. I attended one year of college at Emporia, Kansas. My parents had a farm near Parsons, Kansas, and I spent part of one year in grade school at Altamont, Kansas, and part of a year at Parsons. One summer I attended Wisconsin University at Madison, Wisconsin.
As for my legal education, I went to law school at the University of Kansas from 1919 to 1922.
The College of Emporia was a Presbyterian school and, at that time, had less than a thousand students. I got there about the time basketball season got underway and, not having any chores to do, I went out for basketball, made the team, and had a number of enjoyable trips around the state playing other schools like Baker, Southwestern, Fairmount, St. Mary’s, Friends, and others. I rented a room in a private home about a half mile south of the State Teachers College. Of course, I walked to my college, and wouldn’t eat any breakfast. I would attend classes until noon, at which time I would walk downtown to the office of the Emporia Gazette, get a bite of lunch, and work on William Allen White’s newspaper for a couple of hours each day. In fact, I was taking journalism at the College of Emporia, and practicing the trade on the Emporia Gazette.
About September 1918 the Masons had me drive them from Estes Park back to Emporia and we said goodbye. I set about finding out how I could get into the army. I learned of a program called the “Student’s Army Training Corps,” that had been set up for students who could theoretically take military training and at the same time attend college. I learned that those who showed any particular desire and aptitude could be sent to Camp Sheridan in Illinois for 90 days officer training and receive a commission as a second lieutenant in the army. Well, it seemed to me that was the best avenue I could work out so I checked at Kansas University and didn’t like the situation there and I came down to Southwestern College at Winfield, Kansas. They had a first lieutenant and a couple of new second lieutenants trying to handle a company of about 120 young men. I had had some experience and could act as a sergeant.
So they fixed an opening and I started training and drilling with men and in the meantime I played football for Southwestern College. About the first week of November 1918 my name was sent on to Camp Sheridan, Illinois, as a candidate for training for an officer’s commission. As you know, the war ended November 11, 1918, and I didn’t get a chance to proceed to Camp Sheridan for officer’s training. It was one of the great disappointments of my life that I didn’t get overseas and it might be interesting to know that the night I had received word that the armistice had been signed and the war was over, I lay on my bunk and cried because they had been able to get the job done without my assistance.
During the time that I was at Southwestern, I recall a few incidents that I probably should mention. The first one was the fact that the men in the barracks had to walk a couple of miles to buy cigarettes and candy. A friend of mine suggested that we set up a little canteen and sell cigarettes and candy which we would buy at wholesale and maybe earn a little spending money. At that time we could buy candy bars for two cents and sell them for a nickel. I’ve forgotten the price of cigarettes. Anyway, we were able to double our money. Off that canteen, we made enough spending money to get by.
The other incident that lingers in my mind was the terrible flue epidemic of 1918. Out of about 120 men, I think myself and three others were the only ones who escaped having the flu. I remember the men started getting quite ill, and were separated. Some were taken to hospitals, some were taken to another barracks, and about fifty were left in the large room that I occupied. For want of something better to do to help the sick, I remembered that my mother had said to take coal oil and mix it with lard and rub it on the chest of a person who had a bad cold and keep him covered with a woolen cloth. So that was the treatment I gave to some fifty men. It was probably purely a coincidence; but those men that I treated in such a manner recovered. None of them died. Sixty other men were taken elsewhere—good, strong husky lads—and at least three of them died with the flu.
Second reference to Southwestern College...
The first world war started in 1914; but of course, the United States did not get into the conflict until the spring of 1917. When the United States entered the war, I wanted to enlist; but there were two things that caused me some trouble: my parents would not give their consent to my enlisting; and I was unable to pass the physical examination. (I had a horse fall of a cliff and land on me; and as a result, I had been pretty badly injured. Some of my bones were wired together: steel plates with screws were used to hold some of my skeleton together. As a result, I wasn’t able to pass the physical examination.)
I first tried to join the balloon unit, which was organized at Omaha, Nebraska; but I was unable to pass the physical or to get my parents’ consent. Then I tried to join the National Guard, and again, failed. So I went out to Denver and simply registered for the draft, thinking perhaps they would draft me. But they didn’t call me in the draft! About that time I heard there was a National Guard outfit in training that was going to get into the fight: I joined the Colorado National Guard. I trained with them for several months and learned the fundamentals of drill and the Manual of Arms, etc. About that time they organized what they called the “Student Army Training Corps,” the idea being that young men in college would take about a half day of college work and the remainder of the day would be spent in military training—preparing them for entering the army.
I decided to join the “Student Army Training Corps,” for I found that if I applied myself, I would have a chance of being selected to go to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, where I could take an Officer Candidate course. They had this “Student Army Training Corps” in schools all over the United States. There was one at Kansas University and Southwestern College of Winfield. I enlisted in the one at Southwestern College. Having had a little prior military experience, I was given the job of sergeant. I began to help with the training of the men. I did pretty well. About the first of November, they posted my name on the bulletin board with four or five others, who had been selected from our unit to go to Fort Sheridan to take the Officer Candidate course. Well, we got our dental work done and our physical work done, and were prepared to set forth to Fort Sheridan, when, lo and behold, the Kaiser got tired and surrendered, the armistice was signed, and that was the end of World War One. For the life of me, I don’t know yet, how the United States won that first World War without my active assistance.