In high school, Bud Lyford was considered something of a catch, his wife, Jean Lyford, will have you know.
“All the girls were after him,” she recalled recently at their Brewer home. The fullback was the first football player from Brewer High School to be chosen for the All-State team, back when “Dana Daugherty was the coach.”
Bud listened as Jean told of how he used to walk her home for lunch each day. I didn’t ask them where they lived, but found their households easily in the 1940 Census.
Lawrence C. Lyford lived on Harlow with his father, Albert L. Lyford, a railroad conductor, and mother, Doris, who became known in later decades for her writings about her growing-up years. Jean M. Thompson lived on State with her parents, Arthur C. Thompson, a foreman, and mother, Letty, and younger sister Ellen.
The census also listed ages and even the highest grade each completed. While Bud and Jean were still in high school, with Jean about to graduate, sister Ellen Thompson had completed eighth grade the previous year.
After Jean graduated in 1940 and headed off to Gorham to become a teacher, Bud graduated in 1941, going off to the University of Maine, where he played football. Did they go their separate ways, you wonder?
If you live in the Brewer area, no doubt you remember Thompson and Lyford Hardware, so you’ll guess that Bud and Jean got married, which indeed they did in 1944, a fact easily confirmed by the Maine Marriage Index online at maine.gov/sos/arc.
Bud has a Purple Heart from wounds suffered while in the Army in Europe during World War II, which is part of the love story of the Lyfords. A ship brought the wounded to Canada, where they were loaded onto a hospital train with some 100 wounded bound for Massachusetts. The train, of course, would make a stop in Bangor at Union Station. Jean knew the day, but not when.
She made three trips to Union Station that day with baby Susan, hoping to not only see Bud, but to introduce him to the daughter he hadn’t yet met. Three trips, but no train. Finally, that evening, a cold and rainy evening, Jean decided to go to Union Station, but didn’t take Susan.
Jean and Bud both laugh a little as each one recalls Bud saying, “Where’s the baby?”
Then Bud adds of his wife, “We were able to see each other for the first time in a long, long time.”
Only recently did I sit down with Bud and ask him about how he got his Purple Heart, and the military service that took him away from the University of Maine. Lyford joined the U.S. Army in 1942, and after basic received training at Camp Benning in Georgia and Camp Carson in Colorado. He was placed with the 104th Infantry Division, known as the Timberwolf Division.
His company started off in Belgium, Lyford said, “where we took part at Antwerp, which was absolutely necessary for Patton.” The troops moved on to Holland and then a town called Inden in Germany.
“An .88 shell from a German tank exploded in front of me,” Lyford recalled, “and shredded between the radial and ulnar nerve in my arm.” To control the bleeding, he took off his belt and made a tourniquet around his arm.
“The battle was going on right out in the street,” he said, “and I saw an old house across the street. I went down in the cellar and found a couple of old blankets, and kind of covered myself.”
His hearing had been damaged, as well, but there was no mistaking the sound of heavy boots coming closer.
“I heard three Germans come down the stairs. It was a dark cellar, thank goodness,” Lyford said. He made himself as small and quiet as he could, “and then I heard those clogging boots go upstairs.”
“I thanked almighty God that somehow, the soldiers turned and headed the other way,” he said, adding another of his war memories, “Those German tiger tanks, I can see them in my sleep.”
Lyford was tended to by the American medics and evacuated to a hospital just behind the lines. He was flown to Paris, and then to England, where he was hospitalized for some time with infection before being sent to Scotland and back to England before being shipped home.
The soldier made sergeant, “but I never got the rank,” he said.
Back in Brewer, the Lyfords raised not only Susan, but Peter, and were blessed with grandchildren and grandchildren. They also are fond of the city of Brewer and the University of Maine beyond measure. The city of Brewer a few years ago named them Citizens of the Year.
I met Jean many years ago in Frances Dighton Williams Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, a chapter that both Jean and sister Ellen Hayes have served as regent.
Jean and Bud are subjects of Family Ties today because I want to encourage readers to look up relatives or even themselves in the 1940 Census, and because I want us to take the opportunity to interview World War II veterans while we can. Most of all, I want to wish Bud and Jean Lyford a happy 70th anniversary on March 18.
Lowell and Myrna Kjenstad’s decision many years ago to move from North Dakota to Maine, where they served congregations in Strong and Bingham, was certainly a blessing to all who knew them. So was all they did for Birchcrest Home for Boys and Lowell’s efforts on behalf of Reading Recovery, Literacy Volunteers, Big Brothers Big Sisters and more.
But where Lowell blossomed beyond all description was during 35 years as curator of Cole Land Transportation Museum on Perry Road in Bangor. Pictures of Lowell atop the pile of cobblestones which now rest under the wheels and lags and skis of hundreds of vehicles, or of Lowell driving the John Deere tractor into the museum, only begin to tell the story.
Volunteers have their own stories to tell, and staffers can often be heard to say, “Oh, that was Lowell’s idea, and a good one.”
As for me, I remember Lowell’s part in the last Sunday morning service during the last reunion of the 5th Armored Division in June 2012 in the Sue Cole Conference Room at the Cole Museum. His soothing words were the perfect blessing for a special weekend.
Lowell Kjenstad died last week. He was predeceased by his wife, Myrna, and they have four children who survive them. We are fortunate that Lowell’s tour of Cole Museum was recorded, and will continue to teach volunteers for years to come.
Last week, I wrote in error that Queen Elizabeth had made husband Philip the Duke of Edinburgh on the date of her Coronation. In fact King George VI conferred the title when he married Princess Elizabeth.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.