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Dad's Life

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FC: The Life Story of Leonard L Renner

1: This is a story about a farm boy. His name is Leonard Renner, otherwise known as Len. He lived on a farm near Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. He was the oldest of 7 boys born to Frances and Louis Renner.

3: Len lived in a small 3 bedroom farmhouse with his 6 brothers and parents and only 1 bathroom! Imagine trying to get ready for church on Sunday. It's a good thing they were all boys, that way they didn't require a lot of mirror time. Seven rambunctious boys in that tiny farmhouse. Think of the noise level! His poor mother spent her entire day cooking and cleaning up while her men folk were out working the farm. As soon she got done with one meal, she would have to start on the next.

5: As Len grew older it was his job to keep an eye on his ever growing batch of younger brothers. Of course that didn't mean that they were all little angels. Quite often arguments would break out and even the occasional fist fight (when ma and pa weren't looking). When things got really ugly they would break out the pitchforks and have a good old fashion pitchfork fight. On Sunday Len would sometimes be an alter boy at church. He had to walk the four miles or so to church. One Sunday he was running late, so he decided to take a shortcut and was walking across the ice in the small river not too far from the farm. As he got near the far edge of the river the ice broke. Luckily it wasn't too deep and he only got his pants wet. He didn't let that stop him. He continued on and made it to church in time and spent the next several hours with wet pants and shoes.

6: Len graduated from high school in 1940. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but he did know that he didn't want to be a farmer. He also knew he was pretty good at fixing things from working with his pa on the farm equipment. So he decided to broaden his horizons and go to a trade school in Wahpeton, North Dakota and study airplane mechanics. He was there only a short when Northwest Airlines came along and offered him a job. He knew a good opportunity when he saw it, so he accepted the job, quit school, and moved to Minneapolis. When he first started with Northwest, in 1941, they had him doing odd jobs, including cleaning toilets. But it wasn't long before they started training him to be a mechanic. He liked that a whole lot better than cleaning toilets.

7: During World War II the Government was building up its Alaskan military bases for fear of the Japanese attacking the U.S. through the Aleutian islands. Northwest participated in the war effort by flying military personnel and equipment to Alaska. It was during this time that Northwest started painting its tails red as a visual aid in the harsh weather conditions. Len was sent to Alaska as part of a team of mechanics that performed maintenance on the planes.

9: Len was inducted into the Air Force in 1944 at the Fort Snelling, Minnesota base. He wasn't particularly thrilled about it, but he did what he had to do.

10: Extra! Extra! Farm Boy Goes to War and Sees the World

11: It wasn't long after basic training when Len received orders that his unit was shipping out for the northern Apennines region of Italy. The Apennines was a mountain range running the length of Italy. So that meant he would be in northern Italy. His first thought was, "How close to the action am I going to be?" and "Should I write one of those "If I Die Letters" to send back to my loved ones?" But, Uncle Sam doesn't give you much choice, so he packed up his gear and off he went.

12: When Len's ship finally landed in Italy he was relieved to see that the Allied forces had already swept through. In order to get to land they had to leave the ship on a gang plank that stretched over to another ship that was sunk and overturned but still sticking out of the water. Len worked in an airplane junk yard, salvaging parts. | Crashed Airplane

13: Pisa, Italy | Len's base was near Pisa. Pisa had experienced some bombing. When Len had free time he went sight seeing in Pisa and the surrounding area.

14: Cathedrals in Pisa

15: Street Latrine | Len at Leaning Tower of Pisa

16: Locals in Pisa

17: Signing of the Peace Treaty Victory Celebration September 2, 1945 Len remained in Italy until 1945 when he received orders to ship out for the South Pacific. He loaded up his gear and headed out with his unit. They were on a boat headed for the South Pacific when peace was declared. So the boat did a U-turn and head back to the U.S.

18: Life at Bedford Air Base,Bedford Massachusetts, Len also spent time at Fargo, North Dakota and Brookley Field in Mobile, Alabama.

19: Len was discharged from the Air Force in in June 1946. He received the following medals: American Campaign Medal Campaign Medal Good Conduct World War II Victory Medal

20: When Len was discharged from the Air Force he went back to work for Northwest Airlines. In the spring of 1947, Northwest began staffing its Tokyo base with company personnel. July 15, 1947, Northwest became the first airline to operate a passenger flight from the U.S. to Japan. Len was asked to go to Japan for a month and ended up staying 3 years. During that time he stayed in some kind of Army hotel. He had a car and was able to get around the city. He became friends with some local Japanese people, including a doctor and his family. Through them he was able to experience the local customs.

21: Jap Zero | A hard day of fishing | All dressed up. I wonder where he's going? | J A P A N

22: Boy Meets Girl | Len is back from Japan

23: I've gotta get a life! | When Len came back from Japan he rented a room from an elderly couple. He got one meal a day from the people next door. His daily routine was go to work, come home, have supper, tinker with his car, read, and go to bed. One Saturday night he got tired of sitting around in his tiny little room, so he decided to do something about it. He put on his dancing shoes, did a couple of Fred Astaire moves in front of the mirror and headed to the Catholic Youth Center where he knew they were having a dance.

24: Len danced the night away. As the dance was winding down he was talking to a couple of ladies and he said, "Do you need a ride home?" The Ladies said, "Sure." So Len drove them home. As he was dropping off the second lady he said, "Goodnight Gladys." The lady said, "My name is Phyllis." Len replied, "Oh no, I'm sorry about that." She laughed and said, "No problem." Len said, "How about going out with me next Saturday?" Phyllis said, "Okay, sounds good." | My name is Phyllis! | Good Night Gladys

25: D A T I N G | Len and Phylliss went to the Ice Capades the following Saturday night. They had a great time and Len asked her out again and again. Soon they were officially "courting." They saw each other on weekends and usually went out to eat, because neither one of them cooked. They also went to movies. On New Years Eve they went out for dinner and them to a late movie. During the movie the building next caught on fire an the electricity went out in the movie theater. So, they sat there in the dark for quite a while. It gave them a chance to talk and get to know each other. When then finally got out of the theater and got to Len's car they found that the water from the fire hoses had coated Len's car in ice. It was a night to remember.

26: One Saturday in March (give or take a month) they were spending the evening in Phyllis' apartment listening to records when Len popped the question and said, "Will you marry me?" Phyllis looked at him and said, "Ohhhh I suppose." For years into their marriage Len teased Phyllis that she never really said yes to his marriage proposal. | Will you marry me? | Ohhhh I suppose

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