On July 5, 2021, I wrote an article under Happenings about the political and public antics of William Ralph “Shorty” Price from Louisville in Barbour County, Alabama.
“Shorty’s” hot and cold relationship with Alabama Governor George Corley Wallace and his annual arrests for public intoxication at University of Alabama football games in Birmingham under often bizarre circumstances are depicted in said article. They were then humorous and now may be explainable by radio and television commentator, the late Paul Harvey’s regular reporting of “The Other Side of the Story!”
On September 9, 2021, I received an informative email with supporting documents from a reader that tells more about “Shorty” and is worth repeating.
He entered the United States Army in 1942 and would eventually be transferred in December 1944 to Company D, 118 Infantry in which he served until honorably discharged in June-July 1946 as a Private First Class.
On July 10, 1944, he wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Clayton Record (Alabama 1897-1964) wherein he described some of the horrors of war that he observed from what he called “A Foxhole in France.”
His accounts and concern for the “poor skinny legged children of France,” the complete destruction of a village, and conversation with one of five American survivors out of a company of 300 soldiers are compelling.
His expression of hope for the future and a wish that “others might live a free life” – and an expression of trust – “that my children will not come into such a world as that in which I was born” may be prophetic.
There were no diagnoses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for World War II veterans for their permanent scars both physical and mental that they developed serving America in Europe and the Pacific. It was often called “battle fatigue.”
Shorty Price’s post war conduct may have been comical and outlandish but was probably a precursor to what many of our country’s returning soldiers from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. have also sustained.
When he died in a car wreck at the age of 59 on November 1, 1980, Alabama lost a colorful and controversial character.
This is part of “the other side of the story!”
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