The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Service to Others and Allegiance to U.S.A.-One Nation Under God
By Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher
The story of Ray Shafer continues as this happy and striking young man heads home. All the frightening stories Ray was a part of have not been written such as the time he was trapped by a German tank, dropped into a small trench as the tank drove over him twisting that giant machine as one would stomp on a bug and twist his foot to smash him. Ray was alive but almost burnt from the heat of the machine. I'm sure the Germans went on, thinking he was dead for sure.
But the war was over now, and he was headed home. It was December 19, 1945, 3 years and 7 months later and Ray came home a 22 year old - single - man. Ada knew Mary Frances Boyer, and Ray had known her too, he said. But she had grown up. She went to the Stronghurst ballgame and Ray took her home and they fell in love.
In fact, it wasn't even three months when he picked her up from school, they drove to La Harpe and had blood tests taken by a La Harpe doctor.
Then, on the following Friday, March 1, 1946, (she had packed her bags the night before) she was dropped off by the school bus and Ray picked her up along with his grandparents George and Rose Shafer, and they drove to Macomb to the First Presbyterian Church and were married. They had officially aloped.
"She was only 16 but a perfect match for me," Ray said. "I had $400-not a lot," but love, respect, and hard work and get you through all the rest of your years.
Ray said, by the time their first child Cathy was born, they were ready for her. He brags on the really good job Mary Frances did as a mother raising their children, and as a wife.
He said she talked to the children about Christ and told them God would look after them. And the many times Ray would wake up with nightmires of the war, she would soothe him and talk about the future they would have together and make him forget about the past.
Many times he would hear the train coming through Stronghurst at night and think of the war.
They had rented Mrs. Wilson's up stairs apartment in Stronghurst and he would help his dad work at Rahl Randall's farm in 1948.
Then his dad rented 240 and 80 acres of farmground on the county line which Ray helped with. It belonged to John Gridley who was a pilot in the service and then farmed until he sold it in 1955.
Ray then, went to work for Kenny Cooper doing carpentry work. I liked it but then he closed his business, so I started out on my own. I liked the work. I had some schooling in GI training and found out the square can teach you all you need to know.
"As I went along, I always wanted to do a good job, or not do it at all." Ray did a lot of roofs, he said, but his biggest job was when he received the bid on the flooded Gladstone Covered Bridge and was awarded the job to put it back together again. They didn't think it could be done without blueprints. Ray talked about the details of the arched wood inside the massive structure and showed many pictures of the project as they worked on it.
"It went from 4 1/2"to 106 feet and was 104 feet from post to post with a crown in the middle. He said the engineers from the State of Illinois toldl him, "It's up to you, how you do it, there's no blueprints".
"That night I told Mary Frances, "I guess I'm done!' She just kept stirring the gravy. I went into the office until 11:00 thinking I have two big beams sandwiched together with a pretty good distance to bend. This was going to take some thinking. Everything had to be like before, only better due to flooding." Of course if you have seen the restored covered bridge, you know it is beautifully done.
- continues next week