Leonard Lapidus, aka Leonard LaPidus. I married his younger brother in the year 1958.
Leonard was a navigator on a B-29 bomber during WWII. I had heard this particular plane was fraught with mechanical failures (hearsay). I don’t know if this was the case in Leonard’s plane; it could have been the fault of damage from an enemy plane or from artillery on the ground below. I was told, according to family stories, that Leonard’s plane crashed into a mountain due to mechanical failure: navigational controls were inoperable.
My husband was 7 years old at the time, which means Leonard was only 20 when he was killed. My mother-in-law, Florence, became another “Gold Star Mother.” She hung the small flag in the front window, as so many others had done.
My husband’s parents were completely distraught, of course. Leonard was the topic of conversation many times during my marriage; always with smiles of remembrance and shaking of the heads with sorrow about the great family loss.
The family on both sides was large – siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins – all who remembered Leonard as being a special, caring person, and who was also a gifted artist. In fact, he had sent Walt Disney examples of his work, and Disney wrote back that he wanted to personally interview Leonard when Leonard returned from service. Of course, that interview never took place.
Florence completely fell apart, and could not remain at home – she had to have a change and get away from the house where all the memories lived so vividly. She took my husband and ran to Florida, leaving her husband for a year, and tried to cope with her sorrow. It was a very bad year, according to my husband. His father came several times to visit, but there was a serious separation during that time.
There was more than sorrow.
You see, it was my father-in-law that encouraged Leonard to enlist and “serve your country.” Leonard was a peace-loving soul and war did not attract him. He was deeply engaged in his studies, and dreamed of having his life concentrated on his art. But, his father convinced him it was his duty, and he finally submitted to those wishes.
Blame and guilt got all mixed up with the sorrow and despair, and Florence fled.
In time, she returned home, and did her best to continue with a “normal” life. Her husband, who was a strong man in many ways, became contrite, but more loving, and did his best to take Florence’s mind off their devastating loss.
We lived in that house for several years, after my in-laws moved to another state. When we decided to move, we went through closets with a fine-toothed comb, and came upon a painting by Leonard that no one had remembered. It was leaning against a wall in a bedroom closet – totally unnoticed for decades. It was my favorite of Leonard’s. It was a beautiful painting of an American plane with the American star emblem on its side, soaring in the beautiful blue sky. A painted photograph. It was beautifully done.
He had dreams; however, didn’t live to fulfill them.
[ Header image from http://www.freewebheaders.com ]
[Gold Star Mother flag from bingdotcom]