My father, Carl A. Divine was born August 31, 1918 in Monte Vista, in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, to James Lafayette “Lafe” and Fern Divine. He grew up on a farm north of Monte Vista, along with his five siblings. In 1936, he graduated from Sargent Consolidated High School.
After graduating, he worked for the Civil Conservation Corp in the San Luis Valley, on road repair. He attended business school before holding several positions in stores in Monte Vista. He then moved to Cortez, Colorado, where he worked in a hardware store.
In the fall, while he was in Cortez, he also sorted apples at one of the local apple orchards. In 1939, he met another apple sorter, Marjorie Viola Fullerton, who was living on her parent’s farm outside of Cortez. Marjorie graduated from Dolores High School in 1939. She stayed home after graduation, helping on the farm, and sorting apples in the fall.
They were married on October 27, 1940, in Aztec, New Mexico and lived in Cortez until after Christmas, when they moved to Monte Vista, Colorado. I was born October 30, 1941, in Del Norte, CO. We lived in Monte Vista until the spring of 1943, when Carl was asked to become the manager of Gordon’s Men’s Clothing Store in Casper, Wyoming. He left in May. Mom and I followed in late June. We went by train to Denver, and Cheyenne, then by bus from Cheyenne to Casper. We were accompanied by Carl’s mother, Fern, since mom was pregnant with my brother Jerry, who was born August 26.
In March of 1944, Carl was drafted and went to Cheyenne for his physical. In spite of several ailments which mom and dad hoped would disqualify him, he passed his physical. We returned to Monte Vista at the end of March. They rented a small house in Dolores for us, and Carl bought a car for mom. In April, he was inducted in Denver. His basic training was at Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Arkansas.
He came home on furlough in late June, 1944, by train to Gallup, New Mexico. While he was home, they talked about buying a house in Monte Vista, but before the furlough was over, they decided that was not a good idea. Carl said mom would never be happy in Monte Vista. Mom said neither of them seemed to feel Carl would return from the war.
After his furlough, Dad was sent to Fort Meade, Maryland, then by ship to England and then on to France and Belgium. He was supposed to be a cook, but became a member of The Infantry Replacement Pool. He came up as a replacement infantryman to the First Army, 4th Infantry Division, 8th Infantry Regiment, Company “F” during the 8th Regiment’s attempted capture of a ruined monastery called Gut Schwarzenbroich. The ruins were located deep in the Hürtgen Forest, about a mile and a half east of Schevenhüte. Like so many other replacement infantrymen, he did not survive long. He was killed on November 25, 1944.
Carl’s last letter to mom was received on November 19. With each passing day, she began to fear something had happened to him. Then, on December 11, a car stopped in front of where we were living, and mom’s mother got out of the car with a suitcase. Mom assumed grandma, who was a special duty nurse, was going on a nursing case. Instead, she had brought mom the telegram about Carl’s death. It had been delivered to her folk’s farm by mail. Mom immediately called Carl’s mother at the store in Monte Vista where Fern was working as a seamstress, to let her know of Carl’s death.
Mom’s parents thought if she took Carl’s $10,000 government insurance in one payoff, she could go to nurse’s training, which sounded good, but what to do with the boys? They thought she could leave us with someone, maybe them, but mom felt it was her job to take care of us. She decided to take the insurance in monthly installments. The clincher came when Grandpa said he would build her a little house in the orchard. Recalling earlier hard times on farms, she ran (her word) all the way to Austin, Texas. She was not about to live in any little house in the orchard!
Mom had a friend she had met while living in Casper, Wyoming. She wrote to mom upon hearing of Carl’s death and suggested mom come to Austin for a visit and to look around. Mom went by bus to Austin. She bought a little house in Austin for $4,000. She decided to leave Carl buried in Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Europe. Carl’s mother was fine with that decision, but her own mother was not.
We later moved to Bozeman, Montana in 1946. Mom soon met a returned serviceman who worked at the airport in Belgrade, Montana. She married John (Jack) Wasmer on September 30, 1947, in Seattle, Washington. He adopted Jerry and me, and they had two children of their own (Kathy and Paul). Both mom and dad died in the summer of 2013 in Glendale, Arizona, and are buried in the Phoenix National Cemetery.
Jack and Mom made sure that Jerry and I knew Carl’s relatives. Grandma Divine came to Washington for my wedding in 1964, and we wrote and visited her as often as possible until her death in 1986; we made sure she knew Carl’s grandchildren. We still write and visit with Carl’s two surviving sisters, Margaret (age 93) and Eleanor (age 85), who never moved away Monte Vista and Alamosa, CO.
Although I have no memories of Carl, I remember the sacrifice he made defending this country and thank mom and Jack for making sure we knew our Divine family members.
– Robert A. Divine Wasmer –