Talbott twins 92 years young

CADIZ – The Talbott twins, David Charles and James Arthur, were together again in May, It was on the occasion of their 92nd birthday, a family reunion and “just because they have to see each other one or more times a year.”

“When they are together there is lots of laughter and joking around,” Cathy Barker, Jim’s daughter said.

The twins and family relations were present at the home of Jim and Midge to discuss their past years at school and working in industries in Jefferson County. Also in attendance were daughters Cathy Baker and Rebecca Talbott.

Their birthdays were on May 15, but Dave was on the road then, with Rebecca behind the wheel, so the celebration came later. A family reunion followed and they got to see many people during the week. Dave is actually the older brother. He was born 15 minutes before his twin.

The boys attended first grade in Oak Grove County but that school burned down during the summer. They transferred to school in Harpersville in 1929 and attended through seventh grade.

Schools in Ohio were then consolidated and they went to junior high school in Smithfield, walking seven miles for a short time. Then luckily a school bus was assigned. But they had to walk two and a half miles to catch it in Piney Fork.

In 1937, the family moved off the farm to York and they attended Adena High School and Dave graduated in 1941. While on the farm, Dave tells about plowing with a team of oxen and there is a picture in “My Life So Far, a Memoir by David Talbott” of him riding on the back of one of the oxen.

He worked in the strip fields with Ralph Gossnell and his brother, Erving, talked him into working at the Piney Fork Coal Mines. I worked the stone gang and told my brother if this is all there is for me, I will be a hobo. Erving had a great influence so Dave got transferred to the picking tables on the tipple.

“This was better but not good. I was filling cardo X shells, used to blow the coal loose inside the mine,” he said.

Jim’s story is the same until after the sophomore year, when he decided to make his own money and started to work for Robert Henderson and Boyde Hothorn. He then started working for Ralph Gosnell in the coal strip field, driving a truck.

From Gosnell he went to Hanna Coal Co. in Piney Fork and worked in the candox department, then learning that meant “high explosives.” One reason he took the job was that the government told the young workers their jobs would be waiting for them when they returned from military service – a promise they never kept.

Getting back to Dave, he said, “World War II was in full blast and Uncle Sam said he needed me, and I was inducted into the the U.S. Army on Dec. 20, 1942.”

Jim said his greetings were received on Nov. 18, 1942. He was inducted into the Army at Fort Hayes in Columbus and then shipped to Battle Creek, Mich., for basic training. Eventually, he was shipped out on the Queen Mary and landed in Greennoch, Scotland. He wound up in the 3884 Quarter Master Corps and made buck sergeant shortly after being inducted into basic training.

“He always said it was because he could holler louder than his buddies,” Dave said.

Jim went from Scotland to the Battle of the Bulge and was in many countries such as France, Holland, Germany and Rhineland. After Hitler killed himself, Jim’s outfit was on its way to Japan to help out in the Pacific Theater. “And the Japs surrendered,” he smiled. He was reluctant to say much about his time in battle. As Dave said, “He saw so much more action than me.”

Dave went from Fort Lewis to California and on to Scoffield barracks in Hawaii, at Pearl Harbor. I was put on an old LIberty Ship and headed for Okinawa and it was invaded on April 1, 1944.

“It was a hell of a time, We lost lots. The Japs surrendered shortly after Okinawa was secured and we headed for the invasion of Japan. I finished my tour of duty occupying Korea at Seoul and Inchon and was made tech sergeant in charge of a motor pool of 35 trucks and jeeps. They offered me first sergeant to stay in but I had enough of the Army and was honorably discharged on Feb. 26, 1946.

Dave married Martha Marie Campbell March 7, 1944, at the Smithfield Friends Church parsonage, while on furlough. They had three girls, Brenda, Rebecca and Lorie.

Jim wed Mildred “Midge” Leora Dowdle on Dec. 22, 1944, in Smithfield by the Rev. Carl Wilson. They have two daughters, Cathy and Karen.

The brothers never met on any base or battle field during the war. They were never allowed to be in the same platoon, although their mother, Mary Jane Talbott ,had even written President Roosevelt to have them together.

She received a letter back saying this could not happen due to the five Sullivan brothers who were killed together on the ship USS Juneau on Nov. 13, 1942.

They are the only remaining members of their family of seven siblings and are very close. It was told by Rebecca that when Jim was injured that Dave jumped up and went to the phone to call his brother. He then learned that his twin had been injured. “These things happen enough for it to be freaky,” she said.

In closing, Dave wanted to say , “Abe Lincoln had nothing on me. I was born in a log cabin too.”

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and the Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)