Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Toons, Long Island, Air Shows... (part five)

A Long Island, NY beach, this one near Mastic Beach, east from where
Maurice and his family lived
Continuing the story of how Maurice Toon ended up on New York's Long Island. Read (part one) here(part two) here, (part three) here, and (part four) here.

Maurice Joseph Toon, son of Alfred and Mary nee McNamee, was inducted into the army on 17th July, 1918, when he was living on W. Dauphin Street in Philadelphia. He travelled to the war zone overseas on about 15th September, 1918. Maurice served first in the 59th Pioneer Infantry, and then the 330 HQ Service Battalion. He was promoted to sergeant almost immediately after joining up, on 9th August, 1918.

Maurice served during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, 18 October to 11 November 1918, the largest and bloodiest operation for the US military during the First World War. Commanded by General John J. Pershing, the offensive was part of a series of Allied attacks, which eventually brought the war to an end. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, an estimated 28,000 Germans and more than 26,000 Americans lost their lives. Our Maurice came home, in one piece, with no known injuries. He was honorably discharged, as Sergeant QMC, at Camp Dix, New Jersey, on 27th September, 1919.

Maurice married Marjorie nee Carman, sometime between 1925 and 1930. In 1925, Marjorie was still living at home with her parents: Joseph Carman born 1874, a carpenter, and Abbey nee Brower, a housewife. In 1930, Maurice and Marjorie's first child, a daughter named Joan Toon, arrived. Two more daughters followed: Vivian Ilene Toon in 1931, and Margaret Toon in 1938. 

When Maurice married Marjorie, he connected two old English families; his own Toons, who arrived in Philadelphia through his grandad, Alfred, and the Carmans, who migrated to the Americas much earlier--the first known migrant, a John Carman, arriving in Massachusetts 1631 and eventually buying land on Long Island in 1643. Much of the Carman family lived in Queens, NY, close to the water; indeed, their trades are often listed as "Bayman" on the New York censuses, or other trades related to fishing and boats. There's a huge, huge history worthy of another story or ten on the Carman side: here's a potted history that makes a very interesting read!  I suspect that the town of Hempstead is paved with Carman memories, and the cemetery is full of the name.

Grand Union flag, flying at Manor St George, Shirley, NY
Finding out about the Carmans reminded me of how English Long Island was, once upon a time. Close to where I lived in Mastic Beach, in Shirley, NY, there's Manor St. George, a testament to the British presence on the island, way back... and very close to a waterway that is now called Carman River!  (There are no coincidences.) 

Now a museum, the manor has been preserved and is now a museum, open from May to October. It's worth a visit... and it's where I first saw the Grand Union flag flying and adopted it as my own.

Well worth a visit if you are in the area!

Maurice and Marjorie lived with their family in Hempstead, NY.  in 1930, Maurice had returned to his pre-war trade of newspaper and magazine sales; in 1940, he was a supplies clerk. But in 1942, on his World War Two draft registration card--and this is what I saw when I'd been thinking about the air show, in part one of the story--Maurice is working for a company not far from home, in Bethpage, NY. The company's name, Grumman.

In 1942, at the age of 46, Maurice was 5' 5" tall, blue eyed with brown hair, and weighed 141 pounds. His complexion was described as "ruddy", and he had no other unique physical characteristics that the military recruiter thought worth noting. I have found no record of active service during this war; either the records have not yet been made public, or Maurice wasn't required to join the fight.

Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye
Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, in action much later than the Second World War,
seen at the 2016 California Capital Airshow
So what does this have to do with an airshow?

Grumman... they made military, and civilian, aircraft. In 1942, they were most likely preparing planes for war; maybe Maurice had gone to work there, to help the war effort. They made cats: the F4F Wildcat and the F6F Hellcat, the F7F Tigercat and the F8F Bearcat. The Wildcat and the Hellcat were used by the US Navy.  

Maurice passed away on 28th March, 1955. He's buried in the Long Island military cemetery, Farmingdale, along with Marjorie, his wife, and daughter Vivian.

I don't know what made me look at Maurice's history, after reading about this year's California Capital Airshow. (There are no coincidences.) Maybe the back-of-my-mind had noticed the detail about Grumman and stored it away for a rainy day, without noticing, and automatically pushed it into my active brain, remembering the Grumman planes I saw at the air show last year.

Who knows? It's all relative(s)!

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