I had been listening to tales of my fathers’ experiences in World War II for a long time. I could never really put them into the proper perspective for what does a child know of war? As I got older, I continued to ask for the same stories over and over until I knew every word my father would say before he said it.
As I moved through life, I found myself working at a local “pay to play” radio station. (“Pay to play” meaning that if you had the money to pay for the airtime, you could broadcast just about anything.)
At some point, I decided that I should pay homage by way of a radio show to some of the truly great Americans who contributed to the war effort in many different ways. It was at that moment that my program, the “Stage Door Canteen” was born.
I produced a promo ad which asked for volunteers who would be willing to be interviewed by me either in person or by phone. While I was waiting for volunteers to come by the droves, I decided to take the plunge and launch my first broadcast on Memorial Day, 2000 with my father who would re-tell his stories again as the first guest.
The program had gone just as I had hoped it would. I introduced my father, Carl Poticha and gave his rank, the dates of his service, the name of his outfit during the war and said that he had been captured by the Germans while fighting in France and became a prisoner of war. Questions were asked and answers were given and I believe that anyone listening would have had some idea of what it was like to have been a frightened, young man, fighting for his country far from home in a prison camp.
As a surprise for my father, I managed to find a copy of Kay Keyser’s “Don’t Fence Me In” which my dad sang to himself while he was looking out the gates of the prison camp. I used the music to break up the interview a bit and thus, my format was born!
In the next days and weeks many people contacted me so they could tell the stories of what part they played in World War II. My hope is that with this blog (which hopefully will turn into a book)
I can re-create the feelings I experienced while interviewing each of the veterans I came to know.
My father and many of the other veterans I knew are gone now but their stories will live on forever for me and hopefully for you too.