1HERBERT ARTHUR BRADLEY, JR. -- Herbert was born in Cleveland, Ohio on November 13, 1920, the only child of Herbert Arthur Bradley, Sr. and Kathryn Ruth (Griffith) Bradley. Both parents were born in Piatt County, Illinois--the former in White Heath and the latter in Monticello. The Bradleys were married in Detroit, Michigan on January 15, 1915. They lived in Cleveland, Ohio for a short time where in 1920 Herbert was born. They then moved to Akron, then to Youngstown, Ohio. With the stock market crash of 1929, the entire economy of the nation was devastated and the Great Depression began. Families suffered great hardship as husbands and fathers lost their savings, their investments, their jobs and even their homes. It became a great struggle simply to get along. After living in Youngstown only one year, Herbert's father in 1930 took his wife and 10-year-old son to Monticello, Illinois. For Herbert's mother this was a return to her birthplace. She and Herbert made their home with her mother and father, Nannie and Robert "Bodie" Griffith at 112 W. Center Street, Monticello. Back in Ohio, Herbert's father became active in the chemical workers trade union of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and rose to the presidency of the International Chemical Workers Union.
In the Beginning
Herbert said, "When we came to Grandpa and Grandma Griffith's home in Monticello in 1930 it was DEEE-pression in a big way! But we made it , somehow. Of course, at age ten years I hardly realized the 'hard times.' My mother, my grandparents and my Aunt Ellen (Griffith) made a good home for me. I was enrolled in the Lincoln Elementary School in Monticello. In Youngstown, Ohio the school year was divided into two parts--A and B. I had completed grade 4A prior to our move. When I enrolled in Monticello I was placed in the 5th grade, so that way I skipped half a year. That caused me to graduate from high school at the tender age of 17 years."
Herbert graduated from Monticello Community High School with the class of 1938. He had been president of his senior class that year. It was during his years in high school that Herbert met the beautiful talented teenager whom he would later marry--Mary Cynthia Norris. Mary Cynthia was born January 8, 1921, the only child of William Edward Norris and Salina Glee (McCartney) Norris. Both parents were born in Piatt County, Illinois, the former in Monticello and the latter in Cisco. The Norrises were married in 1920 in Decatur, Illinois. Their residence in Monticello was at 461 South Charter Street.
Much could be recorded her of Herbert's many interests and activities during these early years: his membership and advancement in the Boy Scouts of American--Monticello Troops #22, of his interest in golf, of his trumpet--"hot trumpet," and of the band that he formed. In 1937 Monticello celebrated its one-hundredth year with week-long activities. On the last day of the celebration, a huge parade was held, led by the Monticello Community High School band. Herbert, a junior, was chosen drum major for that event. He and the band had never marched before, so it was a first! Herbert said, "We memorized two marches, which got the job done." See photograph.
Much could be written, too, of the friendships he formed--with Albert Mohler, Billy Eshelman, Lyle Harris, and yes, with George (then called Alvin) Lindsley--not to mention numerous girls of his age. George Lindsley, who, with Herbert, has authored this
account of Herbert's life and his "war story," lived only two blocks from Herbert's home. One might say this friendship thrived from first acquaintance because Herbert found he could enter the back door of the Lindsley home, get a piece of homemade pie from the refrigerator, and come on ito the living room without encountering the objections anyone else would have faced. Or perhaps the friendship grew because they were, in fact, third cousins--Herbert's grandmother, Nannie Griffith, and George's grandmother, Emma Longworth, were first cousins. Their friendship survived depression, war, and the physical separation of career locations, and is now (1998) in retirement, a permanent bond--"bless'd be the tie that binds."
After his graduation from high school in 1938, Herbert attended the Illinois Commercial College in Champaign, Illinois. The effects of the Great Depression continued to influence events. Getting a job and some income was of paramount interest to him. Consequently, when Herbert Mohler, vice-president of the National Bank of Monticello, and father of his good friend, Albert Mohler, called him about an opening at the bank, Herbert was interested. He took the job at $40.00 for the first month. When for many it was still, "Brother, can you spare a dime," Herbert felt fortunate, indeed, to be employed. Herbert said, "Well, hey, when I went into military service (July 24, 1942) I was married, making $90.00 a month, owned by 1940 Pontiac car and was renting the house where May Cynthia and I lived. Mary Cynthia was working, too, in the accounting department of the Centaur-Caldwell factory in Monticello. Not bad, eh?"1
Herbert and Mary Cynthia were marred at the Presbyterian Church in Monticello on January 3, 1942. George Lindsley and his fiance, Margaret Mitchell, were their attendants. Their honeymoon was in Chicago, Illinois.2
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