My Life William Perl Dunn, Jr. My background is Scots-Irish. I am a direct descendant of Irish Billy Dunn who came here in 1808 from Ireland. My father was William Perl Dunn. His father was William Pearl Dunn. His father was Henry T. Dunn and William J. Dunn also known as Irish Billy Dunn was his father. Irish Billy had 10 children.
I feel like I was born on the road. The first thing I remember was reaching down into a cooking pot for a piece of bread while we were in transit from Georgia to Pennsylvania when Daddy was transferred to Carlyle, Pa. I love eating tomatoes and I remember eating them at Aunt Heddy’s and Aunt Annie’s house in Colquitt, Ga., before we left. I am not sure when the memories are, before or after. At any rate, I kept being asked where I got my red hair from and I would say from eating tomatoes, smart ass that I am.
Then, we went back to North Augusta, SC, while Daddy was in Camp Gordon, Ga., Mama was always going to church, and leaving us with black baby sitters. And one night, some of them stole money from her mite box.
But it was right after the war. Then Daddy had to go to Germany, and he take us with him. We were all excited. So we went to New York first, and we got to see Aunt Sister and Uncle Bob, and Mama’s mama. She was a little white haired lady. And my cousin Billy Wheeler sent me a nice little red car from California. His father is Uncle Al, my mother’s brother and Aunt Jo. I think she is Italian.
So we went to Germany by ship. I do not remember to much about the ship ride over there, other than the loud horns and fog. I remember having to stay at the BOQ (Bachelor Officer’s Quarters until Daddy found us a house in Kissingen, Germany. That’s near Wurtzburg on the Mien River. Daddy was Deputy Provost Marshal there. I went to school with black kids there at the Army Dependents schools.
We moved when I was in first grade to Bremerhaven. It was on the waterfront and that is when I realized that I really liked the waterfront. That is where Mama and Daddy had a party and the floor was waxed big time. Fontaine and I were chasing each other around and I slid into a radiator and split my forehead open and had to have it stitched. The guests put there coats on my bed and said hi to me.
Later on, I am not sure of the time frame, Mama kept drinking. She hid her whiskey and German beer bottles in my dresser drawers. Finally, she was sent back to the States to Walter Reed hospital.
During this time, we had governesses. I liked the Scottish one, best. She would make us take baths in the same bath water. Because it was winter she had me wear three pair of underwear. She took me down to the waterfront and there I found out I liked the boats rocking and the seagulls calling to each other.
But, I guess that Daddy and her did not get along, so we got a different governess named Miss Jost, who thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor. And I think that Daddy liked her because he bought her dresses. Fontaine and I used to play hospital on the bed together and we missed Mama.
Mama came back from the States and then we had to move to Augsburg. I was in the 2nd grade in the Army dependent schools. I also had a medical problem with my kidneys–nephritis. One night I started peeing blood. It was scary. This was right after some man had made me do bad things to him with his penis. It was in the basement. Nobody knew what had happened to me because I was too ashamed to tell them. I was scared of him. He worked at the house as a fireman, keeping the house warm. But, I think Daddy figured it out because, he was a military policeman. Because when I got back from the hospital, the man was gone.
There were always halftracks and trucks running through the dirt roads. Jane, Fontaine and I would play at the bottom of this big Iron Cross, across the road. And Jane would chase us with sheep doo-doo. Mama would play Chopin and other classical music on the piano. Jane and I took piano lessons. But we did not keep on doing it. I am able to play music by ear. But, my parents did not encourage either one of us to continue.
We took a trip to the British Isles: England, Ireland and Scotland. When we were in England, I ate kippered herring, butter was on rationing. Then we flew in a DC-3 to Ireland. We drove all over Ireland. I saw the name Dunn all over Dublin. We went to the Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone. I am afraid of heights and had a hard time going down the old stone stairs and Daddy was very impatient with me. But we made it down.
Then we flew to Scotland in a DC-3 and heard bagpipes on Loch Lumen, I saw Daddy crying when he heard the bagpipes. And I cry now when I hear the pipes. When I hear them, there is something that calls me home. It stayed daylight until 11 at night. We took a train back to England and stayed at the William Shakespeare Hotel at Stratford on the Avon. We then took the train back to Germany.
While we were in Germany, we would see different stars like Vic Damon, and others who would come and perform for the troops. They would hand out candy cigarettes. Lucky Strikes were the going brand back then. Finally I remember going to the PX and getting Double Bubble Gum and sharing with the German boys. They would build sand castles that had marbles coming out in different places.
When we went back to the States, we took a DP (Displaced Person) ship back. Fontaine kept having problems with her ears. I met a skinny man and I told him that I liked his beard and he cried. Then his nephew came to help him. He showed me the tattoo on their arms. He told me to tell the world what I saw. When we reached The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island at New York City, The skinny people danced in a circle and the man with the beard waved to me. He wore a black hat. After that I did not want to eat much.