I can’t pinpoint a date when all of these events occurred, but I do know they must have occurred in the Fall of 1945. My father, George Edwin Farrar, received his Honorable Discharge and Separation from the Army Air Forces on October 29. The date he physically returned home – to his parents’ home in Atlanta, Georgia – from WWII I do not know. I do know that Mr. and Mrs. Buslee traveled all the way from Chicago, Illinois to meet my dad and offer him a job with Mr. Buslee’s company, Neumann, Buslee, & Wolfe, Inc. My Aunt Beverly, eight years old at the time, remembers Mr. and Mrs. Buslee sitting in the living room of the Farrar home and visiting with my dad and his mother. Her father was very ill and bedridden and was not able to join the group.
The Buslees primarily wanted to hear anything my dad knew about the events of September 28, 1944, specifically, the mid-air collision over Magdeburg, Germany between the Lazy Daisy and the Lead Banana, on which their son, John Oliver, was the pilot. My dad was the waist gunner on John Oliver’s crew and was the only survivor on the Lead Banana.
I don’t know if what my dad was able to tell them put their minds at ease, but it was something they wanted to hear in person. As a result of their visit – and I don’t know if they considered this in advance or if it was just a spur of the moment decision – Mr. Buslee offered my dad a job. Neumann, Buslee & Wolfe were “Merchants, Importers, and Manufacturers” and they made and sold flavorings and essential oils. Mr. Buslee would teach my dad to be a salesman. My dad moved to Chicago into the Buslee’s home and as my Aunt Beverly put it, he “lived in their son’s room, wore their son’s clothes, and drove their son’s car.” He lived and ate with the family and was treated like he was their own son.
What a difference a year can make in two different families’ lives. A year previous, both the Farrar and Buslee families were worried about their sons, missing in action after a mid-air collision over Germany. And now, the Farrar family had their son back and the Buslee family knew that theirs was never coming back. But the Farrar family was losing their son again. Yes, a positive move for him and only as far as Chicago, Illinois. But they were probably not ready to let him go even that far after what he had gone through the past year to make it back to them alive.
The Buslees had a temporary replacement for their son lost in the war. Maybe my dad’s presence in their home softened the loss of their own son. Or maybe it made it all the more painful, a reminder on a daily basis that their son was gone. What a difference a war can make.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014