MONDAY, MAY 29, 2017


By James Johnson

Originally printed in the Woodstock Independent
August 11, 2004

Recently Jack Hayes of Woodstock brought in a signed card and sketch that Chester Gould had sent to him in January, 1942. Hayes was serving in the U. S. Army Veterinary Corps, stationed at Camp Butner, near Durham, N.C. His grandfather was Ephraim Goodrow, who owned Goodrow’s garage, an auto repair shop at 239 N. Throop in Woodstock. It also served as a parking area for several commuters, who left their cars there while they commuted on the Chicago and North Western train to Chicago. One of those commuters was Gould.

Some wintry evenings, the garage was more than a parking location. Snow plowing was less dependable in the 1940’s, and the commuters might arrive back at the Woodstock depot to find the local roads still drifted over. With nothing to do until the roads became passable, they would congregate around a pot-bellied stove in the garage office. It probably was on one of these snowbound evenings when Gould spoke with Hayes’ father who worked at the garage and received the younger man’s mailing address. His message, spoken by Dick Tracy in the sketch, was “Hello, John, just talked to your Dad, he’s fine!” It was a nice gesture to a serviceman far from home and typical of the considerate nature of Chester Gould.

Hayes could write many columns about his World War II remembrances. His unit commander, Lt. Col. Anderson, favored old cavalry-style uniforms and had been commissioned in World War I. He wrecked a few desks by leaning back on his chair with his spurs on the desktop. Regular jobs for the unit included candling eggs and inspecting cold storage warehouses producing food products of animal origin. Hayes inspected a load of live lambs shipped from Australia.

Farriers and veterinarians have served in the military throughout history. The U. S. Army Veterinary Corps was formed in 1916. Great Britain formalized its service as the Royal Veterinary Corps in 1796. The care of horses and mules was one of the most important parts of the job. Although the horse-mounted cavalry is long gone, horses are used by the Army even today. The 3rd Regiment “Old Guard,” at Ft. Myer, Virginia, provides caisson teams for burial services at Arlington National Cemetery. This unit was seen on television recently during the services for President Ronald Reagan. Motorists along Route 50 in Arlington, Va., will occasionally see these horses grazing on a grassy hillside at the Northwest corner of Ft. Myer.

The veterinary corps also performs sanitary inspections of commercial facilities producing food for the Department of Defense. The Corps operates impound services, assists with care of pets and other animals on government installations and assists with rabies control and animal bite programs. It cares for dogs in the canine teams. This is an important duty today, with the reliance on explosives or drug-sniffing dogs. Vets work with public health officials on countering bioterrorism and help develop vaccines and antidotes.

Follow-up note: This card and its mailing envelope were displayed in a cabinet at the Chester Gould-Dick Tracy Museum. The items were returned to Jack Hayes upon closing of the Museum in 2008. It is hoped that they will remain a treasured keepsake for his family.

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- Chester Gould
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