A man cares for the family of man who saved his life decades ago
Wednesday August 18, 2004
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) A white soldier whose life was saved by a black serviceman in 1942's segregated army had a chance to give back, and he did, weaving an unlikely story of chance encounters and human decency.
During World War II, Everett Hines was training in Oklahoma with the crew of a B-17 bomber. The plane crashed, and the 23-year-old Bakersfield airman lost consciousness in the burning wreckage.
The army was segregated then, with black servicemen kept separate from whites. But when a group of black soldiers saw the accident, they rushed to help.
One of them, Abe (pronounced A-bee) Watson, entered the burning plane and pulled out Hines. Both men were burned, but recovered, and after a brief meeting were shipped out to war.
After serving in the South Pacific, Hines returned to Bakersfield, where he raised his family. In 1989, he lost his wife of 48 years, and thought his life was just about over as well.
But one day in the early 1990s, visiting a friend in a hospital, he glanced at a heart attack victim that paramedics were wheeling by.
That man he'd seen him before, he said.
``I seen his face,'' he recalled. ``I went home and thought about it and thought about it.''
The next day, Hines approached the man's sister. Hines said hearing the man's name Abe Watson hit him like a thunderbolt.
``When I walked in there, he looked at me, and looked at me. He said, 'Everett, you made it back, didn't you,''' Hines said.
But Watson would not live long after the meeting. The day before he died, Watson told Hines he had a favor to ask.
Watson had a daughter, a single mother with a newborn and two 1-year-old twin boys. She had little means of support. Could Hines watch out for them, Watson asked?
``How could I say no to this man? I wouldn't say no,'' Hines said.
So the struggling young mother and her three children moved in with the retired widower.
Fourteen years later, Hines is the grandfather Watson would have been. He helps the three boys with homework and keeps them in check, though he never imagined he'd be 85, with a house full of teenagers.
``It's very amazing,'' said Ruletta Watson, the mother of 15-year-old twins Kenth and Kendrick and 14-year-old Ronal. ``Everett raised them like a grandfather.''
It's not always easy. The family lives on Hines' Social Security payments, which are enough for food and clothing, but leave no extras for things like repairing the house, said R. Kent Scott, a volunteer at Calvary Bible Church who learned of the family's difficulties.
But Hines said he doesn't regret what he's done.
``At their age right now, they're enough to give you a nervous breakdown,'' Hines said, chuckling. ``But they're good boys, all three of them. They made my life, growing up here. Probably if it hadn't been for them, I'd be gone by now.''
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Tell those mother fuckers to get a job!
Honestly, CavVet, you're among friends here. Come on and tell us what you really think these young men shoud do.
Yeah they need to get a jod, Hell I had four brother's and I started working when I was 15 gave all of my money to my mother to help her out dad's new wife was fucking bitch and turned him inot a little pussy so we hardly ever got the damn child support so now him and his stupid wife wonder why I fucking hate them and believe me there is more to it than just that, I quite scholl to get a fulltime job and got my GED and joined the Army and still helped out mom until my brother's got old enough to start helping, so yeah those little fuck stick's can go get job's, I bet they can get some money to get drug's and other shit, I'm stopping now before I really say some shit that get's me into trouble.