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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Red Buhrmann, My College Roommate

Red Buhrmann, My College Roommate. Chuck recounts his days at Peru State Teachers College where he met Red Buhrmann who was a POW after being shot down over Germany in 1944.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Knock Knock -- May I Borrow A Cup of Soap?

By Chuck Hinman

Red Buhrmann, My College Roommate

I have written about my experience of 'leaving the nest' and the parental probation I was on when returning to college for the 1939-1940 term. The college was Peru State Teachers College at Peru, Nebraska. It was only ninety miles from where I had grown-up on the farm near tiny Liberty, Nebraska. For those not adept at math, that was over seventy years ago!

Delzell Hall, the sparkling new dormitory for men, was a couple weeks from completion. Boys who had come to the fall term expecting to stay in the new facility were 'put up' temporarily in the gym. It had the appearance of a barracks with a hundred or so cots in neat rows.

Red Buhrmann, a suggested roommate who turned out well

During this interim period, if you came to school without a roommate in mind, one was suggested for you. I was introduced to a tall, smiling, red-haired young man from Sprague-Martell near Lincoln, Nebraska. We hit it off from the beginning and it turned out to be an excellent match. His name was Wayne (Red) Buhrmann. Like me, he was a farm boy from a small Nebraska town.

Since we had different goals for our time at Peru, we didn't have any classes together. When students weren't in class, they often studied in the library. When we were relaxing, we soon developed a circle of friends that hung out together. One of those for Red was Carl Wirth who became a lifelong friend but is now deceased.

Chuck hung out with bridge players

My circle of friends with whom I 'hung out' were bridge players, Cliff Harding, Merlin Broers, and 'Father' George Griffin. We had the dubious distinction of introducing 'strip bridge' to the campus of a thousand oaks. Our parents would have shot us had they known what their hard-earned bucks were financing in addition to a college education! I credit those wild days as making me the tough bridge player I am at ninety years of age. I hate playing bridge in just my underwear especially if it's co-ed. I just rarely do that anymore!

I was the only one in my circle of friends whose immediate goal was a one year stand. Most every one else was there for four years.

Dorm rooms were simple

Red's and my room was on the first floor overlooking the football field. Each had a single bed, a desk and study lamp, a chest of drawers. We shared a clothes closet and lavatory. The rest of the bathroom facilities were across the hall from our room and shared with the rest of the guys on our floor.

Red and I were good enough friends that we occasionally 'horsed around' wrestling each other good-naturedly -- never to the point of getting mad and going to fisticuffs.

Red's blue pajamas

Red wore blue pajamas (I never owned a pair of pajamas in my life). He always went through a rocking motion on the side of his bed when taking off and putting on his trousers and pajama bottoms. I wonder if he did that all his life.

The most popular dining facility was the cafeteria in one of the women's dorms. A $5.00 meal ticket lasted a long time compared to today. My total cost per year to go to college at Peru was $250.00 -- a mint of money in those days.

Friends and table talk about Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941

Girl friends? Yes, Red dated some but names escape me. I dated Elda Wyatt of Unadilla.

The only time I remember eating where Red ate was in the 1941-1942 term when Red was rooming with Carl Wirth. I was back at Peru after having taught a rural school near my home at Liberty, Nebraska. My roommate that year was Billy Berger. Red and I and a bunch of other boys were eating the evening meal at a boarding house that served meals to boys who didn't live there. Red's girl friend worked there. It was December 7, 1941 and the table talk was the shocking news of the Pearl Harbor attack announced a few hours earlier on that cloudy Sunday afternoon.

World War II separates friends

My days at Peru and seeing my good friend Red on a daily basis ended when I left school in May 1942. I was drafted in September 1942 and of course most of you know of Red's war and POW experience.

The next time I would see Red and wife Joan was when we had lunch with them at Knolls in Lincoln. We were both retired and our families were raised and gone. That was the first time I met Red's wife -- Joan (Thickstun) from Omaha.

By then, my wife Connie (an Okie) was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. They returned the visit at our house in Bartlesville, Oklahoma several years later. We just picked up reminiscing good old Peru days where we left off at Knolls.

Chuck's final visit with Red again in blue pajamas

Then I learned that Red was dying of cancer. Connie and I had been to Omaha to attend a reunion of my war-time buddies. We stopped by the farm to pay respects. I thought it was nostalgic to the point of tears that Red was in his trademark pajamas and robe (an obviously sick man). Red showed me around their dream home. Connie stayed in the car as we were just going to stay a minute. As you can imagine, a thousand memories flooded our minds of better days as two old former Peru roommates shared an emotional embrace and said our final good-byes.

Red died shortly after that... and the 'campus of a thousand oaks' lost one of its courageous and distinguished alumni -- Red Buhrmann.

Precious memories? You had better believe it!

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Tuesday, 1 March 2011. This is an extensive revision of the first version written 5 May 2008. (I have added in just a few words from the 2008 version. -RHS)

More about Red Buhrmann
Writer's note:

Second Lieutenant Wayne Buhrmann, navigator on the B-24, Pugnacious Pat was shot down on November 26, 1944 over Barth, Germany, and was a prisoner of war (POW) until May 8, 1945. Red (attended PSTC from Sept. 1939 to Feb. 1943) and Joan Thickstun of Omaha, his wife (attended PSTC from Sept. 1943 to Aug. 1946) were/are active in POW activities. After graduating from PSTC in 1946, Red taught in Nebraska City for two years (1946-1948). After getting his Masters Degree in Education from UN - Lincoln, Red was the Manager of Research and Development of Engineering Products for Goodyear in Lincoln, Nebraska, retiring to 'the farm' where he grew up near Sprague-Martell.

Red and Joan have six children and eight grandchildren. Red's widow Joan keeps the oil companies in business traveling from one end of the country to the other attending the many activities of a large and proud family. When Joan is at home you will find her in the basement of the Buhrmann Pajama Factory cranking out pajamas for next Christmas for her beloved grandchildren. And like Santa Clsus, she delivers them to the door -- Red smiling his approval.
Excerpt from The Lincoln Journal Star
Red Buhrmann: Excerpted and abridged from The Lincoln Journal Star

Wayne 'Red' Buhrmann spent six months in a German prison camp before re-enrolling at Peru State College in 1945. His 6'4" frame, normally carrying 275 pounds, arrived home in Nebraska at 225. He had lived on meager rations after being shot down in a B-24 bomber over Germany in November 1944 but was suddenly overwhelmed with generosity, heavily laden with calories after liberation.

Just released prisoners in short order gobbled down boxes holding 24 Hershey candy bars and some died because their starved bodies couldn't handle the rush from so much chocolate. Buhrmann was lucky. Waves of nausea caused him to throw up.

Wayne's wife Joan stayed home and raised three sons and three daughters. He became manager of research and development with Goodyear in Lincoln, Nebraska. He died December 3, 1996, age 73.
The full article was published 9 April 2010 Shrinking group of ex-POWs closes ranks in Lincoln

___________________ HAPPY TAIL - GABBY By Peg Schaaeffer

I was contacted by a woman who had two dogs she needed to find homes for. They had belonged to her granddaughter's roommate. The roommate moved and left the dogs behind. The granddaughter had been caring for the dogs but had also moved so the dogs were left behind. The woman went to the house every day to care for the dogs that were outside tied to their dog houses. This was just a few weeks ago while the weather was still so hot. I told her that we were full and that if she could send me pictures I would try to find homes for them. She had no way to get photos to me. So since I was going to town later in the day I told her I would go there and take pictures.

I went to the vacant house and in the backyard were two cute dogs. One was a hound mix and the other, I was told, was a Yorkie/Pug mix. The dogs had shelter and food & water and were well cared for but sometimes that's just not enough. They were alone and had no one to love them. I played with them for a little while and took photos. When I got home I called her to let her know I had been there. She told me the she and her husband would be out of town for three days. They would leave the dogs extra food and water while they were gone. That's all I needed to hear. I told her I would take the dogs.

She called me back later in the day to tell me that her granddaughter's roommate heard the dogs were leaving and wanted to keep one. So only one dog came to the rescue, the cute little Yorkie/Pug mix named "Gabby".

Gabby was a little sweetheart. She had wire hair and her tail curled up over her back. She had a constant little grin on her face and loved to be held. The first night at the house she had already won me over and I let her sleep in the bed with me. Thumbelina sleeps in the crook of my arm so Gabby had to be content to sleep on my back. In the morning when I woke up she was staring at me waiting for signs of life. I pretended to take her nose and that was all she needed. It became our morning routine. I would try to squeeze her nose and she would growl ferociously and grab my hand and shake it. Of course she didn't bite hard; it was her way of playing.

I never had a dog that could fall asleep as fast as Gabby. If you held her in your arm in a matter of seconds she would be sound asleep. When the LWC Track Team came to the farm she won their hearts. If anyone's arms were empty it wasn't for long. Gabby would win them over and they'd be holding her.

When I get in an extra special dog like Gabby I always worry about finding them the best home possible. I begin to think they should stay with me. But I know I can't do that. All the dogs are here to find "furever" homes. Homes where they will be special and have someone to love them and them alone.

That opportunity happened for Gabby. I received a phone call from Patty Fleur. She was looking for a Chihuahua for her sister-in-law, Elaine, who was disabled. Her dog had died and she lived alone. The dog would be her constant companion. I was getting in some Chihuahuas at the end of the week but I told her about my special little girl, Gabby. I texted her a photo and she showed it to Elaine. It was love at first sight.

Patty made an appointment for her and Elaine to come and meet Gabby the next day. All the rest of the day I worried about Gabby. She was so attached to me. Would she be okay with someone else? Would she miss me? I knew I would miss her terribly. Even though I have so many dogs, every now and then one sneaks under my skin.

The next day Patty and Elaine came to the house. Elaine stayed in the car and Gabby walked to the gate with me. I handed her over the fence to Patty and she took her to the car. Gabby sat on Elaine's lap and immediately began giving her kisses. Elaine's face lit up. It was apparent they were a match. Patti filled out the paperwork. The entire time Gabby was so busy giving Elaine kisses she never even looked back at me. As they pulled away I had a lump in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes. I was already missing her.

I went back to the house and got busy. Not even an hour later Patty texted me the following message: "Gabby was very happy to see her new home! Elaine had several puppy toys and Gabby checked several out putting them in a pile. She did all her cute little 'gotta love me' puppy ways and played get the toy and tug of war! Elaine is so happy! Gabby's little tail wagged so much her feet were off the floor! Thanks."

This is what it's all about. It wouldn't have been right for me to keep Gabby. She was put on this earth for a reason and she had a job to do. Although she made me happy for a short time she now will have someone to love and who will love her back. Now I have tears in my eyes for a different reason.

Best wishes to Gabby and Elaine!

This story was posted on 2014-08-31 04:27:52
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