Bill Dale (left in both pictures) and Damon Warren shown in 1942 and 1990.
Photo courtesy Butch Dale
Bill Dale (left in both pictures) and Damon Warren shown in 1942 and 1990. Photo courtesy Butch Dale
Two World War II veterans who had a great influence on my life were my father Bill Dale and his best buddy Damon "Mutt" Warren. They both attended school here in Darlington, played sports together and were lifelong friends. Both served in the Army during WWII, and Mutt also served in the Korean War. They were very glad to make it back alive and in one piece.
After serving in the military, Mutt ran the Warren Hardware store. Dad farmed and then later on drove a school bus and became the custodian at the school. When Dad had to give up farming, he moved to town and lived just one house away from Mutt, and they spent even more time together in their later years.
When I was young, I accompanied Dad just about everywhere he went. I learned a great deal of practical information and skills because that is how a farmer survives . . . even today. Common sense values were also drilled into my head through stern lectures. Anything not absorbed in this manner required more severe actions. Nothing too severe, but enough to get my attention! I am glad Dad disciplined me, because when I became a police officer I witnessed the consequences of adults who had no discipline when they were youngsters. I also spent a lot of time with Mutt . . . when he was with Dad, when he worked at his hardware store and when he played golf every Sunday with the Darlington gang.
Listed below are what I consider the most important lessons that I learned from these two Army veterans and role models.
• Enjoy the little things in life, and don't take life too seriously
• Having lots of money and material possessions does not make a person happy
• Work hard all day . . . then relax and be with your family and friends
• Tell people what you think, even if they don't like what you have to say, but do it in a nice way
• Don't listen to politicians, but if you do, take what they say with a grain of salt
• Read lots of books . . . all your life . . . and don't watch too much TV
• You cannot talk to a "nutcase" . . . just walk away . . . and avoid constant complainers because they are never happy
• Make your kids work and know the value of a dollar
• Don't push your kids into sports and try to make them professional athletes. Just tell them to do their best and show good sportsmanship.
• Support your local schools and the teachers . . . and support your local businesses, even if their prices are a little higher
• Try to do something nice for someone each day. You and your community will be better for it.
• Make people laugh!
I think the generation that went through the Great Depression and World War II appreciated life more after having gone through those two events. My Dad passed away in 1991. Damon Warren passed away exactly six months later. Two lifelong friends . . . together again.
And yes, I did learn a few other things from those two . . . but I can't repeat those in public . . . Ha!

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.