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Young Man With a DeSoto

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:46

Item of the Week From the East Hampton Library Long Island Collection

This photograph of Richard Thomas Talmage (1923-2000), a World War II veteran, in uniform next to a DeSoto reminded me of similar images of my maternal grandfather and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter of Sag Harbor with his truck, an iconic image of a young man in uniform posing next to an automobile.

This image is part of the East Hampton Library’s Springs Historical Society digital archive, which includes photographs of many veterans. While Talmage is not the only veteran in multiple photos, his big smile and playful poses made me wonder about his story.

Richard Talmage was the third of three children born to Lawrence Stanley Talmage and the former Ethel Hanney in East Hampton, probably in Springs. According to the 1930 census, the family lived on Fireplace Road, and Lawrence (better known as Stanley) worked as a farmer. Ethel appears to have been the regular correspondent for the Springs column in The East Hampton Star, which is how we know Richard had leave to come home a number of times during the war.

Even though Richard appears with a Marine Aviation sign in one of the photos, both The Star and his Army service records indicate he served in the Army. He enlisted in February of 1943, after four years of high school.

In June of that year, he wrote home from Camp McCain in Grenada, Miss. Between September and December of 1944, the Army sent Talmage to Keesler Field in Mississippi, then Harlingen, Tex., Chanute Field in Illinois, and Greensboro, N.C. He came home from Tampa, Fla., on leave in March of 1945 as a sergeant.

A year later, Richard Talmage came home from Guam with an honorable discharge. He married Alice Allen Bass in Stewart, Tenn., in 1947. The couple returned to East Hampton to raise a family.

Andrea Meyer, a librarian and arch­ivist, is the head of the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.

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