Oct. 15 will be a big milestone for Elbert (Pid) Pidcock, he will turn 100 years young, to which replys, “I’m not old!” Pidcock was born in Beaconsfield, Iowa, and has a younger sister and a brother, now deceased. He graduated from Beaconsfield High in 1935. After graduation he worked as a barber and in April of 1940 he married the love of his life, Thelma. They were married for 70 wonderful years until she passed in 2010. “I’m just lost without her. The only time we were separated was when I was overseas in World War II.”
They first lived in Kellerton for two years and then moved to Allerton for a short time where he barbered. Hair cuts were 25 cents then where he worked as a barber (just north of the now Farm Bureau building) and later moved to the basement (of the now The Flower Pot).
He just walked away from his barber shop, closed the doors and joined the Navy on Oct. 30, 1942. He was first stationed in Ottumwa. Yes Ottumwa! The US wasn’t prepared for war and needed to build everything from the ground up. Congressman Karl LeCompte was pretty influential and said to build the training air strips in the Midwest, not on the coast, it would be much further to attack. The government built new training facilities in Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma and one five miles north of Ottumwa. Pidcock was supposed to be in Ottumwa for only six months, but that turned into one year. The Navy sent him to Chicago for some more training on working on planes. With training done he was sent to southern California working on combat planes for three months. Thelma went with him and worked.
In the first part of Feburary of 1945 the war was heating up and Pidcock was worried he would be sent to the northwest Pacific. Pearl Harbor was a stop over and that is where he ended up until the end of the war. Along with 12 other seamen, they were trained to work on the biggest bombers and transport planes as aviation hydralic specialists. After the US dropped the two atom bombs on Japan, Pidcock says the feeling on base was Japan was worried we had a bucket full of atom bombs and so surrendered. Of course everyone wanted to go home the next day after Japan surrendered, but you had to have 80 points to be eligible to be discharged. He was honorably discharged Dec. 1 of 1945.
Coming back to Corydon he really didn’t want to barber but Raymond Rissler had a barber shop under Corydon State Bank and he decided to go to work for him in 46. In the fall of 47 Pidcock bought the barber shop from Rissler who had decided to go on the road selling barber supplies. In the winter of 48 Thelma told Pid she wished they could loan us some kids for the holidays. He told Thelma we can’t adopt, we live in a two room apartment and don’t have any money. They made the trip to Ottumwa to the orphanage and asked about having some kids over the holidays. The administrator said that wouldn’t be fair to the other kids, how about signing up to adopt kids? So they filled out the application, which took six months to get on the list to be eligible. They had to send in recommendations and have physicals. Nov. 14, 1949, they received a baby boy, Don. In 52 they decided they wanted another baby, but baby Doris didn’t arrive until 1954. Their family was complete.
Don passed away in 2000 and Doris lives with her dad at his home in Corydon.
He decided to quit barbering and became a rural postal carrier in January 1960. His route included Corydon, Millerton and Allerton, 60 miles a day to start with. When he retired 20 years later in 1980 he was traveling 109 miles day. Thelma was having health issues and wanted him to retire. The post office was going to cut personnel and was offering a pension as if you had worked another two years. So one morning Pidcock told Postmaster Harold (Wimpy) Leazer to get the paperwork ready. Leazer said he would do it after while. Pidcock said, “Do it now before I change my mind!” He retired in January 1980 from the post office.
With retirement Pidcock bought an 80 acre farm and was raising about 30 head of yearling calves which he would sell in the fall. In the early 80s the farm crisis hit Wayne County and Pidcock had 30 head of two-year old heifers and the market took a dive. Thinking the price would come back up he decided to keep them and sell the calves the next fall. He sold them for what he gave for them two years back. He sold the farm.
Both Pidcocks were very interested in Indian artifacts and became very involved with the state organization. It was something they could enjoy together. Due to health issues they both had to quit walking looking for artifacts. One of Pidcock’s treasures is an Indian game ball, he found just northwest of the old Dick Moore residence and across the creek, weighing about five pounds.
Pidcock tells the tale of Dale Clark coming to him, wanting to learn about Indian artifacts and helping him get started. Pidcock told Clark, “If you are really interested I’ll help you. If you are going to just put them in a cigar box, no I won’t help you. If you do it my way, I’ll help.” Pidcock said, “He has gone lots farther than I ever did. But I will take the credit for getting Dale started!”
Pidcock was very active in the Pioneer Mormon Trail and had done extensive research on where the song Come Ye Saints was written. Proving it was written in Wayne County where a marker now stands, sent by the Mormon Church. One of his proudest moments.
In looking back on his earlier years, he remembers the Dust Bowl, the cinch bugs, the grasshoppers, the Depression and World War II and says you have some good days and some bad. His eyesight is almost gone now, in Pid’s words, my body has outlived my eyes!
His daughter, Doris, is hosting an open house for his 100 birthday Sunday, Oct. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. Stop by and say hello, he loves to visit!