Today – 2 Oct 2011 – I attended an event at the Lakewood Public Library. It was a multi media – sound, slides, and animation – presentation of “Crossen Combat Chronicles” a book – by Chip Heyl – on the life of Col. John R. Crossen, of Lakewood, Ohio. Mr. Crossen was born in Cambridge, Ohio in 1904, his parents eventually moved to Lakewood, where he graduated (as class president) in 1923. He then went on to graduate from Western Reserve University, and received a JD from Marshall College of Law. Mr. Crossen had joined the National Guard at the age of 19, and when he started his law practice in 1930, he continued in the Guard, becoming an officer. When the US entered WWII, theOhio National Guard was federalized as the 37th Infantry Division, and as Captain of a battery in the 135th Field Artillery, Crossen left his wife, home , three daughters, his law career, and went to war.
The 37th Division served with valor and distinction in the Pacific theater during the war, and Crossen – who was promoted to Lt. Col. and became Battalion commander – was well-recognized and highly decorated.
He came back from the war, resumed his law practice (Crossen and Chamberlin), and died on 6 March 1965, before his 61st birthday. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Other than my interest in WWII history, and that I was born and lived in Lakewood, why was I at this event? My late Mother Betty was an RN, and while doing private duty at Lakewood Hospital in the late fifties, she took care of Col Crossen. They were both divorced, and having met, became – shall we say – very close friends: he was a part of my life for several years. (He and my mother were no longer together – for several years – before he died.)
Fast forwarding to 2011, I had been exploring the history of the 37th on the Internet (for another reason), and came across John’s name, and then this book. I contacted the family from the web page, and John’s youngest daughter – Sue – and I began corresponding via email. In those emails – and today in person – we shared our experiences. The Col – as we called him – must have suffered as a result of his war-time experiences what we call today PTSD, and became a heavy drinker. He and his wife divorced, she remarried and moved to Norwalk Oh, where the girls graduated high school. Sue and I discussed some issues – in detail I need not share – today, and it was good for both of us. I bought the book and a CD, and Sue Crossen McCreery wrote in it: “of all of the good things that have come out of the ‘Crossen Combat Chronicles’, meeting you is at the top of the list.”: I’ll take that – thank you!
He always treated me with respect – even though we were of different generations and even when were at polar opposites on issues – and I cannot ask for more from any person. He and my Mother were good for one another, supplied a mutual need, and I had nothing but warm memories of him: he was very intelligent, and was one of the more interesting conversationalist’s I ever met.
“At the end of the day”, that is sufficient…
PostScript: I drove on Brockley Ave going and coming to the library, and stopped to look at 1217-9, the Crossen Home.