The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 27, 2013

A Forgotten Hero



You see, Warren McEleney married our next-door neighbor Ellen O’Neil, who tells an interesting story about her own youth, which is typical of how families thought back in those days. All of our parents then kept “big secrets” of little things that were in no way worthy of such secrecy. It might be a story about some black sheep uncle, a time when dad got drunk, or something as unremarkable as who had been adopted.


Ellen remembers needing a passport, many years after she was married, and she discovered that she had no birth certificate on file at the courthouse. Come to find out, she was adopted, and no one had ever bothered to tell her of it! Not a soul, although many people knew! During this period, her mother reluctantly delivered the details, when she was quizzed about the missing birth certificate . Then Ellen, who wasn’t the least bit concerned herself, pondered how to tell Warren about this newly-discovered piece of history. When she finally did, he replied rather matter-of-factly, “Oh, your Uncle Jack Warnock told me all about that the day we were married!” -- Our family, and most others, had similar stories of silly secrets that always came out sooner or later.


The warm memories of my early youth cling to me like a favorite blanket, and those people from the war years are special people who stay fondly wrapped in my heart. Like many others, the memory of Mike Brough remains there after all these years, for some mysterious reason. The woman on the phone had been his classmate at Clinton High School in 1938 when W.J. Yourd was the principal. She wanted to find Mike. I said, “You have happened upon the right person. Actually, I do know a bit about him. He was a good and shy person; educated and physically weak. I looked up to him, and he was my friend when there was hardly anybody on the block to talk to a small boy. “

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