Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

A century worth of stories

Mt. Pleasant vet reflects on life on 100th birthday
Sep 11, 2018
Photo by: Submitted Quentin Fackler celebrated his 100th birthday on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Quentin Fackler has 100 years of stories to tell, memories of friends who helped him get there and a grateful heart for them all.

Fackler grew up when a half-gallon of milk cost 28 cents, a dozen eggs 57 cents and pound of butter 58 cents. He’s older than the League of Nations and sliced bread, but nobody could guess. His hands shake, but no one could tell as he tightly griped his black cane with one hand, the other his coffee cup. He has trouble hearing, perhaps from World War II, perhaps from the events he heard during the war. He may be 100 years old, but Quentin Fackler is not done telling his story; he continues to write it every day.

On his 100th birthday, Sept. 5, his family gathered at Jerry’s restaurant to celebrate their brother, uncle and family hero. He sat at the table with his family all around him, some coming from as far as Georgia to celebrate him. Being with family and helping others has always been important to Fackler. He says it’s the reason he made it 100 years. “I was just thinking about how important the other people in our lives are,” he said. “We can’t do it alone, whatever our situation is.”

Fackler was born on Sept. 5, 1918, in Cedar Rapids. By the time he was 11 years old, the Great Depression began and his family was forced to move in with relatives to stay afloat. Both his dad and older brother were salesmen, his brother for “Successful Farming” magazine in Des Moines. To maintain his job, his brother would often trade magazines for other goods. He would then sell the goods and use half of the money to pay for the magazines and the other half for the family to live off. “That’s how they did business,” he said. “They would take the battery or the chickens into town and sell them off.”

Because of the Great Depression, Fackler moved often and went to a variety of schools. Eventually he graduated high school at West High Waterloo. “It was kind of a sad start that we had but we got along all right,” he said. “Everyone had the same problem during the Depression. We were all poor.”

From there, he found himself a job as a gofer for a printing company until he was drafted into World War II at age 22. He was shipped off to Fort Bragg, N.C.

As a young cadet, he was placed in the 26th Infantry Division, stationed in Boston, Mass. He remembers the time as being one of fear and little preparation. A severe lack of guns and ammunition caused panic among the troops. He recalls being in Tennessee and seeing a pickup truck with the word “tank” painted on it because the U.S. could not afford an actual one. He served in many places throughout the world but most memorably in France.

He was aboard the SS Argentina, on his way to France, when troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. He recalled the ground being so difficult and the mud so thick they had to pay French farmers to use their horses to help them get their guns out of the mud. Shortly after, he was serving in the European Theater when he got to make a life-changing announcement to his fellow soldiers. As they were all gathered to watch a movie, Fackler walked up to the front of the room and announced the U.S. dropped a bomb on Japan. His memories past that have faded, but he left the Army shortly after.

Upon returning to Iowa, Fackler lived in Indianola with his brother and his family. On a Friday night, he drove over to the Green Colonial Furnace Company for a job interview. He was offered a position in sales, and he took it. “I didn’t have any schooling to specialize in sales, but that was an opportunity,” he said.

His great opportunity took him to southeast Iowa and eventually to Mt. Pleasant where he now resides. When he first began selling, he said he had great success because people had been saving their money during the war times and wanted to spend it. He sold heating and air conditioning units and as they changed, he adapted. When he first began, they were fueled by oil, then blowers, then automatic, then air conditioning came about. He stayed with the company until he retired.

Nowadays, Fackler likes to read, but the books must be large print. He’s a frequent customer in the nonfiction section at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library where he likes to read about history. “I’ve read about all I could read at the Mt. Pleasant library,” he said. He fears he may be running out of things to read. He says he likes to read history because of the education it gives him. “That’s how you get an education, by reading,” he said. “The best education is the one you can teach yourself as you make these habits in your life.”

As he reaches up to dab at his eyes before sipping his coffee, he gives one last token of advice that has served him well during the last 100 years of his life. “Sometimes you just have to do the best you can,” he said. “Just stay with it and you’ll be all right.”

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