Groth looks back on 98 busy years
CRYSTAL FALLS—When you have lived 98 full years the way Warren Groth has, you have a lot of memories that you want to have preserved after you’re gone. So what do you do?
Write a book, of course!
“People told me, You should write a book!” he recalled recently at the end of a long interview. “I don’t know anything about writing a book.
“Well, finally I thought, That may be a good thing. I’ve really seen a lot and done a lot.”
So he found someone to record his memories. “She’d type it out and everything.” And she did: The pages are all typed out neatly and stored in an Office Max box, waiting for the right publisher.
“I was going to call it ‘To Hell and Back!’ for the war and that,” Groth said, “but I thought no, that sounds too warrish. So I changed the name to ‘Mr. Warren,’ and that’s the name of my book.”
Groth, who turned 98 late in June, currently lives at the Victorian Heights Assisted Living Center. He praised the site extensively. “You get everything,” he said. “This is an excellent place.”
His story began on a farm about 50 miles north of Minneapolis. He injured a knee in a farming accident, so when World War II started, the Army and Marines wouldn’t take him.
But the Coast Guard office in Minneapolis gave him the green light, and before long he was in California for six months, learning about a new navigation technology—LORAN—to help U.S. bombers get back to the Mariana Islands - Guam, Saipan and Tinian - after 1,500-mile missions to Japan.
“They’d got lost, run out of fuel and have to ditch, and that’s a biiiiig body of water!” he said. “The LORAN system that we rigged up worked very good for the B-29s.”
After the war, Groth returned to the farm in Minnesota. “The first weekend home, I met a bunch of guys, and a guy says, ‘I got a job for you.’”
Groth drove down to take a look at his cabinet shop in Minneapolis. “The next week, I went to work.” He learned cabinetry and furniture-making. The bedroom set in his Victorian Heights room? “I made that 80 years ago.”
Other big changes were underway, too. Groth’s sister attended college in Chicago and became friends with a student from Iron River - Lorraine Lindahl. While Groth was home on leave, Lindahl went home with the sister. “That’s the first time that I met her.”
Lindahl later became a registered nurse in Minneapolis. “That’s where I was working after the war, too. We were two friends a couple years. And she always told me, ‘My R.N. degree is No. 1 - don’t even talk about getting serious.’”