603 86th Av N 33702

Then and Now — 1926 & 2021603 86th Ave No.

From 1926: “In El Centro — This price is reduced from 14,800…A six room stucco bungalow and garage; constructed of solid masonry, with copper steel sashes, hardwood floors throughout, tile bathrooms, shower baths.. Equipped with steel cupboards, refrigerator and electric stoves… Lot 50X127… 13,500.”

During WWII Alma Blanchard was living in this home. Alma’s son, Harvey Mowery, had joined the US Army in 1940 and was stationed in the Philippines. Here is his amazing story from a 1945 Times article….”Cpl Mowery enlisted in the army in October, 1940, and a year later was on his way to the Philippines. He was with headquarters squadron of the 27th Bomb group but during the last ditch defense of the islands, he grabbed up a rifle and for his action, he has been authorized to wear the Combat Infantryman’s badge.”

“Although Bataan surrendered officially, April 9, 1942, the Japanese weren’t able to mop up the entire area which enabled the St. Petersburg soldier and two army comrades to escape by boat to Corregidor. They hadn’t counted on the Japanese navy however, which had small sub-chasers operating in the area to pick up any such fugitives. Hauled aboard a Japanese ship, Mowrey and his companions were soundly beaten, trussed and thrown on the deck.”

“They were later transferred to a light cruiser and then unloaded in Bantagas, south of Luzon. After a weeks rough treatment at the hands of the Japanese navy, the Americans found their prison camp, a former Philippine constabulary, a welcome relief.”

“Succeeding years brought interment at a string of Philippine camps for Mowrey. He was at Pasay Elementary School, where 400 men were enclosed in a small barb wire area. During a year at Bilibid he was ill with malaria and lost more than 45 pounds, which brought him down to a frail 100 pounds. The Corporal was later sent to Cabantuan, in May, 1943, where in spite of the heavy work in the rice fields, he regained his strength somewhat.”

“While working at Clark field in 1944, building Japanese runways and plane revetments, Mowrey learned that the Yanks had landed at Leyte. After a couple of raids on Manilla by carrier based navy planes, the Clark field prisoners were taken to Bilibid. A group that had arrived six weeks earlier were nothing but skin and bones and unable to withstand a trip to Japan, so the St. Petersburg soldier’s outfit was sent instead.”

“Mowrey says that he doesn’t know whether the ravaging of Manilla during its final days and the massacres carried out at Bilibid prison would have been any worse than the 38 day nightmare trip to Japan, but at any rate, he is home now, which is more than what he dared hope for when loaded on the smelly cattle barge.”

“Taken to Formosa, he experienced half-way decent treatment for the first time in his prison life. The food was better, the men had light work in a sugar mill and when not employed were allowed to exercise in a courtyard. The camp was in command of a fair-minded young Lieutenant. But, Mowrey’s stay there was brief and before he knew it he was waiting at a dock for another dreaded trip by boat. I just knew it was trying fate too far to get on that boat, he said. It was a big sleek transport and there were too many of our planes in the sky to think that it could get through to Japan. But luck was with us for a heavy storm came up and made the weather rough for days. There were about a 1000 of us on that ship.”

“He landed at Camp Narva near Osaka and was put to work in a showa-denki (carbon-electrode plant) The flying soot and sparks soon took their toll on his eyes so he was transferred to Nagoya Camp No. 9, assigned to stevedore work. While working on the docks there, a cart overturned and crushed Mowrey’s foot. The Japanese doctor treated him but had no facilities for making a cast. A little before, a section of roof blew off and struck the unfortunate Corporal on the forehead. Due to improper treatment, it left a deep scar above his right eye.”

“When August 15, 1945, rolled around and following days with no work details being sent out, the Americans became pretty sure that peace was in the offing. The Japanese began issuing new army clothes and shoes to the men, many of whom had worn rags and gone barefooted for years. When the war’s end was confirmed, the Japanese were clearly afraid of their former captives and many guards deserted the camp.”

“Taken aboard the hospital ship USS Rescue, Cpl Mowrey’s greatest thrill was meeting Commander Norvall M. Marr, St. Petersburg physician, on duty aboard the vessel.”

“The liberated soldier arrived home and was treated at Madigan Hospital, Ft. Lewis, Washington.”

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