Paul Brookman and Jerry Jones, residents here at The Sarah Community, met in 1924 and no they didn’t move in the community as roommates or friends. The history of these gentlemen was discovered by an overheard conversation.
One day, Jones heard Brookman mention Nagasaki. “I was there,” he said. Before long, the two men realized their paths had crossed once before.
Jerry Jones was a former gunner on the warship ‘The Mobile.” One of Jerry’s orders was to pick up any prisoners and escort them to safety after the second bomb was dropped.
Brookman was an officer in the Dutch East Indies Army. He was taken prisoner of war after the Japanese overran his colony. Brookman had been one of the” living skeletons” Jones remembered.
“We gave them our bunks. We slept on the deck,” Jones said. “Paul’s the one who had my bunk. He never repaid me. He told me he was going to send me tulip bulbs from Holland. I figured he’d died.”
Could this be true?
Not actually, said Brookman. He said he doesn’t remember meeting the man whose bunk he had, or even if he slept on a bunk. It’s a little blurry. But he could not have promised to buy anybody tulips. He didn’t speak English.
But this seems to be a private joke, all in good humor.
“Sometimes I walk past his door and knock just to aggravate him,” Jones said.
Both men laughed. They are old friends of a sort. One from Arkansas, the other from the Dutch East Indies. Their lives converged briefly years ago, and now they have met in Bridgeton.
**Excerpts of this article were taken from Bill McLellan’s article for STL Today aired 2013***