This photograph of my grandfather has quite a story attached to it. I’m not so sure that the “Indy” mystery will ever be solved, although I’m not quite giving up on that. The monument itself, however, located in Brussels, Belgium, has come to represent a time in my grandfather’s life during which he brought something back from the war that led my father’s lifelong affection for dachshunds.
It turns out my father knew all along where this picture of my grandfather was taken. In fact, during one of my dad’s trips to Belgium in the early 90s, he even made it a point to stop at the monument in Brussels. He, too, wanted to stand where his father had once stood. And he did.
Nobody really knows much about my grandfather’s time in Brussels. We know he was a tail gunner and that his plane had been shot down at some point, somewhere in the the skies over Belgium. We also know that he befriended a certain four-legged local who needed some help from the Americans, too.
I showed my dad another photograph I had come across in my possession. This time, my grandfather was playfully teaching a dachshund how to do tricks, in particular to “sit pretty” or to stand on his hind legs. The first thing my father said, and very excitably so, was, “John Forsyth!”
John Forsyth worked alongside my grandpa, WWII buddies who fought together and came home together. While in Brussels, they found a straggler of a dog and took care of this little pup. They eventually adopted this dachshund by managing a way to bring him home to Florida all the way from Brussels, in wartime. My dad couldn’t tell me much more about the dog or the man, except that Forsyth was a dachshund breeder in his civilian days. He came from someplace outside of Orlando, near where McCoy Air Force Base existed in the 1950s. This Belgian doxie went to live with Forsyth after the war.
My grandfather left the military, returned to his home in Dayton, Ohio, and had a family. During his service years, he had been stationed in Alva, Florida, but as a civilian, he missed the Florida life so much that he moved his wife and three children south to Fort Myers. When they decided to get a family pup, Forsyth was the man they went to see. My dad’s first dog was a black and tan doxie named Schultzy. Schultzy followed my dad everywhere when he was a kid. There are even pictures floating around of the two of them snuggled in bed together.
That Belgian dachshund from the 1940s is the whole reason this little guy is around now, helping me in the garden: