Service in World War II has left Fritz
Kloecker, 87, with a lot of stories to tell, about cooking, the
Army and General Patton. Courtesy photo
YESTERDAY'S SOLDIER: Corsicana man remembers WWII service
By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff
How many people are there walking around
today that can boast about knowing Gen. George S. Patton?
There is one -- and his name is Fritz
As a cook in the army, Kloecker was
presented with a unique opportunity.
One day Kloecker found himself with several
100-pound bags of Irish potatoes, and decided the best use of the
potatoes was in a "poor folks potato salad." In his house growing
up, it was called this due to the inexpensive, always-on-hand
ingredients. The recipe called for salt, black pepper, apple cider
vinegar, hard boiled eggs, sour pickles, onion and butter.
While making the potato salad, word began
to spread that Gen. Patton was on his way for dinner. Patton
entered, and everyone snapped to attention. Patton was a big man,
with two pearl handled pistols at his sides, Kloecker said. He
always had one scotch whiskey before a meal -- no water, no ice.
"After the meal, Patton came into the
kitchen and barked, 'Who made that blankety-blank potato salad?,' "
Kloecker said. "Of course, everyone in that kitchen looked straight
at me. Then Patton looked right at me and said, 'Best blankety-blank
potato salad I've ever tasted.' "
Patton then requested that Kloecker please
make that potato salad for him whenever the general was in the area.
Fritz Kloecker was born in 1916 to parents
of German descent, in Hempstead. Since German was the language
spoken in their home, young Fritz didn't know much English, and
spent three years in the first grade before his mother pulled him
out of school to home school him.
The oldest of 13 children, Fritz was
enlisted to help his mother cook for their large family. Later, he
had a fishing buddy who taught him even more about cooking.
Kloecker left home at the age of 17, going
to work for a Ford dealership there in Hempstead. By the age of 20,
he had married a woman named Marietta. This union lasted seven days.
This was followed by a nine day marriage to Gladys.
"When World War II started, my cousin and I
immediately went to Freeport, Texas and went to work for Dow
Chemical Company," Kloecker said.
He worked there until his induction into
"I was on the plant protection force,"
After receiving several draft notices,
which he ignored, Kloecker finally took one to show his boss, John
"Deere said, 'I can't do nothing for you --
you're gone,'" Kloecker said.
And off he went to Abilene.
While at Fort Barclay, Kloecker was asked
what he had done before entering the army. When he replied, "Plant
protection for Dow Chemical," it was decided that he would become a
"Every morning about 7:30 a.m., they would
come pick me up, give me a rifle with no bullets, and take me out to
the desert to guard a post," Kloecker said. "Only there wasn't any
post -- just heat, snakes and quail."
After doing that for a while, Kloecker was
ready for a change. One day when they were all lined up, the
sergeant asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to be a cook, please
step forward two paces.
"My buddies all said, ' Ole Fritz didn't
step forward two steps -- he jumped 15 feet!,' " Kloecker said.
And thus began his culinary career with the
Army. Kloecker worked one month as a cook, and went from a buck
private to sergeant.
During his time in Abilene, Kloecker met a
young lady named Mabel Beauchamp, who worked at the Western Union
office. They began dating, and Fritz had a hard time tearing himself
away when his leave from the base was over.
"I lost my stripes three times," Kloecker
said. "Each time it was for being AWOL after going to see Mabel.
"Of course, I was AWOL many more times than
that -- I just got caught three times."
He was able to earn them back each time,
Fritz and Mabel married, and two months
later he was sent to Germany.
Kloecker said that he had many experiences
during the war, met a lot of interesting people, and enjoyed working
in the kitchen.
"Spent the whole war in the kitchen, and
never washed a dish, " Kloecker said.
After the war was over, people got out on
the point system.
"I could have gone home -- I had plenty of
points -- but I was declared essential, and stayed on cooking,"
When he did return to the states, he and
Mabel settled in Corsicana. They owned and operated Kloecker's
Grocery Store on South Seventh Street for 36 years. They also became
parents to one boy, Fritz (or Bubba, as they called him), and
Cassie, a daughter who is named for Kloecker's mother.
Following the sale of the store, Kloecker
didn't think retirement was for him, and went to work for Haynie
Drilling Company as a pumper for 14 years.
"My ambition was to be the inside man, and
Mabel to be the outside woman," Kloecker said. "In other words, I
did all the cooking, and she did all the mowing."
Mabel suffered a stroke about 10 years ago,
and Kloecker had been her only caregiver until recently.
About three weeks ago, Kloecker was
informed that he has lung cancer. He knew that he'd lost weight, and
food just didn't taste as good as it once did. He also discovered
one day when he tried to pick up Mabel that he was very weak.
The prognosis was not good.
Kloecker has packed a lot of living in his
87 years. He has done many things, been many places, and never met a
"I've had one failing all my life,"
Kloecker said. "I talk all the time."
Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted via
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