From “Watervile Times”
October 9, 2002
By Pat Louise
At the age of 10, Lou Langone watched as his older brothers Rocco, John and Anthony left to fight in World War II.
Three blue stars hung in the window of his East Bacon Street home, telling the world that the Langones had sent three off to fight. Across the street, down the block and throughout the Waterville area, the young boy saw those stars in the windows of his neighbors and friends. Blue meant the family had a son serving; gold stars told of a family whose son had been lost in the war.
It’s an image that he carried in his head, after the stars came down when World War II ended, as he did his own military service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and again as he served in the Reserves during the Persian Gulf War.
Nearly 62 years after the United States entered World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Louis C. Langone of Waterville has recalled that image of stars and what they symbolized in his first book, titled “The Star in the Window: Selected Stories of World War II.’’
“I tried to bring out the feelings of what the servicemen felt at that time,’’ Langone said. “Some I could. Some had a hard time talking about it even this much later.’’ Langone, who taught social studies and history at Mount Markham Central School, had long toyed with the idea of pairing his love of history with a desire to try his hand at writing. “I always had an interest in writing. I did actually teach English for a year. “I read a lot of non-fiction, historical works. World War II just seemed to be a natural to write about.’’
With his own boyhood memories to guide him, Langone started about four years ago to write an article about World War II memories. He figured it might be for a magazine or The Waterville Times.
He did some interviews, and wrote up a couple articles for the Times. With about 20 narratives done, the idea of a book took hold. “Each person’s story made a complete story.
So in January 2001 I put something in the Times asking people to contact me if they would like to share their stories with me,’’ he said. He had no trouble finding subjects. Langone did about 100 interviews. Many are in the book either in complete or condensed versions of the interviews he had with the subjects.
He focused during the war years, Dec. 7, 1941 to Sept. 2, 1945 and in the area’s eight local communities: Waterville, Augusta, Marshall, Bridge-port, Leonardsville, West Winfield, Brookfield and North Brookfield.
The 500-page book contains some extras as well: the Honor Rolls from the eight communities of World War II veterans, and some supplemental history.
“If a person talked to me about the ship he was on, or a plane he flew, or where he served, I included some history of that in the beginning of his chapter,’’ Langone said.
Despite his background in history, Langone spent many hours researching information for his chapter introductions, and to be sure that the information given to him was correct. “Sixty years after something happens, someone might have been mistaken with a date or where it took place,’’ Langone said.
He recorded most of his interviews and then wrote out in a notebook the person’s story. After typing it in the computer, Langone met again with the source to go over the story.
“People were excited to talk to me and it was amazing how much detail they still recalled,’’ Langone said. “It truly was a momentous part of their lives.’’
He knew many of the people he talked to, and his own military experience helped him ask questions. The stories center mainly on their time in the service, with some information about what they were doing before and did after.
Langone also had to venture into the world of publishing as well as that of author. Unable to find a publisher, he is having the book published himself. Steffen Publishing is printing 1,000 copies, expected to be available later this month or in early November.
“My son Chris (an electrical engineer at Annapolis) helped me tremendously with the formatting and getting it ready,’’ Langone said. “That was another area I had to learn. I also learned the rules about plagiarism and how to cite sources.’’ He will soon learn the art of promotion, as he will do book signings to offer the book for sale.
Langone will talk about the book, its development and the stories in it at a meeting of the Waterville Historical Society, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the Waterville Municipal Hall.
His friend, Jim Mahoney, a dentist who draws, came up with the cover design, featuring a star in a window. “We originally had three on the cover, but it worked better with one,’’ Langone said.
His bug for researching and writing has not been tamed with this project. Langone is already thinking about his second book. “My family was in railroading,’’ he said. “Maybe that, or more on military history. “Whatever it will be, it will be a shorter book next time,’’ he said.