Jerry Allen Mansfield
Des Moines Mission: 1915
RII: 1917, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922?
*1918 - In Service (Camp Grant)
Photo above submitted by Matt Clark and the Mansfield Family
A special thanks to Matt Clark and members of the Mansfield family for letting us get to know more about Jay.
Jay Mansfield was born in Davenport Iowa in1893, a middle child of five. Physically strong, he was, on the other hand, an old lady about his car. He always drove a Packard. After Packard went out of business he bought a Chrysler. In 1937 he bought his first Packard. Then he bought another after the war. He drove extremely cautiously, below the speed limit, which at that time was “safe and reasonable.” During one trip, a detour put him and his passengers on a gravel road. When a large rock was suddenly projected up into the wheel well, the group found themselves parked alongside the road as Jay spent ten minutes verifying and validating that all was well. Don and Jim Logan would tease him about his car, asking him about new scratches they just saw; upon which news he would hurry out to check the car to make sure nothing was wrong. This was an occurrence witnessed on at least two occasions.
Uncle Jay was the family barber. At the beginning of summer, he would shave bald those who would, voluntarily or otherwise, line up for the service. He cut your hair like he was tightening a pipe. Twisting and turning your head to the right angle. And if your head fell off, that’s ok. In the days before electric clippers, he used a barber’s shear, that, it is told, was somewhat sharp. He even managed to cut his father’s hair, once. This shaving of the head was a family tradition that was passed on to the grand nieces and nephews.
Football was a part of his life. He knew George Hallas personally. Jay said he was a dirty son of a bitch and a mean old back stabber. He was a rabid Notre Dame football fan. He listened to the Saturday games on the radio down at the home of his parents at 2721 5 1/2 Ave. When ND was winning, he sat and listened to the game. However, when ND was losing, he would pace back and forth from the kitchen to dining room and mumble to himself. He could not tolerate ND losing.
It was said all the players on the RI Independents were thugs. That the team was organized to get them beat up and too tired to be out on the street. One time, after a particularly tough loss, the team retired to a cigar shop in downtown Rock Island. Roy Mansfield, the younger brother of Jay, walked in and commented on the beaten, dirty and bloodied crew: “We may not have the best team in the state, but we sure have the ugliest.” He was run out.
As told by his sister Julia, he broke loose one time for a long run with only one man to beat, and, rather than try to run around him for a sure score, Jay ran right over him, being tackled in the process. That was the type of man he was.