My Story
"Moncla Memories"

Sherman Terrace Apartment

Sherman Terrace AdAd for Sherman Terrace This ad was printed in "The Capital Times" on July 22, 1952.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, these are purely my "memory recalls" that I experienced like they were my own memories, even though I know they could not be my memories. I have no way of knowing if any of these were experienced by pilot Gene Moncla.

During my research of microfilm archives of the Madison newspapers, I discovered this advertisement for the "Sherman Terrace" apartments. When I read it, it seemed to trigger a memory of Gene and Bobbie looking through the newspaper, looking for an apartment. My "recall" was that Gene was attracted to the advertisement for Sherman Terrace apartments because it was run by a large Realty company, "Paul E. Stark Co.". He figured that they might have less problems as a tennant, dealing with a larger business than a single personally run business.

I think that Gene's wife wanted to look around more, and see what else was on the market. When they went to view the apartments, I seem to remember that Gene liked the location because it was close to the lake, had a large nearby park, and had a drugstore right on the corner, which he thought would be convenient for shopping. I think he convinced his wife that this was a good place to stay.

Sherman Terrace Apt - Front#12 Sherman Terrace, Madison Apartment where Monclas lived in Madison

The news stories of the F-89 disappearance over Lake Superior indicated two different addresses for Lt. Moncla. One story claimed he lived at #15 Sherman Terrace, while another stated #12 Sherman Terrace. I was in Madison when I found these news stories in the archives, so that afternoon I went to Sherman Terrace to look at the apartments, to see if this might bring back memories. That evening, after visiting the apartments, I had a vivid "memory flashback" where I could remember sitting in the apartment at night. I somehow could tell from the memory that I/Gene was not on the ground floor, and I was also fairly certain that he was not on the top floor. I could remember him sitting in an armchair, by the front door. The bedrooms were in front of him, down a short hallway, beyond the living room. The dining room was to his left. He could look out through a window in the dining room and see the lights of the apartment where John Schmidt lived in a ground floor apartment (which I had learned was at #10 Sherman Terrace).

From this context, it is my conclusion or best guess that the building the Monclas lived in must have been #12, not #15. Looking at the apartment from the front, if my memory recall is correct, the Monclas lived on the second floor, on the right hand side apartment.

Sherman Terrace Apt - Back#12 Sherman Terrace, Madison This is the back of the building. I believe the Moncla apartment was second floor. Left window was children's bedroom. Small window next to it is bathroom, then kitchen, then dining area, which was open to living room.

Sherman Terrace Drug StoreDrugstore at Sherman Terrace, Madison This building was a drugstore when the Monclas lived in Sherman Terrace. It was part of a chain of drugstores in Madison. Further to the north was a small shopping area, with a number of gas stations plus the Strand Bakery, which was a supermarket where I guess the Monclas shopped.

Tenney parkTenney Park, Madison This park was only a block or so south of the Monclas' apartment in Sherman Terrace. It was no doubt a favorite place to go in spring through summer and fall. I wonder if the Monclas ever went skating here in the winter?

Reading the Newspaper

Steve Canyon ComicSteve Canyon Comic This strip was printed in "The Capital Times" on July 22, 1952.

I seem to remember, that one of the main things that Gene does to relax when he gets home in the evening, is to sit down and read the newspaper in his armchair. I 'know' that he always reads the funnies, and in particular likes "Steve Canyon" which is a serial adventure about a US Air Force officer. I recalled this after reading through old microfilm of the Capital Times newspaper. There are several strips from the Steve Canyon series from summer and fall 1952 that I seemed to remember. This was one of them. Another part I remember was the funny "accent" that was conveyed in print form for the character "Bon Bon", a French-Canadian living in a cabin on a remote lake in British Columbia. In this story series, Steve Canyon boards a floatplane in Alaska, and they crash in a lake in Canada on there way to Washington state.

My recollection is that the Monclas subscribed to this Democrat leaning paper. I think they may have changed newspapers at one time, when the State Journal introduced the morning "Blue Streak" edition. What I remember at that time was that Bobbie was not sure why Gene would change papers when he was a rather committed Democrat.

Other things I remember about the paper was that Gene read the regular column written by Frank Lloyd Wright, who was renowned for his rather controversial columns that derided Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy and his efforts to find and expose all communists and communist sympathizers who had infiltrated government departments and the entertainment industry.

Talking to Yvonne on Phone

Yvonne Beridon MonclaYvonne Beridon Moncla Gene's mother

This is a memory I recalled after reading a newspaper article in the Avoyelles Journal from December 1953 concerning the disappearance of Gene Moncla. The writer of the article had interviewed Gene's mother Yvonne about her son's disappearance and her hopes that he might yet turn up before Christmas. In the article she mentions that her son had been looking forward to going back to university after completing his commission with the air force.

I read this article on a visit to the newspaper office in Marksville, Louisiana in the fall of 2002. Since the summer or fall of 2001, I had been telling people that I thought the Gene had been wanting to go back to university, at the time he disappeared. I had attributed this as the reason I could remember that Gene had gone to a lecture at the Science Building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, in early November, 1953.

After I read this article, I had a recollection of Gene talking to Yvonne on the telephone, one morning before he went to work. I remember that the phone was in the kitchen or maybe on the wall just outside the kitchen. Gene had called his mother because he was thinking that he might want to leave the air force and go back to university. I think that at that time, he was not happy with things in the air force, and was quite anxious to get on with his life. He had called his mother because he was hoping he might be able to get some financial help if he went back to university. His mother had spoken perhaps rather sharply that he would certainly complete his air forcer commission before going back to university. I think that Gene knew this was logically quite true, but he had emotionally been hoping there might be some way out of the situation. When he hung up the phone, I recall he felt quite dejected and resigned to his fate.