JD related that in his younger days he had a very short temper (probably caused by older brothers who loved to torment anyone smaller) and he always carried a lead pipe, ball bat, or brick, as protection. Teachers habitually kept him after school, until about 4:30, to allow the other children time to reach home safely. Once he narrowly missed one of the brothers when he swung at him but missed and shattered the screen door instead. JD feels his brother would have died had he taken the blow. Today, JD is a milder person, is health and weight conscious, taking daily walks of several miles, regardless of the weather, and controlling his diet.
Following the death of his father, JD assumed the role of family patriarch, not only for his parent's family but for his Aunt Ella and Stanley Walker and the Arthur family, as well. He was the first person called in case of emergency, sometimes even before emergency personnel, his advice was sought before major decisions and communication among the family often flowed through him.
Residences & events:
8/1938 Mattoon, Coles Co, IL, was his sole residence except for his service time. JD went to work at the Midcontinent Map Co and continued there for the next 10 years, with a short hiatus while in the Air Force.
6/19/1940 214 1/2 S 17th St, Mattoon, Coles Co, IL, where son, Dale, was born.
12/17/1943 2805 Richmond was the address listed when JD was inducted and ordered to Ft Sheridan, IL, to begin active duty in the US Air Force.
12/22/1943 Keesler Field, Mississippi. JD was transferred for pre-aviation cadet basic training.
San Antonio, TX, was their residence while he was in Air Force Cadet training but the war came to a close too soon for him to see action.
11/10/1945 Rantoul, IL. JD was discharged from the Air Force at Chanute Air Force Base.
12/1948 He quit the Map Co to start as a US Postal Clerk, eventually being in charge of vehicle maintenance in addition to other duties. He often worked at various other jobs through the years, in conjunction with the post office, such as delivering produce or freight.
820 N 20th, Mattoon, IL, where they bought their first house. Years later, daughter, Phyllis, would live across the street from them.
His photo was in the paper along with the caption: "Joseph D. VanGundy...is presented a certificate of recognition for a suggestion in improved mail handling by Palmer G. Boyle, field service officer of the Chicago regional office. The certificate, presented on behalf of
Postmaster General J Edward Day, was accompanied by a $50 cash award. This is the first such award presented to an employe of the local post office in connection with the suggestion program which has been in effect for several years." That suggestion was the precursor for zip codes, now a nationwide necessity. However, a law professor who
became Postmaster General in 1961 was credited with the idea of zip codes.
1958 The newspaper also carried the story of an extended vacation the family took: "Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Van Gundy and children, Dale, Phyllis and Barbara, and Mrs. R.E. Van Gundy (his mother) have returned to their homes in this city after a month's trip to the west coast." It continued by listing the itinerary and relatives they visited along the way and ended by saying they had traveled 7000 miles.
7/6/1971 Another news photo and caption which said JD was holding the new eight-cent commomorative stamp honoring the inauguration of the new federal system for operating the mail service.
1976 He retired from the Post Office at age 57 but continued to work part time at a local vending company where he reconciled accounts and counted collections.
820 N 21st, Mattoon, IL. As the children left home, they found the house too big so they moved to another house in the same neighborhood, this time across the street from daughter, Barbara.
2717 Oak, Mattoon, IL. After the last child married, they moved to an even smaller home, all on ground level.
Following the second marriage, he quit all jobs and devoted his time to fishing and visiting with friends and relatives at local restaurants.