APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Painting and classical music, two things that have defined Paul Baldridge in his 92 years.
“I was excellent as a musician, I started in fourth grade. But, I decided that was not a very good career to make money,” Baldridge recalled.
Baldridge planned to go off to college to study chemistry.
A newlywed and hoping to get a degree, instead he was drafted into the Army.
“Seven months later, I was drafted. So, that was in September of 1951 and I went to 16 weeks of basic training in light weapons infantry, and shortly thereafter, I was sent to Korea,” he said.
Working as a typist clerk at a POW camp, and thousands of miles away from home, Baldridge often felt the loneliness of war.
“My attitude of a very sad 21-year-old, right there. Yeah, I was 21 at that time,” Baldridge said, pointing to a painting that hangs on his wall.
This picture paints a thousand words: A fellow infantryman and professional artist painted this of Baldridge while in Korea, and taught him how to paint.
Baldridge kept the painting all of these years, along with his lifelong hobby.
“Just like the military, it’s creative and you’re kind of proud of what you’re doing, and you can make changes as you’re going along,” said Baldridge.
Whether he’s reminiscing on his military days, applying the stroke of a paintbrush, or pressing the valves of a trumpet; it’s the pride that Baldridge still carries with him today.
“When the flag comes, you salute. A friend of mine said, ‘I didn’t know you would do something like that, Paul.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s one of the things you learn, to respect the flag and your country and what you do for them,'” Baldridge said.
“Like I told another individual who was wondering about me saluting, I said, ‘You again have the camaraderie, you’re one of those guys that were there, and did their thing.’ That’s what I came out of the service with,” he said.