Flags are easy to find on front porches in McSherrystown, Adams County.
It’s a patriotic place with patriotic people.
“He’s just a special guy that everybody loves,” said Christy Lucas. “He’s McSherrystown’s little treasure.”
The treasure of which she speaks is 95-year-old World War II veteran Lawrence Gump Bolan, who was hard at work creating treasures on a recent Monday afternoon.
His hand isn’t so steady as he furiously works a pencil. His breathing isn’t either.
But his mind and his memories are strong and his war-time recollection inspires his art.
“I used to never talk about it but boy, I do now,” Gump said as he drew a Nazi buzz bomb. “I want everybody to know what happened and I think they should know.”
Gump has been drawing for years and has illustrated nine history books.
He helped make history, too. With the First Army, Gump arrived in Normandy mere days after the D-Day landing.
“Seeing all these paratroopers hanging in the trees, the dead cattle, the horses, and all the dead people by the thousands,” Gump said as his voice cracked with a higher pitch. “That was hard for us to see.”
But Gump’s hard slog was just beginning. He says he dodged shells and shots. But he continued to march across Europe and participated in the five major battles that culminated with the demise of the Nazis.
He frequently thought he was finished.
“You always thought, every day, is this the day you’re gonna get it?”
“Gumpy reminds me of my grandfather. They both served in all five battles of World War II,” said Lucas, who runs Roots for Boots, a nonprofit that supports local veterans.
Gump donates his art which is auctioned off to help the charity.
But Christy insists that what Gump represents is even more valuable
“The patriotism, the love of country, the morals,” Christy said. “It’s something our country has gone away from and I think we gotta get back to it.”
But spend time with Gump and listen to him while he draws and it’s quickly apparent that politically correct he ain’t.
“I never did like the Russians and I still don’t,” Gump said with a mischievous grin.
He drew Hitler and has a mocking nickname for The Fuhrer.
“That’s Snigglegroover,” Gump said while pointing to the portrait.
He tells friends the key to his longevity is drinking Chinese beer.
“They say what’s Chinese beer? I say Ying – Ling,” Gump says with the heartiest of laughs.
At 95, Gump says what we wants, draws what he likes, and lives by the Greatest Generation’s code.
“It’s not that I can and others can’t, it’s that I did and others didn’t,” he said.
Online: Roots for Boots