Every time John C. Rain Jr. of Godrey watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart, he always thought of his father, John C. “Jack” Rain, who died last week.
The part that always makes John Jr. think of his father is the part where Clarence, the angel to George Bailey in the film, writes in his book inscription to George: “Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”
Harry Bailey, George’s brother who comes back from the war, then issues a toast: “A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town.”
“Dad was just kind and helped a lot of people,” John C. Rain Jr. said. “He carried a lot of people on credit in tough times after World War II. A number have come to me and said they wouldn’t have made it without him doing that. He would just say sign for it and pay me back when you can.”
The majority of Jack’s life in one way or another revolved around Elm Street in Alton. He grew up in one segment, then purchased his own home and raised his family on another end of the street. Jack’s Rain and Rain grocery store was at the corner of Elm and State streets.
The Rain and Rain grocery in Alton celebrated 100 years in business during his tenure as an owner with his brother, Bill Rain. Jack started working at the store when he was 8 years old. He eventually retired from the business in 1989. He was a third generation in the grocery business in Alton.
The love of Jack’s life was his wife of 67 years Betty M. (Benz) Haycraft. Recently on Dec. 27, the couple marked their 67th wedding anniversary.
The most touching thing Jack Rain ever shared with his family came from a moment in the Nazi prison camp on Christmas Day, 1944. Jack Rain was captured at the Battle of the Bulge on Dec. 23, 1944, and ultimately released on April 4, 1945.
“One of the stories we talked about was when he had just been captured and was in a prison camp over Christmas. The American prisoners and German soldiers were 21 and 22 years old, hungry, starving and not clothed properly,” John Jr. said. “They all huddled together and began to sing ‘Silent Night.’ He said the German soldiers started singing with them in German. Even in this terrible time, they had something to share with the German soldiers holding them prisoners.”
John Jr. concluded that his dad was simply “a gentleman.”
Betsy Hamer, Jack’s niece, said her uncle was a wonderful man.
“The thing I will remember most is he always had a twinkle in his eye,” she said.
The twinkle Jack Rain possessed now lives on with his wife, sons, their families and everyone he came in contact with, not only Elm Street in Alton and far beyond.