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Thu Dec 24, 2015, 07:58 PM

Every few years I post this up, to keep the historical record alive. My mother wrote this.

May you all be well and let our history not be forgotten.
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This is an account, written by my mother, of her memories as a child during WWII. She wrote it at the request of my brother. I asked her for permission to put it here. She was reluctant because she thought no one would be interested, and maybe the writing wasn't that great. I disagree. The writing has the feel of authenticity, and I've only corrected a few typos. I did, however, redact some names, because some of those people are still alive, and she was uncomfortable should one of their children stumble upon it.

The point of her feeling no one would be interested is, in and of itself, interesting. I had been reading of the 1918 flu, where we were stacking bodies all over the place and everyone wore masks in public and yet, no one in my generation (I'm mid-40's - older now) had heard of it. It killed 20 million people. It came on the heels of WWI and was so devastating and since everyone went through it that basically no one talked about it. The problem was that subsequent generations didn't learn about it. It was sort of the "forgotten flu".

My mother's experiences in WWII (as a child) are certainly not unique; in fact, they are probably fairly unremarkable, but so few people write about the little things that I found it interesting. I hope you will too.

If you like it, and want to K or R it, maybe that will help someone else learn a little bit of our history too.

I might take the responses (if any) and send them on to her. She'd like that.
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WHAT IS THIS ?

Recent interest in the Second World War spurred on by the popularity of the movie, ‘War’, based on the book, ‘The War’ by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns occasioned some conversations with a couple of you regarding those times. World War II was a defining period of my generation, as well as my life as a child and most definitely in Mort’s life (my father). It is because I wish he had spoken more of his time in the War that I have decided to put down my own memories of those years for they have never left my mind.

Now you will instantly realize that I cannot pretend to be a writer or to have the narrative skills or recording education of some of you. Rather, these are just some memories which may well be imperfect – certainly there are gaps and, I assume, items forgotten completely – but, which I decided to record – as much for me as for you – before I forget it all.

Keeping in mind that I was not in the War - but simply lived during war time.
Those events which I do remember are mundane – we were not bombed, we weren’t starving or poor, we didn’t lose our homes nor were there tragedies in our family but, there were adjustments to our lives, fear and occasional prejudice. And you might feel that they are rather superficially presented. However – I wanted to keep these short and do not wish to be over-dramatic or excessively emotional nor do I have the ability to give expression to these feelings.

Hopefully, when you read the many books and view the various movies, you will remember that those at home also lived and breathed this war even though in a fairly colorless way. While I am accompanying this with the book, ‘The War’, I have purposely not read it myself because I didn’t want to absorb something as a memory which is truly not my own.

Note that I was 8 when the war began for us in America and my future husband was already in the Army.

Children often misinterpret events - be that as it may - here are some of those memories -




PAINT SPLATTERED BEGINNING

Dec 7, 1941 - I was 8 ½ years old and Billy - almost 7. The radio was playing music,
with Dad doing his favorite thing, standing on a stool painting the kitchen ceiling while whistling.

When we heard a thud and yell, Billy and I ran to the kitchen only to find Dad on the floor, step-stool overturned and white paint splattered everywhere. Dad simply said – “My God – we’re at War “ This picture is burned in my mind.

I don’t believe I ever heard the word, War, before except as a card game. Billy and I didn’t quite understand. Then Dad said ‘The Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor’. That was even more obscure – who or what were the Japs and where is Pearl Harbor? I remember being totally confused. However, while we helped Dad and Mom clean up the spills, Billy and I listened to their conversation and slowly began to understand. We kept radio tuned to the news – by the end of the day I was very frightened. I believe it was the first time I had experienced fear – it was and still is quite palpable when I think of it.

Dad was not considered a candidate for the draft at that time being too old at age 37 as well as married, with children. The criteria for the Draft did become looser as the War continued but he fell into a lucky slot having been too young for the First World War and now, apparently, too old for the Second. Dad had three brothers – two older and one younger. Besides being overage for the Service, Fred, the eldest, was of dubious health and John, the next, had been in the Army during WW I . George, the youngest, had extremely poor eyesight so Dad’s brothers were safe.

Those of his friends who were unattached were not so fortunate. I especially remember Emerick, Dad’s close friend, who, because of his single status, was taken early. It is also possible that he actually enlisted as so many others did. I really don’t know.

Our street, Overbrook Place, was about 5 long city blocks with 5 – 8 houses on each side,
bracketed by woods at either end – sort of self contained. As the War progressed were one of the few homes on the street without an immediate family member in the Service.

We were lucky.




RATION COUPONS

Once a month we stood in line in Saint Anastacia’s Elementary School – a long line – Mother patiently, I less so and holding her hand, while she held her papers. This was the school in which I attended classes during the week. This time, however, we were there for food – or, at least, coupons for those foods needed for the ‘Boy’s Over There‘ and thus rationed to us. We received coupons for items such as butter, meat, sugar, milk etc. for the month according to the size and ages of the family.

So many coupons for meat, so many for butter, milk, sugar and, truthfully, I forget what else; there would be no more until the next month. When writing a shopping list – the amount of Ration Coupons on hand was always the deciding factor. Special events were carefully weighed as to importance, was it worth going the rest of the month without meat, to have Roast Beef that weekend? And woe to the Birthday girl (as it once happened to my cousin, Jeanne) if we ran out of sugar coupons just when a Birthday Cake needed to be made.

Mother quickly learned to improvise – I don’t know what was in some of the faux meat suppers we had but we learned not to question. Hash became a staple – steak or roast meats, a special treat. And, of course, no food was thrown out; left-overs always eaten.

Butter disappeared completely after awhile – no more butter coupons and no more butter. That’s when I first encountered Oleo – a clear plastic bag of thick, white, squishy stuff with
a yellow capsule in the middle. It was my chore to squeeze the bag to soften its contents and break the capsule until the yellow oozed out and then to knead the bag over and over again to distribute the color somewhat evenly so that eventually the material inside looked like butter. Turning Oleo yellow – no matter how uneven the color – didn’t make it taste any more like butter but somehow made it more acceptable.

When you eat something daily over a long time you accept its taste and forget what the original was like. After the War, when I finally had real butter again, it seemed too creamy, too rich. Perhaps that is why I really don’t mind the taste of margarine today. I do sometimes wonder if all that Oleo, which I assume had lots of trans-fat, is the cause of the high cholesterol in so many of us oldsters now.


AIR RAIDS AND MR. ASPINOL

We lived in Queens, a Borough of New York City, which everyone said that was particularly vulnerable to being bombed. After all, NYC and Washington DC were considered most likely to be the targets of air raids and Manhattan was narrow and – we
were right there – right next to it.

Each street or section in town had a designated Air Raid Warden – ours was Mr. Aspinol, a short, rotund, gruff sounding but very nice gentleman who had a loud belly laugh and always smoked a cigar. He and his wife lived across the street and down two houses from our house.

Every house was required to have black-out shades on all windows drawn every night and to keep their lights low lest some should show through the shades. No outdoor lights were allowed. Christmases were very dark indeed. Mr. Aspinol would patrol the streets at night looking for light leaks.

Periodically the Fire House siren would blow. This siren was used for fires and for air raids. I think the wavering one was for fire and the steady alarm meant, RAID. However, the moment the siren started (usually at night) we would all stop and listen to see which it was and if we could relax or should start to scan the sky. If it was an air raid warning, all house and street lights immediately went out, with the shades drawn and double checked for leaks. The sky would be crisscrossed by search lights looking for planes in every direction. I can still see them roaming the sky.

With lights out, Billy and I would peer out the window wondering if there would be planes this time, what they would look like and where the bombs would fall. We had a rule in the house that if we saw one plane or heard one boom, no matter how far away, we would all go to the basement. Fortunately it never happened, nevertheless we were both fascinated and extremely frightened!

Mr. Aspinol would strut up and down the street without his cigar but wearing a hard hat of some sort. In the house we would sit in the dark, sometimes stories would be told or, if the holidays, some singing would take place – but mostly I would curl up against my Dad while he reassured us with ‘Oh it is just a drill’ or a ‘False alarm’. I didn’t believe him but it was comforting to hear the words.


Occasionally we could hear Mr. Aspinol call out to a house to fix a shade or turn off a light – he was so loud that I always wondered if the planes could hear him. Once I was the object of one of his yells. After a few years, I had become used to these events and accepted that most of them were indeed drills. During one of these drill/raids I lit a candle in my bedroom to do some school work – assuming the shades were properly drawn as Billy and I were responsible for drawing our own shades in our rooms – when
I heard a roar from the street – “Jeanne, turn out that light before you get us all bombed”! You can bet I blew that candle out immediately. It was mortifying because now the whole street knew and I would be teased the next day – and I was.

I don’t know how many of these events were simply drills or how many were indeed triggered by planes over our air space nor do I truly know how long they lasted. It felt like an eternity and I was frightened every single time. The relief was immense when the ‘all clear’ siren blew.

To this day, whenever I hear a siren, I remember those times.



RED WAGONS

Almost every kid on the street had a red wagon but, when it was collection time, we used my brother Billy’s for his was newer, just a little wider and the wheels less squeaky.

Weekly, 5 or 6 of us would collect items needed to help ‘The War Effort’. Since it was his wagon, Billy would stay with the wagon and keep it organized while the rest of us went to the houses on our street.

Silver foil from cigarette packs was extremely important and households would save theirs. It was a testament to how prevalent smoking was in those days that every house would have a high stack of the foil ready for us to wad into balls of a specific size. We believed that the silver was used to make the bullets – and we thought that each bullet fired was made out of our silver. We liked that idea.

Cooking Grease we knew was sent to the munitions plants to make explosives. The grease was saved in cans, many of which were as sticky and greasy on the outside as well as on the inside. We needed to be most careful to keep the grease containers separate from the foil. Soon, as households learned to be more efficient at saving the stuff, the volume increased and it became impossible to keep the items separate. So we recruited Big Willy’s wagon. Big Willy lived down the street from us and was so called because he was – well- somewhat overweight whereas my brother Bill was called Billy Bones because he was – well - so skinny.

Thereafter, Billy would pull his wagon with the foil – followed by Big Willy with his wagon of grease and the rest of us would troop in and out of the houses. We collectors also split up into Foil and Grease for it wouldn’t do to have sticky greasy hands on the foil. I was Foil. We had quite an operation going for the duration of the War advised by Mr. Aspinol, the Air Raid Warden for our street.

All collections were taken to the Little Neck Fire House where they always praised us, which made us very proud of our work for we were helping the ‘Boys.’ It was such a good feeling!


THICK VS THIN

Rubber was definitely in short supply in the States. People patched and re-patched their car and bicycle tires praying that the patches would hold. We didn’t own a car but I remember my Uncle Walter having to wait for a couple months to replace a tire. Some neighbors put their cars up for the duration because they couldn’t get specific sizes.

I didn’t have a bicycle – neither did Billy. My best friend Barbara had one – it was a blue, girls Schwinn with huge balloon tires and a white basket in front. I was completely envious and begged and begged for years for a bike, even promising to run errands, go to the food and meat stores, anything in order to have one. But Dad felt a bike was too expensive at that time because of the scarcity of the rubber– truly I felt unfairly deprived.

Then one Christmas morning, as I came down the stairs, I noted the few gifts under the tree, fewer than usual. However there in the corner, were two bikes – a blue girl’s bike and a red boy’s bike. I stared at them and then began to sulk – it wasn’t the bike I imagined – the tires were very, very thin. I felt that it wasn’t a good bike, the tires would shred, I would be teased etc. Billy, on the other hand was thrilled – he didn’t care if the tires were thin or fat – this was a bike – he had a bike of his own !!!!! But, I, brat that I was, declared that I’d rather not have a bike then to have one with thin tires.

Dad was angry and walked out of the room. He must have been anticipating my happiness and was stunned and angry by my reaction. But Mom sat down with me and told me that they weren’t making bicycles with fat tires anymore because the rubber was needed ‘over there’. She said that all bikes would now have thin tires which actually were lighter and easier to pedal and therefore, faster. The clincher however was that I would be the first one on Overbrook Place to have one and that having thin tires helps the war effort.

In those days we children were all susceptible to patriotic bribery.


‘FEED THE BOYS’

“A well fed soldier is a strong fighter”, ‘Help the boys – grow your own’, ‘The more you grow at home – the more there is for our boys’. Except for the first one, I can’t put quotes around these sayings but that is the gist of what I heard over and over again on the radio and in the papers.

Thus – Victory Gardens were born.
Fresh and even canned vegetables were frequently scarce so everyone took a patch of their backyards – some larger than others – and dug, hoed and seeded. Like city farmers they tended and worried over each plant. Gossip took a back seat to queries about the status of one’s tomatoes and the War.

We had a Victory Garden – it seemed quite large to me at the time but looking at the yard as an adult I guess it was pretty small. I do remember peas, tomatoes, lettuce and green beans. Don’t remember the ubiquitous zucchini or cucumbers – or corn. I think if we did corn I would remember those tall stalks.

Neither Mother nor Dad really liked gardening so ours was tended haphazardly. In fact, Mom felt that fresh vegetables were too much work – she was very much an ‘out of the can’ cook. However, Mrs. Tichachek, who lived next door to us, loved to garden. She often planted flowers against the side of our house so she could see and enjoy them when looking out her kitchen window.

Mrs. Tichachek (that’s all I ever called her) had corn with tall, tall stalks and lots of veggies, all of which thrived under her thumb. She would tend our little patch for us at times and, in return, she took some of the produce which she didn’t have room for in her own Victory patch. I don’t know if there was a formal agreement or just a mutual understanding between her and my folks. I enjoyed working with her at times which may have led to my having a vegetable garden of my own for awhile when we had our own home.

One of the first things which changed at our house when the War ended and the market shelves were fully stocked again, was the garden. It was raked over, seeded and full of green grass fairly quickly – and the canned vegetables presided on our shelves once again. Mrs. Tichacheck kept her garden for many years afterwards.

EMERICK

Dad’s closest friend was Emerick. I really don’t know when or how they met or even his last name, but he frequently visited us arriving in some sort of convertible car with a rumble seat.

About Dad’s height, he was dapper with a smile which always crept up the side of his face. One of my favorite pictures is of Dad and Emerick clad in jackets, ties and knickers, leaning on canes, Emerick with a beret and Dad with a cap, posing against a rail on some Boardwalk. Two dandies on top of the world!

Emerick would always arrive with a Hershey Bar for Billy and me. He was full of jokes and laughter – his hugs were all encompassing. I particularly remember the last time I saw him. He was visiting when I was sick with something or other. Emerick sat on my bed – told some stories, made me laugh and slipped me an extra Hershey Bar – I was in Heaven !! But he was there as a farewell because he was going into the army – to war. He made light of it – said he was going to see if they had Hershey Bars in Europe and if they were as good as ours here.

One day my folks were particularly quiet during dinner – Dad especially. I thought that there would be another Gold Star in a window on the street. They didn’t say much and I didn’t ask. Immediately after dinner Dad went to the basement where he frequently spent hours at his workbench fixing, repairing, building or merely tinkering. When there, he always played his records (they were 78s then) mostly Big Band etc. This time however, he kept playing ‘Melancholy Baby’ over and over again and I couldn’t hear any tinkering.

I went down and found him just sitting – doing nothing – with a big tear on his cheek. When I asked who it was (expecting to hear a neighbor’s name), he told me that Emerick was killed in Europe and then he hugged me tightly and cried. I remember feeling extremely sad but don’t know if it was for Emerick or Dad. For a long time afterwards, whenever Dad worked at the bench, he played Melancholy Baby.

That was the only time I ever saw him cry and, to this day, whenever I hear that tune I choke up.


THE WAR – ON THE BIG SCREEN

Two features, a cartoon, a serial and the news – all for 25 cents. On Saturday’s we often walked to the movies (about a mile), many with little brothers and sisters in tow. The afternoon would start with a feature movie followed by a cartoon, then the News and ending with another feature movie or a serial (I really do remember the Perils of Pauline) – an entire afternoon’s worth.

The News, which I think was called Movie Tone – or something like that - featured the War. It started with a Trumpet announcement, the tune of which I can almost recall but not quite. Anyway – it was a distinctive musical announcement followed by a sonorous, deep voice declaring ‘This is Movie Tone for the Week’, or words to that effect. The screen would fill with scenes of soldiers running, cannons booming and prisoners marching with hands up – in that funny jerky walk/run that movies had in those days - along with announcements of names of towns and numbers. The scenes were at times fuzzy and confusing, with places whose names I had never heard before. I do not remember seeing bodies or blood (of course this was in black and white). It was here, though, that the War did seem most real to me though still vague. And honestly – while walking home – I remember my friends and I discussing the ending of the serial – not the war pictures. And yet, they must have made an impression because I still see them in my mind’s eye and hear the trumpets and the tone of the Voice Over.

On the other hand, my folks and other Adults marveled that they could see the actual fighting and would go to the Movies just to see the News, after all, there was no TV in those days. I am not sure what the time lag from the recording of the event to the showing in local movies was but it was amazing to them. One neighbor told me she went with the hope that she would hear about the area her Son was in. She looked at each soldier for the face of her Son which she admitted was probably in vain – but still she went and searched.

It never occurred to us that some day we would be able to sit in our living rooms and watch a war in real time.

‘YOU DIRTY KRAUT!’

I especially remember J___, a short boy with really red hair whose nickname was ‘R___’, hurling those words in my face one day. J___’s father had been killed during D Day and he had been out of school for about a week. On his return I went to say something to him on the playground - when, with tears in his eyes, he yelled “Get away from me – your people killed my Father – you dirty Kraut’ I was stunned and humiliated and started to cry – the Nuns came and took us both away from the playground. I don’t know what they said to J___ but they tried to have me understand what he was going through and that I should forgive him for his words. He didn’t talk to me again and I never did actually forgive him.

The kids pretty much shunned me that day – all except for Mary Mifkovick – my friend.
I have always been grateful to her for standing with me – but, to my regret, I don’t think I ever thanked her for it.

It was not a good time to be German or to be of German heritage. My last name at the time was A____ – a good German (actually Austrian) name. I was often teased or abraded for it during the war. It didn’t matter that it was my Grandparents who came over from Germany or that my parents and I were born here. My Grandparents and Parents were always careful not to speak German in public; my Brother and I were not taught the German language – not even at home, for fear that we would speak it outside and we were frequently cautioned to be careful when talking with strangers. We were acutely aware of public feeling and took great pains to hide any hint of German-ness. There was no rock throwing or burning of Swastikas in our area but some of my friends were friends no longer –my Grandmother lost her baby-sitting job, the German Deli went out of business and the old gentleman (Mr. Heinz) one street over had to close his tailoring shop because of loss of customers.

I was stunned by J___’s invective – despite what the Nuns said about his grief over his Father’s death - I didn’t understand what it had to do with me. Neither I nor my family did this to him. It took a long while for me to connect my heavily accented Grandparents with R___ – but gradually I understood and became very cautious with people.


SHELL SHOCKED

Towards the end of the war there appeared a young man, rather nice looking I believe, who began walking our streets. He walked up and down the street with a rather blank look on his face, never smiling, never greeting anyone nor acknowledging a greeting. His walk was sluggish and halting. I didn’t know who he was but was somewhat frightened by him for he looked so odd and forbidding.

The word was that this man lived a few blocks over with his Mother and was - “Shelled Shocked you know – “. This was always whispered. According to the gossip, he never slept and spent all day walking up and down the streets of Douglaston. It was said he was hit by a shell in Italy and that he hasn’t been right ever since. It was also said that he had horrible scars all over his body and couldn’t see out of one eye.

I don’t know how much was true – but there is no denying his strange countenance - then, suddenly he was gone, gone as quickly as he had appeared. Nobody seemed to know what happened to him.

Probably, these days he would have had a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and been treated with drugs and psychotherapy but at that time then it was just accepted;
an unfortunate consequence of war.

To me, not being a reader of the papers at that age or a listener of the radio except for the stories like Green Hornet and the Shadow, he had become my daily reminder of the War – and, in a strange way – I missed seeing him.

A GOLD STAR IN THE WINDOW

There were approximately 50 homes on our street most of which had a family member in the service.

Periodically a home would display a Gold Star in its window which usually became obvious to us kids as we went on our collection rounds. I always made a point to tell my folks of the new Star. Sometimes they were already aware, other times surprised, but always saddened.

I knew this meant that someone, a son or a husband, had been killed. Neighbors would gather at the house offering help, support, whatever was needed. Commonly the living room would have lots of framed pictures of a young lad or an older gentleman in uniform. Sometimes I knew the boy – sometimes only the family. Occasionally collections were taken up to assist the family with some financial difficulty (I was never privy to the exact circumstances) especially if a husband was lost. I kept a small jar of nickels which I would draw from when a collection came around – it made me feel part of something bigger – I am not sure what – but somehow, more grown up.

We kids always respected a Gold Star house and family and never ran through their back yard or played loudly in front. Nobody chalked their sidewalk for hop-scotch or used their tree for hide & seek. Their homes were off limits at Halloween – it was as if the family itself was hallowed.

Truthfully, while I knew what these Gold Stars meant, I didn’t, at my young age particularly understand or appreciate the depth of anguish and loss they must have been experiencing. I had yet to experience loss in my family except for two Grandparents whom I didn’t see very often and to whom I was not particularly close. Now that I have had a husband and children of my own and have experienced deep personal loss, I can better understand their grief and the resultant heightening of the fears of the neighbors.

Gold Star Mothers were and highly esteemed – they had paid a high price for Victory. By the end of the war there were 8 windows that I remember with Gold Stars on Overbrook.

RUMORS

And then there were the rumors. . .

U-Boats were off the Long Island Shore, U-Boats were in the East River; a major raid was occurring on the weekend, in 2 days, that night; Germans were parachuting on Manhattan, the end of the Island, New Jersey; we had surrendered in France, Italy, Germany.

And the persistent rumors of spies among us – most notably Mrs. N’s____ husband, K___. He worked as a line man for the electric company but his hobby was as an Amateur Ham Radio Operator – using Morse Code- if I remember correctly. It was this which kept everyone suspicious, that plus the fact that he was visited occasionally by some men in uniform. I’m not sure who they were or what the uniforms were for they usually came when I was in school. However, his wife told us, ‘in strictest confidence’ that they were from the Government checking to see if K___ had ‘anything to report’. I never did find out what he actually did or what uniforms they wore for he never spoke of it. His Daughter, N____ (an absolutely beautiful girl – about 4 years older than I) was particularly shunned and taunted. She had a rough time, even after the War ended because of the unresolved suspicions.

Fragments of other rumors keep popping in and out of my head – as fast as these rumors
themselves lasted - but I can’t seem to latch on to them.

But they did, at times, frighten us because they ‘could be true’ yes????


IN BRIEF

There are particles of remembrances which I cannot flesh out, such as gas rationing.
I do recall that it was difficult to get gas but, not having a car, it didn’t impact us much.

And, surprisingly, though I have been trying to bring some forth (for I can’t believe they didn’t occur) I have no memories of any discussion of the War as part of school classes. Our school, Saint Anastacia, was a Grades 1 through 8 Catholic Elementary School contained in eight simple classrooms. Maybe we just stuck to the ABCs. - except for the Air Raid Drills when we crouched under our desks.

Posters: There were posters everywhere – big ones with pictures of Uncle Sam in red, white and blue with a goatee beard – pointing his finger straight at me –“Uncle Sam Needs You”. Another, of a strong looking woman, a kerchief holding her hair back, rolling up her sleeve and flexing her elbow to show an impressive, feminine Biceps – Rosie the Riveter – I don’t quite remember the exact words – something about
‘We can get the job done’ – but I remember the picture vividly. She impressed me more than Uncle Sam did. I do recall thinking that I wanted to be a riveter if the War was still going on when I was old enough.

Christmas: Each winter, Billy and I worried that Santa wouldn’t get to our house because of the War and each year (as long as we believed) we were amazed when he actually made it. I thought he was so fearless to brave the German Air Force to come to us at Christmas. But – the most exciting time came the first Xmas after the War’s end when, after years of Holiday darkness, all homes were brightly and colorfully lit. On tepid evenings we would walk around and revel in the lights and cheerfulness of it all. It was like a celebration of peace. I still enjoy driving around and looking at the brightly lit Holiday homes.



DISCLAIMER


So there you have it – an ordinary life in extraordinary times.

Perhaps you have gained some understanding of how simple, small things
can impact the most unimportant of lives.

As I initially indicated I have not read the book which precipitated this interest within you because I did not want to contaminate my own memory. However, at this time distance and during this exercise, one thing has become evident to me --

Memory is an imperfect means of communication.

Therefore, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these stories – but they are, pure and simply, my war time memories.


May you always know peace.

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Reply Every few years I post this up, to keep the historical record alive. My mother wrote this. (Original post)
Tab Dec 2015 OP
ismnotwasm Dec 2015 #1
CaliforniaPeggy Dec 2015 #2
renate Dec 2015 #3
Tab Dec 2015 #5
FuzzyRabbit Dec 2015 #4
Richard D Dec 2015 #6
BooScout Dec 2015 #7
malthaussen Dec 2015 #8
malaise Dec 2015 #9
flying rabbit Dec 2015 #10
stonecutter357 Dec 2015 #11
Paka Dec 2015 #12
1monster Dec 2015 #13
HoneychildMooseMoss Dec 2015 #14
2theleft Dec 2015 #15
Tab Dec 2015 #16
GoldenOldie Dec 2015 #17
Snobblevitch Dec 2015 #18
Tab Dec 2015 #19
Snobblevitch Dec 2015 #21
CajunBlazer Dec 2015 #20
Frustratedlady Dec 2015 #22
raccoon Dec 2015 #23
SCantiGOP Dec 2015 #24
corkhead Dec 2015 #25
hay rick Dec 2015 #26
2naSalit Dec 2015 #27
Warpy Dec 2015 #28

Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 08:07 PM

1. K&R

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 08:34 PM

2. Thank you, my dear Tab, for this post.

She may think her memories are just ordinary, but the details really allow us to see what her life was like, at least a little.

I'm glad she wrote them down, and even gladder that you shared them with us.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 08:36 PM

3. absolutely fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing!

I love love love stories about what life was like for ordinary people in the past. Biographies of famous people are interesting in a totally different way--stories like your mother's give us an idea of what it would have been like for regular people like us to live back then.

I'm going to send this to my parents and see how their memories match up. Please give your mother a big thank you from me!

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Response to renate (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 08:48 PM

5. Absolutely

and if they want to share their experiences.please have them do sp

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 08:47 PM

4. Thank you for posting this.

The stories of "ordinary" people are so extraordinary sometimes. I am interested especially in stories from WW2 civilians.

WW2 affected nearly everyone everywhere. Their stories are rarely told, yet to me are as fascinating as the stories of the combat soldiers. Sometimes even more fascinating.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 09:26 PM

6. Thank you.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 09:34 PM

7. Thank you for this...

This was a wonderful read. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Last spring, when I was home for my mom's funeral, my brother showed me where he had been going through my mom's papers and had come across a name change dated in the war years for my stepfather. None of us kids had ever known he had another name and for the life of us we couldn't figure out why he had changed it. My British husband immediately asked what his name had been and he zoomed right in on the fact it was a German name and told me a lot of people changed their last names during the war because of discrimination, etc. The name didn't sound all that 'German' to me, so I looked up the origins and sure enough it was a German surname. We are almost positive that's why he changed it. Neither he nor my mother ever told us about it.

Your mother's reflections of having a German name really explains a lot of things for me. Thanks again for this, it really was fascinating.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 09:45 PM

8. A friend of mine was only a couple of years younger than your mother...

... her major memory of the war was when bubble gum was raised in price to two cents. The little things stick in one's mind.

-- Mal

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 09:53 PM

9. K & R

Keep reposting it

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:14 PM

10. One of the best posts I have read on DU.

Thank you.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:27 PM

11. Thank you

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:28 PM

12. K&R

What a great document to have. I was younger, but remember many of the things she writes about. Thanks for posting.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:33 PM

13. Thank you for sharing!

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:51 PM

14. Thanks for the story

It was extremely interesting.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:57 PM

15. Please tell your Mom thank you!

I loved reading this and hearing first hand what it was like during that time. Great post!

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Response to 2theleft (Reply #15)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 11:03 PM

16. I will

and thank you for reading it!

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 11:17 PM

17. My WW!! story as a child was similar with the exception

that my Dad was 37, married with 4-children and he was Drafted into the Army Air Force. Prior to his marriage to my Mom, he served 3-years in the Calvary and spent much of his tour in the Philippines. He was drafted because the factory that he worked at in NJ, were charged with producing planes and the Union went on strike. The rule was no strikes during War time therefore all able men were automatically drafted. It was extremely hard on my Mom and she had to earn the money so she became a "Rosie the Riveter," leaving in the dark of morning and not returning until dark of night. My Dad was stationed in Italy and was called Grandpa by his flight crew. The next oldest, the pilot, turned 21, during their first bombing mission. Collecting tin, tinfoil from cigarette packages, gum wrappers, coupon books, air-raid warnings, and even called Nazi's, my Dad was of German descent, my Mom Irish. I can vouch for the stories because I also lived them.

Thank you so very much for keeping the history alive.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 11:54 PM

18. Thanks for posting this.

While my father was not an educated man, he is a good story teller, and with editing, a good writer. I have encouraged him to write his memories, like your mother has done.

He has written down a few stories, but not enough. I tell him to just write down one story a day. Not in chronological order, just a memory from his youth. I have told him that I will edit them. (He is sometimes bothered his misspelling and grammar. I have told him that it is better than most of his grandchildren (sad, but true.)
I hope other DUers will encourage their parents and grandparents, to write their memories, no matter what their generation.

My grandfather was 50 with six children in 1941. My dad was the youngest and was almost ten years old when we entered WWII.

My dad grew up in NE Minneapolis, but they had a barn and livestock. They sold their milk, cream, butter, and eggs, so they needed the ration coupons too.

Interstingly, my maternal grandparents' family lived in a rural town of 500, but they did not have any farm animals.

At 13 years old, my dad forged his birth certificate so he could get a driver's license. He got a job delivering ice. The 'men' who should have had this job were fighting in the war.

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Response to Snobblevitch (Reply #18)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 12:04 AM

19. Give the guy a tape recorder - he might prefer that

My mother isn't into "story telling" for the sake of spinning a yarn. She's highly educated and learned, more that I originally knew, but in her time females definitely didn't openly push the envelope (which makes the writing just that much more special to me).

As you obviously know, getting it down linguistically imperfectly but factually (as best as they recall) true is far better than something so composed and edited. You never know what you might have edited out only to find it was a real touchstone for people.

Not everyone's into it - actually, I haven't asked my mother - but if they want to record it, you not only get their (hopefully unvarnished) story, but you capture their emotion and everything else. If you can, try to find a simple digital recorder. If your Dad has a smartphone, then he can just use the memo recorder, and you just have to clean it off once in a while.

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Response to Tab (Reply #19)


Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 12:21 AM

20. Wonderful stories - thanks for posting

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 12:41 AM

22. I also grew up during WWII and can verify many of the happenings your mother described.

I doubt the country would come together today like they did during WWII, if we were ever in the same situation. The wars in the ME haven't affected us in the same way, with the exception of loss of life.

Thank your mother for her writing. I enjoyed every bit of it.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 06:29 AM

23. Thanks for posting. That was most interesting. nt

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 10:54 AM

24. My Dad was a Marine pilot

I was born in 1950 so the war was very fresh. Most of my early memories involved the switch to The Commies becoming the threat and the enemy, but WWII seemed a constant presence: a "good" war where the sides were very simple: where good triumphed over unspeakable evil and the USA saved the world.
I regret some of the horrible fights I had with my Dad when I was protesting a Bad war that was killing my friends in jungles of Southeast Asia. But my Dad's defense of that war - based on the simple idea that one had to support his country - faded as he saw the friends I grew up with coming home in caskets at 19 and 20 years old.

Thank you so much for posting this. It brought back of memory of a simpler time when wrong and right were clear and we knew we were the good guys and could always be counted on to do the right thing. I can now appreciate how bewildered our parents (who had actually helped to save the world) must have been when they saw a generation protesting against their country, and then how much worse their emotional anguish must have been as they realized that maybe this time their country wasn't on the right side if history.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 11:52 AM

25. Thank you for posting this. My mother is about the same age and has similar stories

I can imagine her writing this. I hope you don't mind that I passed it along to her.

Cheers!

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 12:02 PM

26. K&R

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 12:15 PM

27. Thank you

for sharing and please thank your mother as well. My parents were involved during that war, my dad was in the military on WESPAC and my mom worked at Convair.

They made certain we knew not to forget.

I collect cookbooks. A long time ago, was in my teens, I happened upon a cookbook from 1942 (I suspect*) which was quite popular as there was a new edition printed every two years, a big 2 1/2 inches thick. It has everything in it from proper placement and use of monograms and entertaining etiquette to how to clean wild game. The odd thing about the particular one I have is that it contains a ten page appendix in the very back entitled: Wartime Cookery in which it explains rationing, how to ration, what's in the cans, which meats to buy and which to leave for the troops, exchanging honey for sugar, etc.. I was amazed when I saw it and bought it without hesitation.

The following edition had multiple blueprints for root cellars, the previous edition to my first copy had instructions for butchering. I ended up find, quite serendipitously, several other editions which I purchased just because.

Memories...


*There was no copyright page identifying the year it was printed but after finding other editions and later researching online I guestimated it to have been printed in 1942. The added section is behind the general index which found to be a bit different too.

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Fri Dec 25, 2015, 12:18 PM

28. My extended family was lucky, my dad and his 2 brothers came home.

My dad had gone to England as a civilian engineer attached to the RAF in 1939, either just before or just after war had been declared. I still have the letter of indtroduction that took the place of a passport. Rationing was far worse in England, where they were quickly cut off from imports after their own agricultural base had been decimated by cheap imports (sound familiar?) and farmers suddenly had to increase production to feed the whole island. A humorous take on the UK rationing system is here:



My dad's favorite story was that during the Blitz, a pilot went completely off course and bombed a field of Brussels sprouts. Since they'd been getting them three times a day, there was talk among his British workmates of tracking the pilot down and awarding him the Victoria Cross.

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