I'm remembering some things from days gone by and thinking it might be a good idea to put these thoughts on paper now. I was going to write about some of this before Easter. Easter was the trigger to open up these old recollections.
Many years ago, my parents were hosts to three army solders for Easter Sunday dinner. I think the time was around 1941 or 1942. I don’t really know how this came about, but after church, the three neatly uniformed men appeared and sat at our dining room table for the dinner. They were jovial and funny and very appreciative of a home cooked meal. One was heavy set and dark, one was quieter and keep peeking into the kitchen, and the third soldier loosened his collar. That’s all I remember, except the feeling of being honored by their presence and that they had hearty appetites.
We had a gas ration stamp in the car window. I think it was black with the letter A. Mother was very careful about grocery shopping with ration coupons and we had a very large “Victory Garden” and shared and swapped with the neighbors. We brought home from school packets of seeds to sell. We had school savings books that the teacher passed out once a week for us to use. We had air raid drills and had to march to the basement, sit on the floor with our heads down and covered with our arms util the “all-clear” was rung.
I remember very well learning to knit squares during class time. Both boys and girls, knitted hundreds of squares and we were told that they would be put together to make quilts for the solders to keep them warm. We also rolled material into bandages.
The wife of a soldier came to live with us for a while. She was French, and spoke very little English. I remember that she wasn’t very friendly and was given MY bedroom. She stayed in there most of the time.
Dad couldn’t be a soldier because he had a blind eye, but he went to work in a rubber factory. They made synthetic rubber and he brought home balloons once in a while.
Mother took in several babies, two at a time. She must have been paid for her childcare work. The babies were usually under age 1 and they came and they disappeared. Cribs were set up in the sunporch. I remember helping rock a couple of them to make them stop crying and taught one to walk. That particular little boy was my favorite and I swore I’d look him up and reunite with him in years to come after he was gone. His name was Charlie. I once even knew his last name, but he is lost to me now. I never understood or was told why these children need to be cared for by us.
We kids in the neighborhood all gathered old newspapers, bundled them with twine my dad had brought home from farms. We sold them to the “junkman” who came through the neighborhood in his wagon that was pulled by a mule. He had a rack of overhead bells that he activated by pulling the rope to let us know he had arrived.
The neighbor across the street had a little flag hanging in her door window. It had a blue star. THEN it showed a gold star. Her name was Mrs. Raymond. We kids left her alone, knowing something bad had happened, but not sure what.
The putting up and taking down of the flag on the pole in our lawn was faithfully done every day. Sometimes I was designated to be the day’s flag person.
The last thing I recollect is decorating my Victory bicycle with ribbons, joining the neighborhood kids and hooting and hollering that the war was over as we rode around the block and up and down the street.
Even after, many of us kids thought that the town's window washer was Hitler. He had a mustache and was scary.
Now that I know what I have learned about that war and its time, I know that I was very sheltered from the real atrocities and horrors of war. I was 3 years old when it started and 9 when it ended. I understand.