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Parenting & Family > Pets > Pearl Harbor Day and the War Years

Pearl Harbor Day and the War Years

I will never forget where I was on that day. It was entirely
unexpected. We had spent the day with my grandmother. We
got the news at her house about five o'clock on the radio.
I had no idea of the scope or intensity of that war and all
the news we got was in the paper or heard on the radio.

It was our duty to write all the soldiers that we knew and
to send them various items that they might need. During
the war years there were a lot of shortages such as sugar,
coffee, material for shoes, coffee and meat. We had plenty
of dairy items and chickens and meat because my Dad was
a farmer.

Like most girls in that era, by the time I was sixteen, I
had a boyfriend overseas. He was a machine gunner in the
infantry in Germany. Not a good life expectancy but he
lived through it and didn't even get sea sick coming back on
a troop ship.

His most horrifying memories were of the concentration camp
they liberated and of having to shoot the twelve year old
boys that Hitler threw in at the last of the war. His nightmares are why I hate war with such a passion. We were
married as soon as I was eighteen which was far too soon.
I was not mature enough to cope with marriage.

We have a daughter in common and I certainly bear him no
ill will.

P.S. There was a funny effort at conservation that you
probably don't know about. Feedsacks were printed so that
they could be used for making clothing after you fed your
animals. My mother couldn't get sheets and she made them out of 4 feedsacks sewn together. We had pajamas and dresses made out of them too. It was quite a coup to get
four alike so you could make a dress or a sheet. They
had to be ripped apart and sewed up on an old treadle sewing

posted on Dec 7, 2012 6:50 PM ()


I am amazed at how much we sacrificed and thought nothing of it- compared to our present sense of entitlement and how we don't want to do anything (volunteer) or give up anything. These days, people are outraged at having to give up or do without any small thing.
comment by dragonflyby on Dec 20, 2012 8:02 PM ()
My Aunt Irene was telling me about the underwear they had made from flour sacks that weren't pretty fabric - white with the mill's logo printed on their rear.
comment by troutbend on Dec 10, 2012 11:12 AM ()
My dad and four uncles served in that war. My brother-in-law's entire extended family died in the camps. I don't think anybody came back unscathed. Being a young wife, trying to cope with married life is hard enough, but I'm sure that's not all you were coping with.
comment by maggiemae on Dec 8, 2012 9:52 PM ()
My older brothers, born in 1941 and 1943, recall as toddlers helping our mother mix yellow annatto coloring into the white oleo, and they were enthralled with Jeeps, which were produced in my hometown during the war. When I was a youngster in the 1950s, Mom, grandmother and I talked about how they canned food and dealt with rationing. My grandma's entire back yard in Detroit was turned into a garden. There was a genuine spirit of helpfulness between neighbors which I find inspiring.
comment by marta on Dec 8, 2012 7:21 PM ()
The attack upon Pearl Harbor may have been, as you say, "entirely unexpected" by the general populace, but I have a learned friend who is a historian and he says it was no surprise to Roosevelt, that allowing our guard to be let down was his way of legitimizing our country entering the war.
comment by steve on Dec 8, 2012 4:08 PM ()
mama used to tell of feedsack garments. usually when I'd whine about getting new clothing.

yer like she walked barefoot to school in the snow uphill both ways pal
comment by honeybugg on Dec 8, 2012 3:50 PM ()
Most Americans alive these days have no clue about what it really means to be at war, or worse yet, to have the war fought in your own country. It was mentioned somewhere along the way, for example, that every Iraqi knows personally a civilian who was killed or injured in the conflict. I read on facebook what he right-wing fanatics post and to them it's just politics with no though of the consequences for the people involved. Really disgusting.
comment by jjoohhnn on Dec 8, 2012 10:20 AM ()
Ordinary people suffer greatly in wartime if they are living in a country
under attack. I hate the term "colateral damage" as applied to innocents
who are killed. As Teal says, we were not very deprived in this country.
reply by elderjane on Dec 8, 2012 11:25 AM ()
How terrible to have to have those images haunt your mind forever... I guess September 11th will be my generations Pearl Harbor. I hope that is the last of them, but I doubt it. I wish you had pictures of yourself in a feedbag dress. That would be something!
comment by kristilyn3 on Dec 8, 2012 6:43 AM ()
The feedbags were printed with pretty designs and you could still buy trim.
My mother made all our clothes and I didn't realize until much later that
she deliberately made them loose so our figures wouldn't attract boys. She
failed miserably.
reply by elderjane on Dec 8, 2012 11:27 AM ()
Hi Ms. Jeri, I don't remember the day, but I do remember washing the labels off of food cans, flattening them, and putting them into street corner bins for pick-up. Also, going house to house in the alleys of Chicago, with my friend and her wagon and collecting newspapers. I also remember ration books. But we rarely suffered from a severe lack of things. We were, for a country at war, incredibly well off at home.
comment by tealstar on Dec 8, 2012 6:04 AM ()
Yes we were. Our biggest problems was shoe rationing and tire rationing.
We had home canned food in glass jars.
reply by elderjane on Dec 8, 2012 11:29 AM ()

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