Monday, September 9, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - Childhood Memories of Washington, D.C., 1941-1945

When the American Girl series of books and dolls issued a "Molly" doll who lived during World War II, my mother wrote these memories for my daughters.

1941- Washington, D.C.
     It  was a beautiful warm Sunday afternoon and we went to visit friends.
     When we arrived their family was huddled around the radio and "ssh" they wanted to hear every word -
              "THE JAPANESE HAVE BOMBED PEARL HARBOUR . . . THIS IS A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY" (F.D.R. - 12/3/1941)
     So from age 6 to 9 I grew up in the war years.
     Gasoline was rationed - so my father sold our car.  Public transportation was a block away, and we walked a lot.
     We saved tin cans and newspapers "for the war effort".  Today we once again "recycle" them - this time to conserve our natural resources.
     Certain grocery items were also rationed:  sugar, coffee, butter . . . you had to tear coupons from your ration books to be able to buy these items.  About the same time "oleo margarine" came on the market, but not like today.  It was in a cellophane wrapper and there was a little yellow "button" inside.  You squeezed the "button" and released the yellow dye and then kneaded the package until the white "oleo-margarine" was the color of real butter.
     We put up "black out curtains" on our windows and had to draw them tight when the sirens announced an air raid drill.  The civil defense wardens would walk the streets to make sure no light escaped that could show where the houses and the city were in case of an enemy air attack.
     At school we took our small change and bought savings stamps which we glued into a book.  When the book was full we could get a War Bond.  Today they are called Savings Bonds (EE) or I Bonds.  I had a piggy bank, yellow with a mustache to look like Hitler - the German leader - that I saved my pennies in.  Each time I got a bond  my father scratched the bonds number into the soft plaster.
     An old school on the next corner was turned into a U.S.O. and traveling service men could sleep there over night.
     Women joined the Red Cross and rolled bandages for the war effort or knit socks from O.D. (olive drab) yarn.
     Men had to register for the draft.  Your Great Grandfather - Albert L. Dillon - registered, but because he was in his 30's, married and with a child, was never called. (He would have loved to have been in the Army Air Corp - he had been an Air Cadet in his 20s).
     Plans were made that I was to be sent to my grandmother's in Indiana if the war came to our  country.  We watched newsreels of children by the thousands being loaded on trains - each wearing tags with their identification, like shipping tags - being shipped to the country from large European cities which were being bombed almost nightly by the enemy.
     And then one day while I was swimming my mother called me out of the hotel pool.  Once dressed and outside the streets were crowded with happy people - laughing, blowing horns, dancing in the street.  We walked down to Lafayette Park across from the White House and joined a snake dance and then down Constitution Avenue.  Stores had set up tables outside their doors and were selling horns and noise-makers.  I bought a horn and blew it all the way home.  My mother said I could stay up until midnight!  I sat outside our apartment building blowing my horn until I woke up a baby and his mother complained.
              THE WAR WAS OVER IN EUROPE!! (V-E Day)
                                                                                   5-10-00 aj


Anna Lois tending her "War Garden"
Washington, D.C., 1944

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