10/02/2007

"The War"

Like many in the US Jim and I sat for hours watching the new Ken Burns documentary, The War when PBS premiered it in a night after night marathon of carnage and sweet memories. I know we will watch it again - but not in as concentrated a dose.


Everyone who was alive during the years of WWII has memories.
Every town was touched.

The day I started the first grade in 1942 my Daddy left home to go to the US Army Air Corps. Mama had to sign her permission for him to enlist - he was 28 years old and had three children. But he wanted to be a part of it.

Here I am, 7 years old, standing in Granny's front yard at 2308 East 7th Street in Charlotte , NC, wearing Daddy's overseas cap. Convoys of trucks filled with smiling and laughing soldiers lumbered past her house and our house, a block up the street. You could hear them coming from several blocks away. Nothing got in their way. Cars stopped. Military convoys had the right-of-way through traffic lights.

When I heard them coming I ran to the curb and saluted as they passed by. The soldiers smiled and waved.

Who knew where they were going or where they came from. They just appeared, rolled past and were gone.

Granny was very determined to help with the "war effort." She dug up her rose garden in the side yard and planted a "victory" garden of vegetables.
She let me stomp the tin cans on her front walk.
There was a can of bacon grease on the stove.

When there was a contest at my elementary school for which class could collect the most scrap metal I was determined to help push our class over the top. When a woman in the neighborhood gave me a rusted out water heater Granny helped me drag it out from under the house and then she brought her car and we hauled it to the school. I don't remember whether our class won -but I will never forget Granny being a part of it.

My Daddy returned home in 1945. He had served on an air base in India, chief mechanic for bombers flying over "the Hump" into China. He never really talked about it too much. There are a few pictures he sent home. He seemed physically whole but he came back with amoebic dysentary that weakened him for his lifetime. And, the three years away from his family cost all of us.

POST SCRIPT:
Below Patrick asks about "stomping cans" and saving bacon grease.

To prepare cans for scrap metal bins you washed them out, removed the labels and "stomped them flat". That made it easier to store and ship them.

I never really knew why they saved the bacon grease myself until I saw a "home front" segment in Ken Burns' film and I believe it said they used it to make explosives for bullets. Watch for it.

4 comments:

Dr Patrick McGill said...

Ellouise:

We, too, have been watching "The War" however at a much slower pace. For those of us too young to remember the war effort, please explain the significance of stomping tin cans and bacon grease on the stove.

Thanks for the Blog.
Patrick

ELLOUISESTORY said...

Hi, Patrick. Thanks for the question. I added it as a PS to the bog post because others may want to know too. Hope all is well out your way. Ellouise

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