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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sally Jo Burrows: My childhood during World War 2

My Mom was about 2 years old when the USA joined World War 2 so I asked her to write about her experiences as a child during that time.

My family was just coming out of the depression, which ended about the year I was born, 1939, and barely got their feet on the ground when WWII involved the USA, about 1941*.  I was four old (1943), when my sister, Betty May Manutkus, who was 17 years older than I, had to bring her baby, Joanne, to live with us since her husband, Charles, was drafted into the Army Engineer Corps.  He was stationed in Africa and then Europe.  I have his interesting biographies on his experiences in WWII and the Korean War. 

Life was very tense in our home especially when my brother, Gene, went into the Navy and didn’t behave very well.  He was very rebellious, but always my hero.  I was sheltered by most of his shenanigans.
My mother’s step-father, George Ramsey, lived with us and was a buffer.  He had a calming effect, especially for me.  Especially since Dad withdrew from two strong-willed women and two needy, fussy little girls.  Mom seemed to be crying a lot.  Dad was also studying to become a heating and air conditioning engineer.  That must be where I got the idea to go college.
I remember scary, but exhilarating air raid drills.  A man in a special uniform would come to the door and tell us to turn out our lights to practice in case the Japanese especially, would try to bomb us.  I think we hung little starred flags in the front window to signify that we had two service men. So many things were rationed – sugar, gas etc.  We saved fat, tin cans, tires, etc. and donated them to the military war effort.  Dad grew a Victory garden to sustain us.  Mom was always using coupons to get our allotment of restricted items.  Mom still managed to take me downtown on the bus (of course we dressed up in those days).  I still remember flirting my little head off with all the darling sailors.  Maybe because they reminded me of my sailor brother, whom I missed?
Military men were invited to our home and I’ll never forget Reiny(spelling?).  He was as handsome as Robert Taylor, my most favorite male movie star.  He looked a little like Dad back in those days, only with black hair instead of brown. 
My sister, Betty was gorgeous and Charles had a picture of her in a bathing suit.  So [he] let a friend paint a copy of her on a fighter plane.  She was as pretty as the movie stars they usually painted. 
Because of all the trauma in and out of my home, very mean neighbors kids and mean first and second grade teachers, I couldn’t read, even though Mom took me to the library and got books to help me and even hired a young girl to help.
When we moved out in the country and I went to a little two class room country school, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Lewis, was so kind and patient and took the time to help me learn to read.  Years later at her 100th birthday party she commented on what a shy backward little girl I was.  I’ll always be grateful that she helped me overcome the horrors of WWII and disgusting neighbor kids.  The kids in Glenrose were every bit as disgusting, but at least they lived on the other mountain.  Dad went after their dads  when they bothered me – my hero!
So it wasn’t just the citizens in Europe and Asia (South Pacific) who suffered.