... Teenage life during a world-wide war
December 7, 1941
At Mother's suggestion for secrecy, I was wrapping Christmas presents alone in Billy's bedroom this afternoon. There was some sort of an outburst from Dad, which compelled me to leave my happy chore and go to the living room where both parents were engrossed in the radio announcer's voice (or President Roosevelt's?). When I inquired, "What happened?" I was rudely shushed. I went back to my wrapping in tears. Mother joined me in a moment and explained that Dad was very upset. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. It would probably mean that this country would go to war and that Bill (my brother, aged 21) would be drafted into the armed services.
At Beebe Junior High we practice air raid drills. When the alarm goes off, we all leave our classrooms, carrying one of our books to sit on. We sit on the floor of both sides of the hallways with our backs leaning on the wall. In case of a real attack, we will raise our knees and rest our heads on them.
Our family saves the gas stamps in their ration book and when we have enough, we travel to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, to visit Bill in the Air Force.
Ed Thomson, later husband of author Natalie Thomson, is at the right with two buddies in Platling, Germany, April, 1945. Ed had forged a birth certificate and joined the army at age 17, but by the time the officials caught with him, he had turned 18. His brother Paul had recently been killed in England.
November 17, 1942
Berneice (my sister age 19) gave birth to Little Jimmy today. I can hardly wait until she brings him home from the hospital. The Haineses will take the place of his father while Big Jimmy is in the army in Africa.
December 14, 1942
After being sick with an embollism since Sunday, Dad died today! Bill was given a few days leave from the Air Force to attend the funeral. We had lots of company and Aunt Margaret slept over. I was sent to Aunt Doris' for the week, returning with her for the funeral.
Bill Haines (at right, with friends) joined the army in 1940 and survived four years in the European Theater. He was the brother of Natalie Thomson.
I write V-Mail letters to Bill and he RAVES about them which makes me want to write more. Marion and I write to the two young daughters of the family he's become attached to in Scotland.
Edith (my sister, aged late thirties) and her married friends meet every week and knit for servicemen overseas. This is a continuation of what they made for Great Britian before the U.S. was included in the war.
Marion (my sister, aged mid-twenties) is attending the U.S.O. dances on Boston Common and they're going to have a 'formal.' She sent me out to rob someone's garden of a couple of roses for her corsage.
At the left is Ed Thomson, guarding defeated Germans at a POW camp in Belgium, in 1945. He had just turned 18.
Mother says that servicemen aren't what they used to be. NOW they are "someone's son or brother."
In addition to classical pieces, my piano lessons include the songs of the different of the armed forces, i.e., Anchors Aweigh, Off We Go, Semper Paratus, etc.
The news and movies are full of battles and deaths and love stories that must be postponed. I hate the Axis.
A young sailor walked me home from Malden Square today. He was very nice and told me about his family. It was like an Ida Lupino movie. I said goodbye to him outside the house. I wasn't sure if Mother would approve.
Young Charlie Hall (teen-aged nephew) is in the Legion Band and they play at the different local army camps.
The Maldonian high school yearbook has several pages of pictures of the boys who would have graduated with their class, but instead are in the different branches of the service.
Some of the popular songs are: The White Cliffs of Dover, I'll Be Seeing You, and Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me. Also, from Germany, Lili Marlene.
On the way to high school this a.m. I stopped outside Kennedy's in Malden Square to say 'Hi' to Marion. She was waiting in the 'butter line.'
Mother let me use Marion's ration stamp for my new shoes. When Marion needs shoes, she'll use my stamp.
An Old Key Collection was held in Malden. They melt them down and make bullets.
Mother got a special purchase paper from the local Ration Board that will allow her to buy extra sugar to make a large batch of grape jelly to be used this coming winter.
I met Ed Thomson who was given a hero's welcome back to Malden High School after serving in the Infantry in Europe. His poor parents are jubilant that he came home safely but, at the same time, are desperately mourning Ed's brother, Paul, who was killed at an air base in England. The people there have sent the Thomsons personal thanks and regrets. They also sent a booklet that describes the burial place of so many Americans. His name will be included in a large book in the new American Chapel in St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Ed has reenlisted in the Air Force and is stationed in Washington, D.C. That's where we'll live after our October wedding.
Ed has been appointed to be the Honor Guard for his brother, Paul, whose remains will be brought home from England. There will be a military funeral and burial in Forestdale Cemetery's World War II lot beside the pond. The Thomsons seem to be more at peace, though they will always be in mourning.
November 9, 1998