The home front: I remember WWII
If you were alive during World War II, you were caught up in the atmosphere. It was a time you never forgot.
I was just a little girl. I do not remember Pearl Harbor being attacked. My first remembrance is a voice coming from the orange dial on our console radio. Gabriel Heatter is saying, “Good evening, everyone. There’s good news tonight.” His trademark sign-on was followed by the bad news. He scared me to death. The newspapers had maps with red and blue lines showing how far we had advanced or retreated.
Each neighborhood had an air raid warden and helpers. Ours were my dad, Larry Carman, Ralph Wieland, Harold Inwood and Art Hook. The top guy was known as the chief block head. We would practice blackouts by pulling down the shades while the dads patrolled the neighborhood with flashlights, looking for anything out of place. Spooky times for a little kid.
The air raid siren for our neighborhood was on our garage. One day Mom cranked it for us to hear. She was soon bombed by a nest of hornets that had taken up residence in the siren. Poor Mom. We ran for the hose and made mud to put on her head. She was the only one in Bay bombed in WWII.
I was in Mrs. Swaim’s second-grade class in the west portable (Bay Way Cabin). Each morning a student from the high school came in selling saving stamps for a penny. My sister Barbara had a corsage made of saving stamps with red, white and blue ribbons.
Each member of a family had three ration-stamp books for meat, sugar and gas. You had to be careful using them so they made it to the end of the month.
The girl scouts collected grease. Housewives saved their grease, and my sister Barb collected it. Not sure what it was used for.
The folks cleaned house and brass beds appeared in railroad cars for the war effort. The oak tree woods west of our house was cut down and used for staging at the Lorain shipyard.
My grandmother had a blue star ribbon in the window for my cousin, Dick Walker. Cousin Eddie Bartel, a staff sergeant, sent us letters from the front.
Every family had a victory garden in their yard. We grew everything from asparagus to strawberries. Lots of canning going on.
I lived at 31011 Lake Road. When my sister Gay and I saw an Army caravan coming, we would run down the driveway to the street to wave at the boys headed east to go overseas. Some caravans were 30 minutes long. It didn’t really dawn on us where they were going but I’m sure it did to my folks. I can see this as vividly as if it were yesterday.
City Hall had a Honor Roll board set up in the lobby. The names of our men and women serving were listed on the wall. A few had a gold star next to their name indicating they had passed away.
Bill Wieland and Pete Purvis would lay on their bellies at the edge of the cliff overlooking Lake Erie and Canada holding their toy rifles. They were ready to shoot down whatever crossed the lake from Canada and tried to invade us. The boys played at war every day.
My Grandpa Wurtz still had family in Ingenheim, Germany. He packed care packages and sent them to Germany.
The music of the day often had a war theme. "I’ll Be Home For Christmas," "I’ll Be Seeing You," "Bugle Boy of Company B." Mom played the sheet music on the baby grand. We sang.
We were at my grandmother's on V-J Day. Ron, Gay and I took Dick’s souvenir knives and swords up on Lorain Road at Kamm’s Corner to celebrate with everyone on the sidewalk dancing and singing. We were walking down the street with our weapons, when my Auntie Rene came running after us and shuffled us home real fast.
At Parkview School above the auditorium door were pictures of Bay boys who died in WWII – Bill Troyan, Ralph Talis, Bob Berger – so we never forget our freedom had a cost.
Yes, it was a time I won’t forget.
Attend your Memorial Day services. Thank the soldiers for the sacrifice they made so you can live free in this wonderful town, in this wonderful country, the U.S.A.