WORLD WAR II
On December the 8th, 1941, it was cold morning; and we were waiting for the truck to pick us up. Someone said the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor. Earlier, we had gathered scrap metal to send to Japan to help earthquake victims. Now, they were throwing it back at us.
During World War II, we had blackout drills. A whistle sounded at the Cornwell station, and we had to turn all of our lights out. These drills lasted for about an hour or so—until the next whistle sounded. Food was rationed. We were allotted so many food stamps per person in the household, and these were collected by the grocer when we bought food. We were issued gasoline stamps and stamps to buy tires. Dad traded his gasoline stamps for food stamps—or something. What I remember most was the long lines to buy lard. The stores got in lard once a week, or lest often, and the word would get around somehow. We got one bucket of lard (5 lbs.) per person in line. Of course, we butchered hogs; but the homegrown lard did not last through the summer. We saved our used fat, and somebody collected it for the war effort (to make During World War II, we had blackouts. A whistle was sounded at the Cornwell station and we had to turn all of our lights out. These drills lasted for about an hour or so—until the next whistle sounded. Food was rationed. We were allotted so many food stamps per person in the household, and these were collected by the grocer when we bought food. We were issued gasoline stamps and stamps to buy tires. Dad traded his gasoline stamps for food stamps—or something. What I remember most was the long lines to buy lard. The stores got in lard once a week, or lest often, and the word would get around somehow. We got one bucket of lard (5 lbs.) per person in line. Of course, we butchered hogs; but the homegrown lard did not last through the summer. We saved our used fat, and somebody collected it for the war effort (to make nitroglycerine). We sold seeds for 10 cents a package and the proceeds were supposed to go to feed starving Russian children.
When President Roosevelt died in 1945, Mrs. Thompson wanted us to hear President Truman’s inaugural speech. We gathered around her car to listen to it on the radio. President Truman asked us to pray for him. He said he felt like a bale of hay had fallen on him.
When the weather was very hot, we would hoe corn until noon, return home for dinner, and then go swimming until the shade came over. Then we would go back to the field to hoe corn until about suppertime. During dog-days we were not allowed to go swimming. There was quarantine due to the dangers of getting infantile paralysis (polio). We did often get boils and carbuncles—which may have been caused by contaminated water.
On April 7, 1946, my little sister Connie was born. She was number ten in our family. The others were Norris, Dallas, Dorothy and Dorcas, Wilda, Norma, Granvel, Douglas, and Earl. (Arthur was born on April 22, 1948.)
We peeled off our shirts every spring as soon as the weather warmed. I nearly always tanned sunburned before I tanned every summer. We looked like “little Indians.” We thought that made us look healthy—tall, dark, and handsome. We did not get electricity in our home until after W.W.II. We were thankful to FDR and his alphabet soup of agencies, primarily the REA, for the project. We did have natural gas all along; so we had gaslights. (They were made brilliant by a filament, or mantle, covering the flame—like the ones still used in gas powered camping lanterns.) I did stay up sometimes and read by gaslights until 11 pm when Dad came home from work; but I didn’t do that very often. Mostly, we went to bed with the chickens, but I can’t say that we got up with them. I remember that those few extra winks in the mornings were precious to me. I had to leave home at 7 am to walk to Cornwell to catch the bus. Oversleeping by 15 min. caused me to miss my bus a few times.
When Dad built the house, he ran a line of galvanized pipe (maybe 1 inch in diameter) to the sulfur spring (about 100 yards up the hill) so we could have running water to the kitchen. Eventually, the pipe corroded and stopped up. The drain from the kitchen sink to the creek also stopped up, and Dad ran a 2 inch pipe out of the kitchen window to drain the water onto the lawn. (We didn’t have a septic system.) Lighting struck the pipe and ran into the sink, tearing up the floor at the base of the sink. About 1945, Pete Hall helped Norris and me dig a well in our front yard next to the garden. (His labor was in exchange for us helping him clean out an old well on the ridge above his house—a well that “was dug by slaves during the Civil War.”) When we hit a coal seam, Pete advised us to stop; so we went down only about eight or ten feet. The water was mostly “surface water”, and when there was a drought, it would nearly go dry; and the water became stagnant, with wiggle tails swimming in it. Sometime around 1979, somebody (Norris?) paid to have a drilled well with a pump put in so Dad and Mother could have running water and indoor plumbing.
We all experienced the usual childhood diseases: itch, chicken pox, mumps, measles (both kinds), and whopping cough before we finished elementary school (How did my parents sleep through that?); but I had perfect attendance in school until the eighth grade. I missed my first school day when I had the measles, and it’s a wonder that I didn’t have severe complications. About all of my siblings were sick with them on a cold morning when I decided to go to the post office to get the mail. I got the mail and started home, but the ice on the creek under the bridge near the post office was too enticing for me. I decided to test it, and I fell through, getting wet up to my waist. I walked home, through Peckfield, in wet clothes. The next day, I came down with the measles. I was so sick that I had to miss a day of school for the first time.
Around the time I started the eighth grade, the wildlife dept. turned some deer loose in our county. I don’t know how long the deer had been extinct in that part of the state (Dad didn’t mention seeing deer when he was a kid). A young buck that had become tame because it had been injured (It had a split hoof.) came around the schoolyard, and it became a pest (trying to mount some of the students, etc.). The game-warden finally took it away. When I was in high-school, Mr. Hanna brought a road-kill deer to us for the cafeteria. (Now, the deer in WV have become a pest.)
At Bomont School, I joined the 4 H Club. I went twice to summer camp at Bradley Field (where the high school is now located) in Clay. One year, I won three or four ribbons in the county fair exhibits.