Tuesday, June 19, 2012

December 1942

In December 1942 my Aunt Zudie and her four-year-old daughter, Mary Louise, bravely traveled from Texas to northern Wyoming by bus. I say bravely, because a 24-hour or more bus trip with a small child seems nothing less than nightmarish to me.

But then, I remember, Aunt Zudie spent much of the first thirteen years of her life traveling in and living out of a covered wagon. After their mother's death when Zudie was 3 1/2 and her brother Red was not yet two, they traveled around with their father as he went from job to job. Sometimes they stayed with relatives, sometimes they were on the road in the wagon, sometimes they were camped where their dad was working on a ranch breaking horses. So, perhaps, to Aunt Zudie a long bus trip was not such a bad way to travel!
The paper didn't get it quite right in their caption. Mary Louise
was not going to join her mother--she and her mother were going
to visit her uncle's family.

The trip took place just one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the war was on every mind. When the bus had a layover in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a photographer from the Cheyenne newspaper, The Wyoming Eagle, snapped a picture of Mary Louise asleep in the bus station. It appeared on the front page of the December 4, 1942, edition as the human interest story for the day. Every other article on the front page of the paper concerned the war. Some of the headlines would be completely unacceptable today; in the midst of a desperate war with the outcome unknown, political correctness was not an issue.

The big headline was "Both Sides Lose Heavily in Tunisian Tank Battle," with the sub-head of "Axis Armies Reported to Have Won Control of Tebourba, Mateur." Other articles were titled: "Rusian Forces Capture Important Rail Station: Soviets Claim Fifty German Are Destroyed"; "Hoover Urges Europeans Be Fed at Once"; U.S. Announces Negro Soldiers are in Liberia"; Sees Rationing for Many Food, Clothing Items"; "Air Raid Siren to Mark Start of Test Blackout; Lights to go out at 9"; and above a photo, "Sworn in as Navy Lieutenant." And that is just the top half of the first page. 

Seeing this newspaper takes World War II out of the realm of ancient history and into a glimpse of the reality of the war. It was much different than what the state of the nation is today with the Middle Eastern conflicts we are involved in. They are terrible; they are not, at this time, the all-consuming wartime situation of the World Wars. My memories of my early childhood are colored by hearing about "war" and then having our father gone because of the war.

Zudie, Rose, Michelle, Grace, Mary Louise, Terry, Red
But even in such dire times, life does go on. Family still matters, perhaps more than ever. I was only 17 months old when Aunt Zudie and Mary Louise came to visit, so I have no memories of my own about it. But in the snapshots from that visit we children look happy and like we were having a good time together. The adults, too, show they are glad to be together.

Even in such difficult times, the human spirit finds comfort and joy in the love and presence of family.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you are documenting and sharing all this family history!