Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

 

Chapter 10
WWII

In the summer of 1941, we decided to add a room to our home. Our 5-room frame house we had built in 1928 was too crowded. Our three boys had to share one bedroom. Harry and Charles were in high school and Frank was seven years old. We had oversized bunk beds and an oversized single bed since both Harry and Charles were over six feet tall and we could see that Frank would be as tall.

We first went to the loan company that held our mortgage to see whether they would finance this addition. They said they would but suggested we trade our present house in one already built. At that time homes were at rock bottom prices. Loan companies had empty houses to sell. Our loan company, Adams and Leonard, gave us a list of those houses. We found one at 556 (now 552) South Allegheny in White City addition.

This house had been overhauled and even had two floor furnaces. The inside floors had been redone and all the walls had been repainted. The outside brick had been painted white and the brick was on tile. The house was in tip-top shape. We bought half the lot which was 70' by 216'. Later we bought the other half for an additional $200 making our lot measure 2/3 acre. This was a three-bedroom house. There was a separate garage with half partitioned off with gas and water which we used as a wash room.

We traded our 5-room frame house, then 13 years old, in on the property leaving $3800 mortgage with monthly payments of $38. This I am bringing out so you can compare prices. After 13 years we sold it for 3 times our original cost. (We traded in property so the value was more than the $3800.) Today houses in White City are selling for $65,000 and up. Interest rates are much higher than we ever paid anywhere.

When Harry and Charles were in high school, we lived on Allegheny Street in the White City addition of Tulsa. Both boys still had paper routes, but they had bought a 1937 2-seat-2-door Chevy. They used this means of delivering their papers instead of bicycles. As they hadn't had their car too long, the boys were anxious to make short trips. Saturdays I would fix a roast with all the trimmings. Sundays we would slice the roast and make sandwiches.

Erwin bought an ice chest for lemonade. When the boys finished throwing their papers, we would all go somewhere usually taking the whole day to drive. We would find a good spot or roadside park and eat our lunch. Most of Oklahoma from all directions were covered on these trips. 

We also spilled over into neighboring states going to places such as Noel, Missouri or Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We went to Turner Falls, museums, such as Woolaroc, lovely places to swim, such as the clear streams in Arkansas. The boys' payment on the car was $9.00 per month each. This they paid out of their route money. We paid the car expense. Many happy Sundays and vacations were spent in this way.

Harry, Charles, Frank, Erwin and I decided to go for a drive one Sunday,, which just happened  to be December 7, 1941. We drove south and west from town. When we stopped at a filling station, we learned of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Radios were not common in cars in those days. We drove on to Beggs on our way home to the house of my niece Helen and of course we were all excited and upset.

In a previous chapter I told you about gardens. The main one we had was our victory garden during the war. In the spring of 1942, Frank was playing at the back of our lot. Pretty soon I looked out the window and he had a shovel trying to dig up a spot on the newly acquired piece of land. I called Erwin and Harry and Charles and we all laughed watching Frank. We decided to go down to where he was and see just what he was doing. He told us he was making a garden.

We were all surprised to see how rich the ground was. The outcome of this was a hand plow, tools to make a garden, and a 100' square patch for our family victory garden. All families were encouraged to start gardens because our fruits and vegetables could no longer be purchased at the local grocery store without using our ration stamps. Meats, sugar, coffee, and gasoline were all rationed.

The garden was a godsend. Each year I canned 50 quarts of tomatoes, about the same amount of green beans, and other vegetables. In addition, we canned dill pickles, sweet pickles, and bread & butter pickles. We even had a strawberry patch about 25 or 30 feet square which produced enough to can 25 or 30 jars of jam.

We had fresh green corn. We raised a hybrid corn that had kernels like golden bantam and tasted like golden bantam but was larger. We even got a pressure cooker, but I didn't have much luck with corn or lima beans. We even planted soy beans. 

Harry finished high school in 1942, went one semester to Tulsa University, and, in April of 1943, enlisted in the Army. His tank corps was involved in a secret tank-mounted device test program. This was a restricted group since it was the very latest in warfare. Whenever they left the base, they had to travel in pairs and were constantly being stopped to have their papers checked.

On his furlough home from Ft. Knox, he and Frances Bailey were married. They had gone through high school together. She was a football queen. He was an all-state conference football player. Frances went back to Ft. Knox with him, but, when the troop was sent to Blyth, Arizona, for training, she came back to Tulsa and lived with us.

Harry was shipped to England and, while moving the tanks for shipment to the mainland, the tank driver ran into a hedge row and the tank turned over catching Harry's left arm and severing ligaments. Harry was tank commander and was standing up in the turret holding a flashlight so that the driver could see. This was done because England was being bombed at the time. Frances was staying with us while Harry was away. She woke up in the middle of the night and came into our bedroom and waked me saying, "Mother, Harry has been hurt. Bad."

A Quonset hut hospital was close by and an ambulance happened along at that moment. Harry was taken to this hospital and was there for several months. He was then shipped back to Temple, Texas, where he was treated as an outpatient. While Harry was there, Frances worked in an office at the hospital.

Charles finished high school in 1943, went to what was then Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College--now OSU--and enlisted in April 1944, in the Army Air Corps. He was 6'4" and was too tall to be a pilot. Having grown up with ham amateur radio and being interested in building instruments even in junior high, he was sent to Monmouth, New Jersey for training and ended up in Communications. As I learned later, he was in the group who always went in ahead of the infantry.

When Harry came home on a furlough, he brought Frank a pair of black bantam chickens which had feathers on their legs. We called them Mr. and Mrs. We decided then to get a dozen chicken hens. They weren't Leghorn but a cross of Leghorn and a larger breed of chicken. Their meat was good, the eggs were large, and they laid eggs nearly every day. We couldn't possibly use all the eggs so our neighbors, Helen and Burt Mullins, bought all our excess. Thus they didn't have to buy any at the grocery store.

Friends of ours, Phil and Hazel Morris, had a son Art who was a few years older than Frank. This was the same Phil Morris who had boarded with my family years before. He raised pheasant and quail. Harry had pigeons when he was about ten years old and Frank at the same age decided he wanted to raise some. I talked Frank out of pigeons, but the bantam hen decided she wanted to set. Art gave Frank a setting of pheasant eggs for the hen and they all hatched. We fixed a box with a screen over it. As they came out of their shells, they were on the run and we had to be quick to keep them from slipping by us. One did and headed for the foundation of the house, but I finally caught it.

After Harry came home from the hospital in Temple, he built pens for the pheasants. These were wire with a wire top and a front opening. Four pens were made and in each was a rooster and about six hens. He built boxes up on legs and tarpapered over the board roof for water-proofing. To our amazement the pheasants would not go into the boxes but stood on top during any kind of weather--rain, sleet, even snow. In the spring for a month or more each hen laid a khaki colored egg on the ground. Some of the hens decided to set so soon we had plenty of pheasants. 

By this time Frank was in the fifth grade. Mrs. Freeman was his teacher. She wanted to buy some of Frank's pheasant eggs. He regularly sold them for 25 cents each, wouldn't take any money from her. The outcome of this was that she brought him a pair of buff colored bantams with feathers on their legs like the black ones. 

The first way I canned vegetables was by what was called the 'water bath' method. By this is meant washing and stemming the green beans, peeling the tomatoes, and putting them in sterilized Kerr or Mason glass jars, putting a teaspoon of salt in each quart jar, covering the beans or tomatoes with water, and then sealing the jars. We had a large porcelain kettle made especially for this kind of canning, having a rack holding six jars that could be lifted out of the water that covered the jars when they were ready. This was a big advancement as previous to this time everything was cooked in open kettles and then put into the sterilized jars and sealed shut 

At this point in my canning Harry and Frances were engaged. Frances's aunt shower for Frances. The mother of Harry and Frances's friends, Bud and Bob Siverson, was invited also. She lived two blocks from us so she came by for me and we went together to the shower. We were gathered in the large den of Frances's Aunt Bubba's house. I was sitting on the front row. Looking down I noticed I had left on my garden shoes. I was horrified to think I was meeting Frances's aunt and many of her friends for the first time and there I sat in old shoes.

I had left the shoes on because I had beans that needed to be lifted out of the water bath, and, as it always dripped water in the process, I didn't want to spot my good shoes. When Mrs. Siverson came to pick me up a bit earlier than I planned, I was lifting the beans out of the kettle and at the same time I was getting my purse. I dashed out the door and hurried to the car never realizing I had on the old shoes.

I started laughing and then had to explain what had happened. Several other women then told of some of their experiences. One had gone to the Mayo Hotel to give a talk and looked down at her feet when talking. She had put one shoe on of different pairs. We later bought a pressure cooker and this made canning faster, easier and more sanitary. Now with our deep freezers, vegetables, fruits, meat, and cooked foods and many things prepared and frozen with only the washing and cleaning and putting into plastic containers or bags.

Here again preserving foods by the quick freezing method is much faster and easier than using the open kettle cooking system. Even tomatoes can be frozen fresh, but the frozen ones are better for making soups or cooking some way other than for eating. We still have dried fruits and they are good, also easy to keep, but you do not see as many on the market as we did when I was young.

When Harry was waiting at home, just a few hours before his train was due to leave to take him to the army, the family was all at home, each trying to conceal their concern. Frank was nine years old. After Harry left, Frank asked whether he could go to the neighborhood park. He was pretty torn up to see his brother leave so of course I said yes. He wasn't gone very long before he returned saying one of the girls in his class at school was at the park and had some Persian kittens to give away and could he have one.

I felt this would give him something that would keep him busy and pad the loss of Harry's being gone. I told him to go back and get one of the kittens. The one he brought home looked like an ordinary tabby cat, but I didn't comment since he seemed satisfied. When she had kittens, however, there was one like her and the rest were beautiful Persian cats. As Harry was tank commander of an M4 tank, Frank named his cat M4.

After Harry left in April of '43, Charles finished high school that June and went to A & M in the fall. Charles took the car which he and Harry had bought in the spring of '39 to Stillwater. At Christmas we had deep snow. I didn't think Charles would try to come home, but he did and brought three boys with him. Before they left Stillwater, Charles had taken a shower and slipped on a bar of soap knocking himself out. The boys told how they had poured water on him to bring him to. They started for Tulsa in good shape although the roads were really bad. Later Charles said he didn't even remember driving home, but he did such a good job that the boys with him weren't aware of his condition.

I was a Cub Scout Den Mother for Frank's group. Mrs. Latting, Billy's mother, and I took turns having them meet at our houses. This brought other activities to our house. We were two blocks from school. Each school day on their way home from school the boys stopped for a game of football. Grade school was out a half hour before Rogers High School, the older boys in our neighborhood attended. I had to get outdoors and supervise the younger boys or the older boys would take over and Frank and his bunch would be on the sidelines. As Harry was in the service, Charles at A & M, and Erwin at work until almost six, I made it a point to be free so I could spend from 3 till 5 with the boys. At 5:00, I sent the boys home so I could finish fixing supper.

Sometimes one of the girls in Frank's class would come over if the boys weren't playing ball or were not at our house. She had a pony she kept at the fairgrounds not too far from our neighborhood. The streets were blacktopped and we had a big yard. She and Frank would ride the pony. When her parents moved, Frank really hated it. I was never sure whether he missed the girl more or her pony.

One evening I was at the back of the yard with the two of them and the pony when one of the high school boys came back to see the pony. He wanted to ride it so they said he could. When he got on the pony, he became frightened and got off as quickly as he could. I knew I wouldn't have to supervise the pony riding. This boy had been one of the worst to try to take over the football playing.




Reproduced by 
Kathie Harrison
Ancestral Whispers
Copyright 2012 
All rights reserved.