Lucy & the Summer of 1943

10 comments
A Story, country life, One Nation Under God, opinion, white & blue thru & thru, writing

June , 1943

Dear Ma,

.

How are you and the young’uns getting along? And what about Paul ~ has he been making progress in his recovery? I bet it’s a relief to have a man on the place. I’m glad I got to be there during his first couple of weeks back home. We’ve all got new adjustments to make, don’t we? While his injuries are visible, yours aren’t. Momma, I know it’s been hard beyond measure ever since daddy just up and left us, but don’t lose hope. Cling tight to God for He will see you through… isn’t that what you always tell me? I’m sure Paul will be up and around and able to help on the farm before the strawberries come on.

.

I’ll send my first paycheck in next week’s letter. Since you sent those sandwiches, canned peaches, and dried meat with me on the train, I didn’t have to spend any of the “extras” money you sent so I’ll keep that portion for any unplanned purchases.

.

So far things have been fine here with Uncle Joe and his new wife, Gertrude. He told me that my room and board would be free as long as I’m able to help out around this place. It seems like I’ve traded one set of farm chores for another, doesn’t it? I’ll have to do the chores before and after my Women’s Land Army farm work. I’ve only been here one week and I’m already tired, but I don’t have anything else to do. All I do is work and eat and sleep. It’s all any of us do. Except for today because it’s Sunday and we walked two miles to the little Baptist church on the edge of town. It was a nice service and I recognized a few gals from the WLA.

.

Oh, I haven’t even told you about my trip out here yet. By the time the train pulled into the station, there were about a dozen of us gals heading for the WLA. Even though we are strangers to one another, I already feel a sense of camaraderie. I don’t know, maybe it’s patriotism. Most likely it’s both. You shoulda seen Uncle Joe as he searched the crowd for me! Your poor brother was so flustered that his freckled face turned red. I recognized him right off and when he finally realized who I was, he held me at arm’s length, looked me over, and said I look just like you did at this age. Then he squeezed me so tight I thought I’d likely burst. There were a couple of soldiers in the same car as me for a good bit of the ride. My word, momma, you never saw such a fuss as that which was made over them; one of them was injured and a few of the gals clucked around him like a bunch of your Red Rhones after a fat ole juicy worm.

.

Did you notice Sarah’s family at the boarding platform? I guess it was a last minute decision for her to come out here too, being a town girl and all. I reckon they’re hurting for money just like the rest of us.

.

Anyway, the other women will be taking their farm education courses for the rest of the month, but since I’m considered to be farm savvy because of the work I’ve done back home, I don’t have to take all of the classes. I’ve already been to work in the fields! Uncle Joe says the typical Women’s Land Army training goes for four weeks, but a lot of gals cannot commit to both the training and the work commitment time, so the bosses are talking about lessening the requirements in one or both areas.  That’s good news for Sarah’s family – please pass along that information to them. She’ll be able to send home money the sooner she gets into the fields. And please pray for her, momma. The work is hard and she is so small and timid. I think she’s really struggling to fit in. I don’t how long she can handle it all. But, I know I don’t have to tell you what it’s like to be the odd one out.

.

Anyway, it’s 4 o’clock and I’ve got a fair bit of work to do here before another week with the WLA. Gertrude is doing poorly, much worse than Uncle Joe let on, so I’m going to bake a few loaves of bread tonight so she doesn’t have to bother with it first thing tomorrow. If I get right to it, while the bread rises and bakes, I can put together a stew for tomorrow.

.

Pass around the hugs and kisses! I love you so much momma and I miss you heaps.

.

Love,

Lucy.

.

.

* I think we all know about Rosie the Riveter and her iconic collective contribution to America’s industrialization during World War II, but what about The Women’s Land Army? Ever heard of it before today? Ever given any thought to who in the wild woollies worked the farms & orchards & dairies whilst the men were embattled elsewhere in a world war?

.

Following are quotes from Stephanie A. Carpenter’s book, “On the Farm Front: The Women’s Land Army in World War II” that was published by Northern Illinois University Press in 2003:.

.

Their experiences were about patriotism and success, not about wages, prestige, or popularity. After passage of Public Law 45 and numerous hearings held in the following months,the WLA and other labor programs got under way in the spring of 1943. (p. 55)

.

Paid low wages, women found it difficult to make purchases outside their basic necessities. (p.65)

.

Participation in the program remained high throughout the war. From its initial recruitment goal of 60,000 women, the WLA increased its expectation to 300,000 by July and by December had counted more than 600,000.

The WLA became a success despite being plagued with limited federal appropriations, slow recruitment, and an attitude of disinterest from the farmer, farm organizations, and federal administrators. Its success in 1943 changed unfavorable preconceptions about it(p.73)

.

Women who go into the farm work are not out after “big money.”They realize that, come what may, America and the families and the children of her allies must have food. They are willing to work for moderate pay. (p.59)

.

.fporch vintage

.

While the above letter is fictional, below is only a smattering of what was going on in America during 1943.

.

January 18:

Pre-sliced bread sale banned to reduce bakery demand for metal parts;

US rations bread and metal.

.

February 7

Shoe rationing begins in US

(may purchase up to 3 more pairs in 1942).

.

March 29

Meat, butter & cheese rationed in US during WW II;

meat rationed in US (784 gram/week, 2 kilogram for GI’s).

.

April 8

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, in an attempt to check inflation,

freezes wages and prices, prohibits workers from changing jobs

unless the war effort would be aided thereby,

and bars rate increases to common carriers and public utilities.

.

May 1:

Food rationing begins in US.

.

May 29:

Meat & cheese rationed in US.

June 10: FDR signs withholding tax bill into law

(this is W-2 Day!).

.

October 19:

Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy

for tuberculosis, is isolated by researchers at Rutgers University.

.

I cut & pasted the above data from www.historyorb.com

.

.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

1. So, do you reckon the majority of Americans would willingly and patriotically endure hardship for the betterment of their country? I doubt it.  

.

2. My utmost respect goes to the men, women, and children of this era in our country’s history. Without their sacrifices, America’s current slide into the johnny crapper woulda started long before now. 

.

3. If you could whiz-bang-thwap! transport yourself to another era in America’s history for an entire week, what date would you set the dial to? ‘Course I’d go to where fictional miss Lucy is… I think I was built for it.

.

.

 

* If you have a friend or family member

who served in the Women’s Land Army,

please, for the love of my sanity,

leave me a note in the comment box.

.

.

 

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Lucy & the Summer of 1943”

  1. This is wonderful Darlene. My parents lived through that . I love to listen to their stories. I am always so impressed by the way the whole country pulled together. Everyone did their part. I can’t decide which era I would choose. I think I’d like to go back to the late 1800s.

    • Miss Linda – thank you for the writerly kudos. I’m so very captivated by this era in history. I think it started with old images of my grandpa in the war and then one of him back home…

      Blessings.

  2. S. Etole says:

    There is so much story in these old letters home. Sounds like you did your research well.

    • Indeed, miss Susie… and I always marvel how that old house image knit our hearts together several years ago!

      Blessings.

  3. Darlene, what a delightful post! And you’ve done your homework, as usual. Such a fascinating study, I’m guessing. My grandpa was a farmer, missed the wars on account of being one (that and he was more mature–in his forties at the time) but prayed one of his sons through the Korean War–POW. Farm folk knew how to make the most of what they had, that’s for sure. I love to hear my aunts and uncles tell stories about their time growing up on the farm.
    Love this style of writing for your voice, my friend.

    • Thank you, miss Laura, for reading and commenting. There is such a valley of difference between that generation and the generation of our kiddos. I think we need to listen to our elders tell the tales, gather stories, write them down, record them, cherish them and pass them along. Our nation and world need folks who at least know about the determination of the “greatest generation.”

  4. Connie@ raise your eyes says:

    Love reading about historical people doing things that I should’ve realized were being done, but I didn’t. Great job missy!

    • Great comment, miss Connie!

      iLike it a lot – because I’m sure there is so much that has slipped by the wayside for all of us.

      BLessings.

  5. A girl in my high school composition class research the Women’s Auxiliary Corp (WAC), who did non-combatant work in the Army to free up men to fight. I didn’t know much about them, but I mentioned it to my mom, who is 78, and said, “Oh, WAC! Of course, they made movies about WAC that were so cute.”

    Somehow I’m thinking any movie made about WLA would not have been “cute.” 🙂

    I admire the women in those years who took risks of all kinds, however, breaking out of conventions to find new ways to work. At that point, it involved risk, not knowing how their decision would be perceived.

    Thank you for bringing to life women who represent the WLA and their hard work in hard times.

    • Oh Miss Ann! It’s always great to find you here. I do remember watching a movie about the WLA years ago, but at the time, I didn’t realize it was a part of Americana as the movie was set elsewhere.

      And you are most welcome for bringing a bit of our great history to light!

      Blessings.

If you have somethin' to say, I reckon this is where you should do it. (If you're a newbie hereabouts, your first comment will be held for approval - cuts down on spam.) Thank ye for chatting!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s