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Honoring Our Veterans: Growing Up in War Time

Veterans Day

Honoring our Veterans Series

This story comes, not from the front lines, but from the Homeland. We take a look at Patricia's perspective on what it was like to watch friends, neighbors, and family members leave for war.

Growing Up in War Time

By Patricia Bucci

I was born in 1933 and was six years old when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. I remember hearing talk about someone named Hitler and what a horrible man he was. The Baltimore News Post, Sunday American, Morning and Evening Sun were the local newspapers delivered to our door and were read cover to cover by my parents. I was just learning to read, but I am sure I was more interested in the comics section.

As war continued in Europe, I couldn't help but notice the daily headlines. Page one was rife with the words of war. Hitler was trying to take over the world, and it seemed German troops were everywhere, attacking, conquering and killing. There was more talk among the adults in my family about war and questions about whether our country would be caught up in it.

On December 7, 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, America was at war. My dad was almost 40, as were most of my uncles, so there was no need to worry about them being drafted. But, there were older cousins in the family as well as neighbors who were drafted or enlisted. Walking up the street we lived on, Manchester Avenue, it seemed that every other house had the small banner hanging in a window, with one or two stars, indicating sons who were off to war. The Kennedys, Trones, Hazzelbecks, Meyers, and Kadrons, neighbors on the street, had stars in the windows. My Aunt Libby's home just up the street had two stars for my cousins. Albert, Jr. was in the army and Buddy was now a sailor. Other cousins, the Crouse family, had Joe, Ed, and Bobby now heading overseas. This war now was more than just news stories in the papers or talk on the radio nightly news.

People close to me were involved. Daddy was working long hours at the shipyards. Many other dads were doing the same. Many women took manufacturing jobs. Nurses joined the armed forces. The once far away war was close to home for me. My most vivid memory is of the "blackouts." There were nights when we were told to turn out lights or cover our windows with dark black shades. I remember the family gathering in the basement until the "all clear" was given.
Everyone was encouraged to support our troops and in one way or another every single person, man, woman, or child contributed. For instance, rationing affected everyone. Each family in America was given ration coupons for certain foods, such as sugar, butter, coffee, as well as many meats. Of course, the size of the family determined the amounts of these food staples that could be purchased in a single month. Other items were rationed gasoline, rubber, and many metals. Nylon and other fabrics were also rationed.

Every American family chipped in to the best of their ability. It was a time when the country pulled together for one national purpose. Despite all the horrors of war, in many ways it was a great time to grow up! God Bless America!

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