Duty Calls

Separation came in May of ’43. Vernon went into the Army and left for Shawnee, Oklahoma. A heart-breaking time for us as newly-weds …. Such feelings were shared by many couples all over the country during those years.
I went back to work on another Civil Service War-Service appointment. This time it was with the Naval Supply Depot, San Diego. I was in the personnel office, handling records of sailors transferring in an out. At that particular time our work was very slow. In fact, for a period of time I sat at my desk with nothing to do. That was hard. This was a time of great patriotism. Everyone from the military, to all the Rosie-the-rivetors in the aircraft and shipyard factories were busy doing their part for the war effort. It was the thing to do. So I couldn’t put up with doing nothing.
I went to my Navy Commander supervisor requesting a transfer. He explained the situation to me. I was serving a useful purpose by being there, trained and ready because when the war in Europe slowed and the troops were transferred in an escalating Pacific war effort it would be critical to process the paperwork quickly. So he told me to sit tight. He was right because business did pick up. But for a while I typed recipes, poems, and wrote personal letters, ……….Part of war is waiting.
At no time has our country been so united in any undertaking. We were all doing what we could to win the war. Even Aunt Minnie left the little Texas farm homestead where she had lived all her life and came to San Diego to work in an aircraft factory – that took a lot of nerve. It benefitted her in later life. It gave her some Social Security to help when she went back to Texas after the war. She lived several years on the farm alone after Aunt Lizzie’s death, doing the farm chores until her death at 95.
Vernon went into the army in May, 1943. I’m hazy on many details because unfortunately his military records have been lost, so I have to depend on my memory. Basic training was in Lawton, Oklahoma. I continued to work in San Diego until mid-December of that year. Then I resigned and took a bus for Shawnee, Oklahoma where he had been transferred. Bus travel wasn’t comfortable. It was very crowded, not at all unusual to have to stand for hours. It was slow, the bus seemed to stop at every crossroads. So that was a long, very tiresome trip – and very cold.
All those discomforts faded at the joy of reunion. However housing was a problem for most everyone at military posts but especially on the very limited resources of a private. I found a room in a private residence near town. Vernon hitch-hiked from the base. That was very common in those days. Anyone with a car and enough rationed gasoline to be driving considered it their patriotic privilege to pick up service men. I got a job as secretary to the pastor of the First Christian Church (.50 cents and hour).
By this time it was Christmas Eve. I was expecting my new husband home on a two day pass. How to make our little room look a bit like Christmas? There was a little mom/pop grocery store on the corner where I went to get us something to eat. We didn’t have a kitchen but the people in the house let us have a shelf of their refrigerator for perishables and we could heat some things on their stove, but mostly we lived on sandwiches, etc. Anyway, I went to the little grocery store just as they were closing that evening. They had a tiny little Christmas tree in the store and very kindly let me have it. I was thrilled to death to bring that little tree to our room – thereby making the first Christmas of our married life most festive.