They Called It the War Effort: Oral Histories from World War II Orange, Texas

They Called It the War Effort: Oral Histories from World War II Orange, Texas

They Called It the War Effort: Oral Histories from World War II Orange, Texas

They Called It the War Effort: Oral Histories from World War II Orange, Texas

Excerpt

“I saw one of these freak shows one time. They had a woman in
there—supposedly they called her the alligator woman or something.
Her skin was like scales. Somebody asked her if she felt different
from anybody else. She said, well, she’d always been that way so she
didn’t see any difference. I guess that’s the way I feel about this war
experience here. That’s just the way it was.”

LEX PINSON

“Once you’ve been through a war, everything else is second best as far as excitement is concerned.” A native of Orange and a veteran who saw action at Normandy, his comment came toward the end of the interview, interjected almost as an afterthought. Beyond this level of personal experience, however, is the broader social impact of war. “Total war,” Francis Merrill concluded, “is the most catastrophic instigator of social change the world has ever seen, with the possible exception of violent revolution.”

According to historian Geoffrey Perrett, World War II was the “closest thing to a real social revolution the United States has known in this century.” World War II affected every man, woman, and child in America. Mass migration uprooted literally millions from familiar settings and abruptly relocated them in the mobilization of the wartime economy. These wartime migrants became what another historian, William M. Tuttle Jr., calls “America’s new pioneers.” Patriotic and many desperate for work, they were willing to endure all manner of risks, all manner of hardships. It was a “migration of hope.”

Never before in the history of the country had so many people been displaced in so short a time. Scarcely any community of size was spared. The . . .

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