Daddy's Gone to War: The Second World War in the Lives of America's Children

By William M. Tuttle Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3 "Daddy's Gone to War"

"BEING BORN in 1937," wrote Ruby Anglea in 1990, "and my father serving in World War II, I thought I could be of some help to you in gathering information for your book. But the strangest thing happened shortly after I began to write down my memories--I couldn't. I was recalling my father being separated from us, then my mother leaving to join him in a stateside camp, my living with my grandparents--and suddenly as if I was paralyzed I could go no further." Ruby was not alone. To these homefront girls and boys, nothing was more unsettling than the father's departure for military service. In other families, the wartime absence of an older brother was equally upsetting. The safety of uncles, cousins, and neighborhood fathers and brothers also concerned boys and girls. These were anxious and painful years for the homefront children. 1

For some, recalling wartime fears and sadness forty-five years later has been cathartic. "I felt a cleansing of my mind and soul," wrote a homefront girl; "many tears have fallen, while putting my memories on paper." Others agreed. Leona L. Gustafson's father was drafted in 1945. "Mom began to cry as she and Dad packed his things; she didn't stop crying for what seemed like forever. I asked Dad when he would be home and for the first time in my life I saw tears in his eyes as he answered that he didn't know...." The effort to remember her sadness and fears, Leona confided, had served as a catharsis: "These tears have remained inside for forty-five years; it's past time they were shed."2

Seven-year-old Kay Branstone recalled lying in bed at night "crying myself to sleep, because I was so scared my Daddy would go to war. I didn't ever mention this to anyone," being "too scared to talk about it." She fervently hoped there would be "something wrong with him" so that he would be IV-F, physically disqualified. While Kay's father was not drafted, her two uncles were, and Kay, who often stayed with her grandparents during the war, lived with their anxieties. 3

When Maureen Dwyer's father returned from his draft physical, he told her that he had been certified I-A: "I can still feel my stomach drop when he said

-30-

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