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A Woman Alone

Aug 17, 2007
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and sent Americans a personal invitation to join World War II, related jobs essentially ended the Great Depression. However, Americans faced the most dreadful war in world history. During this unimaginably turbulent period in history, Rose became a woman, a wife, and a mother, enduring the heart-wrenching consequences of war.

Rose entered womanhood during the depression. Growing up on a ranch in the West, within a large family, Rose was well acquainted with poverty. Ill-fitting shoes lasted a year, and clothes were hand-me-downs or made from flour sacks. Although Rose never went hungry, waste was unthinkable.

Newspapers told of the Great Dustbowl and the shocking plight of people in Oklahoma. While empathizing with the hordes of homeless and unemployed elsewhere, life was status quo on the small ranch in Wyoming. With no money in the bank, financial woes basically began on the other side of the ranch fences. Although the drought caused significant hardship, livestock and gardens sustained the large family.

Already accustomed to hardship, the depression actually brought Rose mixed blessings. Looking for work, her future husband became a member of the Civilian Conservation Corp. Similar to an Army enlistment, Alva became part of the group chosen to work in Wyoming. Although Alva was the camp cook, his company was stationed in Rose's community for the purpose of extinguishing potential oil well fires. Eventually, when the group relocated, during the heart of the depression, Alva stayed behind and married Rose

Toward the end of the depression and the beginning of World War II, Rose was already the mother of three little girls. Despite the tough economic times, Alva and Rose managed to rent a house in town for twenty-five dollars a month. However, while the young family blossomed, the winds of war and separation began blowing stronger. Rose's brother joined the Navy. Her sister Elsie bid farewell to her fiance and his best friend.

By this time, Americans received rationing stamps. Cheese, sugar, gas, and tires were among the rationed items. The war effort had first claim to the needed supplies. American women gladly worked in plants and rationed goods to help support the men attempting to keep the war from once again reaching American shores.

Rose and her small family had little trouble rationing supplies. While many people learned to travel sparingly and in groups, Rose and Alva did not have the luxury of an automobile. So, the tightly rationed tires and gasoline had no personal affect. When the other rationed items ran low, people just made do with supplies on hand.

The war remained on the other side of the ocean, until Rose received word of her brother's ship, the USS Lexington, sinking during the battle at Coral Sea. Thankfully, despite spending some time in the cold seawater, Rose's sybling lived to become a career Navy man.

At the age of thirty-five, Alva, his brothers-in-law, and several men in the community journeyed to the recruiting center in Colorado. Anticipating the inevitable draft letter, Alva and approximately twelve local men, volunteered for armed service. Bob, her younger brother, was declared 4F due to high blood pressure. Her brother Boise was sent to Alaska as a machinist. Frighteningly, Rose's husband was assigned to the heavy fighting in the Philippines. Thus, Rose began life as a single parenthood.

Facing the uncertainty of war, Rose accepted an offer to teach the at the country school. Since many teachers supporting the war effort began working in the factories, the school district was short of qualified teachers. Having taught before, Rose accepted the challenge. Unfortunately, the job required Rose and her children to relocate. Part of her job was to ensure the warmth of the schoolroom before the children's arrival. Subsequently, Rose sublet her home to her newlywed sister and moved her small family to an eight by ten tar-paper shack.

Double sized bunk beds were installed along one wall. Approximately 2 feet from the beds, a coal stove heated the room and cooked the meager foodstuffs. Without electricity, the one light consisted of an oil lamp setting on a tabletop lowered from the wall. Without refrigeration, meals consisted of canned goods. The children drank canned milk which she often used to make cocoa. Canned Spam and sardines were a good source of protein.

Slightly larger than the shack, the schoolroom sheltered 6 students and Rose. At the age of 4, her youngest was too little for school or self care. The solution created a very young first grader. For a semester, Rose and her girls lived a simpler life than the Little House on the Prairie. For relief, Rose closed the shack on the weekends and took the girls to visit her parents. Rose looked forward to Saturdays when people went to see Gene Autry movies. During the week, entertainment might be watching the girls play with a farm made out of cardboard.

Meanwhile, while his girls played with a cardboard farm, Alva's ship finally arrived in the Philippines. Fortunately for the sailors, peace was declared in route to the islands. Instead of fighting, Alva and his men began the cleanup process. Rose knew little of what the cleanup entailed. Her husband spoke little about the war.

However, in the few letters that actually reached the states, Alva told Rose about the laundress who befriended him and his men. Although Rose eventually lost touch with the Philippine woman, she became a pen pal. The woman made gifts for each of her girls. Her daughter Grace received a garment woven from scratchy grass. Unbelievably, children in the Philippines probably wore similar clothing. Maybe her girls learned much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic while at the little country school.

Anticipating Alva's return, Rose gladly closed the door on the tar-paper shack a semester later. (Although the shack may not have housed a family of four in the future, the chickens probably enjoyed a new coup.) Essentially, she evicted her sister from the little house in town and prepared for her husband's return. After eleven long months away from his girls, Alva was one of the blessed soldiers. Thankful, Rose knew many women became single parents on a permanent basis.

Rose and woman like her are heroines in their own rite. After Pearl Harbor, military wives and civilians willingly suffered and sacrificed to keep the home fires burning while the men fought to keep American shores safe from further attacks. Many buried sons, brothers, and fathers. In almost eighty-eight years of living, Rose learned never to take life for granted. Forever this authors heroine, Rose simply said, "We just did what we had to do."
About the Author
My aim is provide writing services through articles, advertising, e-books, editing, etc., to help you communicate information to the public. Tutoring services are also available for clients wanting to become better writers.

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