Saturday, January 2, 2010

Setting the Stage

With the beginning of a new year and another birthday looming on the horizon, I can't help but consider my own mortality. It seems more important then ever to pass on to my family the history that I grew up hearing stories about and the history that I lived. These things that shaped who I am and where I came from should not be lost in the struggles of everday life, they should be told and retold from generation to generation and being the only one left to remember, I will try to pass it on to those of you who will read this. ( The picture is of me and my sister Geneva, taken in the year of my birth.)

My parents migrated from Oklahoma to California in the summer of 1935. They came with everything they owned and five children loaded on an old 1920 something pickup truck. They worked as they went and bartered with things they had for things they needed. They had left the farm in the midst of the great depression and the Oklahoma dust bowl. They came and worked in the fields of California, the not so kind word for them was Okie and the less kind word was fruit tramp. My parents were proud, hard working people not used to handouts and refusing to take any. When they got to Pasadena, daddy got a job with the WPA, which was a government program to put people to work building the infrastructure of many towns and cities. You can still see plaques on some corner sidwalks marked with a government seal and the letters WPA on them. I don't remember these times because I was born a year and a half after they got to California.

The history that I lived and remember first hand is when our country was in the midst of World War II. Both of my brothers were over seas, Joe in Europe and Charley in Asia. Things here at home were less then wonderful. I remember rationing, you couldn't just go buy a bag of sugar or a pair of shoes. You had to have rationing stamps for those items. Everything was going into the war effort. The people at home only got a limited amount of those things that were also needed for our armed forces. They came first and we were, at least in our home, content with that. We were patriotic (I still am). My sister, Geneva and I took our dimes to school and bought stamps that we pasted in a book. When the book was full we would redeem the book for a US Savings Bond, at that time referred to as War Bonds. Even the children in grade school were proud to do their part. I remember washing out tin cans, cutting the bottom out of them, crushing them and putting them in a box along with foil we had taken off gum wrappers and cigarette packs. These were set out at the curb for the Boy Scouts to pick up along with the newspapers . You see, your generation didn't start the recycle thing. It was in full swing in the 40's, we even saved and recycled string. Don't ask me what they used old string for. But, we all did what the government asked us to do for the war effort.

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