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I Remember…

PRE-TEEN GERRY Parker waves a flag as she joins in the celebration to mark the end of World War II. Gerry and her family lived in Venice, California, five blocks from the Pacific Ocean, during the war.

Gerry Parker Morrison

World War II

After a recent visit to the Military Museum in Weston, memories of World War II came to my mind.

It was a time when the people stood together – proud – and supported our troops.

There were no protests, no burning of our beautiful flag.

Men enlisted or were drafted.

No fleeing to Canada.

My family moved to Venice, California, during the first part of the war. We lived five blocks from the Pacific Ocean.

I remember the time well.

We had nightly blackouts and air raid sirens wailed loudly in the quiet of the night. Was this another drill or was it for real?

Once it was for real.

A Japanese submarine came within 10 miles of the shore.

The Japanese families living in the area disappeared overnight. They were moved and housed in stalls at a closed horse race track in Santa Anita, California.

I can remember being puzzled, because the children had gone to school with me, and we were playmates.

Victory Gardens filled every empty lot. Vegetables were shared with neighbors.

We were issued Ration Stamps for food items such as meats, sugar and butter. That was when oleo replaced butter.

For those of you too young to remember oleo, let me enlighten you!

In a plastic bag was a white substance similar to shortening or lard, and a small yellow capsule. You would squeeze the capsule and bag until it took on the appearance of butter.

Shoes were also rationed – leather was needed for boots for our troops.

Nylon stockings were no longer available. The material was needed to make parachutes. At that time, women always wore nylons when wearing a dress. It was unheard of to go bare-legged!

So, what did they do?

They applied makeup to their legs and painted a seam along the back of their legs.

I remember watching my sister go through this process.

Me?

I was a pre-teen wearing bobby socks.

We helped our troops by buying war bonds. As children, we were encouraged to buy the stamps that were placed in a book. When enough accumulated, it would buy a bond. We did it without grumbling. We wanted to do our part in fighting the war.

News reels were shown prior to every movie. They often showed clips of the servicemen.

I remember the thrill of seeing my sister’s husband on one of them. He was a Naval gunner on a war ship. There he was behind a very big gun. We followed that movie from theatre to theatre until it left our area.

Servicemen were respectful to us. Because of these brave men, they kept the war from becoming a battlefield on our shores.
I recall the day Victory was declared.

The War was over.

There was dancing in the streets. Tears and laughter. Joy for those coming home and sadness for those who gave their lives for our freedom.
Parades were held all over our country.

It is so sad that the service men and women from some of our most recent wars were not given this honor.

Those who remember World War II may have different memories. It will depend on where they lived, if near a defense plant, harbor or if they had a military man or woman in their family.

I’m proud that my family was able to do their part to instill pride in our country and respect for our troops.

To this day, when I see a man or woman in military uniform, I say, “Thank you for your service.”

Their face lights up, and they stand a little taller and smile.

Make every day Memorial Day.

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