Impressions of Hard Times as a Youth
I remember rations of sugar, coffee, leather goods and in particular my dad going without new shoes for years in order to keep us three girls in shoes. We didn’t know it until we were grown. I remember flattening tin cans and putting the lids and bottoms in the middle, making tin foil balls by separating gum wrappers and collecting milk weed silks for making parachutes.
There was a family a few blocks up the road who was struggling to keep going. Our mother would send clothes and food and household items up to them via us girls. She also made sure we included the children of that family in our walk to school and at school itself. One of the girls was in my class.
Orphanage – NO PARENTS
The toughest hard times seemed to be the orphanage. We would visit the children there and sometimes make arrangements to take a few of the children to a local park. My older sister would read stories to the younger children. Not having parents or a home seemed unthinkable to me.
The National polio epidemic seemed the scariest. In the summer, the country club and public pools were closed down. There were a few cases in Danville, ILL and one of them was in my sisters class in high school. I was really glad when that scare was over. The whole town seemed to relax.
I remember five-pointed stars in front windows of families who had lost a son in war. It made the house look so somber. Danville had its share of war casualties. My biggest memory was Mrs. Warden. She was my Sunday School teacher and to this day one of the most radiant and joyful people I’ve ever known. She related that one night she sat straight up in bed and woke her husband and said “Our son was just killed in the war.” Her husband tried to comfort her and tell her it was a bad dream, but she insisted she was right. Sure enough – a few days later – they got the official visit to inform them of the death of their son.
These are my recollections of HARD TIMES as I was growing up.