My brother received his draft notice
on my wedding day . . .
M. Pearl Cartwright

Frequently overlooked when World War II is discussed is the time prior to it when the United States was already deep into a defense effort. This was because of the accelerating war in Europe. The Nazis had invaded France, Holland, and other countries as well as setting sights on England.

Men and women were being inducted into or volunteering for the United States armed forces. The seriousness of the situation became very real to me when my brother received his draft notice on my wedding day in April 1941.
The defense effort was obvious in the overwhelming increase in the manufacture of tanks, munitions, armored cars and planes. My father, brother, and husband, as well as many friends, worked for the Curtis-Wright Corporation, which manufactured airplane engines.

The shock of the Pearl Harbor bombing on Dec. 7, 1941 was tremendous because the war time effort was focused on Europe, not Japan!

In a fruit stand that Sunday evening we were purchasing apples when we learned of the bombing. Perhaps others reacted like I did. “This cannot be,” and “Where is Pearl Harbor?”

More reality arrived later when my doctor (I was pregnant) was the first female doctor inducted in the U.S. Navy.
Among many other things butter was rationed. I watched in surprise when visiting a friend to see a dog, a Great Dane, pluck a quarter pound of the precious food from the table and gulp it down.

Our first born, at three years of age, wore out a pair of shoes, which were also rationed, in thirteen days as he pumped, coasted, and braked the wooden wagon with wooden wheels.

Stamps or coupons were required for many of life’s necessities including fuel. We bravely attempted a three hundred mile trip not knowing if auto gas would be available to start and complete a visit to family. Because the required stamps or coupons were in hand did not mean the products were available.

Victory in Europe was welcome and the one in Asia was pure joy.

Pearl Cartwright, née Nickel, was born in Saratoga County, New York, in 1922, and was raised in Schenectady until the age of fifteen, when an employment change for her father, a toolmaker, required a move to Hawthorne, New Jersey. She met Russell C. Cartwright and married him on April 26, 1941. They lived in Paterson, New Jersy, during the war, and their first two children were born there in that six-year period. They built a home at Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, where a second son was born. In 1957 Russell was transferred to Los Angeles, and after six years and the birth of a third son, he was transferred back to New Jersey. After living in a semi-rural area for twelve years, he was forced to retire early due to rheumatoid arthritis. Because of his health and a desire to live closer to their children in California, Pearl and Russell moved to Reno, where Pearl has lived for twenty-three years. Russell passed away in 1991.

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