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 lifes 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.