World War II

World War II

Learn about World War II through a Grandparent's memories below.

(Do you remember Work War II?  Send us your memories and help build the library.)

~ Laverne (b. 1935) ~

"I remember the troop trains. All of my uncles were in the war. I remember the celebrations when my uncles came back for R and R.  The families would all get together and there would be unbelievable parties. Then we would go to the train station and watch the troop trains carry the soldiers back to wherever they were based. The troop trains we so long they seem to go on forever."

~ Laverne (b. 1935) ~

"My parents took us downtown every week and to see Telenews. They were always looking to see if they could see their family and to learn what was happening in the war. Telenews was in the Chicago theater and it was was news showed photographs and footage of the war."

~ Ray (b. 1932) ~

Although I was a mere nine and one half years old when the war began in December, 1941, I have vivid recollections.

Each street corner had a pole on which plaques displayed the names of residents of that city block that were members of the armed services. A small eight by ten inch flag with a gold star hung in the windows in honor of a family member who had died in military service.

During the school year students were allowed to skip classes on Mondays in order to scour offices and apartments in the neighborhood to collect paper for the war effort. These were for Scrap Drives.

The most memorable of the World War II patriotic activities was the so-called Victory Gardens throughout parks and empty lots in the entire city where families grew homegrown vegetables to assist in the war effort. Each Victory Garden was separated from those that were adjacent by small wooden stakes to which strings were tied to mark the boundaries of the garden. Seeds were planted in the spring, and in the absence of rain the Victory Garden was watered. When growing began weeds needed pulling.

The easiest vegetables to grow were carrots, beets and leaf lettuce. Tomatoes were very difficult. Corn was a rarity. Wealthy families frequently planted flowers instead of vegetables. The purpose was to avoid food shortages as well as to lift the morale of the citizens.

Since my paternal grandfather lived on a farm, I was elated to engage in a similar activity. But the most astounding thing of all was the integrity of the community of neighbors. Despite the fact that Victory Gardens were located several blocks away from the occupant’s residence in public areas that were not patrolled, instances of theft or vandalism rarely occurred.

I have seen estimates that in Chicago there were over 25,000 Victory Gardens. A typical Victory Garden plot would be about ten feet long and six feet wide. I recently learned that the last surviving Victory Garden area in Chicago consists of 160 plots on three acres of Chicago Park District Land near 79th Street and South Shore Drive, and is called the Rainbow Beach Victory Garden. However, this year it is closed due to the “Stay at Home Order”.

Did you grow up in the 1930's, 1940's or 1950's? Do you know someone who did?

Our Grandparents Stories is a library of memories of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. Help preserve history for younger generations to know by sharing your memories to include in the library.  Or record a memory recalled by a grandparent or senior.  Stories can be in writing or on video or audio recording.

To learn more about Our Grandparents Stories, visit the 'Share a Story' or 'About' page. Or contact us directly at info@OurGrandparentsStories.org.

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~ World War II ~

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