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A New Life — After the War

A story by Pat Broman



It was 1944. My high school boy friend went off to be part of the occupation in Hokaido, an island off the coast of Japan. Our carefree days in Sarasota, Florida were over, the war news had matured everyone. Our suffering during the war was mostly worry about our men overseas. Many women were holding down the fort and also working in factory jobs; of course there was some rationing. I remember that awful white margarine that required an addition of yellow food coloring kneaded into it to make a kind of ersatz butter. Mother stood in a rationing line to get a small amount of real butter. I felt rather ashamed because our problems were so small next to all the real suffering in Europe. At college there were very few men - so few that the Naval V-12 were housed in the boy’s dorm. We girls were hoping they would be available for an upcoming dance - but would you believe it - they were all quarantined with measles. Many of the girls invited their fathers to be their dates at the dance. Gradually, after the dreaded war with Japan was averted by drastic but necessary measures, the men started coming back, and although some now were a little older to be starting college, they were eager to get on with their lives. Effects of the war showed on their faces and their tension was apparent. Among these returning soldiers was a young man from South Carolina. He had already started on his college education before he went into the army, but now was ready to continue it as a junior at Richmond College, University of Richmond, in Virginia. As a student at Westhampton College, the women’s part of the University, I was on a campus on the other side of a small lake which separated the two lovely campuses. Of course Dave and I met and enjoyed many fun times with fraternity parties, football games, and taking in the sights of the beautiful Virginia countryside, including the Skyline Drive. Dave graduated and went off to get his master’s degree at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. I was left to finish another year of college. Ten days after I graduated we married in a little church in Mountain Home, N.C., near Hendersonville and not far from Asheville. After a brief honeymoon we went back to Ohio to finish the master’s degree. Dave had the GI Bill which was a godsend to returning servicemen to help them get started. I took an interesting job right away in the research department of a large department store - named Lazarus. It was an office of all men and me and a lady boss who had a bark which I hoped was worse than her bite. In those days women in business were rare and many seemed to feel they had to assert themselves very strongly to gain respect in a man’s world. Later, as wives in the fifties we of course went with our husbands without question and were pleased to do so. However, corporate companies transferred families so casually and so often, sometimes without much notice. One time our moving van was headed out west and there was a change in plans and the moving van was turned around to another destination! To return to my story: Our first home in Columbus was in a house full of students, mostly males. We were the only married couple and had a small apartment, but shared the bath with several male students. To my consternation, there was no lock on the door and I remember taking a bath while holding a broom handle against the door, a feat requiring some dexterity. We had very little money but managed quite well. Dave got home earlier than I did and would greet me with mint juleps complete with sugar attractively decorating the frosted rims of the glasses. I was a beginner at cooking and after those juleps made by a boy from South Carolina, dinner may have been less than gourmet. There were surprises in store for us that summer but we were young and ready to take life head-on as we started out, as so many young couples did to face a world after the war. P.S. And here we both are - at Pomperaug Woods, our children nearby —-.

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 GI Bill,high school,Japan,quarantine,rationing,University of Richmond,Westhampton College,women
  Sarasota, Florida
May 19 2024


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