My mom, Lona Curtis, has told me some things about the way they lived during the Second World War. My mom and dad had just lived through the Depression era when many people were unemployed. My dad had built a nice house trailer to live in so they could go from job to job. When he heard of a powder plant to be built in Millington, Tennessee, near Memphis, that's where they went. Daddy was a steam fitter.
There was no trailer park there, so the trailer was parked near a farmer's home. My folks used lamp light and got water and vegetables from the farmer. Daddy worked on the building project, and when his part was done my folks went across Kentucky to another job at Charles town, Indiana. The powder plant at Charlestown also hired Daddy as a steam fitter. The trailer was parked in another farmer's yard. That is where I was born.
My dad worked for $12 a day and received $24 for Saturday work on those jobs. He was in his 40s at that time.
The next job they went to was in or near Childersburg, Alabama, where Daddy was working when the tragedy happened at Pearl Harbor. One of my mother's nephews, Fred Ray, was on a ship that was blown up; he was presumed dead. His funeral was at Perryville, Missouri, where his parents lived. Sometime later, Fred was miraculously found alive, and he is alive to this very day. A ship had picked him up and taken him to another country.
My folks left the Alabama job and moved to Rohwer, Arkansas, near McGehee. My dad worked in what was known as the Jap Camp - where the Japanese people who were moved out of California were housed during the War. The Japanese could buy the best food at the commissary there, but everyone else had ration stamps.
Because of the Second World War my dad had access to all these jobs. My mom has told me she and my dad found it most interesting. I think they had more than they actually needed, because when I was in high school my dad found one or two of those old un-cashed paychecks he'd tucked away and forgotten about.
Jo Ann Miller
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.