Second World War: Grocery Store Clerk

Perspective of a grocery store clerk during the second World War whose husband was serving overseas.

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When my husband left for the service during the second World War, I knew I could not teach while he was gone. He wanted me to live with his parents in Fort Madison, Iowa. My first job was at a grocery store as a cashier. People don't realize how spoiled and selfish we are when it comes to sacrificing. There were many things we couldn't get at the store, such as Jell-O and marshmallows. We would keep some of the items that were rationed under the counter and give them to our best customers. 

One day a lady and her husband came in. She asked for several of the items we didn't have. She said, "I'll be so glad when the War is over, and we can get these things again." I remarked, "1 will also be glad. Then my husband can be home." A funny look came on her face. Her husband was by her side.

Later, I decided to go to work at the ordnance plant in Burlington, Iowa. I worked on the detonator line putting TNT pellets in the detonator. I worked on the line until my skin became yellow from the TNT. I decided to quit before it got into my system.

It was hard being away from my husband, but it made us stronger and more able to face many of the things life has dealt us. Praise the Lord he did come home, and we will soon be celebrating our 54th wedding anniversary.

Mildred Swinford
Keokuk, Iowa


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.