Second World War: Effects on Our Family

Texan talks about his family getting along during the Second World War.

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My mother, Ellen Miller (Albany, Oregon), wrote to me about the effects of the Second World War on our family. She said, "On the day World War II started we were living in a tiny apartment in Yakima, Washington. Donnie was just two months old, and Dad was working at an old cannery. I remember the next day, people were out frantically buying anything that might be rationed eventually. 

Sometime in the spring of 1942, Dad went to work for E.I. Dupont out of Hanford, Washington. We had no idea what they were planning. It was all very hush-hush. Dad's job was driving an Army stretch-out bus transporting high-level officials from meeting to meeting in Washington and Oregon. After that job ended, Dad was working again in the cannery. After Jerry was born in 1943, Dad went to work at the Hanford works as a carpenter.

Dad was always told he couldn't volunteer for the service because he was a Canadian citizen, but in June of 1944 he was drafted and signed up for the Marines. He left Yakima on Friday, June 24. His mother was very ill at the time. When it was discovered his mother was near death, the Marines sent Dad back - he had gotten as far as Seattle. He arrived home to see his mother on Monday morning before she passed away.

The boys in the service all came home for the funeral - Dick, his older brother, came from the Canadian Army; Doug from the Navy Seabees; Lee from the American Army; and of course, Dad.

After the funeral all the boys went back to their various bases. Dad's next trip home was in September for boot camp leave.

It was a busy time with three little ones, and it was not easy on the tiny allotment check we received, but we survived, and all the boys from our family came home safely. (In spite of the fact that Dad was in the first wave of Marines to reach Japan.)

Dad was discharged from the Marines in December 1945. We all went back to "normal" living, still with shortages, especially housing and jobs.

Jerry Miller
Huffman, Texas

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.