Second World War: Raising Children for the War Effort

Everyone had a job to do during the second World War. This woman took care of her boys while their father served in the Navy.

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 During the second World War, each had a job to do for the war effort. My job was to stay home and take care of two great little boys. One was 3 years old, the other, 2. Their daddy had joined the Navy. So many of his friends who were single had been gone for two years or more. 

The three of us had some great times, and some scary.

Grandpa had given the boys a magnet. They were having fun with it, until the 2-year-old swallowed a small piece of metal they had found. It had four sharp comers. Of course, it hurt going down. I gave him some bread to eat. Although I was a nurse, I decided to phone the one doctor left in our area. He said, "Good, and give him some raw apple." All the time I was talking to the doctor, this scared baby sitting beside me kept asking, "Am I going to heaven?" I can still see those big blue eyes searching my face. A day later - with some pain - he passed the piece, much to my relief. We walked to Grandpa's place of business. The older boy threw open the door and announced to all, "He grunted and we got the meta1."

Another time the older boy, who was 4 by then, came to me crying. He was shaking and crying so hard that I had to calm him first. He finally told me, "1 put a pretty rock up my nose." I could see it, but not remove it. I told him to listen to me and do as I told him. Breathe in your mouth like Mommy is doing. Close your mouth, and blow through your nose. Repeating this several times, until he understood, we recovered the pretty rock. Tears were dried and there were lots of hugs.

Taking them to town was exciting for them, and kept me busy.

One day at the local A&P store they accidentally broke a bottle of ammonia. They knew they were in trouble. I can still see them standing side-by-side, watching me and the manager clean it up.

One night I was awakened by the sound of breaking wood. I crept downstairs. The sound was coming from the basement.

Listening, I wondered why our small dog Tiny wasn't alerted. I slowly opened the door and switched on the light. Soon the breaking of wood resumed. Creeping to the landing, I could see this small dog breaking the wood with his mouth and teeth. The boys had put him in a banana box. Much relieved, I helped him out. I laughed to myself about this burglar in the night. Indeed I laughed many times about their mischievous doings, never letting them know.

I dressed them in their navy blue coats with the gold buttons and their real sailor caps sent by Daddy and took them down to the railroad tracks one block away. The troop trains stopped here to take on water. The troops - especially the sailors – would cheer and wave to the boys. These young men hanging out the windows probably had children or brothers left at home. I felt sad at times, because besides my husband, I too had two young brothers in the Navy.

Two and one-half years later, their father returned. The older one had started to schoo1. He had become listless and ill; he could not understand why Daddy wasn't coming home. He knew that other men had returned. One day Grandpa brought the mail and a box of his daddy's belongings - that convinced him that Daddy really was coming. Was he happy! He got up and started eating and was himself again. The younger brother didn't remember his daddy. He was suspicious of this stranger. It took a while for him to accept this person. Tiny, our big protector, didn't like this man either. In fact, he nipped at his heels more than once.

Now we were four again, beginning a new life.


Dorothy F. Eichhorn Brooklyn, Iowa