Second World War: Both Parents Worked at Defense Plant

Maryland woman recalls both her parents entering the workforce at defense plants to help the US prepare for the Second World War.

| Good Old Days

Prior to the start of the Second World War, we children weren't really old enough to pay attention to the rest of the world.

"It's time to get up, Shirley!" How I hated to throw back the covers and run through the cold room and downstairs to the living room. I wanted Mother to braid my hair before she left for work because it had to be just right - I was an extremely tidy child. 

Mother and Dad worked in Chestertown at the newly opened defense plant. Before they left for work, Sallie, our sitter, would come. "Call your sisters," she would say, "or you all will miss the bus." We had to be at the end of the short driveway, or the driver would go right by without stopping. He was elderly, and had very thick glasses; nowadays he wouldn't be permitted to drive. We had to cross a railroad track, and all the children knew they had better help him look for the train.

We arrived home one afternoon to find Mother and Dad both home early. They told us a storage shed had exploded, killing several people at the plant. They and quite a few others had quit that day. Mother did assembly line work that involved capping explosive devices. Dad probably had a similar job. Soon after that Dad went to work at a shipyard in Cambridge, and Mother stayed home and became a housewife again.

School was no longer routine. Any hour of the day the air-raid siren would sound and the teacher would say, "Line up children, and be quick." We would be herded across the street to a garage

and squeezed in with mechanics, tools and several cars to wait for the" all clear."

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