Nursery School Teacher During the Second World War

Woman recounts her experiences as a nursery school teacher in California during the Second World War.

| Good Old Days

In 1944, the height of the Second World War, I traveled from my hometown of Elmer, New Jersey, to Cameron Valley, Virginia, with our blond, blue-eyed, 2-year-old Ernie, to be with my husband, Aaron. A technical sergeant with the Quartermaster Corps of Fort Belvior, he left for the European theater four months later. 

Our government offered a six-month training course for nursery school teachers, and I enrolled in Alexandria, where I had rented an apartment. Six months of a grueling schedule in a city filled with soot and grime, plus contagious childhood diseases rampant in the academy Ernie attended, played havoc on Ernie's health. Concerned friends invited us to sample life in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our friends

June and Bernie Fry met our yellow school bus at the end of The Old Santa Fe Trail. During our three-week visit, I inquired about employment at local nursery schools. No one was hiring. Then Lady Luck smiled upon us. A wealthy family needed a substitute for their vacationing governess. I qualified, and agreed to the live-in arrangement, which included Ernie, for one month. We got along famously with 4-year-old Alex Bonnyman, a charmer.

Soon it would be time to move on. Where?

Not unlike my beloved Granddad Flitcraft, my destination would be California. Amid tears, we bid all friends goodbye and took a taxi to the Greyhound bus terminal. Three days and three nights later, I watched bleary-eyed as the bus pulled into the Los Angeles depot at 4 a.m.

I limped toward an agent's window to inquire about a hotel in the City of Angels and accepted the only reservation available. The hotel, a seedy affair, stood in a questionable section of the city. War regulations stated we must be out by 9 a.m. (with less than three hours sleep). We found ourselves gaping at palms and smelling flowers in the early morning sunshine.

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