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Women in WWII waiting on their Soldiers

Elaina

One Too Many
About an hour ago, I recieved a call from a nursing home that a woman I have been visiting for forever, died early this morning. So if this gets disjointed, sorry. I'm kind of busy over here too.

I'm going to sound heartless, but I'm glad she's gone. She's waited a long time to go. Ruth had no family left (none close enough to do anything for her at least), never got married, no children...basically, she had me, an old nurse's aide that came by as often as she could, and wrote letters when she couldn't, and church charity.

But Ruth had an interesting story. Her sweetheart grew up on the farm 5 miles away from her father's farm. They (according to Ruth at least) were pretty common for the time: he was a friend of her older sister, they went to church together, and he was a limited part of her social circle. Bobby was calm, quiet and sweet, something Ruth was not as a young girl. She claimed they were like oil and water, but he was a good boy. Then he turned 18, America decided to go fight Germany, Bobby asked to marry her when the war was over, and she sent her boy off to war, and waited to start her life. But her soldier died 6 months later, and for her, at 15, she underwent a personality change, pulled away from her family and life, and continued to wait for death for the next 50 years. Which is a shame, because she was a funny, wonderful lady that had a lot to give to the world (and in many ways reminded me of LizzieMaine). Toward the end, she started being the spitfire she once was.

So, do you think the Ruths were more common then we might think, or did they pick up and continue, and Ruth was an exception?
 

Archie Goodwin

One of the Regulars
Messages
167
Location
New Orleans
When I was younger, I worked with a woman named Miss Ann who had been a student at the Florida State Women's College (now Florida State University) during WW2. Like most of the women there, she lived in a dormitory. The dorms had a single phone, down on the first floor. In the evenings, the women would gather to wait for the phone to ring, and to hear who's name was called. Miss Ann told me that each woman hoped to never hear her own name, because being called to the phone meant a father, brother, husband, or sweetheart was dead. Every night they would gather to wait, and to support whomever got a call. The best nights were the ones when the phone never rang. I do not know if the phone ever rang for Miss Ann, but from the way she spoke I am pretty sure it did, I just didn't have the heart to ask.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
31,529
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
I moved this into the WW2 section, so we'd get a broader audience -- this is an excellent subject to talk about, because the experiences of women who lost the loves of their lives in the war are often overlooked.

This happened to a woman who was a dear friend of mine. She'd been a Broadway actress in the late thirties, and married a brilliant young set designer she'd met on one of her shows. They had a sweet little apartment in Greenwich Village, and all the world before them. His career was moving along fine, and she moved from stage to radio in the early forties. By the time the war came along she was playing female leads in two soap operas, and it seemed there was nowhere to go but up.

But then he got drafted and was sent overseas -- he wasn't the soldierly type at all, a quiet young man with glasses who'd never held a gun in his life, but he ended up at Normandy. And that's where he died.

She was rehearsing for a broadcast when the news came, and she had to go on that day as though nothing was wrong. But he was the love of her life, and a little part of her died that day. She kept working though, and eventually remarried -- but to the end of her days she grieved for that kind, gentle man who never came home. It wasn't easy to get her to talk about him -- but when she did, you knew how much he still meant to her.
 

June

Familiar Face
Messages
92
Location
New Jersey
This reminds me of an eBay auction I saw in February. Items from an estate sale were being offered, including several pictures and letters giving insight into an engaged couple's wartime romance. The young man was killed in action in France in August of 1944. Also included was the telegram his mother sent to her son's fiancee the morning after she herself received word of his death. The young man's last letter to his fiancee was found framed in her lingerie drawer after she died decades later. The letter was beautifully worded and very romantic. I did a bit of research online, and it seems that his fiancee never married...
 

dhermann1

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,156
Location
Da Bronx, NY, USA
WWI also

I had a neighbor years ago who had that happen in WWI. She was sad and bitter and angry, even tho she tried not to be. Whenever she talked about it, she said "It's not that nobody ever wanted me!" in a sad and tragic little voice. Hey, guess what, it's still happening today.
 

20thCenturyTim

New in Town
Messages
44
Location
Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Together Again

Elaina said:
So, do you think the Ruths were more common then we might think, or did they pick up and continue, and Ruth was an exception?

Elaina,

Thanks for the story. As an afficianado of life on the Homefront, I always like to hear these stories, even the tragic ones. Sadly, I am sure there are many stories like this. Many that have passed away silently, I bet. When Ruth passed, somewhere beyond our sight, a train pulled into a station, where Bobby was waiting for her, and they are together again.

20CT
 

Elaina

One Too Many
Oh, I'm pretty sure of it. She mentioned it on the phone the day before she died she was ready to see him, which was odd because she hadn't mentioned him in a few years (and only had done so when I asked questions.)

One day when I feel like going through her letters and more personal affects her family didn't want, I'll post some of her letters.
 

happyfilmluvguy

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,541
I don't know anyone who has had this sort of experience, but you know what? It's even better when you hear it from somebody else.
It's always nice to read a story, happy or heartbreaking. Thank you. :)
 

Story

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,056
Location
Home
Elaina,

Had your friend not told you, who would have known? Most of the women left behind with shattered hearts just take their tales to the grave, like the character in the Beatle's "Eleanor Rigby".

Google "War-widows" (for which she was essentional one) and you'll find several days worth of reading, including this:
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/041129/29widows.htm

On a similar note, you folks might find BEHIND THE LINES interesting reading.
http://www.amazon.com/Behind-Lines-Powerful-Revealing-American/dp/0743256166

20thCenturyTim said:
When Ruth passed, somewhere beyond our sight, a train pulled into a station, where Bobby was waiting for her, and they are together again.20CT

train10.jpg
 

Stony

New in Town
Messages
47
Location
Northwest U.S.
In these times the American military spouses have been complaining that their husbands/wives are away in a combat zone, but they forget how long spouses during WWII were seperated from their loved ones.
My mom for one raised three infants from late 42 to mid 45 on her own while my dad was overseas. I don't mean to be "mean" about it, but suck it up people as it's been done so many times before for much longer periods of time. At least the ones that deploy two or three times these days get to come home for six months to a year instead of how my dad did it for almost three years non stop.
 

Elaina

One Too Many
Would she have told me? That's hard to really say. Ruth was an unusual women, even for the time I met her. I was told alot of things that I know because she and I just sort of clicked-one of those rare friendships that was as instant as it was close.

I'm not talking of a friendship that was just a couple of years, either. I had to do community service, and I met her when I was 17. The friendship spanned 15 years. I went through a really terrible time where I broke off an engagement because I wouldn't live in Russia (and let me tell you THAT was a knock down drag out fight) and then I got involved to quick to fast (about a year later) that was just...difficult. And in her fashion she jumped one side of me and down the other, Ruth and I got into a terrible fight, and she told me I had it good. So the story came out (With it starting by me yelling at her "Well, what do YOU know?!")
 

Parallel Guy

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
I don't know, maybe I'm full of hot air, but I think the Ruth's of the world were rare. Human nature is built on resiliancy and practically anyone who has survived into their 20s has had to bounce back from one tragedy or another. And maybe losing someone before you really had a chance to find the foibles is more difficult. Probably, everyone is altered by the loss of spouse or soon-to-be spouse but most come to a point where they realize either the past will dictate their life or they will move ahead. Since we only know for certain that we get one shot at this life, most of us move ahead.
 

Miss Marnie

New in Town
Messages
32
Location
Small Town Indiana
My aunt had a similar story. The year she was 17 she met a handsome young man while woking at the local movie theater. He told her that he had seen her walking to work and told his brother "that's the girl I'm going to marry." It was love at first sight for her as well. After a few months they decided to marry. My aunt was afraid to ask her mother, so they ran off to the next county and were married. They kept the marrage a secret for over a month, but you know how small towns are. When my grandmother found out she was fit to be tied.

After the secret was revealed, they found a small apartment and set up housse. A short time later he was called up for service. A few months after being shipped off to Europe, she received a telegram about his death in France.

Until her death in 1992, she kept his picture and medals on display in her room. Often she would speak of him and the life they could of had together.
 

SpitfireXIV

One of the Regulars
Messages
180
Location
chicago
Parallel Guy said:
I don't know, maybe I'm full of hot air, but I think the Ruth's of the world were rare. Human nature is built on resiliancy and practically anyone who has survived into their 20s has had to bounce back from one tragedy or another. And maybe losing someone before you really had a chance to find the foibles is more difficult. Probably, everyone is altered by the loss of spouse or soon-to-be spouse but most come to a point where they realize either the past will dictate their life or they will move ahead. Since we only know for certain that we get one shot at this life, most of us move ahead.
yeah, but like you said: she survived the 1920's. maybe this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
 

Tourbillion

Practically Family
Messages
667
Location
Los Angeles
The war played havoc with everyone, but not everyone snapped like Ruth. Although the shortage of men made sure that not every woman could marry after WWII, many did. Hence the baby boom.

It can go both ways though, I know a guy who came back from Vietnam (not WWII I know) and couldn't find out where his wife and daughter were. He lived on the streets as an alcoholic until he finally got a job in a warehouse. He's living a sad sort of existence now, living in a hotel, watching his little TV and drinking beer after work every night. I guess that is better than the streets though.

Then there were the victory girls/patriotutes, who also were waiting for their guy, or whoever came along. I understand that the blitz made for strange bedfellows as well.

Still "sad romantic" stories like Ruth's are what we are likely to hear, rather than those of the girls (or even married women) with 10 soldier "boyfriends."
 

Elaina

One Too Many
Pearl, who was her best friend for a number of years, was the other kind. I heard more stories that would curl your toes from that side.

Only I never could get my head around Ruth, who was a romantic hermit, and Pearl who was a female Cassanova. Can you imagine their fights?
 

Mr. K.L.Bowers

One of the Regulars
Ruth and Earl's story

My story is not as tragic as most, but I believe it is typical of wartime marriages.
My Aunt Ruth met a young man in 1942, Earl, who lived on a farm several miles from her parent’s farm and was already in the army. He was going over seas soon and they were quickly married before he shipped out. She told my Mother afterwards that if she did not have a photo of him she would have forgotten what he actually looked like. She worked in a defense plant and lived with Earl’s parents as it was a shorter distance and there were others living near by who also worked at the plant.
They received a telegram one day that Earl was missing in action in Italy.
As time passed with no word they assumed that he had been captured or was dead. One day they another telegram arrived that Earl was alive, but wounded.
After several more months passed, Ruth was returning home from work one evening and there by the side of the road at the entrance to the farm was Earl sitting on a stone wall waiting for her.
Ruth traveled to Florida where Earl spent time recuperating from his wounds, and stayed nearby in a hotel until he returned to Europe. Earl lived to returned when it was over. They were married until my Uncle Earl died of leukemia in 1971. My Aunt remarried, but after her second husband passed away, she ask that when the time comes she wants to be buried next to Earl. She kept all of his pictures and mementos. Here is a photo of them in Florida in 1944


http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/canalboatman/EarlRuthInFla1944.jpg
 

Story

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,056
Location
Home
Published: Jun 13, 2007 12:30 AM

Complete article at
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/602088.html

Bill Burkett can't remember - he was only 3 months old - but his older sisters, Gladys and Katherine, can't forget the tall man framed in the door with the telegram, and their mother standing there, speechless.

Their father, Pvt. Lawrence P. Burkett, 28, was missing in action somewhere in Germany. It was December 1944.

Even after the Army amended Burkett's status in 1945 to "killed in action," they hoped he'd come home one day. But gradually, as the years drifted by without any word, they began to believe that he had been killed and would never come home to Ashe County.

They were half right.

Tuesday, the three Burkett children and Bill's wife, Jean, made the long drive down from the mountains to meet their father's casket at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Bill is 62, Katherine Burkett Gentry is 70 and Gladys Burkett Shatley is 72.

It was a bittersweet day, said Bill Burkett. They found it hard not to wonder what life might have been like had their father come home alive.

Their mother, Dora, who died in 1994, never remarried.


"For a long time, she thought he might come home," Bill Burkett said. "There was nobody for her but him."
 

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