The working title of the book I am currently writing is, “Ordinary American Heroines: Stories of Life and Love.”
This is a work of creative non-fiction. It is a compilation of approximately twenty vignettes of women over the age of 80 years old that have lived interesting, inspirational lives. So much of the literature representing this age group is about men. Yes, the men were most certainly our war heroes. They fought and defended our country and our freedoms. But what about the women they left at home? Not all women were able to be ‘Rosie the Riveter’ or join the WACs.
My book illustrates that the ‘ordinary’ women who stayed behind, raised children, kept the home fires burning and did their part for the war effort at home, also had remarkable lives. They learned to do a lot with very few resources – and they were proud and happy to do it.
These women lived through two successive but daunting periods in our history; the Great Depression and World War II. My criteria for inclusion in the book is simple: they must be American, be alive to be interviewed by me, (no second-hand accounts) provide me with a photo from the period of time in the past they wish to share and be willing to wait it out while I search for that elusive publisher!
My “ladies” have mostly come to me via friends who know such exceptional women. They are from many states and walks of life. One thing they all share is that they were all married to a GI who served during WWI; and today, at the ages of 80 plus to over 90, they are all widows, and have been for many years.
Most of my subjects enjoyed talking about their lives with their beloved husbands and children. A few, however, had illustrious careers of their own and a few chose to re-create the Depression environment in their story.
Below is a sampling from a few of the interviews:
Ruth Roberts Disney, Lewisville, Texas, Born, Parsons, KS
“Growing up during the Great Depression was very hard but having lived through it makes me happy and grateful for what I have today.”
Ruth and her parents and four siblings left Kansas to find work in California in mid-July 1940 and got there by August 3rd. By the next day, her father had a job as a machinist in a shipyard in Vallejo. Ruth was 15 at the time and loved the cross-country trip. She learned something about herself: she loved adventure, travel and seeing new places. It was something she would do the rest of her life…
Mary Eterno, Massapequa, NY, Born New York City, New York
“I did what I had to for my children. While I was struggling through life, I always put my faith in God.”
Mary had six children with her husband, Jim. They were extremely happy and had everything they could want. Then at age 40, he developed pancreatic cancer and soon died. Mary was left with five children at home and a lot of bills. She eventually married again, but her second husband also died of cancer. Finally her third husband lived – and for 30 years they had a good life, but he died too. She always found a way to keep her family together, with faith at the top of her list.
Rose Mary Fridrich, Harwood, MD, Born Annapolis, MD
“You are never too old to find your soul mate.”
Rose Mary’s adult life began in tragedy when her Naval Officer fiance’, Lou, was killed on a Naval Carrier in California. She then married a man she thought she knew and loved, but it he was not so perfect; he drank too much. At 58 she found herself a widow as her husband died of cancer. In a serendipitous meeting, she met her “soul mate”, Ed, at age 71. They fell in love and married but only had 15 years together before he died. Rose Mary was a competitive ballroom dancer and won many competitions before ever meeting Ed.
Ann Myers, Crofton, MD, Born in the District of Columbia
“He was my one and only one.”
Ann sadly passed away on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. She was a lovely and charming woman; elegant and such a lady! She would have been 90 years old this month. She will surely be missed.
Ann Myers talked about Kenny, her wonderful husband. They did not have children but they adored their nieces and nephews as their own. Kenny had earned a Silver Star and a Bronze Star in the War and never wanted to discuss the details of how he was awarded them. Ann worked in an upscale gynecology practice in downtown DC for 42 years. She started there as a secretary and left as the Office Manager –but by then they had three locations and five physicians and a staff of 15 for her to supervise. Until the day she died, Ann kept in touch with many of her colleagues and physicians.
“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”
~ Agatha Christie