Thursday, December 30, 2010

Idora Tucker: Christmas 1944

 This piece was written to read to the residents of Joslyn House, where many in our audience would have their own memories of this time. 

Christmas of 1944 was unique in my lifetime, and totally unlike any Christmas in my experience up to that time.  Our country was involved in WW II.  My husband was an army doctor, assigned to a troop transport, whose home port was San Francisco where I was living in order to be with him when his ship came into port from the Pacific War.  I was 23 years old, married for a few months more than three years.  My younger brother Charles, eighteen at the time, was in the Navy and stationed down the coast, close enough that he visited me fairly often.

It was common knowledge that our servicemen and women in all branches of the armed services would be a part of the invasion of Japan.  They were gradually fighting their way, island by island, toward Japan, with huge loss of men and materiel, so huge that we couldn’t bear to discuss the numbers.

The invasion of Japan was expected to be tremendous slaughter on both sides.  My husband, my brother, and my sister’s husband would all be a part of it.  That thought was always there, although we didn’t talk about it.

As Christmas approached, Charles and I realized that we would be a gathering of two.  There was no question of getting together with our family on the east coast.  The difficulties of the travel involved made that impossible.  All public transportation was needed to transport troops.  It also looked as if Ransom would be at sea. So Charles and I hunkered down to do the best we could, given our circumstances.

I am surprised that I remember so little of what we actually did to acknowledge that it was Christmas.  About all I remember is feeling rather lonely and lost, with that constant, underlying worry about what the future held.  Charles and I were accustomed to happy anticipation of Christmas.  At least, I was.  We were with our large family, often augmented by visiting relatives.  There was a large Christmas tree with gifts under the tree.  Did Charles and I have a tree in San Francisco?  I don’t remember.  We always had a feast that included extra goodies.  What did Charles and I eat?  Did I cook a nice meal?  I don’t remember that either.  Nor do I remember whether Charles bunked in for the night.  Sometimes he did, though he had to sleep on a couch not designed for sleeping, or on the floor. There was no extra lighting as that was strictly forbidden on both coasts during the war.

I was glad that Charles was there to spend Christmas with me.  It helped.  All in all, not one of the better Christmases in my memory. 


1 comment:

Sharon Lippincott said...

1944 was my very first Christmas, so I remember nothing about it. My father was a test pilot in Del Rio, Texas at that point, and I guess we were able to make it up to visit my father's parents in Clovis, N. Mex. I have pictures of my first Christmas, and that's where they were taken. But I think your experience is heart-breakingly typical of huge numbers of young women that year. Thanks for sharing it.