Some things cut out of the letters from my brothers and him and I was really worried sick when I realized just exactly what he was doing. It was nothing short of a miracle that he made it. I'm sure everybody is aware of the first crew that came home, they all made it back, that they did the picture about. It's on the tip of my tongue but it doesn't come to me right now. I've got it down someplace but anyhow, when I found out that he was going on these missions, it was terrifying.
It really and truly was terrifying. Then, as you will see later on in the interview probably, the interview that he gave to the Richfield reporter, which came back to us, and his sister heard it.
I was not at home and didn't hear it, but she got it down. She asked for it and they sent her a typewritten copy of that interview. We were certainly aware of the danger that those boys were in all the time, and it was scary.
Maurice Carlson is checking his tail gunner's equipment on his B This photograph was taken at his base somewhere near London, England in Carlson front row, left is shown with his air crew at an air base outside of London. The photo was received by his family on October 28, Hannigan Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1st Engineer, S. Arthur Jackson, Mississippi Ball Gunner. Martin, Louisiana Co-Pilot, W. Mangum Provo, Utah Bombardier, H. Bellmer Tucson, Arizona Navigator. He was an only son and had kept in close touch with Maurice Carlson and his wife.
Well, fortunately, like I said, I had a lot of friends and, I think, youth is on your side because you keep busy. You keep your mind occupied. You keep close to your family. You stay focused as much as you could.
We stayed focused because we knew that it was important. This was not a fun game here. The Japanese had made that plenty clear. So we knew that we needed to keep our heads and let the boys know that we were behind them. Those girls were in there, doing their jobs, big time. What was the first change, or some of the first changes that occurred in your life after the war began?
When the war began. You want to know the changes. When you were talking about the sugar stamps and things. How soon were things rationed? Or after a while? Tell me a little bit more about how your community responded as a whole to the war. The small community reacted quickly and even though I wasn't there all the time, I was aware of what was going on. There were a lot of churches and the churches especially all stuck together, worked together and the Red Cross, they worked with the Red Cross in keeping in contact with the boys.
Just anything they could do. And, of course, everybody raised a Victory Garden, laughing because we didn't have things on the market that we were used to having. The things that I remember. We were rationed for gas and those of us who worked in war industry type things, would have stamps, gas stamps, so that we could get back and forth to work.
Tires were a big problem because of the rubber. A big, big, big problem. And shoes were rationed. I mean, not necessarily rationed, but they weren't that available. We couldn't get bacon laughing because, I guess, most of the pork and hams and those kinds of things were being sent to the boys, which was right.
A lot of that was true. So we just took it kind of all in our stride and actually, as far as I'm concerned, in comparison to what our soldiers and sailors and servicemen were going through, it was nothing at home.
The churches were behind everything in this small town that I grew up in. Well, how did you cope with these wartime shortages? Did you just do without? Well we tried to make do with what we had.
Of course there were some people who wouldn't maybe need all their sugar stamps, if they didn't need the sugar stamps they would give them to a family were the sugar was maybe needed more. Or if they didn't eat bacon, they would give their meat stamps. And older people who didn't wear the shoes out and maybe didn't need as many shoes, but stuff like that. They all worked together. I tell you, it was a really big endeavor on the people at home to stick together. Be there for each other and, as I remember it, even though I was pretty young, I look back on it and I think: Tom Brokaw just about had it right.
It was the greatest generation. I think perhaps also it was a time, if not the time, that this country was most united. They were so thunderstruck by the bombing of Pearl Harbor that they went into full gear so quickly that it shocked even those of us who were working at home here in the United States.
We couldn't believe how quickly they started building ships. They had ships built and out there and airplanes like you would not believe. So actually, a lot has to be said for the people. To take nothing away from our soldiers, or our Armed Forces, but they were right there. Oh, I couldn't believe it. It almost seemed like over night the country switched to the fact that they knew that we had a problem and we had to get with it. We had to get with it quickly. So consequently the churches all worked together.
Seamstresses and people like that who sewed, knitted and sent the Red Cross big time. They raised Victory Gardens those who had a spot to do it.
At the time I was living in an apartment so we were not living anyplace where I could raise a Victory Garden but those people who did raise, I would say primarily in the little town that I had grown up in, probably carrots, cabbage, beets, radishes, green onions, and anything like that.
The canning was a big, big thing. My mother canned everything that she could. And my father had, years before, always helped her do the canning because she really didn't have much of that in her background. So he had taught her. He taught her how to make homemade bread. Laughing He taught her how to make biscuits and he was an outdoorsman and he was a real sport-minded man. You wouldn't think of shooting a deer unless it was for food. That was the only way.
The same with fishing. You fished for food for your family. And that's the way it was prior to the war. So I grew up with that kind of a background. And, as I said, my family was really poor. I mean, poor as the poorest. It's very hard to can meat. Would people just divide up if somebody shot a deer or was there a place that you could can it safely or did women just learn how to do it?
I don't recall that my mom ever tried to can any meat. I don't remember even that my father did that. Because like I said, he was an outdoors person and so before the war he could fish and hunt before he died. And he could fish and hunt and bring it home fresh. So she didn't have to do that. However, she learned to can fruit because in the county that I grew up in, it was pear country.
Grapes, pears, prunes, but my dad, who was, like I said, a real outgoing sort of a guy, and he would make laughing. Laughing But he knew how to do it. He knew how to do what he had to do. He died in The Civil Defense Program. I really wasn't too connected in any way with the Civil Defense other than that I worked for a company, like I said, building. Maybe I wasn't very clear.
When I think of Civil Defense I think of the precautionary measures that all families were expected to take. There again, the towns were right on top of that. They worked right with the people in charge of all of that and they had the blackouts and they had certain, you know, times that they wanted you not to do things, especially not have a lot of lights and things, but the way I was fortunate was that the town, even when I worked, when I worked for the shipyard, that area would have been certainly subject to any kind of.
I want to say, whatever the Japs or the Germans could think of and attacked us with anything. But the people were all very, very civic minded. If they were told to do something, and told that we needed to pull our shades at night, well, we did it. We didn't even question it. If it came from the head honchos, we went along with it because, to us, that was part of our duty. I remember saving cans of drippings of fat. That kind of thing. I never knew what they were used for. Well I think that probably back in those days they probably used the lard for a lot of things.
I really don't know what war product or what they might have been used for. I don't recall, actually. I do know that tires. You had to really have special privileges almost to get tires and to work someplace where you needed it. There again, the farmers were given leeway from a lot of things simply because they were growing the things that. So I don't think I ever felt that I was any more deprived of anything during the war than I was during the Depression.
I think that I was just thankful for anything I got, no matter how I got it. Meanwhile the home front is trying its best to keep things going and to keep up their own morale. Nevertheless, you knew that your husband was over there somewhere and you probably didn't know exactly where much of the time and how did you feel when you heard news on the radio of the war or you saw it in newspapers or if you went to movies, you saw it on newsreels?
What were your thoughts when you saw that kind of information? Well, it's hard to describe exactly how you feel. You know they're in danger and furthermore early on in the war I had two classmates I had already lost. My closest girlfriend who stood up with me when I got married, her brother was killed in Italy. Boys that were in my class had died.
It was a terrible, terrible thing and it was such a devastating thing at the time that I think most of us just felt that we needed to all work together and just do what we could do and what we had to do without.
We just knew we had to do without. I don't remember hearing anybody even complain. As a matter of fact, there were certain situations like maybe with the gas. A lot of our own entertainment. We had wiener roasts. We had taffy pulls. We had popcorn parties. We just made our own fun at home wherever we were. And the churches were behind us a hundred percent there. The young people, and I belonged to the Baptist Church, and I was active.
I sang in the choir and when I moved away from my little hometown to go to work, that was a different thing because I didn't have all of that. But there was so much other stuff going on that my mind was active all the time. I was active in a lot of different things as far as just keeping occupied. Did you seek news of the war or did you avoid listening to the radio, for example, when the news was on? I didn't avoid listening because it was too important. My age group was the big age group and that was the big, big, big, concern for the kids from this school.
So I had too many, too many who were just exceedingly close to me, not only family, but close, close, close, close friends and you just took each thing at a time. And you tried to do what you thought was best. You stayed on top of things as best you could. And we just kind of all did our thing. What we knew we had to do. How did the community react when someone received news of a death of someone in the service because you said many of your classmates were killed.
Oh, it was devastating. It was so devastating that I just. The first casualty was a boy that was in a couple of classes above me in school. He went into the service. He wasn't even overseas. He was killed in an airplane crash in Texas and he was an only child. And it was so heart breaking that it was. I heard stories of the stars that people put in their windows and I have always thought that that was a very trivial recognition of the sacrifice of their family.
Were people comforted somehow to be a "Gold Star" mother? Or did everybody display if they were entitled to that "Gold Star" that somebody had been lost in their family? You know, I can't really comment too much on that even though I knew the families of. But outwardly, they stuck together.
They all stuck together. They kept a stiff upper lip. And they really kept a stiff upper lip. And they didn't complain. They just kept on going. The church services continued and the boys were remembered in the services and the families were remembered. All the ministers and all the churches worked together. That was a beautiful thing too. Can you talk to me about corresponding with friends and family in the service?
Did you use those little Victory Mail, little thin sheets? Or was that only the servicemen that used those? Actually I did use some of the little thin sheets because of the weight they wanted but the thing is that I might, before I forget to mention this, is that our mail was censored.
The mail going to our servicemen. Our brothers and husbands would receive mail with stuff cut out. And, on the other hand, the mail that we got back from them would be heavily censored. If they even mentioned something that might be a clue, like "I sat under the palm trees", laughing that's a bit of humor.
You knew they weren't in Germany. We didn't know that they were probably in the South Pacific. I wrote to quite a few people. First of all I had two brothers and three brother-in-laws in the service. I corresponded with them and I corresponded with kids from high school that were in the service. And my younger brother, who was in the Pacific, would write and say "Would you write to so and so? Both of us coming from big families I had quite a bit of corresponding to do.
When you heard the news that the Allies were actually, finally winning in Europe, did you allow yourself to believe that it was going to be over soon? Or did you still keep caution in your heart? You know, that's a good question. That's a good question because when that war broke out, we didn't have a doubt in our mind that we would win that war within months. The general consensus was that we'd beat them and I don't know whether that was more among the other people, or whether it was just the whole idea of the country, but we never dreamed that it would go that long.
We just didn't think it would. And actually, probably it wouldn't have if we hadn't been fighting on two fronts which made it more difficult. Took a longer time to get it ended. Do you remember where you were when you heard about VE Day?
When you heard that the war was over in Europe? Do you remember that moment with clarity? I have to stop and think. I can remember very, very definitely where I was when I heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. It was on a Sunday morning and I was on my way home from my job in Napa, to my mom's in Lakeport, and I was thunder struck.
I couldn't believe it. I absolutely could not believe it. But getting back to where I was when the war was over, because when it ended, my husband was at home. I mean, in the states. He wasn't out of the service, yet but he was in the states. So that pressure was off. As a matter of fact he was back with me. There was the Miramar, the Edgewater and I don't recall the third one but three big, big, fancy, lovely hotels at that time.
And the Army had taken them over especially for the soldiers. So we got to eat. We had just an absolute ball. Everything was just honky dory but, of course, he was still in the service.
And even though he had done his overseas thing, there was still a chance that they might ship him off to the South Pacific. But, fortunately, he didn't have to do that. After he shipped out of Santa Monica, he got shipped to Tennessee. They were going to use him as an instructor to train the young soldiers coming on, that were going to be sent overseas. He was in Tennessee and I went back to Tennessee.
I took the train. My mother had given me some lessons on the South because in the South, back then, we they were still fighting a little Civil War laughing. So anyhow she had clued me in on some proprieties as far as the South was concerned. My husband was stationed in Dyersburg, Tennessee until October and in October he got sent to Texas and I went on the train with him to Texas and we found a room.
The Army entertained us off and on and we went to the church and there was a lot of entertainment through the church. Lots of nice musical things. Then, from there he wasn't sure where he was going so I went home and then he eventually got stationed in Victorville and I went to Victorville.
I stayed with him while he was there. And here's where he got. He got an Army disability because at Christmas, we were really enjoying our stay in the desert because it was totally different from anything that I had seen. I had been raised in redwoods and lakes and mountains, so it was all completely new to me. But anyhow, I loved it. For Christmas I gave him a wedding band and he's wearing the wedding band and he was working on something connected with an Army truck and he was standing on the.
I want to say a running board but I'm not sure that's what it would be, but anyhow, he went to jump off and he caught this ring finger on the wing nut of the truck and tore the finger off. So consequently he later, way down the line, was able to get a ten percent disability. Then from Victorville he got sent to Spokane, Washington to fight fires.
Was that after the war was over? The war had not ended yet. Then from Spokane he got to come home and then I think he got his discharge. Did he actually get his discharge from Spokane? Engineers Fire Fighting Company. That must have been in Spokane. Well, how did you feel about that?
About his finally getting his discharge? Laughing Well, of course. But he was fortunate. From there he didn't get sent anyplace else. He got to come home. The Turlock Journal report of Sgt. Carlson's 25 missions over Germany appeared in March or April of Can you think back and tell us a little bit about how you think the war changed not only your life but your family's? How was your life different after the war because the war had happened?
Well, for my personal life with my husband, it was so good to have him home. We were all so relieved and most especially since he'd had a brother in the prison camp. The brother came home and his life was never the same. That life was changed, totally and completely, and he died at a very early age. So it affected all of us in so many different ways that probably the best thing we could say is that all of us were so thankful, so grateful for the ones that did get to come home to us and just so thankful that it was over.
And boy, it was a blessing for everybody at that time. Oh, I think so. I would be willing to bet that at that particular time we were at the height of appreciation to our boys and thankful for our country and for everything. We were just grateful. And, I might add, that after the war businesses picked up. They didn't want to be caught again, like they were at Pearl Harbor where all of our ships were. I don't think they ever would do that again. They wouldn't make that mistake of having that much military in one such vulnerable spot.
And I think it made all of us more aware of what could happen to us. All of us were aware that it could take months and months for the thing to end and be costly lifewise, as far as our boys were concerned, and financially, to the country.
And we were all anxious to get on with our lives. Get started with our families and get back to what we would consider a normal life.
Actually, afterwards, as soon as things got kind of back to normal, wages went up. The Depression was over. We were through that miserable life and so all in all I think we were just grateful and thankful. That's probably the best way to describe it. Laughing That would have been the last thing on his mind. He was so thankful to be home. He was so thankful to be out of it and so thankful to be back with his family.
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