Mary Margaret Clark was a lovely, brown-eyed brunette, barely sixteen and a sophomore in high school. She was good natured, easy going and dependable. Her mother had come to rely heavily on her following her father’s death four years earlier. Besides Margaret, their were five older brothers, DaCosta, RG, Kyle, Albert and Grant, and three sisters, Cecile, Edith and Bobby. DaCosta, RG, and Cecile were married.
Normally Margaret took the day to day happenings of life in stride, but this was to be a day that would change their lives. It was December 7, 1941, when the small city of Provo came alive with news that the naval base, Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. So far the United States had managed to stay out of the war begun two years earlier. What would happen now, would the President declare war? And how would it affect their lives if he did? There was fear and anxiety in every heart.
America’s response was immediate, war came and so did the need for soldiers. Margaret’s brothers R.G., Kyle, Albert, Grant, her brother-in-law, Harry, and her sister Edith’s boyfriend were all drafted. In a matter of weeks everything changed
at home, her brothers left for war, and her older sister, Cecile, moved back in with the family. The household consisted of five women, like many others of the time, they were forced to fend for themselves without male support.
Margaret became the household handy-man. It was her job to keep the huge coal burning furnace operating during the long, winter months; repair broken appliances, faucets etc., along with attending school and working.
The war period was a time of ration books and shortages in almost everything, from tires to gelatin dessert. Every person learned how to make do or do without. Common food at the Clark home included tomato soup, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, and sometimes bread and milk. A beef roast was purchased once a week and was made to last several days. Not a crust of bread was wasted!
The one constant, they all shared, was the nagging worry for family members overseas. It was especially burdensome for her mother. An activity that helped raise their spirits was preparing packages to be sent to the boys. This was a significant event as candies, steamed puddings and fruit cakes were lovingly created, packed in tin cans and sealed to stay fresh for the long journey.
The Clark family was blessed, with the eventual safe return of all four sons and their son-in-law. Her sister Edith’s boyfriend did not make it back. This had a major impact on her life.
Mother’s memories of circumstances surrounding World War II are some of the first family stories she shared with me as a child. They touched me deeply and I have never forgotten them.