The Greatest Generation

The years I have experienced are called those of the “Greatest Generation”. When I was a child the Depression was upon us. My family was hit like so many – they were very careful with their money, “If you didn’t have money to buy something – you didn’t buy it!” Credit was a “no – no”. The banks failed. I remember going to the local bank with my father to collect what little he had there. So, we all remember those “tough times”. My father worked on the Milwaukee R.R. Work was very irregular. My parents kept a big garden and even a few chickens. Our neighbor sold eggs 12¢ dozen! At least we always had plenty of food even tho many went hungry.

As I reached high school age things were a little better but we were always careful with finances. Then World War II was declared. I had planned to join the Navy Nursing Corps on completion of my training. My sister joined the “Waves”. A younger sister went to Washington, D.C. to work in the F.B.I. office. My father was very patriotic and so proud of his girls. My brother was too young to serve.

I had almost completed my training when I met a young cadet from N.J. who was stationed in Hutchinson, KS. As the story goes, we fell in love (my mother had made me promise to complete my R.N. before I married). After my graduation, Harry sent me money to come to Florida where he was stationed and we were married and lived in St. Augustine, FL. Many of our friends were from different parts of our country. We enjoyed being a part of the military life and lived for each day.

Fortunately, the war ended and the return of many wasn’t always “back home”. Many wanted to start their own business or live in some other places they experienced during the service years. The G.I. Bill was offered and many wanted to complete their education. We took advantage of this opportunity, but it meant another move. This time it was to Indiana in a trailer camp provided by the University. Again we met wonderful new friends and lived on $90 a month plus all the kerosene you could use.

Graduation led us to another part of the country and a chance to settle down and start a family.

By this time, we were almost 30 years old – at a new location and ready to become good citizens and contribute our talents to society. Fortunately, the economy was better and we all became steady citizens.

I’m glad I lived in this generation and experienced a good life.

Now, I’m in another part of this generation. We have been fortunate to experience wonderful discoveries in medicine – electronics – outer space, etc. There is no end to foresee what will be in our future.

However, I must admit as I look back over our history that the people who bravely settled our under-developed country were perhaps the Greatest Generation.

Elsie Johnson
Southbury, CT ©2013

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