Kate Dudding: My Parents' First House, page 4

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Now itís time to hear about my motherís war.

As you may remember, she was in the typing pool at Sikorsky Aircraft, which manufactured helicopters. While in the typing pool, my mother sank battleships, destroyers, aircraft carriers and submarines. She played the game Battleship with a friend of hers, on their steno pads. There were government inspectors at Sikorskyís and they expected everyone to be busy all the time. In a typing pool, either you have work or you donít. But the government inspectors didnít appreciate this detail. So my mother and her friend played Battleship. They sat facing each other, each one lookout for half of that large room. If they spotted an inspector, one picked up a typed letter, put it over her steno pad and started reading it, while the other flipped back a page in her steno pad, to some shorthand Ė they were suddenly Ďproofingí that typed letter.

My mother was a typical career girl then, with her glamorous outfits and her white gloves. When stockings were hard to come by, she wore leg makeup to look like stockings, including a line up the back of her legs, to look like seams.


The girls at the beach (my mother is the 2nd one from the right)

While my mother did live with her parents, she sometimes went to the next town, where some of her girl friends had rented a beach house one summer. They had a merry old time on the beach. When it was time to go to work, they all piled into a car with patched tires to ride just to train station in that town. With the gas rationing, they could only buy enough gas to drive to and from the train station. They didnít have enough gas to drive the 5 miles to and from Bridgeport.


The girls at the beach (my mother is the 2nd one from the right)
My father in Luxemburg, January 1945

When my mother got home from work each day, the first thing she did was check if the morning or afternoon mail had brought a letter from my father. Sometimes she even got some photos. Here is one that he sent from Luxembourg in January 1945. On the front, my father signed it "Love, Kenny," On the back is the Army censorís stamp.

As part of the war effort, everyone was supposed to save animal fat and turn it in. My mother never knew what exactly the fat was used for. But her family hoarded bacon fat Ė a life long habit of my motherís. There was always a jar of it in the refrigerator. And if my mother wanted to fry up an egg, she used some of the bacon grease to get some of the bacon flavor and smell.

The other thing my mother told me about was the wringer washing machine, with its two semi-automatic washing tubs and the dreaded wringer. She always had to make sure that when she pushed the clothes through the wringer that her fingers didnít get caught. It sounded to me only a small step above taking the clothes to the edge of the river and pounding them with rocks.


So that was what my motherís war was like.


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Copyright 2001 by Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.


Kate Dudding (518) 383-4620
8 Sandalwood Drive kate@katedudding.com
Clifton Park, NY 12065-2700 USA
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