Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Greatest Generation

More about my Aunt, who was such a wonderful influence on my life. She was part of what Tom Brokaw rightly called "The Greatest Generation."

My Aunt was the youngest of nine children. Seven of those children were born two years apart. Then, there was a gap of eight years to my Mother, and another six years after that to my Aunt. My Grandmother died in her fifties, when my Aunt was just a kid. Here is the only group photo of most of the family that we have. My Aunt is the shorter of the two little girls in front. The other girl is her niece. My Mother is the second from your right. The picture was taken in the '20's, in Texas, where my Grandfather had a citrus farm, and is a picture of a picture that I had to tilt to avoid a reflection, so, excuse the quality.

My Mother and my Aunt were the only two still living at home at that time, along with the niece and a nephew whose Mother (another Aunt) was off trying to earn a living. Mom tried for a while to take care of everyone, but the Great Depression hit, and Grandfather lost the farm. My Mother went to Rochester, NY, to live with an older Sister who was already there (the short one on the end at the right). My Aunt went to live with another Sister in Philadelphia, PA, (the tall woman in the hat next to my Mother). She lived with that Aunt until she went off to college.

My Aunt was very bright. She went to college in Philadelphia on a full scholarship. When WWII broke out, she was studying for her Master's degree in PHYSICS!! She was the only woman in that discipline, and was in the top of her class. She was also a teaching assistant, and, again, taught mainly men. But, she decided that she should serve her country by enlisting and became a Wave. Because she was so bright, she was immediately singled out for special training.

It was while she was doing that special training, in Washington, DC, that she met her future husband. He was serving as a Marine, was also very bright, and had also been singled out for special training. He made it a point to meet her, because he liked smart and pretty women. They fell in love and were married. My Mother was the Matron of Honor, and my Father was the Best Man. Another picture of a picture here. This is their wedding portrait.

My Uncle served in the Pacific. He became a specialist in what was then a very new, and experimental tool -- Radar. He later also served in Korea, where he was wounded and got the Purple Heart.

My Aunt stayed stateside. She became one of the first women ever to command men in active service. Granted, it was a small observation post on an island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay. But, still, a first is a first. She was later transferred to oversee a procurement operation, responsible for seeing that ships were supplied on schedule. All that was done with the greatest secrecy, so that the enemy didn't learn where the warships were. She served all through the war.

After the War, my Uncle got a job with Kodak, and they moved to Rochester. My Aunt eventually got her master's degree, though she switched to Art History. She settled in to live a socially active and giving life. My Mom and Dad were still there. So, altogether, three of the nine brothers and sisters ended up in Rochester.

She became one of the greatest influences for good in my life. But, more about that in another post, as this one is getting kind of long. She has been pretty and smart her entire life.


1 a day for 365? Really? said...

Wonderful story--such an accomplished woman.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

wow, what a life, and she is a cute little lady.

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Very nice! I think I like Auntie D. I'd bet a peppermint that she might give me a goat kiss if I went to visit. Don't you think all the ladies and gentlemen of her living facility might like to meet a nice goat like me? I could be a "therapy goat". hee hee

Louise said...

Ohhhhh, Isobelle, she would love you. Like me, she loves all of God's creatures. She would give you a big old smack of a kiss, for sure. And, she would feed you lots of peppermints.

foundationmare said...

What an interesting story. Every time we have an election, be it a local or national one, I reflect on the people who are far more qualified to make a difference than what is offered. Being smart and level=headed doesn't automatically make one a candidate, but it would be cool if the ones with the goods, the silent ones, could make a difference in diplomacy.

I bet your aunt would have a few things to say to the world's leaders!

She's a fascinating person and I'd love to know more about her.