Skip to comments.Locals share tales about the homefront during World War II
Posted on 08/16/2007 7:01:51 PM PDT by SandRat
SIERRA VISTA When soldiers threw nickels, dimes and canteens over the fence Joe Garcia and his brother knew what to do.
After filling the empty canteens as quickly as they could from their familys drum of water, they threw them back before the soldiers were caught resting on their march.
Then theyd march off with full water canteens, he said.
Its one of the memories Garcia has as a child in Sierra Vista during World War II and one of the stories from residents being collected for the Henry T. Hauser Museums World War II Homefront exhibit.
Local residents reminisced on victory gardens, rationing and othermemories of the era Saturday at the Ethel Berger Center, 2950 E. Tacoma St.
Garcia remembers that his family moved into a house in Sierra Vista where Lawley Chevrolet now stands, when his father had to stop wood-cutting in Brown Canyon, and when his father and uncle were recruited into the Army in 1941.
All of a sudden all of the men were gone, he said. His father visited the family in Sierra Vista in 1944 shortly before he died in Berlin.
My brother Fred was born after that in 1945, so it was a worthwhile trip, he said.
Betty Foster Escapule remembered Garcia from Buena School when they were in primary school.
Escapule grew up near the San Pedro River during the war.
I remember the seriousness of it, she said.
Though life on the ranch didnt change much during the war, the trains running by the river seemed busier than ever, she said.
Jeeps and tanks, one right after the other. It gave you the feeling that everyone was busy.
Her husband, Charlie Escapule, lived in Tombstone during the war.
Soldiers often threw match book covers from the trains, and he and his brother began collecting hundreds them.
We had one from every state, Charlie Escapule said.
He also remembered seeing censored letters sent from soldiers overseas.
They were all cut up with just an and, be and me left, he said.
The effects of the war were also evident on his fathers ranch, where soldiers cut through their fence.
He also remembered his father finding an abandoned military trailer filled with rifles and other children finding artillery and ammunition after the war ended.
Some children lost fingers or their eyes after playing with the ammunition, he said.
Rationing of gas and other items also affected life at the time, Garcia said.
His grandfather carpooled and dropped people off to work at Fort Huachuca.
Butter, for whatever reason, was one of the things that wasnt available, he said.
During the discussion, other residents shared their experiences from other parts of the country.
James Graham attended a boarding school in Rhode Island and said the boys at the school were marshaled to pick potatoes during the war in the early morning hours before their classes.
The worst thing was you couldnt tell the difference between the potatoes and the rocks. Especially when your hands were cold, he said.
George Rivest lived in Massachusetts when the war started and joined the Air Force in 1942. He remembered seeing German POWs during his training in Albany, Ga., before being sent overseas.
One of them said, Youll be sorry in perfect English, Rivest said. Their war was over, and ours was just beginning.
Local residents have shared many unexpected stories and insights into life during the era so far, said Nancy Krieski, curator for the Henry T. Hauser museum.
There were some twists I wasnt expecting, she said.
Karl Hallsten, a storyteller and visiting resident artist for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, will be coaching some of the particpants on oral story telling, Krieski said.
Hallsten and local residents will share the stories before the exhibit opening on Nov. 14, as part of the museums Amazing Arizona speaker series.
The exhibit will feature photographs and artifacts from Arizona during World War II.
The hope is when you walk through, it will transport you back to that time period, Krieski said.
But they are still looking for local residents with stories from the homefront during World War II, she said.
Tom Shupert, the museums oral historian and president of the Sierra Vista Historical Society, has also interviewed local residents and collected the homefront stories for the museums oral history collection, Krieski said.
The next homefront stories discussion is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. at the Ethel Berger Center, Krieski said.
People with local ghost stories are also asked to share their stories Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. at the Ethel Berger Center for the Amazing Arizona Ghost Stories project.
Though the homefront story collection has gathered the interest of local veterans, a veterans exhibit and their stories will be the focus for the museum next year.
For more information, call the Henry T. Hauser Museum at 417-6980.
Herald/Review reporter Laura Ory can be reached at 515-4683 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sierra Vistans Jim Graham, left, and George Rivest talk during Saturdays World War II oral history event at the Ethel Berger Center. Participants gave first-person accounts of what life was like at home during World War II. (Mark Levy-Herald/Review)
I've heard my Mother say exactly that.
My father was a senior in high school when the war started. As quickly as he graduated he joined the Navy. He served most of of time on the USS Elliot (DMS-4)
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My Pop, A Scottish immigrant, was in the US Navy, 1919-1946, when this was happening. I came along in 1950. Momma, also Scottish, ran a beauty shop at this time.