Xenia Lee on the Depression, the Second World War, Disease, and Matters of Faith

Visit on September 8, 2005

Concerning The Depression:

We never really suffered from the Depression because . . . we knew that our neighbors were suffering, but Dad had a stable job because he was a school teacher and other people didn’t have jobs.  So the WPA, most of them worked for the WPA.

We heard the banks were going under, and let me tell you I was careful not to go into a bank.  I didn’t want it to go under when I was in it. . . . That’s what it meant to a little child. . . . And I did lose money in the bank because my Aunt Xenia had put money in my bank for my education – and the bank did pay that back during those Depression – or – I think they began getting money back.  But Mom and Dad were in such a state that they used that money –  as they got payment – small payment along until they had given back everything.    And Mom and Dad were so conscientious that long after we were married that – we got little by little – we got all of my investment, and I don’t remember how much my Aunt Doc had put in.  It probably wasn’t that much but in those days a little was a lot.

I do remember enough about the Depression because I helped Momma with whatever she was doing, and I do remember when Uncle Rex was just – maybe a year or two – and he had a little silk suit, and I hung that on the line and when I went to get it it was totally riddled – it had been eaten up – by grasshoppers – on the clothes line – along with some +other clothes.  But that silk suit, it was the first time it had been washed, and it was totally riddled.

Concerning the Second World War:

Well, I was in high school, so, of course, in our classes we were talking about that all the time.  And it was the – I graduated in ’45 – that was in ’42, Pearl Harbour?  So I was in early high school because we started the seventh grade.  But I remember – of course, everybody remembers what they were doing.  Somebody hears about it and they tell somebody else and then on Monday, when we went to school, . . . somebody actually brought a radio to school, and we just didn’t have school that day.  We were in the auditorium listening to that radio.  The war itself we were studying – we got what was going on.

[We were] scared to death.  As a child – especially when I’d go someplace else to stay, when you didn’t have the security of your parents – because, for me, I spent eighth grade, one semester, in New York State.  In the ninth grade I spent one semester in Weston going to school.  Then I was at home. . . . But it was really scary for me when I was a long ways from home.

. . . There was no TV, so – although at times your imagination can be worse than the real thing . . . . Pearl Harbor was scary.  And to see newspapers and pictures and hear what was going on on the radio . . .

In school they spent a lot of time in geography, especially, showing us where things were going on, and teaching us – we had all these generals, their pictures – we could tell you who every general was by his picture.  And so, all during those years that we were in the war there we stayed right on top of what was going on there – Africa – and then they moved to Japan.  And it was scary because you just didn’t know – we knew where Russia was, but then there was the question, “Yeah, Russia is helping us, but are they our friend?”  . . . back and forth even at that time about Russia.

My parents were confident, so therefore I didn’t – I wasn’t fearful.  They felt that we had overcome some terrible things, and of course, the whole nation was working towards it, not just the boys who were sent over, so it really became everybody’s war.

[The atomic bomb was dropped]  before we were married. . .

That was scary. . . .  When it came on the news of the enormity –  what a horrible thing we had done – that was really scary.  You began to think this has to be the end of the world because now they’ll come over here, because we thought they had these bombs already. Fortunately they didn’t or they would have.  But we could visualize them coming over and no one was safe anywhere in the world, so it was extremely scary.

[Concerning me looking forward to their wedding having just heard the news of the dropping of the atom bomb:] Well, that’s life, you know.  You have to live.  It was just normal for romance, for marriage, for raising a family . . .  But you didn’t do any real celebrating – like today they prepare months, or maybe a year in order to have a wedding.  You had a simple wedding with what you had, I did get a new dress, but I don’t know if Dad got anything new.

[Following the wedding, they took a greyhound bus for their honeymoon, destination Nortonville Kansas, where edgar’s parents lived.]  The war was over when we got to [Saint Joseph, Missouri., Just before they got to Kansas.]  And when the war was over, and that very day, that evening we knew the war was over, and the rations were off – everything.  I mean the food rationing and the gas rationing, everything was off that very day.  . . .

I remembered – the bus, the trains, every mode of transportation stopped for 24 hours, and that was a, you know, a law, I guess.  Nothing was to move.  They were just going to celebrate for 24 hours.


Concerning the Fear of Disease:

It was experimental, a lot of it.  They used things [that] today we can get over the drug counter.  And, of course, the little boy that sat right beside me in school did die with pneumonia.  They didn’t have anything, like we do, no antibiotics to fight disease.  But, Momma always – and they quarantined you – so we – I think my brother got sick the week after school was out, and they put this big sign out in the front of our house, “Quarantined,” so nobody’d come near our house, . . . If they did, after they’d see this sign they left.  And fortunately, we had two sections of the house, and there was a hallway that you went into first that you went to the right or the left  My father – we had to stay on the right side of the house, and my father on the left side because he went to college, he was doing some work, and he couldn’t come near us except to call through the window to us through the summer.  So Momma had to take care of us kids, and every one of us had scarlet fever.  They thought Bond had diphtheria, and it wasn’t until I got scarlet fever that they discovered that it really wasn’t diphtheria, it was scarlet fever.  But they used what my Aunt Doc called “white liniment,” and used it on our necks to keep our throats – and that was what happening: the throats would close, would just swell up with this infection and close, and your lungs – you would end up with pneumonia, and that would be it.  So, they always credited Aunt Doc with her white liniment that she made, it wasn’t something that she had bought, but, of course, my Aunt Doc had gone through medical school in Chicago – first woman to graduate with the men at the medical school at Northwestern, I think, in Chicago.  And that was her senior year.  She moved from the women’s medical school because they opened it up to women, and so she moved over there to the other medical school, and was in the first graduating class.

Noting a Number of Healing and Helping Professions in the Family:

Really and truly, you think of you childeren’s professions, they all of them deal with justice for people, helping people, helping the ecology – every one.

Concerning the Future:

I just feel like, today live each moment and make it the best you can and the future will take care of itself.  And I think it’s true, if you’re faithful now, because God is sovereign, God will help you.  Just like the accident you had, and it could have been such a, such a different story . . .

Rob:       Life is full of accidents, isn’t it?

Mom:    Full of just sudden accidents that you can’t prevent, and yet, miraculously, God takes care of you.

Rob:       Do you ever worry about any of the kids?  Or the family?

Mom:    Yeah.  And I have learned to pray when I worry: thank God you are there.  I learned that when you were tiny.  I have been very thankful I have learned that.  God is there, and God is able to put the person that can help where I would like to be.  And He has been faithful all these years.  And I am very thankful.

Concerning Faith Challenges:

Probably, Momma had gotten through all of Dad’s illness, so I never questioned that I couldn’t do it, and I imagine that prepared me.  I really – for our ministry and everything, I feel like just all through life God was preparing me.  I saw Mom get through things that looked impossible because the doctor – when we took Dad to the hospital the doctor said there was no way he could live.  And they took  him.  It was when sulfa and penicillin was being experimented on and wasn’t being use but was being experimented with.  And he had a doctor that was willing to experiment if Dad was willing to sign papers.  So, Mom and Dad signed papers that if he died as a result there would be no suits or anything.  And Mom got through that, and she had a baby during that time.  So, I don’t think I ever questioned it.

Rob:       Some people might accuse you of just being idealistic and you don’t really see the world the way it is.  . . . But your faith certainly didn’t come cheap.

Mom:    Well, does any of it?  I guess it shouldn’t come cheap.  I mean, it was costly, and when you really think about it, why, Christ gave his life and so, what more can we give?

I think the hardest part for us, anyway, was letting the kids go, one by one.  l always knew what they were doing –  every minute of every day.  You were there when they came home from school, and then, all of a sudden, you didn’t know.  Fortunately, it worked out all right because every one of you were good about at least once sending a letter home.  And then, when these computers came in, why then you didn’t know what they were doing three days ago, or four, when they mailed their letters: you knew that very same day.  And then for a short time we had where we could talk to them and if they were on, their name came up if they were using their computer at the same time: you could do something and you could talk to them, and it was like being on a telephone.  So, really in our lifetime we have come from people who left home and went on the wagon train West – you never expected to see – you might hear from them but it would be weeks after they had written their letter, and they never expected them to be able to come home again.  So, I really thought we were living in a much better time.  We’ve seen a lot of changes.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/


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