I’d like to share a few passages about Mom and War Stories. They may not seem related, but they are, especially when you consider how many mothers give their sons and daughters up to the Cause of Freedom.
Mother’s come in all shapes and sizes, just like stories. Today, I’m giving you a few tasty morsels, so when these stories “go live” on our community site,
, you’ll know where to find them.
Story Number One:
“My earliest memories are from the age of three when my parents purchased a corner lot on Elmwood and Dallas with many trees and built a three bedroom and one bath home. It was the first home they owned together. I remember Dad getting home from work and going over with him to see the house. My sister and I couldn’t get out of the ‘38 Dodge because the property is too dangerous to play on as a 3 1/2 and 5 year old so we had to play dolls in the back seat. Instead, I glue my eyes to the window and gaze at the dirt piles, the gravel and rocks, the timbers and pretend I’m playing. We moved into the house in March 1940, and finally I get to play outside.”
Story Number Two:
“I was the middle child. Have you ever been the middle child or the middle of anything? The word for this sort of situation is cramped. I felt uncomfortable. That’s how I was born, and that’s how I lived. And no one knew any different. It’s OK because I had no choice in the matter. No one but no one knew that I was jealous of my big sister ~ EVER.
Who wants to know about my memories? I’ve led a good life. Truly I have. I want people to remember me as a loving, compassionate and caring Christian woman. But the funny thing is there’s more to me than meets the eye. So this book is my story but my story is ongoing, and I can edit and rewrite it anytime I feel. That’s why there are parts of this book that have lined paragraphs for me to fill in later when I get to know you better or when more memories come back because they know they have a captive audience. What do I like? I love laughter. It makes me happy.”
Story Number Three:
“I went to Bailey Grade School, Washington Junior High, and Garfield High School. I graduated on a Friday and started working on a Monday at the Health Department doing clerical work, and I didn’t stop till I retired. Work gave me a leave of absence when I had children, and I always took it. I can’t remember how many months but I took whatever they gave me. My first husband was a drummer, and he played with Lionel Hampton’s band and Quincy Jones. Quincy, and his brother, Lloyd, lived down the street. We all went to Garfield High School together.
Quincy graduated a year before me, but his brother Lloyd was in my class. We were at a concert, and they both introduced me to my first husband, and I married him. We moved to Los Angeles, and I had two daughters and a son with him. Chris, my youngest was just a baby, born in 1963, when I moved back to Seattle because I divorced the drummer. Carlene is my fourth child from my second husband.”
Story Number Four (a young Mom with a one 1/2-year-old son):
“Who will listen to a woman?
It’s my process of learning my center.
At least that’s what I had to do to become myself ~ a samurai warrior princess. I am dedicated and committed to this journey for the rest of my life.
What have I learned?
I’m straight forward, creative and protective. I will protect myself and those I love.
If you cross my boundaries, I will come after you. I am passionate in all endeavors of my life. I love my husband, my son, my mom, my brother and his family and Eduardo’s family. My craft as a graphic designer is fun, and I like my job.
My role model is a samurai princess. I became this after I was defeated many times in my life. But that’s when I started learning about me. It is good to know who I am and I welcome you to my story. I love who I am, and I hope you love yourself too.”
My father served in the Korean War but was in the Air Force and spent most of his time in Europe. My father-in-Law was in combat in the Army and fought in the Korean fields and knew firsthand what being a soldier was all about. My uncle fought in World War 2 and was in the CIA when it began. No one ever talked about it in family conversation because it was hush-hush. Uncle Ed must have had tons of stories. But they went when he passed away because it was too much for him to talk about what he went through.
Many soldiers can’t tell their stories.
Last fall I came down to Alva, OK to witness the Quilts of Honor ceremony where veterans are given quilts as a way of honoring their service. I’m writing “Quilting With Valor” but haven’t finished that book in time for today because the creative process has her timelines.
Captured stories span worlds, generations, feelings, and emotions caught on paper for our reading or for listening.
Story Number Five:
I’d like to leave you with some of Mitzi’s story, my great-grandmother. I had the incredible opportunity to interview her for a journalism class in my junior year of high school. I am so glad I captured this amazing woman and her incredible stories because she killed herself a few years later.
Mitzi came from Vienna, Austria where her family owned a furniture factory. When she was young, she was married off to a man, and they shipped out to Chicago in the United States. He was not a nice person. They owned a boarding house. She was the cook and the cleaning woman. The husband went out to drink. If he didn’t like Mitzi’s behavior, he’d beat her. She had one daughter, Charlotte and she sent her away to Europe to get educated by the nuns in a Catholic Boarding School. Mitzi got the courage to leave her husband and get a divorce. She found a job as a cook at a country club in Chicago.
There, Mitzi met her second husband, Emile. He was a Maître D’ – all elegant and fine. She loved another man, but Emile hid this other man’s love letters. Mitzi said “yes” to marrying Emile because she didn’t think the other man loved her. On the way home from the ceremony they ran into the other man. Too late, she married Emile and life
went on. They moved to New York City where he was Maître D’ of The Waldorf Astoria while Mitzi ran a beer garden next door. The Management of the Waldorf Astoria told Emile to control his wife and shut down the beer garden or get fired.
Instead, both Mitzi and Emile went back to Vienna to be with her Mom and help her out. And this is a snippet of Mitzi’s account
“My mother was so happy when she saw us. Father died in 1931 so she was a widow. My Mom owned a big factory that had 20 tenants and about 56 people working in this big building. Everything was beautiful. I say to my husband what are we going to do? And my mother says, “Look, Mitzi, (my name is Mitzi), why do you not want to stay here? If you don’t like the furniture factory then maybe you want a restaurant? So she rented for us by the entrance of the King’s palace a restaurant – a big restaurant that can never be sold, only rented because it’s part of the King’s palace. I got a lease from 1 to 5 years.
Well, now in the restaurant, I found the perfect business for my husband who is always dressed in elegant slacks. People don’t care much for him because he was a big shot. It’s 1936, and then 1937 and the War gets closer to starting. I say,”Mother shut- down the factory, and sell everything.” But we can’t sell anything.
One day it was 1939 and Hitler’s soldiers come and ask if we are American. I say yes. The officers ask me what I’m going to do? There are only five hundred exchanges of Americans coming back to America. We are American citizens. They ask us for our passport, and we show them our passports. Not far from my restaurant, about a half-mile, Hitler has the biggest barracks where Germans have been training for six months.
These “SS” German soldiers say, “Well tomorrow morning you can go early with just a little bag and back to America, but you have to leave everything else here.”
I say, “No sir I will not go and leave my mother and her furniture factory. She cannot go with me, and I will not go back with nothing. How can I do that?” Well, this looks bad for you they say, maybe you can go to a concentration camp or something like this.
They yell at me, “Make up your mind. Do you go or not?” I yell back, “No. I love this country. I was born here. I love Vienna, and I will never forget it. But I cannot change my citizenship like my shirt. I am staying an American citizen Do whatever you will with me but don’t do anything to my husband. He’s innocent. I took him here. “
The SS took away our passports and cut them in half. They were not nice anymore and were very excitable. We don’t know what to do. I say I will not go back and leave everything and be a poor nothing.
These soldiers let me stay because I am feeding them in my restaurant. No one is closing me down because I make good food. The war starts. More soldiers come through Vienna. Hitler occupies Czechoslovakia. It was just terrible.
A rest is needed for Mitzi because she is emotional.
Then I was working in the restaurant. Hitler’s soldiers the SS troops come to my restaurant. “Heil Hitler”. We have to do Heil Hitler and everything. We’re just like prisoners. I had on the front of my icebox my husband’s picture. One soldier came in and ripped the picture off and say, “down with Truman. That’s President Truman.” I say, “That’s not Truman. That’s my husband. He looks elegant but is not the President.”
The soldier calls me into the dining room, and I saw all the souvenirs from America ripped down. I was feeling any minute they’re going to take us and put us away.
I took 5000 shillings out of the bank because I want to escape. I had my little girl with me. I say, “Come Charlotte, let’s go next door to the bank and then buy a big hat where I’ll hide the handbag. We went to the store, and I put my handbag on the table. I turned around, for a second, and my purse was gone. I had the five thousand shillings in there and my American passport. My American passport had taken lots of work to get back, and it stated right on it I can only go twelves miles from Vienna.
So I was screaming and yelled please throughout the store, let’s see who got my bag. We couldn’t find the bag. I said I give 2000 shillings for a reward because I want that passport. No, I came home disgusted crying for my passport. I have no proof I am an American citizen anymore.
Two days later at midnight, somebody knocked on my door. The restaurant door opened and in comes an old man. He says (in German) he wants to talk to me. So I took him to the back room, and he gave me a wrapped paper package. I unwrapped it, and it was my handbag. I am glad because my passport is still there even though the shillings are gone. He’s a Jewish man. I say, “What to do now? What I’m going to give you?” He says “You give me nothing. I walk the whole night.” It must have taken him at least five hours to walk. I say, “You are Jewish.”
I was scared. I had already helped a lot of Jewish people and was known to the police. I feed him, but he doesn’t stay. He says, “Tomorrow, I can come with food,” and he gives me his address.
He walked out again and was gone.
He lived in the same building where they had stolen my handbag. This Jewish fellow had found the thief in the building. Now somebody from the Gestapo must have been watching me because Gestapo asked me how I had gotten my passport back. I told them a man brought it back, but they must know this already. They must watch me.
Mitzi stops and cries as she remembers it all as if it was yesterday.
It’s getting difficult for her to talk.
“I am reminding of this poor fellow,” she says. I wanted to go to that man the next day and bring him some food. But I was being watched. I could not go. When I finally was able to go to this man, the man was gone. I don’t know what to say. He was Jewish. They took him to a concentration camp. He was not living anymore. Whatever it was I am bothered. Soldiers, young boys from the barracks come to my restaurant, and it’s always, “Heil Hitler.” That’s all we hear.
My husband and I don’t want to live anymore. The sirens are blaring all the time while people are running and hiding in the basements. The war begins, and it is impossible to live. I go many time to the Gestapo to answer their questions, but I also help Jewish people when I can because Gestapo can’t lock me up. I am the cook and needed at the restaurant to feed soldiers. I make great food.”
Go ahead and share the story but I’d appreciate you linking back to my website: