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Veterans Day: Remembering the spouses at home

September 1, 2010

This Veterans Day I’m also thinking about all the veterans’ spouses who were brave at home.  In 1951, Dad turned their fledgling Culligan business (with all the debt and stress) legally over to Mom in case he were killed in the new war. He had been “called back” to the Korean Conflict as a WW II veteran and Naval Inactive Reservist.

Besides the business, Mom had two babies to care for–Ginny Sue had just turned one and Ron was only 14 months older. Her only transportation was a straight-shift large delivery truck, and it was difficult to keep both babies on the seat since that was before car seats. Their “house” was above the Culligan plant, so she had to carry Ginny Sue and groceries up the steps and also carry Ron when he was asleep or couldn’t be coaxed to walk up the steps himself. It’s hard to imagine what daily life must have been like, trying to do office work and answer a business phone with two babies underfoot, besides doing housework, laundry and cooking. The nights must have been long with no one to help with a sick or crying baby.

Last year I read some of Dad’s letters to Mom after he left. He talked about how much he missed “my babies” and her, but he said he didn’t worry at all about the business; he just trusted that she and her brother would deal with it. Dad wasn’t gone long. Ginny Sue got gravely ill with encephalitis and the Red Cross helped Dad get home from the West Coast. Then he got an honorable discharge.

That generation was truly great. No wonder they got a bit irritated with us for complaining about little things. Or burning the flag.

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