Elaine Figgs

Elaine was born on October 27, 1928 in Seaford, DE. Her father was a farmer who used an animal-drawn plough for their small farm. At the time of Pearl Harbor, Elaine was thirteen years old and on her way to the local movie theater where she worked as a ticket seller. She used her income to buy war bonds in school. She later began working another job at the bank in Seaford. She currently resides in Seaford at the Manor House.

In the interview, Elaine speaks about growing up on her family’s farm and her mother’s canning. She recalls her time working in a movie theater’s box office and watching the movie newsreels while noting how beautiful the theater is. She later became a banker and worked there up until retirement. Elaine speaks on the effect the new DuPont plant had on Seaford, and how it’s existence caused many people to move to her town for possible employment. Towards the end of the interview, she speaks of a board at the local post office listing the fallen soldiers.

The Farm and Rationing

I was only thirteen at the time, and I didn’t have to help much on the farm although a lot of children did that had a farm. But like I said, our farm wasn’t that large so [with] some outside help, we were able to keep it going, and we thought we did very well with it. My father was a good farmer, and he also had dairy cows, and we sold milk. They put the milk in a big container with ice on either side of this container, and they put the milk cans in the center. They keep it cool until the dairy really came around and picked it up and took it and processed it. As far as the rationing, what I remember was for gasoline especially and sugar. And of course the women that lived on the farm did a lot of canning at that time so they were glad to get the sugar for the processing of the food. My mother canned all the produce, like tomatoes. Well, she canned a lot of different things, but back then, at that time, the women on the farm always canned because in the winter, they would use what they had canned. We had what we called the cellar, and we had shelves built there, and the food that was canned was put down there on the shelves.

DuPont Plant

People worked here [Dupont Plant] from Salisbury, Georgetown, Easton. They all came because the money, for one thing, was more than they could make at any other job. People came from all areas around here to work there: Bridgeville, Laurel, you name it. They were the first nylon plant. I don’t understand the working there, but there were a lot of jobs that were available. And they had lots of machines, and they made the nylon. And some of the nylon was used for parachutes.

Buying Stamps and Bonds

You could take money and get stamps, and then when you got the book full, you could get a bond for it like $18.75, depending on the size book you had. Not all of the people participated because some of the high school kids at that time didn’t have the extra money. I was lucky to have a little bit of the extra income from working, but I bought several bonds. Well several was a lot to me at that time. Of course, you had to keep them. I’ve forgotten just how long it was now before you could cash it in. Most everybody tried to keep it till they filled the book so they could get a bond.

Board of Soldier’s Names

And at the post office, they installed a large board, and they would put the names of the soldiers that were there. And, if I remember correctly, VE Day, we marched up to that board, and you went by class. I was in a junior class, so the seniors went first; then the juniors next; then the sophomores; then the freshmen. And they all went up to that board, and they called out the names. I think it was the mayor of the town who called out the names of the ones who were on the board. Everyone was proud that we had come through. Of course, we had, I believe it was three or four, gold star mothers that were also up there that day. That they had lost a son. One of them was a good friend of our families that lost a boy in the Navy, and, of course, we knew. It was a small town. We knew just about all of ’em, you know, when they were deceased and bring ’em home for the burial. But that was a sad time.