Aline was born on November 3rd, 1928 and raised in Seaford, DE. She was attending high school when the war started. As a teenager growing up during the war, she recalls attending USO dances in Fort Miles with other girls from her town as well as performing air raid drills at her home. Her father worked in the gasoline industry.
During this interview, Aline describes her life in a small town as a young woman. Aline tells stories about gasoline rationing and her father’s job working in the gasoline rationing. She also provides details regarding USO dances, and giving insight as to how teenage girls spent their time during the war. She shares some of the stories of her second husband’s experiences as a POW in Germany.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
The Superintendent of our school went through the whole school, opened the door and said, “The Japs have just invaded America!” And he went out, and went to the next door. That’s how we found out. Well, we were just shocked, you know, couldn’t even, you know, consume it all in. It was really a shock. That’s all.
Using Father’s Gas Coupons to take the Family to the Beach
You get so many gallons of gas per month or however it was, I don’t remember exactly that. But it went through a holiday, and we wanted to go to Rehoboth to the beach. Daddy was going to take us. And he didn’t, you know, wouldn’t have enough gas. So he took a piece of white adhesive tape and put it across the zero in his license plate to make it an eight because he wasn’t supposed to go, see, ’cause he got more gas by being in the job he was in. So we went to the beach, and when he got there, he took the tape off because anybody going by would know it was tape. So they got his number while we were sitting there. And so he went back, and he had to go before the board and explain what he was doing. They forgave him, but it was hairy and scary for him. But I thought it was funny.
Second Husband’s Experience in a German POW Camp
He was in the Air Corps. He was stationed in England, and they went out as assigned in the planes. They were out, and they got hit, and the pilot told him to bail out or whatever it was they said. I think that was it. And they all went. He and two went down one certain way, and he never did hear from the second one so he was deceased. But John landed in a tree, and he said all around underneath him were Germans with their guns pointed at him ready to shoot him. And the Russians came by, that sounded funny to me, but the Russians came by and chased them away and saved him and took him to the German POW camp. Why that happened like that I don’t know, but that was the story.
He was an officer so he said he was treated very well. He didn’t have to go out and work like a lot of them. They just didn’t have much food. That was the worst thing for him. They’d bring him so many loaves of bread which was not really bread. It was—he said it tasted like sawdust, and that had to last him for X number of days.
And the other thing he told was that they slept two in bunk because it was so cold, and they were allowed one blanket. So if they slept together, they had two blankets, and of course body heat too probably.
And they took them to swim like once a month to some place. I think they called it Bath but I don’t know. I don’t know the exact name. But that was about it.
When he left, when he was released from prison camp, of course, that was quite a jubilation, you know. They wanted to feed them, and they were ready for a steak and ice cream and all that. It was quite something.
Segregation in Seaford
During the war, we had what they called “Colored Town,” and it was in one of the sections of Seaford. And they never came over except Saturday night to do their shopping. And they had their own little corner grocery stores. But you just never saw them so there was never any—I’m sure there must’ve been some fights or something that I would never have known about between them in their own little section. But that’s the way it pretty much was then.
Well, we had a lady that worked for us, for our whole family—aunts, you know, and my mother and everything. And she lived right in the center. And we weren’t frightened to go there or anything. We took her home. My father used to fish, and he’d go up there with—this was during the war—and he had the back of the truck full of fish. And they all knew him, and they’d come “Mr. Sam! Mr. Sam!” and they’d get their fish and take them home because he didn’t want all that many fish. And it was just that one section of town.
Brother’s Experience with the Draft
My brother was 4-F, and he hated it, because of his eyes, and he hated it. ‘Cause he felt like he was, you know, he should be doing something.
For our record, can you explain what it meant to be 4-F?
Well, that meant you weren’t fit to go into service at all. That was the bottom. And, you know, so that was it. He couldn’t ever apply again.
He just, you know, it made him feel like less of a man because he couldn’t go, and the rest of his friends were going and so forth.