Hazel Mears was born in 1937 and was 4 years old when the war started. She went to school in Church Hill where there were no male teachers. Her husband served in the war. She lives with her husband in Centreville, MD.
During the interview, Hazel discusses her uncle in the Army and how that emotionally impacted her and her family, her memories of the rationing of sugar since her mom did a lot of canning, and newspaper articles about her mother-in-law in the war. She also mentions an aunt that worked in a defense plant and another that worked at the Bendix Company in Baltimore. Hazel shares stories of collecting milkweed pods for parachutes and her purchase of war stamps during the war. She reflects on having POWs at her house to help with wheat threshing and pulling corn and how she thought the barracks were not adequate for the POWs. She also mentions her husband’s aunt and uncle who made lifetime friends with POWs.
Mother-in-Law’s Service as a Nurse
Well, there were times when she would tell experiences. She said it was very unpleasant experiences that they endured many times—soldiers being injured so severely—and this article really talks about it so often. In fact, she said often at night, she would have nightmares about the incidents that happened to the men. She said they got so attached to the soldiers, and it was just so difficult for them when they didn’t make it. This is interesting here, I can just read this to you. She said, “One night in June with a full emergency room, she was assessing damages to decide who needed surgery first. Suddenly kids came in from the air field.” Now she meant soldiers because, of course, she was thinking of them as young men. “They were flying them in fast, and I went to take this boy’s boot off and his foot started coming off. I said, ‘Take this boy in there and cut his boot off.’ Thank God he was unconscious. I saw him walking on crutches before I left.” So that’s an example of some of the experiences she had there.
Uncle in War
It affected our family very much because my uncle was the only son in the family. He had three sisters, and he came along much later in life so he was the pampered son, I would say. And so everyone just thought about him and tried to do what they could to keep in contact with him and to send him whatever he would request. My mother always sent him care packages of food, and I remember helping her do that. And it was interesting. Back then, of course, we were a farm family, and we covered our kitchen table with oil cloth which was a printed cloth, and it was water proof. So my mother would buy a piece of oil cloth and turn it inside out and wrap his packages so they would be waterproof when we sent them to him. It’s always stuck in my mind.
He had a friend by the name of Lusby Elliot, and he was also a medic, and they were friends before they joined the service. And when their unit was bombed, my uncle saw that Lusby Elliot was definitely hurt seriously. And Lusby Elliot was a tall man, probably 6’2″. My uncle was probably 5’8″, but he actually ran, picked up Lusby Elliot and took him to the first aid station. And in this article, Lusby Elliot credits my uncle with saving his life. And it was interesting to see that Lusby Elliot actually married a bride over there, and he said that even though he was in several hospitals in the United States, recuperating, he said his main goal was to get his wife back to this country.
Prisoners of War
The Prisoner of War camp was located on 213 probably about 5 miles from here. And at wheat threshing time which was usually in July, my father would make arrangements for the prisoners to come to our farm and help with the threshing of the wheat. And my mother always made sandwiches for them and big milk cans of iced tea, and it was a neat experience, really. And they were very appreciative of the food that she provided them. And then I believe also, when it came time to harvest the sweet corn, Dad also had them come and help with that, but they were very nice and they really appreciated, you know, the hospitality. The barracks really were not that sufficient.
Oh, I have many memories of rationing because living on a farm, we actually canned most of our food and, you know, stored for the winter. So it was very difficult for my mother to get sugar. In fact, some other members in the family who didn’t need too much sugar would share their sugar with her because, you know, she really needed it for the canning. Of course, also butter was rationed at that time, and coffee, gasoline so you know that was a bit of a problem. But it was mainly the sugar for us.
Husband’s Correspondence with a German Family
He had a wonderful interaction with a German family. They just took him under their wing, and had him at their house for holidays. And even after he got out of the service, we corresponded with them for years. At that time the war really wasn’t going on in Germany. It was concentrated in Korea, but he was just there with security.