Marjorie "Marj" Morani
Marjorie Morani was born in 1935 in the city of Havre de Grace, Maryland. When the United States became involved in World War II, Mrs. Morani was only six years. As she was growing up, she and her family frequently experienced blackouts and times of rationing to support the war efforts. The impact of the war also affected her schooling as children and faculty participated in school drills in preparation of emergency situations. Mrs. Morani also visited the movies occasionally with her younger brother and often saw newsreels about the events that took place in Europe, specifically pertaining to the Holocaust.
In this interview, Mrs. Morani talks about the overall experiences she had as a child during World War II. She mentions her father who was a professional football player for the Washington Redskins prior to their enfranchisement and how his football injuries deemed him a 4F, unable to serve in the war. She also discusses the occasional periods of blackouts her family experienced along with the practice of rationing food and other supplies such as gasoline. A particular experience for Mrs. Morani was witnessing President Roosevelt’s death in the sense of seeing the train that carried his casket pass through her town of Havre de Grace. Many of her memories during her early childhood years such as watching newsreels of the holocaust, school drills and overall confusion of warfare paint a unique perspective of World War II.
Fear about Father’s Draft
I can’t say I remember a lot of fear or anything. My parents did, my mom cried a lot—afraid that my father was gonna be drafted. My father was a professional football player and had a lot of injuries, so he ended up being a 4F which meant he wasn’t gonna be drafted unless it was a terrible emergency so, he was never drafted. But they used to list in the paper in the evening, all the people who were being called and everybody would run and you know, look at the papers and see if they were being called.
Gabriel Heeder & Rationing
KV: You said you rationed sugar—were you aware of why as a child, or was it just something you had to do?
MM: No, it was because of the war effort. Everybody bought war bonds to try to support it [the war effort]. And we listened to a man called Gabriel Heeder on the radio. And he always started his program with “There’s good news tonight” …whether there was or not.
KV: Was he just giving out news or—
MM: [He was a] News Caster.
And I do remember his [FDR] death, and I remember the train going through town with his casket. Everyone walked down to see it and his little dog was sitting by the casket.
Movie Reels about the Holocaust
I remember going to NewsCAT to the movies in the afternoons and so I was old enough to walk to the movies with my brother and they had the news and they had the pictures of the Holocaust and all the camps, Auschwitz and things like that. And, that was horrible, I remember that very distinctly. And Lani was telling me she was pretty sure that we didn’t know about that until after the war, I don’t remember. But I do remember seeing the movie clips of it.
Impact of War on School
KG: Did the war impact your school experience at all?
MM: We had to—they had air-raid drills at school and I think I was maybe, the second or third grade. I remember going outside and we had to get under trees. And they would take everybody outside and each class would line up and put your back against the trunk of a tree. There were a lot of trees in the schoolyard.
KV: Why trees? For protection?
MM: I guess so they—the people couldn’t see us, I mean we’d be under the green of the tree and they’d bomb the school and, miss us I guess that was the idea.
Overall Experience of World War II
KG: If you had to describe your experience during World War II, what would you say?
MM: I’m not sure, I can’t say fear, because I don’t think age five, six, seven you really, you don’t think about it, you know? I mean it was just, maybe sadness. You know, like kind of prevailing.
AW: Why sadness?
MM: Well, everybody was so worried, you know. Everybody was so frightened. When you’re having blackouts, you’re having drills at school and that sort of thing.