How does a couple cope when two of their sons are missing in action?
If you’re a farm couple who’ve recently bought a little house on your own acreage, and, if you’re Clabe and Leora Wilson, you’re going to stay busy. Busyness helps somewhat to think about something besides the worry of Dale (missing in New Guinea since November 1943) and Danny (MIA in Austria since February).
The buildings on the acreage near Perry, Iowa, needed painting, so Clabe set out to do that, using 20 gallons of white paint on the barn, the other out buildings, and the house–into July. He also hired out to help a neighbor make hay a couple of times.
Leora’s 200 White Rocks and 174 Barred Rock baby chicks had arrive in early April, causing her to awake at least twice during the night to check that they were okay.
They’d also set out 75 strawberry plants, grapes, raspberries, cleaned out the henhouse, and sowed grass seed.
Leora wrote letters–to Donald in the Pacific, Don’s wife Rose on the West Coast, Delbert and Evelyn on the East Coast, and Junior in Texas.
And President Franklin Roosevelt died, the only president the Wilson siblings had ever known. Harry Truman became the new president.
Robert Scar born, another Grandchild for Wilsons
Sam and Darlene and little Richard came for Sunday dinner every other week. At the end of April, Sam and Darlene left Richard with his grandparents. Robert Edward Scar was born May 2. Darlene said that a lot of his babyhood was lost in the fog of having two brothers missing in action.
Richard stayed with his grandparents through May, but by then their daughter Doris could help watch him, and she had moved in with her toddler. Her husband Warren was in heavy training to fly the B-17, then later was the commander of the B-29 Superfortress. The towns where the pilots were sent next were so small that there was no room for families.
The week after Robert was born, Germany surrendered and the country celebrated VE-Day (Victory in Europe). Surely now Danny Wilson would come out of hiding or maybe out of a hospital somewhere. Surely they’d hear from him any day, as other families had heard from their boys.
Days were celebrated, or at least observed. Mother’s Day was May 13th, also the 24th birthday of Dale and Darlene. Danny would have turned 22 on May 21.
A bittersweet spring. Wilsons owned their very first property. Even the 1942 Plymouth was paid for. By then they had four grandchildren–two grandsons and two granddaughters, with another due that fall.
Richard Scar Joy Neal Leora Darlene Wilson Robert Scar
But one son, Donald, was still in combat in the Pacific aboard an aircraft carrier. And those two cherished younger sons missing in action.
Love that calendar. You did an outstanding job of keeping track of everyone!
Do I admit that I have decades of it for Leora! I also made kind of a spreadsheet, each person with his own column, just to keep track of where each one was at a certain time. Mom had me make copies of those for her, too.
That’s very impressive and such good preparation for writing the book!
Love those pictures of the grandchildren…so adorable. It is true that keeping busy is often the very best medicine!
Those grandchildren, and eventually five more, were also part of the medicine.
You had a lot to keep organized with that family’s whereabouts. I’m just getting to 1945 in the story. I almost dread reading what’s coming next after getting to know everyone through their letters. Such a close-bonded group.
I think the family was especially close because of what they went through during the Great Depression (the next book, which is at least started).
I understand your dread. I’m having an audiobook made of “Leora’s Letters.” Didn’t even think about the narrator and man who recorded and edited it going on an emotional journey with me. I’ve listened to most of it–laughed and cried. It’s sure more personal listening to Clabe’s words through a man’s voice.
(I’d envisioned a women, but asked a trusted professional who he’d choose. The man at the top said yes. I’m to record the beginning and ends probably next week.)
I think it will make a great audiobook. Have fun with the reading!
Oh wow… that’s amazing
I felt that same dread when I read the book.
It’s an excellent read, and maybe we should experience exactly that when we read it.
I was just thinking that it becomes a shared experience and remembrance. lump in throat
You’re right. That’s precisely why it needs a wide audience.
Time, events and place certainly plays the role in dictating the life we will have. There is no doubt the Wilson’s were exceptional in all aspects of their lives. A phenomenal family of strength and love 🙂
I think their closeness came from what they endured during the Great Depression (working on those compelling stories now). Leora had an 8th grade education, but I wonder if Clabe had even that much. They were just regular folks (the narrator uses that tone with the audiobook), but somehow they were a great family. Gonna hug them all when I get to heaven!
Leora was such a capable woman, I don’t think of her as lacking education.