Saturday, June 13, 2015

Twice in a Lifetime: Interviewing Mary Wood

Considering Ms. Mary Wood's age she was extremely sharp and witty while telling her WII stories.  Ms. Wood, ninety-seven years old was in her twenties during the war, and gave a vivid portrayal of what it was like to be a young adult on the home front.  Ms. Wood came from a family strongly tied to the first world war.  Her father was rose through the ranks as battery commander and remained in the reserves until the mid-thirties.  Her mother was involved in the Red Cross, and still served even after Ms. Woods birth.

Ms. Wood's WWII story begins September 1st, 1939, the day of the Pearl Harbor attack.  She had been out until 5 A.M. and saw here dad sitting on the porch.  She naturally expected to get chewed out by her father, but instead found him weeping because the Nazi's had invaded Poland.  After this Ms. Wood joined the war effort as a member of the Red Cross on the home-front.  She did war work all across the east coast, and spent plenty of time flirting with local marines and going on dates in D.C..

Eventually Ms. Wood married her husband, who was 4-F (unfit to be a soldier) and contributed to the war effort in other ways than combat.  Her husband, A Harvard Law grad, was re positioned from being a lawyer to a school teacher, taking the place of those who were overseas.  During the day when Ms. Wood's husband was away she tended to her boiler chickens.  Boiler chickens are middle sized chickens somewhere between a fryer and a roaster chicken.  She gave a great anecdote about how her husband neglected to make a chicken coop, and how she had to keep the chickens inside the house in a designated chicken room.  The chickens grew larger and larger every day, and it became near impossible to contain them.  One day she had a potential home buyer come through the house, and she had to forcibly guide him away from the  chicken room.  Ms. Wood got rid of the chickens soon after out of frustration.

The remainder of Ms. Wood's wartime memories were of major battles and rationing.  Ms. Wood vividly remembers where she was when she heard about Pearl Harbor, D-Day, V.E. Day, and V.J. day.  In her time you couldn't just log onto Facebook and see a stream of news as you scroll down the page.  She and her family would spend hours next to the radio, just like we do with our laptops.  She remembers the devastation of Pearl Harbor, the suspense of D-Day, and the triumphs of victory on the European front and the Pacific theater.

Like many others Ms. Wood remembers rationing.  A few things she remembers being rationed were cigarettes, oil, rubber, and food.  She was well aware of the black market in town, and even had close contact with it through her boiler chicken venture.  She chose to not enter into the illegal sales because of the moral dilemma and her husbands stalwart patriotism.

I personally cannot believe how well the interview went.  The information that Ms. Wood provided was rich in detail, but the biggest take away was her attitude toward war and human conflict.  After expereincing WWII and hearing her parents experience in WII, she is troubled by the violence overseas as well as the turmoil on the home-front.  She is troubled by the fact that nobody seems to really care about the violence unless someone they know is connected.  She said that in her time almost everyone came together to help end the war and reach peace.  She feels that today war is polarizing people, and adding to the problem.  It is unfortunate that Ms. Wood's efforts for peace have been forgotten by our nations majority.  It's become more apparent how important it is to record the voices of the past to benefit our future.


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