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1940s Memories From Our Visitors

When we look back in time small things or words can jog our own memories

Growing Up In Detroit Michigan in the 1940s U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: Dory

I grew up in Detroit Mich. When i was around 5 years old around 1947, 1948

I remember me and my friends would wait for the milkman. He came in a horse drawn vehicle. We would feed him some kind of a plant that grew by the curb while the milkman would take the milk to the door. What a treat for us youngsters.

My problem is, my older brother doesn't remember it and insists that i made it up. I am still trying to find proof.

The iceman also came to the people who still only had an icebox. He had big blocks of ice. The man would give all of us kids chips of ice to eat. I also remember a flat bed truck that would come down our street full of all kinds of fruits and vegetables and yell very loud, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. and the ladies would come out of their houses and buy what they needed. Great memories! Oh, by the way, my brother didn't remember the vegetable truck either.

Another of My Dads World War II Story U.S.A.

Posted By Mark Layport

I'd like to submit another one of my Dad’s (PFC. Merle E. Layport) war stories.

He is no longer with us, passed away May of 1992.

This was told to me by him a number of times as I was growing up, it was another one of his favorite stories, and I’d like to share.

April 1945 Dad was in the U.S. Army “K” Company, 35th INF. REG., 25th Div. They were in the Philippines at Luzon; Dad’s unit had been in the rear doing a “rest and reorganization” and was due to head back up on the line (battle front). Dad had picked up a head cold and was coughing and sneezing a lot. His Platoon Sgt. told him to head down to the medics to see if they could give him something for it. Coughing and sneezing up on the line at night would give your position away to the enemy, so something that was to be avoided!

Dad went down to the medic’s and he got in line to see the doctor. The doctor was a Captain that Dad had seen before, Dad explained the problem and the doctor said he thought he could fix Dad’s problem. He gave Dad a small vial of a clear viscous liquid, and told Dad to drink it straight down and then go over to a bunk and lay down for abit. Dad drank the liquid, said it tasted real pepperminty, and went over to the bunk. He said with in 30 minutes the snot started running out of his nose so fast he couldn’t keep up with it with a handkerchief, so he just hung his head over the bunk and let it run out onto the dirt floor.

After about an hour of this his nose stopped running, and his cold was gone! He went with his platoon to the front lines and never felt any symptoms of a cold! Nine months later, the war is over and Dad is part of the occupation of Japan.

He has been made an acting Sergeant, and had gotten the duty of Sgt. of the guard. This would require him to stay up all night and post and check on all the guard stations through out the night. To complicate matters he had picked up another head cold! So he heads down to the medics to see if that can give him something to help. As he goes into the medics to see the doctor, he notices it’s the same doctor that had given him the “magic liquid” back at Luzon! When he finally sees the doctor, he explains that he has a head cold and would like some of that “medicine” that the doctor had given him before.

The doctor looks at my Dad a minute and says “I don’t know what you’re talking about Sergeant!” …Dad was dumbfounded! He tries to explain again about the “clear liquid” that made his nose running, and he “the doctor” had given it to him, and what effects it had played on his cold. Again the doctor stated he didn’t know what my Dad was talking about!

The doctor said his cold had to run its course and would be over in week or so …was handed afew pills and told to “move out”! Dad never did find out what he was given, and always wondered about it!??

Dads World War II Story U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: Mark Layport

I'd like to submit one of my Dad’s (PFC. Merle E. Layport) war stories.

He is no longer with us, passed away May of 1992.

This was told to me by him a number of times as I was growing up, it was one of his favorite. April 1945 Dad was in the U.S.Army “K” Company, 35th INF. REG., 25th Div. They were in the Philippines at Balete pass.

Dad's company was positioned on a hill top over looking a narrow valley, they had been there afew days. Below their position was a cave occupied by Japanese soldiers. This was at a range of about 300+yd.s. Dad had said they did most of their fighting in the jungle, at ranges of 10 to 25 feet. They could see the Japanese coming and going on occasion, but taking pot shots at this 300+ yard range seem to be proving fruitless, and the Japanese were aware of this!

Dad was raised in Washington State and considered himself quite the shooter. So he went to the machine gun squad and got some tracers, and started to re-zero a spare rifle at what he thought was the correct range, to do "something" about these Japanese. He was making so much noise the Lt. came over to see what was happening.

After Dad told him of his plan, the Lt’s parting comment was "carry on". So next morning Dad was set, along with his buddies who had taken bets on if he could get anything or not.

As the sun rose, alone Japanese walked out drinking a cup of tea or something. He walked out to the edge of some rocks and promptly dropped his paint and swatted down, putting his cup down in front of him. He was taking his "morning dump"! Dad drew down on him and slowly squeezed off a shot.

The cup in front of the Japanese solider exploded! The solider fell backwards then jumped up and ran back to the cave …as fast as his pant around his ankles would allow!

Dad's buddies were rolling with laughter, he took alot of ribbing the rest of the day. Dad was wounded 5 days later by a grenade in operations in that pass. He spent the next few months in the field hospital. I can't tell you how many times I heard this story. But I'm sure I didn't hear all the stories. I wish I could hear this one, …more time. Mark Layport

Add Your Memory

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Remembering the 1940s

How are people who are basically good convinced to create such suffering to others as The Germans did in Concentration Camps to a whole section of society of other human beings, or the Japanese did to prisoners of war in camps. The other side can not honestly say they have clean consciences when an atomic bomb is dropped onto two cities including women and children which caused mass deaths and pain and suffering for many years to come.

Freedom is a right many of us who have never had to fight in a war take for granted and can only thank the brave men and women who fought and died in WORLD WAR II to protect that freedom we now have.

I am sure that War brings out the very worst in human nature and can only hope people of the world never have to suffer again in such extreme ways.

Please take the time to speak to your parents and grandparents so you can understand some of the pain and suffering that generation went through on our behalf , and if they are willing please ask if they will allow their memory to be added to The People History, even if the memory is not added to The People History it will still have been passed on to YOU.

The 1940's showed how cruel human beings can be to other human beings, World War II is now 60 years ago but should not be forgotten or the men and women who fought for the freedom we take for granted today. How could any man or woman with any form of conscience perform some of the atrocities that occurred during that conflict. It is also showed what happens if someone bites a sleeping giant as Japan found out to their cost after attacking Pearl Harbor.

Vegetables in the 1940s U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: Gloria

I remember as a little girl vegetables and other goods being sold from a horse drawn cart. I remember sock hops and Elvis Presley not being shown singing on TV from his waist down. I remember our family going down by the river to sleep because it was too hot in our old apartment building. And most of all I remember dinner on Sunday with my grandparents.

Norma Recalling the Second World War Canada

Memory Posted By: Norma

My recollection for the first half of the 1940’s when I was a child in Saint John, New Brunswick centre around the fact that my Dad left for service in the Canadian Army in September 1941. I didn’t see him again until late in 1945. Both sets of grandparents and many friends lived near us in Saint John. No one could escape the effects of the war --not even the children.

We heard stories of German U-boats entering the Bay of Fundy and we knew that the Saint John Drydock where warships were built and repaired could be a target for sabotage. The house where we lived in the North End of the city had a supply of sand to be used in case of incendiary bombing. We had regular black-outs when dark curtains kept any interior light from showing.

We were told we could help in the war effort by bringing in certain materials that could be used such as metal, rubber, glass, fat, paper, and other things were brought to school on Friday afternoons. Mother also had to go to the school at intervals to collect our ration books. Everyone, had to have a ration book – even babies and young children.

Items such as sugar, butter, eggs, tea, coffee, and gasoline were in short supply and had to be rationed.

We also felt we could help the war effort by buying war saving stamps.

For 25 cents we could buy a war savings stamp to stick in a small booklet. For birthdays and Christmas we might get a few war savings stamps from friends or relatives instead of the usual toys and games. At the end of the war the government reimbursed us for our stamps and I had saved enough for my first bicycle.

Young though we were, my school friends and I realized that fathers and uncles might be killed in the war and we understood that our mothers dreaded the arrival of a telegram stating that a loved on had been killed or injured. In our family we received letters from Dad quite regularly.

Reading these old letters now I realize that Dad was careful not to mention anything any thing that might cause us to worry. He wrote about the lovely scenery in England, the farmland and wonderful cites in Italy, and the kind people he met in Holland. It was only when he returned home in 1945 that his thin and worn face told the real story of what he had been through.


Memory Posted By: INIE

Inie Milton remembers what the 1940’s were like for her in Sackville, New Brunswick. She says, “I was a teenager, living in Sackville. It was (the) World War II years – all the troop trains and convoys went through Sackville on their way to Debert and Halifax to go overseas. We loved watching the truck loads of soldiers go by and also would go to the station to see the trains and talk to young soldiers. On weekends people of our town would have groups of sailors and soldiers to their homes and sometimes girls were invited to their homes to have dinner with them. Also, Moncton had the Air Force based there and they would come to Sackville looking for girls.

The train bridge into Nova Scotia was always guarded. Our town was blacked out at night. We had to have windows covered because the 40’s were war years. Most of my memories have to do with growing up at that time. Apart from the rationing of things like sugar, etc. and wrapping bandages for overseas, the war didn’t affect me too much.

My brother was in the Air Force, stationed at St. Thomas in Ottawa. One Christmas he went A.W.O.L. with two others to come home. The M.P.’s were on the train. They knew these airmen were A.W.O.L. and were to arrest them. Somehow, my father got wind of this and ran ( me right behind I remember), to the station. ( My brother) was allowed to stay for Christmas and serve his time on returning to the base.

The music of the 40’s was all the big bands – Tommy Darsey, Glen Miller, Harry James, etc. . A lot of movies were war movies. Letters were important. Our mailbox was always full … People wrote letters every week, even every day. I wrote to soldiers overseas, also penpals were a big thing. I had one in Austrailia, a girl named Eunice Tutty. There was no T.V., we would get pictures of the war in Europe on the newsreel at the movie theatre. Life in the 40’s in a small town was really nice. The war was far away, as a teenager it didn’t concern me much, but for parents and families who lost loved ones it was a horrible time.

Childrens Toys From The 1940's

Part of our Collection of Toys from The 1940's

Vintage Gilbert Electric Train Set
Price: $29.95 + $5.98 for 150 Watt Transformer
Description 3/16 inch scale model Gilbert American Flyer Electric AC Train Set, the train and all the carriages are over 5ft long. Gilbert Company was an American toy company was best known for Erector Construction sets. Gilbert expanded from the 1930s to the late 1950s to become one of the largest toy companies in the world but following the death of it's founder A.C. Gilbert in the early 60's the company lost it's way with the American Flyer products sold to Lionel.

Gilbert Electric Train Set From the 40s

World War II Model Plane Kits
Price: $1.00 for all five
Description Five World War II model plane kits, cut them out and put them together, models include Curtiss Warhawk P-40, North American Mustang P-51 and the Bell Airacobra P-39 from the U.S. Air Force and the Hawker Typhoon and the Supermarine Spitfire from the British Airforce.

World War 2 Model Plane Kits

World War II Vet Memory U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: Webmaster on behalf of World War II Vet

I spent some time talking to a man today in his 70's who was in World War II and this is some of the story he told me , He was 19 and in 1943 he joined the army and was sent overseas to Europe , He went across the Atlantic on the HMS Queen Mary and was landed in Southampton ( they were never told where they were going but could tell it was england due to the bombs and the number of houses that were bombed, he was put on a train and taken from Southampton to Dover where he embarked on a troop ship to be landed in France and thrust into the war , One of his dissapointments was not getting a chance to go back to England as when the war finished he was in Germany and flown directly back to the US. I thanked him for his time in telling me his story and also his fighting for all our freedoms in Europe those many years ago.

My D DAY Landing Memories from World War II U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: Harper

I was shipped across to England on The Queen Elizabeth and landed in Grenock in Scotland in December 1943 , and from there we were taken to Plymouth , In the last few days of May we were then sent to a tent city where there were thousands of squad tents close to a large bomber field so we could see and hear the bombers landing and taking off , We also saw the german bombers flying over every night and hear and see the bombs landing and exploding in the distance and watch the huge spotlights criss crossing the sky trying to pick them out and train thier ant aircraft fire on them, occasionally we would see a german bomber hit and in flames .

During our time there we were shown where we would be landing on section of the coast called Omaha Beach and issued with blocks of TNT grenades food rations and a semi-automatic carbine rifles, We were all also issued with ammunition and by the time all we had all our gear it weighed in about 75LBs .

On the 4th June we were taken to Southampton to board a ship, we were on the boat for couple of days as the invasion was delayed for 24hrs due to bad weather and we sailed on the 6th June.

We had practised landings from the ship on beaches in England so we all knew the drill but I was not prepared for the noise as we were launching rockets towards the beach , battleships were firing salvos at the beach in a constant stream , we were loaded onto our LCVP ( small landing craft ) with about 30 of us in each one , it was pretty rough waves and we were being tossed about a lot before we landed and bullets were coming from everywhere.

We were in about 4ft of water as i jumped in and together with the weight of the gear and the waves it was hard work to make it to the beach, the tide was out so it was a long way up the beach and the machine guns seemed to be trained on me , I suddenly felt a hot searing pain in my leg and it buckled from under me and I fell in a heap, I layed there for nearly 4 hrs in pain before medics managed to find me and stretcher me to safety put a tourniquet on and get me back onto one of the landing craft and back to my ship.

That was the end of my D-DAY experience and only later did I realise I had not fired a shot as I never got close enough to the enemy to set my sights

Roswell 1945 U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: l.g.,

In 1945, I was 12 years old, we were living on a ranch 40 miles NW of Roswell,n.m. That summer a 2 engine military airplane crashed, killing all the men. about 3 miles north of our ranch house. The Army guys in a jeep came by & my dad took them over there to the wreckage. They covered most of it up with a bulldozer, & later I road my bike over there. The biggest piece I found was about the size of a bread box. Never did hear any thing in the news about it? Strange! & i have never seen a UFO............... Thanks

Smog in Donora Pa U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: gnora

A smog in Donora,Pa. Killed many people and my grandmother was one of the eight legal people killed from the smog. It was during the Halloween season. I was only two at the time and don't have memories other than family members telling me.

I did a small amount of research on this and this is what I found The event I think you are talking about was 29th October - 1st November 1948 , It was called a deadly cloud of smog which caused 19 deaths and over 500 affected and 50 hospitalised , The clood of deadly smog was believed to have been caused by poisons in the gasses emitted by the American Steel and Wire Company Zinc Plant during the process of smelting.

Local people described the smog as so heavy and dirty you could almost reach out and hold it

It eventually dissipated on the 1st November when it rained and the wind shifted in direction.

hope this gives you an idea of what caused your grandmothers death

Steve The Webmaster of The People History

Snow Days in The 40's U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: kittman

When the hot August temperatures start to get to me, I think of winter and snow to help alleviate some of the sweaty misery. That led me to remember some of my encounters with snow. I hope you like the story, or more accurately, a remembrance. I was not then, nor am I now an avid fan of winter. Except, ahh, except for the exhilaration of joy I often felt upon awakening after a crisp coldness had descended upon us overnight.

The morning sun breaking through the gray snow sky revealing an unscarred layer of whiteness covering earth's imperfections was almost my first awareness of what beauty is. The crisp coldness caused the newly fallen snow to sparkle like diamonds, free for the picking. A stirring from deep inside made me spring out of my warm cozy bed onto the cold morning floor immune to the discomfort, and fully aware of what could lie ahead as a result of Mother Nature's overnight gift to a boy of ten years. Young yes; a scholar, no; a snow day? Yes! Yes! Maybe. The furnace's morning stoking and poking and fueling with an ample supply of coal was returning the favor by filling my moms kitchen with its unforgettable and pleasant aroma and heat. The smell of perking coffee, and the sight of the newly buttered toast enhanced those aromatic pleasures. On mornings like these, my mother, a true believer in the medicinal values of food would also prepare oatmeal for me.

A properly nourished body, she would always say, is the proper way to begin a day. God, I loved my mom in those days. She was young, I was younger, the world was young; and it just came over the radio, "SCHOOL WAS CANCELLED BECAUSE OF THE BEAUTIFUL SNOW".

On mornings such as these, when the fates had smiled on us and piled drifts of snow in our driveways and against our backdoors, I could not wait to get out into it. Of course, my moms job would not be done until she made sure I was covered with seventeen layers of protective clothing, or at least it seemed that many. Then I was sprung loose into a world of boys and sleds and imagination. Boys, little boys, young boys, evidently don't have a built in device running from their bodies to their brains telling them they were getting mighty cold now. They just continued on and on and on, like the energizer bunny until, in the method of the day, their mothers would open the door and yell for them to come home for lunch. How I wonder, no matter how far away we were, we always seemed to hear them. I would arrive at the back door which led into the kitchen, and after working to remove my frozen boots from my frozen feet with my frozen hands, I would stand on the floor register, and let the glorious coal heat cover my body with its thawing, life restoring warmth. How I and my boyhood chums did not lose fingers or toes from frostbite, I'll never know, because after a short time standing on the register, my feet would begin to hurt and sting.

But soon a bowl of soup and maybe a sandwich would appear, the radio would be broadcasting a soap opera, and everything would be right. In my mind today, almost sixty years later, I can still feel the discomfort of the snow, but the comfort I feel from remembering those days and that kitchen and that time diminishes mere physical pain. I will always have that kitchen, and those glorious snow days, and that caring mom with me as comfort and remembrance to call upon when age begins to lay heavily on me.

World War II Memory U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: Tura

I was 21 and my best friend Enriquae was 20. Enriquae was mexican, but none of that matters anymore. We had gone to the drive-in with our dates when Enriquae's mom pulls up out of nowhere. She was crying. She ran over to our car almost tripping on the radio cord. She said that Enriquae's dad, Ricardo, had died. He was a doctor. He had been posted in a bunker, but he saw a man get shot and he had ran out to help him. He ran out and was killed by friendly fire. It turns out there were three German's running towards him and the man missed. We traced down the man later to tell him that we forgave him, he was in an asylum. He had gone into a state of constant panic, sort of like shellshock, but oddly different. Enriquae decided he would go to war. His mother told him not to, but he didn't listen. He was enlisting himself the day after he made his choice. Enriquae died the day before the Germans surrendered. I felt so bad for his mother, she lost everyone she had, her husband and son. I always remember how his mother ran to our car, weeping every step she took, she died in '78. She had gotten remarried in '52. I stayed in contact with the Gonzalez family until '83 when the man she married died. They were all kind, fair, and honest people.

Remembering Dec.7,1941 Pearl Harbor U.S.A.

Memory Posted By: Tura

I was supposed to be on the U.S.S. Arizona, but I was partying with some friends. I got drunk and passed out on the beach. I woke up to the planes flying over head. I figured it was the guys out traing early, but then i heard an explosion. This was no training, it was the blasted Jap's themselves. They had invaded, and I wasn't there to help my men. I was afraid of coming back to my reunion with my navy buddies because I wasn't sure if they'd think of me as a hero, because I didn't do anything, I just watched her sink. I just watched them all catch fire and explode and sink. I tried to get in my car and drive to the docks, but when that disastrous bomb hit the Arizona, I cried. I cried until night knowing I should've been on that ship. I'm sorry.

A Home From The 40s Canada

Memory Posted By: Kathy


Mr. K’s mother, who is 94 years old, lives in a solid brick house that was built in 1947. Her son comments about the house, “It’s not your brick veneer that is popular today. It is like a solid, masonry house. Of course it is cement blocks. This was before drywall … a lot of people burned coal back then and they would take the ‘clinkers’ and make cinder blocks out of it which is half the width of a cement block. Then they would put them up for the walls. In front of that they would have white bricks that weren’t showing, and then they would have red bricks in front of those. So you have quite a thick wall that was masonry all the way up to the roof.”

The street that this brick house was built on was a very old one and the contractor built three brick houses on it all similar in design. Mr. K. remembers, “We were all living in a two bedroom house and it was too small for us, after my sister was born, so we wanted a three bedroom one and that is the one my parents chose … . On the main floor there is the living room, dining room, and kitchen. On the upper floor there are three bedrooms, and of course the bathroom. In the basement there is the furnace room, the recreation room, and a laundry room … (also), there is a single car attached garage.” The garage is so small that the big cars of the 50’s and 60’s were hard to fit in. It should be noted as well that the dining room is not an open concept one but is a completely separate room by itself.

Mr. K. talks about the interior of the house: “The original floors are hardwood, though most of it has been carpeted over by now, except for the kitchen which is linoleum. Down in the basement the rec room and the laundry room are tile floors.” The furnace is a natural gas one. Mr. K. recalls, “When we first moved in there it was oil, but it has been converted over to gas.” On the first floor there is a fireplace in the living room. It could be functional, however, at the present time the chimney has been blocked to prevent the raccoons from dwelling in it and causing mischief.

Most of the carpets in the house are low pile and easy to vacuum and the furniture can be described as antique. Mr. K.’s mother still has the same dining room set that she and her husband got as a wedding present. The furniture in the bedroom is of the same vintage as well. The windows are casement windows on the first and second floor and side-sliding ones in the basement. Mr. K. says that “the lot is larger than the average lot around here. I would guess that it is around 100 by 150 square feet. Certainly, it is larger than those on either side or behind it.”

Regarding construction of the walls of the house Mr. K comments, “The inside walls are lath and plaster. (there were) small strips of laths and they would smear plaster over it.” The walls themselves serve as the insulation. Heat from the furnace is distributed by forced air through radiators. Every room in the house has a radiator, except the furnace room which doesn’t need it. This 40’s house has stood for sixty years and with the solid cinder and brick walls it could probably withstand a lot of extreme weather.

Forties Were Great Years United States

Memory Posted By: Chuck

The 40's were great years. Despite all the heartache and heartbreak of war, Americans made the best of it. Movies and radio did their best to bolster the spirit of the country. Everyone pitched in to help the war effort. Rationing was hard but they endured it. My parents bought war bonds and supported the USO effort. Many top stars of radio and the movies gave their time to entertaining the troops. Leading the way was Bob Hope who organized many a tour not to just military bases but went right to where the action was. One of the GI favorites was the beautiful, glamorous songstress Frances Langford. Frances went on entertaining the troops right up to the gulf war. Frances is remembered for introducing the steamy ballad I'm in the Mood for Love, a favorite of homesick GI's Frances said in a 1995 interview with Bob Hope, "I was young enough and girl enough to remind those brave GI's of the girl they left behind." To which Bob quipped "Yeah, and after they saw you most of them didn't want to go back home!" I've written a time travel fantasy novel about Frances Langford called "Will I Ever Know" the title of a song she did in a movie called 'Palm Springs' in 1936 and also recorded commercially. It's about a young man in the present that hears her sing that song on a CD and he just knows she was singing about him even though it was done 70 years ago. He gets a job with a professor working on a time machine and sends himself back to 1945 to meet Frances. It's a story that will appeal to lovers of the 40's and true love. Published by Outskirts Press and available on Amazon. com. I'm Charles Henry and I'm the author

Growing Up In The 40's United States

Memory Posted By: W.Hermance

I was born 1930,I remember the fortys and the war years.
It was a great time to be a kid,even though of the war.
I remember my gang going thru the neighbor hoods and the alleys looking for scrap metal and rubber for the war effort.
There was a corner gas station that would pay us so much a pound for what we collected.
We headed for the Cunninghams drug store for sodas or sundies. we would raid the fruit trees in the neighbor hood.we played soldiers in a large vacant lot that was near by.It was a great time to growing up in the forty's.

Late 40s Near End of War United States

Memory Posted By: pierrino

In the 1940's, near the end of the war, we would go to large shoe stores and play with the X-ray machine, look at our feet inside our shoes by looking down inside a machine that allowed for feet insertion at the bottom. We'd wggle our green toes, seeing out bones inside our toes, how close they came to the end of our shoes. Looking for long periods with no caution from the shoe clerks about deadly Xrays. Coke cost a nickle and I could get into a double feature matinee at the Luna theatre in Kankakee IL for the 9 cents I might have made selling bacon grease at the Big Bear Market that morning.

furniture from the 1940s United States

Memory Posted By: War Baby

Just inherited an estate and the furniture is from the 40's. Best of all, I found the original receipts showing what was actually paid for the furniture in 1942. For example, a Hoosier cabinet with flour mill was $34 and a bedroom suite consisting of full bed, dresser w/vanity stool, chest of drawers, coil spring, cotton mattress and two pillows: $74.45!