Archive for November, 2017

WW2 Etretat Mystery

November 28, 2017

Etretat

I found this postcard wedged at the bottom of the Army trunk I inherited from my parents, the one with over 600 letters they’d written each other while serving as Army Dr. and nurse on different fronts of the war. I knew Etretat was a French coastal city, where Mom and her 199th General Hospital unit had to sail to from Liverpool to catch the SS Leopoldville because the major harbor, Le Havre, was destroyed. That’s all I knew and all I included in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE. But on the back of the postcard, Mom had written: After climbing up a steep bluff, one has this view as a reward. Apparently, she’d made that climb before sailing off. Wish I had that story….

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THE FICKLE ARMY

November 21, 2017

Leave denied

Toward the end of WW2, all my mom (aka Lt. Helen Eberhart Daley, Army nurse) wanted to do was to secure a leave of absence and reunite with my dad (Captain Frank R. Daley, M.D.). She had been working nonstop in a General Hospital in France, and he had moved with a mobile unit (later called a M.A.S.H. unit) into Germany. When the war would finally end, they would have many hard decisions to make, and Helen wanted to make them together. Should she stay where she was? return to the States? volunteer for the C.B.I., service in China, Burma, or India? She carefully crafted this plea for a well-deserved leave, requesting only 7 days, though she had 26 days coming. The Army, through whatever powers that be, answered with one handwritten word: Disapproved.

http://www.dandibooks.com/with-love-wherever-you-are

 

ANOTHER COST OF WAR

November 16, 2017

Last night I looked through my parents’ old WW2 Army trunk and came up with these forms filled in by my mom (Helen in With Love, Wherever You Are). You may have to take out your magnifying glass, but each item is something soldiers (and Army doctors and nurses) were either issued or had to buy for themselves. Looks like only 4 or 5 were given. Items to be purchased: seersucker nurse’s cap, nurse’s cape (both mentioned or pictured in the book), jackets, gloves, leggings, overcoat, raincoat, skirts, sweater, some shoes, canteen, and on and on!

I know I’m blessed to have so many items preserved from my parents’ time in WW2. But many things are not in the old Army trunk. Still, I remember their re-purposed overcoats and a pair of old Army boots. And I did find the duffle bag and canteen and sleeping bag. I remember Dad always keeping an “Army blanket” in the car. Now it’s in mine.

FRANK THE STORYTELLER

November 14, 2017

Dad and Dandi

My dad, Captain Frank R. Daley, M.D., told me stories before I understood what he was saying. I remember that when I was very young, Mom would read me a story at bedtime. Then Dad would come in and make up a story. My favorites were part of a “Big Foot Dan” series, where Dan always beat Superman and Mighty Mouse in races. It wasn’t until a decade later that I figured out the amazing similarities between Dan’s feet and mine.

When I was a bit older, I got to partake in the story creation. Dad: “Once upon a time, there were four horses grazing on a hill. Their colors were. . .” Dandi’s turn: “Um, brown and brown and brown and brown?” Thankfully, my answers grew more sophisticated as time went on.  http://www.dandibooks.com

 

MORE FROM HELEN THE STORYTELLER

November 9, 2017

Ohio Mom

For the last five years of my mother’s life, she came to live with us in Ohio. What an honor and a blessing it was to listen to her stories, to hear poignant details of the war, stories she’d never told me before!

In With Love, Wherever You Are, I retold the story of the day 9-year-old Helen determined she wanted to be a nurse. She’d raced home from school and found her mother lying in the garden, unconscious, blood spurting like a fountain from her leg. Helen ran to the house and called Dr. Roberts, who lived a good distance from their farm. He told Helen that a varicose vein must have ruptured and she would have to stop that bleeding before he got there. Then he instructed her to get a dime and hold it over the source of the bleeding, pressing hard until he arrived. Doc must have heard her gasp because he said, “Helen, I know you don’t want to touch that blood and–.” Helen interrupted him. “It’s not that, Doc. Where in tarnation am I going to find a dime in this house?”

Not only did little Helen find a dime, but she managed to stop the bleeding and keep up the pressure until Doc arrived. He had to pry her fingers away and proclaimed that Helen Eberhart was going to make a fine nurse one day. He was right.

INHERITED STORYTELLING

November 7, 2017

Schnapps (2)

This is my mom, Lt. and Nurse Helen Eberhart Daley, holding Schnapps on the steps of my grandparents’ home in Cissna Park, Illinois. Maybe because Grandma Eberhart was such a good storyteller, Mom was too. Even Grandpa Eberhart, never too talkative to the grandkids, told me stories of buying horses at auction and training and trading them.

When Mom was 3 years old and the Depression descended on America, she was sent to live with her aunts, away from her parents and siblings. She loved it! As the only child in residence from age 3-6, she received first-class spoiling. When she had to return home for the start of school, poor Helen saw her trunkful of lovely toys and dresses divided by her 10 siblings, who told her she wasn’t really one of them, but had been left on their step by the gypsies. Maybe that was good training to prepare her for serving in WW2, where she was called upon to speak German and care for German POW’s, causing some of her fellow nurses to whisper that she wasn’t one of them either. http://www.dandibooks.com