Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sepia Saturday #82

For the past six days, I have had my SS #82 post planned and plotted out in my head. Spurred on by a successful genealogical endeavor last weekend, I was going to share the photos which sparked my motivation to attack the family tree with a renewed vengeance and elaborate, in vivid detail, how the brick wall which had surrounded the lineage of my great great grandmother, Emaline Bowersox Smith, had come crashing down in one fell swoop.

And then I saw Alan's SS #82 archival photo -- Union Station, Chicago, 1943.

My plans fell by the wayside. When I realized what day today was, coupled with the year of that photo, I knew what my Sepia Saturday post had to be about.

On this day, July 9, in the year 1943, my parents were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. And sadly, they were celebrating like many young couples were that year -- they were celebrating away from home. My father had enlisted in the army the previous December and, as a member of the 474th AAA AW Battalion (SP), he was now moving from army camp to army camp, learning how to be a soldier and preparing for war in Europe.
(l to r) Dick Barcomb, Johnny Shaffer (my dad), Charlie "Hoffie" Hoffman and Joe Swaim

The army wives left their families behind to follow them, renting apartments and finding jobs wherever the boys camped, only to uproot themselves a few months later and do it all over again.
Helen Shaffer (my mom) and Elizabeth Barcomb at the window

On June 23, 1943, the 474th had left New Bedford, MA and headed south to Tennessee. My father never had too much to say about the experience, but when my mother recalled the "camp years," she always complained about that particular move. It was her least favorite of all the places they camped. Tennessee in the summer was hot (still is) and sticky humid (still is). The train ride was long and crowded and poorly ventilated. There was no air conditioning and the girls lived on a shoestring budget. But the wives were young and had each other, which made it a bearable adventure.
(l to r) Helen Shaffer, Lucy Swaim, Janet Hoffman and Elizabeth Barcomb

I have no idea if my father got leave in order to celebrate the day, that first anniversary, with my mother. But on this day, what would have been their 69th wedding anniversary, I like to think they're honoring their union together in a better place, one that isn't subject to the foibles of unpredictable summer weather or underfunded public transportation systems.

Happy anniversary! I miss you both.

For more strolls through the past, clicky right there ==>> Sepia Saturday #82


  1. What a touching post. That last picture is particularly wonderful.

  2. That made me realize I don't know the date my parents were married. My father was in the army then in the U. S. South. I have a picture of them at the Atlanta train station and I think it was 1943.

  3. In some ways I feel I must apologise for making you have to change the subject of your post. But I am not going to as it resulted in this lovely post. Such a joy to read.

  4. A touching and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thank you for writing this; very enjoyable.

  6. What a sweet post, especially the last photo. What a hard time it must have been for those wives, moving so often that they couldn't put down roots. I hope none of them had children before the war was over. Moving so often with an baby or child would have been infinitely harder. Happy anniversary to you parents (a few days late).

  7. How poignant for you. I can empathise as this Sepia Saturday post fell on my dad’s 90th birthday (and we had a great party!) and two days later they had their 69th Wedding Anniversary. Lovely photos.

  8. Thank you all for stopping by and for your comments. Alan ~ no apology, please. This just means I have a post for another day! Nancy ~ my mother actually did give birth to my sister in September 1944, but the boys had gone overseas in January so she had returned home. She actually had her own apartment with my sister until my father came home and then they moved in with her in-laws until they could build their own house.