I fear losing the collective memory of a generation, a very unique generation. Born in the 1930s we are small in number and all aging into our 80s. We are what I call “The Last Ones” We are the last who can remember the war, it’s rationing, its tensions and its joyous end.

We are the last ones who remember the post war boom and the formation of the American Middle class. We are the last ones who grew up without television; instead imagining what we heard on the radio.

We are also the last ones who grew up feeling safe. By the mid-fifties all that began to change.

Some call us The Silent Generation. That may be the case, but I hope this blog can capture and celebrate the memories of other children of the 1930s from around the country. The focus has been the post war years of 1945 to 1955, but that can change with your guidance.

I know there are lots of nostalgia pieces flying around about old time radio shows, 78 rpm records, and the candies we had back then. That's not what I’m hoping for. I'm hoping this blog can capture our stories and feelings and observations of those times.

Please read on.
Share this blog so that more can remember, some will learn and none may forget

C. D. Peterson, "Pete"

Winning the War on the Home Front

How My Twin and I Helped Win the War

Ron Knott  b. 1937


When my twin brother, Roland, nick name Roe, and I were born we lived in the Village of Noble, LA.  Noble was a village of about 200 souls in 1937. The town had been much larger around 1900, as several large sawmill companies moved in and logged the thousands of acres of virgin pine timber. They brought in hundreds of Spanish families from Mexico for the hard labor. After the large sawmills cut all the timber and moved on, the Spanish stayed on at Sabine River about 10 miles west of Noble, so there were a lot of Spanish in our school.


During the time of the big mills, Noble was one of the largest cities in Sabine Parish. Noble had a bank, drug store, two big saw mills, and a big commissary. By the time we were born, though, all industry had left Noble and it had only three small grocery stores and a post office. Noble was a sleepy bedroom community. They did have a high school.


I was told that we lived in the Cox house at the time of my birth. It was a rental place with no central heat or air condition. My dad bought what was the office from the large timber company and that became our home. I saw the check years later that he paid $700 for the building. It was only about 1200 s/f. They were able to make three bedrooms out of this small office. Granny had one bedroom, Aunt Maggie and Onnie, her son, had a bedroom, and Momma, Dad, Roe, and I had the other.I don’t remember it being so, but I am sure we were very crowded. They made a kitchen out of a couple of joining closets. No bathroom. We used a wash tub out near the well to take a bath. I still remember that cold water.

Twins Roe and Ron Knott

The house did have a large front porch with two big swings that were good for cooling down in the evening. Also, my mother would swing us and sing Christian songs until we went to sleep at night. I still remember those sweet soothing songs.


The Village of Noble had no sewer or water system. Our “out-house” was about 150 feet behind the main house and it sure was dark and cold making that necessary journey in the winter time. My grandmother used a ‘slop-jar’ in her room during the night an emptied it early in the morning. A ‘slop-jar’ was a big mouth bucket that fit her rear for late night disposal. We had to draw all our water from a hand dug well. It was about 20 feet deep and supplied plenty of water in the rainy season. During the hot summer months, we sometimes could only draw muddy water.


Noble had no hospital and our nearest doctor was seven miles north in the village of Converse, LA. My mother used Dr. Murdock there for all her needs. They did not have the fancy machines back then, so they had no way of knowing a mother was carrying twins. My mother told other women how she thought she was deformed because she was so big. Roland was born and everybody was happy. Then the doctor called Dad about 15 minutes later and said he had another boy (me). Just teasing, the doctor called Dad again and said he had boys all over the delivery room. Dad almost fainted.
Read More

Time Flys

             RECOLLECTIONS: 1941 – 1955

                           Stephen B. Miller   B. 1934

I was seven years old in 1941, living in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio but had no inkling of war-related issues and constraints at that time. My dad died in 1941.  Mom was an accomplished legal secretary and supported my younger sister and me.

Around 1944 we moved to a Miami Beach apartment where mom worked as J.C. Penney’s private secretary. He transported her to and from his mansion every day in a limo.

Kids of my age were free to roam the area at will in those days.  No drug problem existed then. We’d play various types of hide ‘n seek games on the rooftops of nearby homes until well after dark. Mom was a good swimmer and had a special pool pass so we also did that fairly often.

Only once did the evidence of war show up. One day at the beach I saw a submarine a few hundred yards offshore chasing a PT boat which was trying to get away from it. Suddenly there was a flash and “boom” from the sub’s deck gun followed by a near-miss spray near the PT boat. For a moment I wondered “Is this a movie, or what?” I finally realized that this was a German U-boat firing at one of our PT boats!

Busy as she was, mom took me to a small airport once, where I had a ride in an Ercoupe.

I knew then that aviation was for me! Mom was then going with my stepdad, who was in the Army in North Africa. After the war ended, I can still remember going down to the train station to pick him up, still in uniform and carrying his duffel bag.
Read More

A Boy’s Chicago Home Front

War Time Farming  – Chicago Style
Jim Kelly  b. 1935

Growing up in Chicago during the war,every empty lot became a victory garden. We kids would sneak in at night & eat veggies. We saved ripe tomatoes for missiles.

A Boy’s Home Front – from Miami


Pearl Harbor, saving stamps and oleo

 H. C. ‘Nick’ Nickerson  b. 1935

In 1941 I was six years old, and although I remember Christmas that year, no one made me aware of the bombing of Pearl Harbor three weeks before.  I’m sure they were trying to shelter me from the horror of the attack, but I’ve always regretted that my parents didn’t alert me to the significance of that day.

Nick in 1940

In the early 40s, anything that cost a dollar was an expensive item.   I do remember a neighbor lady complaining to my mother that a trip to the grocery store cost almost twenty dollars.  For that matter I do remember my mom sending me to the local neighborhood grocery with eleven cents to buy a loaf of bread.

During those days, I remember a horse drawn wagon coming through the neighborhood selling fresh vegetables.  (I wonder now how that worked with food rationing going on.)  Another entrepreneur would come by offering to sharpen knives and scissors.  Paper drives were in vogue.  I never quite knew what they did with old newspapers and magazines, but it seemed very important.  We donated any metal utensils and old pots and pans.  We saved bacon and other kitchen grease for the war effort and turned our collection into the local butcher.  They told us it would be used in manufacturing ammunition.

Rationing took away our butter.  We were able to get white oleo margarine where they attached a packet of yellow food coloring you had to add to make it look like butter.  Some ‘oleo’ had a colored bubble inside and you kneaded it for several minutes to spread the color around.  I understand it was the dairy industry who demanded no margarine could look like butter.  Mom would let me stir up the mixture.

Gasoline rationing was in place.  Our family car had a B sticker which allowed us to purchase a little more gas than the A sticker.  I guess it was because of Dad’s job with Pan American.  My Uncle Dick had an A sticker.  I don’t remember what he did for a living.  He had a 1934 Ford coupe with a rumble seat where I got to ride sometimes.  He and Aunt Henrietta lived in downtown Miami.  He was an Air Raid Warden and patrolled the streets around his apartment during black outs to ensure no unauthorized lights were showing.  He wore a white helmet showing his badge of office.  He was very proud of that.

Automobiles had the upper half of their headlights shaded.  Along Miami Beach all windows had heavy shades installed and were drawn at night.  This precluded any background lights from illuminating the tankers and cargo ships traveling just off shore in the Gulf Stream.  This procedure surely helped stop the massive sinking by German submarines in the early months of the war.
Read More

Blackout Drills – A Boy’s Home Front Memories

Blackout Drills (and my Flashlight)

Robert LaRue, b. 1937.

December 7, 1941 may have been “a date which will live in infamy” for President Roosevelt, but it was the beginning of all kinds of strange and scary events for a four-year-old. The wailing sirens and darkness of blackout drills stand out in my mind.

We lived on a dairy in Baldwin Park, California. Baldwin Park is located only 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles. In the days before supermarkets, it was not uncommon for dairies to be located near population centers. On site retail marketing was a common practice.

Read More

A Boy’s Home Front – 1940’s Oglesby, Illinois

Oglesby, Illinois

A Boy’s Home Front in the Mid 1940’s

James Duncan   b.1941

Oglesby, a sleepy little farm town in the midst of vast fields of corn. Northern Illinois about 100 miles southwest of Chicago.  No interstate, no supercenters, TV or cell towers.  Nickel movies on Saturday afternoons. Tom Mix, Three Stooges and war time news reels (remember the narrators voice?).  Yo-Yo contests at intermission.  Mine had rhinestones and could “walk the dog”.

Read More

A War Time Memory

A War Time Memory – My Train Ride

Donald Rogers b. 1935


In 1941 when my grandmother died, my father bought the 77 acre farm from his siblings and we moved from Tampa to Mayfield, Kentucky.

Our house in Kentucky, where my father had grown up, was without electricity and lacked indoor plumbing for about the first year, as I remember.  Our house was heated by a fireplace and portable oil heaters.

We survived growing most of our food on the farm.  We did not have a car initially and made the three mile trip to Mayfield in a wagon pulled by horses.

I entered school in the second grade.  My school did not have indoor plumbing facilities.

Read More

Growing Up in a Changing Home Front

 Growing Up in a Changing Home Front

 Free Verse by Robert LaRue, born 1937

When I was young, about age three,

I sat on a limb, in Grandmother’s tree,

And picked avocados,

And ate them.

Nobody told me, I shouldn’t like them.

I stood by a fence, when I was four,

Watching truck farmers, on the other side,

Hoe the field,

And pick vegetables.

The children there, wouldn’t come play.

Read More

The Villain in Our Childhood

If you grew up in the 1940s you remember this villain who could – and did – strike anyone.  Did you have a special experience?

Not all memories about this era make me smile.  A villain lurked in all our childhoods back then.  We talked about the villain, but always in quiet tones.  We worried because we didn’t know when he might strike or who might be stricken next.  We heard he could strike when you took a drink at the water fountain in the Hollis Theater or went swimming in Learned’s Pond.  Parents couldn’t protect you.  Nothing could protect you from polio.
Read More

Children of the 30’s – “The Last Ones” A Short, Generational Memoir

This post introduced our blog in April.  It’s a special post about those who came of age in the 1940s and early 50s,  “the Last Ones.” We are the last ones who personally experienced the scarcity of the depression, the patriotism during World War II and the exuberance in that brief, post-war period when we felt safe and when the middle class was born.  Your stories are special. Post your stories here.  I’ll share them.

Excerpted  from “A Memoir from the Homeland 1941-1955 ©  C. D. Peterson
All rights reserved
Born in the 1930s, we exist as a very special age cohort.  We are the “last ones.”  We are the last, climbing out of the depression, who can remember the winds of war and the war itself with fathers and uncles going off.  We are the last to Children of the 30'sremember ration books for everything from sugar to shoes to stoves.  We saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans.  We saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available.  My mother delivered milk in a horse drawn cart.

Children of the 30'sWe are the last to hear Roosevelt’s radio assurances and to see gold stars in the front windows of our grieving neighbors.  We can also remember the drama of “D Day” and the parades in August 1945; VJ Day.
We saw the ‘boys’ home from the war build their cape style houses, pouring the cellar, tar papering it over and living there until they could afford the time and money to build it out.

Read More

Back to Top