Days Gone By

Written by Peggy Blann Phifer while reminiscing about her Sister, my Mother Martha Louise Blann Payton

Just for fun:

I was about one-month shy of three years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. And I remember listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech on the old Philco radio.

Then, in 1945, I remember V-E day, and the great celebrations that erupted all over the country. Daddy didn’t serve in the war. His job was vital to the home effort?he worked for a chemical company in New York City.

We lived in Stamford, Connecticut, at the time, so when we heard the news of the war in Europe ending, Daddy loaded us up in our black 1937 Ford and drove into downtown Stamford. Our car was swarmed with celebrants — sailors and soldiers and jubilant citizens jumping on the running board, fenders, back bumper and hood, like flies drawn to a drop of honey. Daddy could hardly see to drive, but kept creeping along, honking the horn along with all the other cars on the jammed street, adorned in the same manner. Soon it became impossible to move at all. It’s an image I’ll probably never forget.

Later that same year, my dad’s job took him to California for a lengthy assignment. Shortly before the family was supposed to join him, I came down with Chicken Pox. Always willing to share, I gave it to my sister and brother. When it came time to leave, I was healed, but they were contagious. So, they had to stay with Grandma, and I got to travel across the country on a train with my mom – just the two of us.

Oh, but that train trip was memorable! We left from Grand Central Station in New York City, a huge, cavernous place. Everywhere I looked, GI’s and sailors in uniform boarding for home or arriving, being greeted by sweethearts, wives and mothers. When Mom and I boarded, many of those uniforms joined us. I guess they were going home. Some got off and others boarded at the various stops along the way.

I was a tow-headed six-year-old with two missing front teeth, traveling with my pretty red-headed mom. For the duration of that trip, from New York City to San Francisco, I became “The Princess,” the center of attention among the soldiers and sailors, and pampered by the porter who made up our Pullman beds each night.

I don’t think my sister has ever forgiven me for that.

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