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Biography: As World
War II was beginning, Rena Herndon had just married. After her husband Hugh was
drafted, she and her first child went with him to Missouri for his military
Birthdate: September 3, 1923
Occupation: Senior Citizen
INTERVIEWER: Stacey vanScyoc
Date: July 19, 2003
Place: Rena Herndon's residence Abbeville, Alabama
Topic of interview: The way World War II affected the life and family of Rena Herndon. She cared
for her young daughter while her husband was overseas for 3 years. The impact
the war left on her life.
Date processed: 5-2005
Processed By: M. Olliff
No. of tapes: 1
No. of sides: 2
She begins discussing WWII and her husband's position in the army
Early married life
She discusses living in Missouri while her husband was in training.
Traveling on a troop train
She discussed conditions on the train.
Her husband sent overseas
She came home to Henry County, Alabama to live with her mother.
Her husband in Japan
He was stationed in Okinawa for 3 years.
She usually wrote letters every day. For 3 years, their only means of communication was letters.
She discussed when her husband and brothers came home from the war.
She discussed her 3 brothers and the roles they played in the war.
She discussed how her mother coped with having 3 sons and a son-in-law serving in the war at the same time.
How they kept up with the war news
She said that they didn't let you know too much. Information would be shared with friends and neighbors.
How she spent her days
She discussed living at her mother's during the war and performing farm work.
She distinctly remembers the ration stamps for sugar.
Living in the country at her mother's
She discusses taking care of the animals at her mother's. One of her sisters was also still living at home.
She discussed where her brothers were stationed.
When the war started
She remembers where she was when WWII started.
She talked about being married at 18. She discussed the ways in which men were drafted at that time.
Birth of her first child
Her husband was away when the baby was born. He was excited to see the baby for the first time.
Having baby at home
They did not go to hospitals to have babies at this time. The doctor came to her mother's house.
Reflecting on riding the troop train:
She was nervous when she boarded the troop train with a 2 month old baby.
She did buy war bonds.
What they did for fun
On her mother's farm in the country, there was not time for anything but work.
Same situation for many
Most families had loved ones serving in the war. Some families had several members who were serving simultaneously.
She discussed how rural Henry County was during this time.
She reflects on how busy Abbeville was during the war years.
Families shared information
Friends and family would share information they learned or received about the "boys" fighting overseas.
Thankfully, she did not know of many families who lost loved ones during the war.
Notice of casualties
She said that a notice was mailed to a family if their loved one had been killed in the war.
She said that they had special prayer time at Church for the troops.
How war changed her life
The war made her appreciate everything so much more. It humbled people.
Age of most of the troops
Most of the men serving in the war were young. Her husband was only 19 when he went overseas.
She discussed how much she missed her husband while he was gone.
Men that were of age and physically able were drafted and immediately reported for duty.
Husband in Japan
Her husband faced some miserable situations in Japan.
She did not know of any who got married during the war.
It was hard to get many things. They raised most of their own food including meat.
She did not know anything about it.
These were mostly planted by city folks.
Support for troops
Unlike now, most people supported the troops then.
Worries about wars of today
She knows that the U.S. has always been on top, but this may not last.
The war is over
She was so happy and ready for her husband to come home!!
When her husband returned to Henry County, they moved to Abbeville and operated several retail businesses.
They built a new home in 1948 and shortly after, had their second child.
Did not miss war
After returning home, her husband did not miss the war.
Way war changed her life
It made you appreciate everything so much more, especially the time you spend with your family.
Wars now do not affect everybody
The wars of today do not seem to affect everyone like WWII did.
Ending the interview
She will not ever forget the war anxiety and the "not knowing."
Receiving letters from her husband
Her mailman would drive up blowing the horn when he had a letter to deliver from her husband.
Ways were tight during this time.
What does she remember most about President Roosevelt? Jobs!
Not affected by shortages
The shortages occurring because of the war did not really affect them that much-they were used to not having much because of the Depression.
Thankful for what she has now
From her experiences growing up and during the war, she really appreciates what she has now.
A Different World Today
She is proud that today's generation will not have to experience some of the things that she did.
An article she just read
She talks about an article she just read about a lady who had experienced many things in life too.
Reflects on her life
She recalls growing up in Screamer and having it "hard".
Thanks for the interview