Sunday, January 18, 2009


I warned you about tidbits and tangents dancing in my head.

I didn't plan to blog today but I can't help it.

Hannah graduated from high school in 1940, gathered up her life savings, ($2,500 in today's economy), left Grandmam and moved in with gracious and kind, Ora. She's a young, single girl in a small Kentucky town in 1940.

Do you know what the number one hit was in 1940? You'll never guess.


The video says 1943, but my cracker-jack research confirms it was 1940.

I imagine Hannah and Ora sitting around the radio on a Sunday afternoon, smiling, maybe humming along, certainly thinking about those they love and those who have loved them. For Hannah, that's a very short list at this point in time.

If you click on my cracker-jack research link you will simply be overwhelmed.

Wendell doesn't mention these events but they are there, in the background, the year Hannah graduates and moves out on her own:

  • France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway and Romania fall to Hitler's Germany before the start of summer. Poland and Czechoslovakia have already been taken.
  • Winston Churchill replaces Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of Great Britain in May.
  • German U-boats destroy Allied merchant ships in the Atlantic seeking to cut off supplies to Great Britain and starve the island.
  • The German Luftwaffe (air force) begins bombing London and other strategic British targets during the summer and fall engaging the Royal Air Force in what was to become known as the Battle of Britain.
  • Auschwitz opens.
  • Oskar Schindler buys an idle kitchenware factory.
  • US unemployment is at 14.6%
  • The first Social Security check is mailed.
  • McDonald's serves its first hamburger in California and Dairy Queen sells its first sundae in Illinois. (Wendell wouldn't approve.)
And this pretty airplane, the P-51 Mustang, makes its maiden flight.

Tangents are dangerous things. They can take you down roads and rabbit-trails reminding you of things you know and things you've forgotten you knew.

I think 1940 would be a difficult year to deliver a valedictory address, especially one entitled "The Future that Lies Shining Before Us."

Because it is the Lord's Day, I leave you with scripture. This was our passage this morning in our little church of four. It wasn't planned, but it didn't escape my notice that this reads like a creed for Port William. From Romans 12:

Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.




  1. Lynn - first off, I am SO GLAD to have been pointed to the Google reader -- am loving the book so far. My husband thinks I'm nuts - he's such a purist, he'd *never* read a book off of a [gasp] MACHINE [no Kindle for him next Christmas.] But desperate times call for desperate measures.

    In my reading, Hannah is looking for a job, and is hanging out with Miss Ora. So your post is perfectly timely for me.

    I, too, get hung up on historical tangents, especially as they concern my parents, who were born in 1932. I'm constantly grilling them [Dad especially] for stories of what they remember, what they experienced, what they know... lately because of what's happening in our country's history this week, I've been on a 1968 kick, [at which point my parents had been married for 24 years, and it was still 3 years until I was born!!] but now this book is making me think more of their childhoods in the depression.

    Can't wait to delve deeper, as understanding this part of their culture will only serve to help me understand THEM and, ultimately, myself, even more.



    Google Reader just ran out on page 37.

    I shall wait with patience.

    I think.

  3. I think one of the reasons this book was so special to me is that Hannah was almost the same age as my mom. My mom was born in 1921 and graduated from high school in 1939, one year before Hannah. Reading Hannah's early story helps me understand more about my mother's early life. She grew up in the Ozarks of Missouri, as poor as Hannah. Mom died in 1978, when I was too young to pump her for more information about her life, so I love the look into it that Wendell gives me through Hannah's eyes.

    I love the 1940's research. Thanks!

  4. Now I'm all verklempt.

    Thanks for sharing that, Sandy.

  5. That's good information. I like the extra tidbits. My mother was born in 1930 and this is also a lot like her childhood and early years during the depression and war. She had brothers that went off to WWII. They came back forever changed. One seriously injured. I am enjoying the book. Thanks for starting the club.

  6. Steph....write down the stories your dad is sharing as you are grilling him. You will never regret taking the time to record history as he remembers it!

    Tammy ~@~

  7. Lynn, you have a future ahead of you, as a book club host. This is great background information. We are in the midst of studying WWII right now; for some reason, I never connected Hannah with WWII even though WWII is a minor character in the book.

    I'm aching for Steph. Come quickly, Amazon!

  8. Carol--I found it striking that the war is in the background inserting itself into Hannah's life but we hear so little about it. Every time I remind myself of life during WWII I shake my head. We've experienced nothing like it in our lives since.

    Given his views, I suspect Wendell was very intentional in how he treated it and in choosing the Battle of Okinawa as an episode in the book.

  9. Actually the hearing so little about it is is very consistent with my mother's impressions of the time. She remembers where she was when the announcement of Pearl Harbor came, but it was high school as usual quite often for her. She's always had mad denial skillz (-:

  10. I just love the extra tidbits you provide!

    My mom was born in Shadyside, Ohio around the time Margaret was born. I've been thinking Shadyside was quite a bit like Port Williams from what I've heard.

    My FIL joined the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor. He wanted to be in submarines but since he was only 17 he needed parental permission and they declined. He ended up on a destroyer escorting merchant ships (as I recall).