Saturday, August 23, 2008
Today is Dot and Nick's 67th Wedding Anniversary
Riddle: Take away my first letter, I remain the same. Take away my second letter, I remain the same. Take away all my letters and I remain the same. What am I?
Great-Grammy and Great-Grampy were married for 62 years, and always lived in the same house, where Dorothy Trout had lived since 1937. Their five oldest great-grandchildren visited them there. They, Dorothy Marie Trout and George Gilbert Nickerson, were married in this house, in the Oak Hill section of Scarborough, Maine, on August 23, 1941. In this wedding picture they are standing on the steps of the front porch.
The Wayback Machine
Let's step in and travel back to the year 1941:
Franklin D Roosevelt was President of the U.S. since 1933, the Second World War was being fought in Europe since 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, nuclear fission of plutonium was accomplished, and the U.S. Manhattan Project would soon start in Los Alamos to develop the atom bomb.
It was the Big Band Era, so Dot and Nick listened and maybe danced to new songs like: I Don't Want to Set the World On Fire, by Horace Heidt; Chattanooga Choo Choo, by Glenn Miller; There'll Be Some Changes Made, by Benny Goodman; Frenesi, by Artie Shaw; Intermezzo, by Guy Lombardo; Dream Valley, by Sammy Kaye; There I Go, by Vaughn Monroe and Green Eyes, by Jimmy Dorsey.
They went on dates to see some of these new movies: Disney's Dumbo; Sergeant York; The Maltese Falcon; Citizen Kane; The Wolf Man; and Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion. Abbott and Costello had 4 movies - Buck Privates; In the Navy; Hold that Ghost; and Keep ‘Em Flying. The Academy Awards Best Picture of 1941 was How Green Was My Valley, Best Actor was Gary Cooper in Sergeant York, and Best Actress was Joan Fontaine in Suspicion. Adult movie tickets were expensive - 25 cents - so were only an occasional treat.
There was a radio in Dottie's mother's home, and it was the most popular form of entertainment and news. Since they lived near the largest city in Maine, they had the biggest choice in the state, at least 4 local radio stations. Many programs were popular: crime shows (The Shadow, Gangbusters, etc), comedy (Fibber McGee and Molly, The Jack Benny Show, Baby Snooks, Bob Hope, The Aldrich Family, etc), quiz shows (Truth or Consequences, Information Please, etc) and favorite singers had their own shows (Bing Crosby, Kate Smith, Dinah Shore, etc). As they listened, the nightly news reported German invasions of Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Popular books in 1941 were: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers; Daniel Boone, by James Daugherty; The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; Finnegan's Wake, by James Joyce; Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler; Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry; I Married Adventure, by Osa Johnson; For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway and Oliver Wiswell, by local Maine author Kenneth Roberts. They couldn't afford to buy luxuries like books, since Nick earned less than the average yearly income (remember, this is Maine) of $1,800 a year. The minimum wage was 30 cents/hour. Nick worked at the Todd-Bath Ironworks Shipyard in South Portland, and Dot was a part-time saleslady in a Portland department store.
Some 1941 prices were - bread: 8 cents a loaf; milk: 34 cents a gallon; eggs: 60 cents a dozen (they saved this cost by having their own chickens); gasoline: 11 cents a gallon; hamburg: 20 cents a pound; a postage stamp: 3 cents. Plain M & Ms and Cheerioats (later renamed Cheerios) were first sold this year, but not to Dot and Nick, who didn't buy candy during my childhood, or cereals other than oatmeal, Maltex (hot cooked ground wheat) and Shredded Wheat.
In the summer of 1941 news of the war in Europe got worse. On May 27 an Unlimited National Emergency was declared in the U.S. after Germany invaded Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete. On June 22, Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
In August, both their wedding day and war came even closer:
Aug 3 - gasoline rationing begins in parts of the eastern U.S.; Aug 3 - Joe DiMaggio's streak went to 74 baseball games on reaching base; Aug 14 - the Atlantic Charter was signed by FDR & Winston Churchill; Aug 18 - Concentration camp Amersfoort opens in the Netherlands; Aug 22 - Nazi troops reach Leningrad; Aug 23, Dot and Nick marry, Aug 25 - English & Russian troops attack pro-German Iran; Aug 25 - German troops conquer Nowgorod, Leningrad; Aug 29 - Germans in Russia kill 1,469 Jewish children; Aug 30 - the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi troops begins; Aug 31 - the radio show The Great Gildersleeve, a spin-off of Fibber McGee & Molly, debuts; Aug 31 - 23 U-boats were sunk this month (80,000 tons).
By year's end, three momentous event will occur:
1.) December 8th, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the U.S. declares war with Japan.
2.) Dec 11th, the U.S. declares war with Germany and Italy, after these countries declare war on us. These actions lead to a huge loss of lives.
3.) Penicillin, one of the first antibiotics, is synthesized and mass produced, which will lead to a huge saving of lives.
Today as we think of Dot (1919-2003) and Nick (1920-2004), we remember them with love.
Riddle Answer: A mailman