My husband was like a little kid about Christmas. He was the only Gerard boy, and he had five sisters! His mother and the girls spoiled their "Buddy Boy," especially before, during and after Dec. 25. I learned to put his gifts away carefully because he had once hunted and found his gifts, and it ruined Christmas for him that year. Chub was a great tease. He often said, "I helped win World War I," referring to his having been a local sensation as a singer helping to sell war bonds when he was only 5 years old! He had long, dark brown curls, wore little sailor suits and sang patriotic songs on stage to remind people to buy war bonds! His appearances were very effective in 1915.
Many years later I thought he was kidding the day he told me he wanted to go into military service. "I helped win World War I," he said, "and I’d better go and do what I can to help win No. 2." He wasn’t kidding.
That was in 1943, and we were in partnership with my Dad in "Meyers and Gerard Dairy." Because of the needs in WWII, it was becoming more and more difficult to get tires for the trucks, replacement parts for milking machines and pasteurizing equipment and difficult to hire reliable helpers in the dairy.
On Oct. 12 that fall we drove to Kansas City, and I kissed Chub goodbye, knowing it might be forever. Driving alone, I cried all of those 132 miles to my home - that was the only such performance of my entire lifetime! Chub was sworn in and sent home by bus to await his call; he arrived home before I did!
It wasn’t so hard to see him leave the next time. His training would be in New York City, and I could visit more than a week during my vacation from Christian/Columbia College. Another Coast Guard wife and I rode the tube with our husbands as they made a long trip to the location of their training. As we went back to the hotel, we made plans for the next day’s walking tour of the big city. Her train trip and my bus trip were almost identical in cost and in hours en route.
Wartime travel was slow: bus and train both required 36 hours from Kansas City to New York. There were no "conveniences" on buses: drinking water, rest stops, toilets etc. Everybody, except babies and old men, had to "hold it" till the next gasoline refill stop.
Our bus was scheduled "through to New York City" at no speed more than 35 mph and no small-town stops.
Wartime regulations required motor travel to be slow to get more miles per gallon of gas and to reduce wear and tear on rubber tires. Food, leather, wool, medicine, shoes and other essentials went to war. So did doctors and nurses!
I think, almost every day, of one tragedy from that war - one among so very many: A young boy - 18 years old - was drafted, trained rapidly and sent to Germany. He was an assistant tank driver. Then "one of Hitler’s big ones" hit the vehicle broadside, and four men inside the tank were killed. The 18-year-old kid lost both feet, both ankles and a large part of each lower leg.
Who am I to complain about a slow bus ride with a tiny dime store Christmas tree in my luggage? Chub came home unscathed! God, bless our protectors! Help us "wage peace" - not war!