Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

It was early winter in 1943, and Chub had ...

It was early winter in 1943, and Chub had completed boot camp in the Coast Guard. The officer who was to assign him to the next stage asked what he would like to study. Chub replied, “Anything mechanical.” The officer blurted out, “What would a dairyman know about anything mechanical?” He soon learned that dairymen know more than how to milk a cow, and Chub was assigned to a night diesel school in New York City, studying engines used on landing craft.

During my Christmas break from teaching, I rode a Greyhound bus from Columbia to New York City -- a 36-hour ride each way. I took goodies, gifts and a tiny artificial Christmas tree to decorate our hotel room. The fellows had two hours free each afternoon, and some of us wives rode the subway with our husbands each evening as they went across town to their classes. No one else wanted to go to Niagara Falls, so I planned a solo Greyhound trip, leaving early in the morning. I’d take the guided tour from Buffalo, N.Y., to the falls and would sleep on the bus on the way back.

Soon after we started, rain turned to ice. Several cars and trucks were in ditches, but we arrived safely in Buffalo. However, fog had moved in causing the cancellation of all tours to the falls. I spent most of the day loafing in the dime store, drinking nickel chocolate cokes and eating cheap sandwiches. And I did sleep all the way back to New York City.

Chub consoled me, saying, “Don’t worry. We’ll make that trip together, some day.” That day came three years later when we lived at Winthrop, Mass. The war ended, and men were to be discharged on a point system based on length of service, age, marital status, service outside the country, etc. Men with 44 points would be discharged first, and Chub had 441/2! We celebrated by planning a trip to Niagara Falls for the weekend.

The banks were closed on Saturdays and we were short of money, so our landlord agreed to cash a $35 check on our Columbia bank. We bought round-trip train tickets from Boston to Buffalo. We carried no luggage, just my purse and his billfold, neither of which was gorged with money. We arrived in Buffalo at two in the morning, and our only choice was to take a cab downtown to the Statler Hotel.

The next day we saw the falls, walked across into Canada, etc., but we couldn’t do any extra things that took money because the hotel had cost so much. Returning to Boston, we took the subway to where we would transfer to a local bus to Winthrop and we’d then be in walking distance of our apartment. The bus didn’t come on time. The next one didn’t either!

Finally a taxi rolled up, and the driver opened the door for us to get in. “We’ll be taking the bus,” we said. He replied, “No, you won’t. Bus drivers are on strike.” We counted our money: 75 cents! Not enough to get us within walking distance of home. When we explained our predicament the fellow took us to our door for the 75 cents! The next problem was that we didn’t have money for groceries so we ate cheese and peanut butter with crackers and went to the bank early the next day.


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