Every week since COVID-19 swooped in and wreaked havoc on so many lives, my Insights have reflected my thoughts as I witness and experience a typical day during this new normal. But as I sit down each week to pen a new editorial, I promise myself to write about a subject without mentioning the pandemic.
However, the writing muse that has been assigned to me since birth has always had her own agenda and there are times, we butt heads. Today, I have argued with her for over five hours. “I am taking a break from this topic and taking a break from it NOW! We are going to write about something else,” I demand. She laughs. Just as I begin to cave into her impulses – I ask for a compromise. She agrees.
Last week I received a letter to the Editor from a woman who lives in Alabama. Very seldom do we receive a note from so far away, so I opened the letter with suspense. The author was the secretary to the American Rosie the Riveter Association. She herself was a “Rosie” and she wrote to say that the organization is looking for more “Rosies” around the U.S. to join them with the mission to collect names, stories, etc.
Being one who loves a good local biographical story, I do hope they (and we) get a response from those in the Windham and Raymond communities. (Please reach out to me if you are a woman who worked during the WWII effort or you know of a woman who did.)
In February of this year, I met with and wrote an article about Raymond resident, Teresa “Tess” Ingraham who was presented the Boston Cane on January 30th. Without realizing it at the time, Tess was a “Rosie”, but we didn’t discuss that part of her life much. In the article she had stated that immediately upon graduating high school in 1940, she had worked at S.D. Warren in the main office. She explained most of the products made at the company went toward the war effort.
She also spoke about what it was like living during World War II. “It was really a scary time and we did without a lot,” she began. “Because many products went toward the war, each family was allotted a certain number of coupons because the supply was limited. These coupons were distributed by the government and would allow us to purchase things like sugar, shoes, clothing, etc. and if you didn’t have a coupon when you needed something – you did without.”
What struck me the most about Tess’s story, is how she was willing to compromise for the betterment of all. “We simply worked together because that is just what you did,” I remember her telling me.
The History.com website refers to the WWII effort and compromise Tess spoke about: “This fear of attack [on Pearl Harbor] translated into a ready acceptance by a majority of Americans of the need to sacrifice in order to achieve victory. During the spring of 1942, a rationing program was established that set limits on the amount [products] consumers could purchase. The United States Office of War Information released posters in which Americans were urged to “Do with less–so they’ll have enough” (“they” referred to U.S. troops).”
We are currently living during a very scary time and the pandemic has instilled a fear in all of us – for a variety of reasons. Recently, there have been more divisive opinions on how to achieve a victory over COVID-19 with no compromise in sight. How did people of the WWII era come to a certain level of conciliation? What could we learn from them? Can we do with less so that others can have enough? Can we find a civil way to honor both human and economic life?
I do not have the answers, and probably never will. After all, I just discovered how to compromise with my own writing muse. But if that is possible, I must say - anything is.
Here’s to hoping we find a compromise.