Contributed by Marian Alymer from our August Newsletter.
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I was 14 years old and living in an agricultural community of 10,000 mostly Germans in southern Minnesota as WWII raged.
My parent’s friends owned a grocery store in the thriving town when the husband was drafted and his wife, the mother of three, was left to manage the store. HELP! I jumped at the chance to start my 2 -l/2-year career in the food industry. I worked weekends when the farmers did their shopping. My ability to understand and to speak German was a great advantage.
All foods had to be weighed and packaged. Orders had to be balanced with food ration stamps. We waited on customers (there was no self-service in those days). Fruits, chocolate, candy, and coffee were precious commodities. It was beneficial to be a “steady customer.”
Talk about a learning experience! The war became a reality and people’s sacrifices on the homefront made me realize what being an American was all about.
Fast forward—we were living in Camarillo and I was a docent at the Ronald Reagan Library when the WWII traveling exhibit arrived. Young students were delighted to meet someone who lived in “trying times.” Sharing my experiences made a time in history come alive for them. It was all because of my first job at 14 years of age. What an experience it was!