True story of the World War II homefront years as captured in a personal diary of that era.
This book comprises the factual accounts from the Diary that my Troy, NY, firefighter Father, Joe Connally, kept on me from the time I was born in 1938 until the late 1940's -- all during the years of World War II. It's predominantly about the year 1944 and my Father records our lives with poignancy and beauty during that sorrowful year just after we had lost my lovely young Mother to pneumonia on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1943. To me it is a sweeping story of truly timeless love and unwaverable faith.
All Diary entries, whether made by my Father, my Mother before she crossed over, or my Aunt Florence, have been typed in italics throughout. It covers the true account of the daily life of a motherless American-Irish child in small town America during the years of World War II with references in the Diary to Pearl Harbor, blackouts, gas rationing, orders from the draft board, the names of the great radio programs and movies of the day, standing room only at the theater, induction parties and farewell turkey dinners, dancing to the Victrola, swimming at Saratoga Lake, planting victory gardens, saying daily prayers, attending Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation, church rituals, cemetery visits, attending funerals for fallen firefighters killed in the line of duty, praying for the boys overseas, particularly those taking part in the invasion, etc. In general it was about life, death, church, prayer, school, work, play, family, friends, relatives, classmates, neighbors, neighborhood.
The book is also somewhat interspersed throughout with anecdotes relative to my own remembrances of family members whenever and wherever they are written about in the Diary, and also goes on to include stories about my father in subsequent years up to the time of his death.
The Diary about me is overall about faith, courage and trust in a loving God and -- to me at least -- it is above all else about the rich tapestry of the transcendent love that existed in life and still exists today in another timeless dimension between my parents. The Diary also references the countless times as a 5-year-old I was heartsick for my Mother to come back home to me and to be with me again, and as my Father outlines my own loss so poignantly in the Diary, I know from firsthand experience how the young children who lost a parent on September 11th feel. For even though my Mother's death was not anywhere near as spectacular as the horrendous World Trade Center event, as a child living in the early 1940's without my ever having witnessed the perpetual scenarios of death in all its forms as shown on TV today, I had little, if any, comprehension of it and no grief counseling whatsoever. But somehow herself went on with the everyday business of life after death anyway as hopefully, with faith and trust, will today's children.
"And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on."
The old worn Diary sat in assorted boxes in different clothes closets and in diverse dresser drawers of mine in the various villages in New York State in which I lived – Lansingburgh, Green Island, Melrose -- for well over 50 years. Its cover was of mottled red leather and its gold leaf inscription humbly proclaimed: STANDARD DIARY FOR ANY YEAR. Its pages were well read and well worn and a few even had random streaks of crayon going through them from some semi-creative childish endeavor of mine of long ago. Indeed, the Diary had banged around for what seemed like forever. First at my parents home and then at my maternal grandparent’s home in Lansingburgh. Then, after I married it was buried with my old mementos in a box in a closet in the Village of Green Island where my husband and I lived as newlyweds and where our three children – Alison, Jimmy and Carrie -- were born during the first six years of our marriage. After that it resided either on my closet shelf or in one of my dresser drawers in our home in the Village of Melrose for over 35 years. I was always going to do something with that Diary..but didn’t know exactly what. Ultimately, when I was nearly 64 years old, I finally discerned, with what I believe was some prodding from the other side, exactly what I was meant to do with it..
“Many things are growing plain and clear to my understanding.”
-- Last words of Fredrich Schiller