First Hand Account

Uncle Frank’s granddaughter Katrina posted an excerpt from Frank’s journal dated December 7, 1941: “went to church, heard on the radio that Japs attacked pearl harbour.. guess that means one thing WAR.”

The country did go to war, in a big, big way. In a matter of months, the country transformed itself into a war fighting economy. Millions of young men joined the military services, older men and many women supported the war effort through factory work, some women entered the women’s divisions of the military services (WAC, WAVES, etc.) or worked overseas as civilian nurses and others volunteered for the USO, Red Cross, Salvation Army, veteran’s hospitals, etc., and families committed themselves to the rationing that allowed so much of the country’s resources to be devoted to the war effort.

The war was the catalyst for many dramatic changes to the American way of life of the time. People moved from family farms into towns and cities and made their livings in factories or service industries. After the war, many women stayed in the workforce rather than returning to more traditional homemaker roles. Returning servicemen fell in love with women from other places than their hometowns and often settled near where their wives were from. The war ended the unemployment of the Depression years, the economy improved, and the G.I. bill provided educational benefits that increased skills and provided higher incomes for families. And, of course, the country’s birth rate increased dramatically, due both to returning servicemen and couples who hadn’t been able to afford families during the Depression.

Uncle Frank and six of his seven brothers served during World War II. Fortunately for our family all of them survived the war, returning home to marry and start families. That turned out to be big too…among them, the eight brothers and two sisters of that generation parented 42 children. Most of the siblings moved away from the family home in Gladstone, North Dakota, establishing Arnold family footholds in Arizona, California, Georgia, Minnesota, and Montana. Now, two or more generations later, the Arnold brand has spread across most, if not all, of the 50 states and beyond.

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