See this post for more information about my Grandmother’s diary.
March 28, 1943 – Sunday
“Another beautiful day. Went to show – Abbott & Costello. Got restless and decided to go home. Tried to go to sleep early but not use to that. So read until about the usual time. Looked at a cottage in S.H. (St. Helena). Surely would like to rent but rent paid here until Apr 23. May get it after all.”
In 1943 my paternal grandmother, Frankie Ruth Fuller Pyatt Dourte, was living in St. Helena, California. At that time her only son (my father, Earl E. Pyatt) was in the Philippines at the start of the WWII, was part of the Bataan Death March and was being held as a POW. At the start of this diary, she had yet to receive word about his status. He was only 20 years old. She was married to my Dad’s step-father, Harley O. Dourte. They both worked at the Mare Island Naval Station. Harley had 3 sons of his own who were in the military. They moved to St. Helena because they were sure that when their boys came back they wanted to be near to where they would most likely return to the U.S. Her short, brief diary entries give a little glimpse of what her life was like during this time.
On the days she has an entry I will post it.
March 27, 1943 – Saturday
“Very nice day. Laid off work for first time from the island as Harley was sick with flu. Went to St. Helena to a show. Decided to stay with Carl as didn’t have to work Sunday.”
Carl was Harley’s brother who lived in St. Helena at the time.
My father passed away July 13, 2010. He was a veteran from WWII. He sacrificed a lot for his country. He was 17 years old when he enlisted. He lied about his age to get into the Army. He didn’t join the army to go to war; but the war caught up with him. He joined to be able to play his tuba in the Army Band…very plain, very simple. Plus, by joining the Army he could get paid for what he loved to do – playing his tuba. My father was in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked in 1941. He was on the Bataan Death March. He was a POW for 4 years.
When he passed away we had him buried at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. He received a moving and touching military funeral. We knew it would be six months before his official headstone would be placed. Unfortunately none of my family lives in California. As the family historian I had tried several avenues to try to obtain pictures of his headstone. I did not have much success. Until I was reading another blog recently that mentioned that Find A Grave had photo request volunteers who take the time to go to local cemeteries and take pictures. I put in a request and the very next day I received photos. This was shortly after Christmas and the photographer was able to get a photo with the wreaths that are placed on each veterans headstone. My family was thrilled to receive these photos. I have now registered at find-a-grave and have become one of those volunteers myself. I know what it meant to me to have these photos; I hope to “pay it forward” soon!