1942: My Birth
In a sentient, timeless environment
It is timeless in the womb.
There is no light , no darkness.
In this world of near oblivion, there is a rhythmic pressure one becomes familiar with, there is floating and drifting and a gentleness that I became dimly aware of– as touch.
Sound was slowly heard, or felt, and it came from far away.
More and more there grew in me a sentience, which exerts itself vaguely, as shadows of half-formed, pre-realization. It departed first knowledge, saying in effect, “There is…”
In my dreamy semi-awareness, sounds became louder; sound and movement became more pronounced, they grew and brought disruption to the eternal cradle and my peaceful sleep.
I became aware that there was abrupt change occurring,
I felt that I was being swept along with, and yet, into the change.
There was pressure, more sounds, there was touching…
My floating world, that place of drifting and gentleness were being shattered.
I wanted peaceful oblivion. I sensed the color had changed from black to red all about me. There was no longer the customary rhythmic pressure.
I found myself wildly swaying without support.
I heard a loud “smack” and dimly felt a new sense– pain.
I screamed at the light and the imbalance. I screamed at the cold and the pain.
I scream at the feelings which seem so separate, yet were part of me.
Then there were other much louder, but familiar types of sound, rather like a semi rhythmic banter.
There were dark shadows moving across the red field that was just visible through my sightless eyes.
I screamed at the sharp sounds that came from all around me and from the sounds that…I, myself, was making!
For a fraction of a second, a period too small to know, my eyes were forced opened then allowed to close. In that moment I was shocked by a bright light that seemed to burn in through my eyes. I was aware that there were living forms moving about and touching me.
The red glare, again visible through my closed eyelids, was a comfort compared to the terrible bright white light beyond. After a moment or two it became quiet and warm about me and I drifted off to sleep, contentedly sinking back into that gentle peace and oblivion that I’d always known.
And so, I was born into a hospital amongst staff and family and became a living creature in time.
I was named Larry Francis Pierce, after my paternal great grandfather Francis AlbertPierce. The records show I was born on Saturday, 25 July 1942 at 7:04 A.M. to Hazel and Robert Pierce, at Berwyn Hospital, Berwyn, Illinois. Assisting in the natural delivery were Dr. F. B. Deardorff and nurse Cuso. The birth was registered at Berwyn Hospital and the Berwyn Health Department.
For perspective, public themes and events
* Sixty six years and one month prior to my birth, Lt. Colonel George A. Custer and 260 members of the U.S. 7th Cavalry, died fighting the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at the Little Big Horn in Montana.
* Thirteen years and six months before my birth, Wyatt Earp, the infamous andd legendary lawman of Dodge City, Kansas and Tombstone, Arizona fame, died of old age in Los Angeles, California.
Entries made in my Baby Book between 25 July 1942 and the end of the year:
25 July 1942
[Robert writes] “At the time of birth, Larry weighed 6 lb. 14 oz., was 19 inches long, had blue eyes and a natural part in his hair.”
At the time of writing this, Bob and Hazel are living at 9122 Grant Ave., Berwyn, Illinois. Robert is an electricians helper. Hazel, like most women of the times is a housewife.
[Robert] Hazels’ mother, Alma Delight Shafer, “quit work for a week to stay with Hazel after she came home from the hospital.”
The new parents received the following baby shower gifts from relatives:
“Glenn and Elsie Pierce (paternal grandparents): The “Baby Book”, a sweater set, blanket, a baby comb and brush (which I still have) and $10.00 for a baby carriage.
Uncle Bill and Aunt Elizabeth Pierce: A blue wool blanket.
Uncle Jack and Aunt Julie Pierce: Rompers.
Great-great Aunt Lil: A patch quilt. (Lillian, nicknamed Lil, was sister of Anna Flora Anderson Grubb, my paternal great grandmother).
Pearl and Alma Shafer (maternal grandparents): 2 sheets and a pink blanket.
Aunt Ruth (a Shafer): $1.00
Aunt Eloise (a Shafer): Three “nighties”.
Aunt Aileen (a Shafer): Wool suit.
Aunt Rowena (a Shafer): Silk comforter.”
August 1942 (Two weeks old)
[Robert] “Although Larry is being breast fed, he had his first baby bottle, with water.”
[Robert ] “Larry received his sugar ration book at age two weeks – and promptly bought us 4 lb. of sugar. His book No. #99606-145 and his Board #17-3 in Cook County, Illinois.”
[Additionally] “Larry was born with a lot of dark brown hair and at three weeks it has become much lighter.”
15 August 1942 (Three weeks old)
“Went out the third week after birth with Mother and Dad (Hazel and Bob) to supper. Slept through it like a log.”
24 August 1942 (One month old)
“Baby was given first orange juice – orange juice and Concentrated Cod Liver Oil.”
8-14 September 1942 (One month, two weeks old)
[Hazel] “We went to Michigan on Sept. 8,’42 and met Jack and Julie at Bob’s place (referring to Glen and Elsie’s retirement farm near Coloma). Later we took Larry over to grandmothers (Pearl and Alma Shafer farm, near Hartford, Michigan). Came home Monday Sept. 14, ’42.”
24 September (Two months)
“Larry had his first solid food-banana.”
“During the first few months after birth Larry was nicknamed ‘Pumpkin’ by his Mom and ‘Tyke’ by his Dad.”
1 October: Robert Francis Pierce, 22 birthday
“(Larry) First drank from a cup, had cereal.”
Sunday, 4 October
“Went to the Roxy Theater and saw Eagle Squadron and Ten Gentlemen From West Point and he went Oct. 7 to LaGrange Theater and saw Kings Row and The Magnificent Dope. He was good both times.”
Briefs of these movies are as follows;
1) Eagle Squadron, 1942, starring Robert Stack and Diana Barrymore, 108 minutes, black and white film. The story of an American flyer who flies a bombing mission over Germany with his squadron, gets shot down, and makes it back to England in a hijacked German plane.
2) Ten Gentlemen From West Point, 1942, starring George Montgomery and Maureen O’Hara. In the early 18th century, West Point political opponents attempt to close the academy using a brutal commandant who makes life unbearable for the cadets.
3) Kings Row
4) The Magnificent Dope, 1942, starring Henry Fonda and Don Ameche, 84 minutes, black and white film. Comedy about an unsuccessful school that tries to teach it students how to be successful. The school runs a contest to find the biggest failure in the country. Plans are made for the winner to take the Success Course curriculum for the schools future publicity plugs. Fonda’s character, a bumpkin from Maine wins. Surprisingly, he converts the city folks with backwoods wisdom and an honest way of life.
20-24 November (Four months old)
[Hazel] “Pumpkin went to Michigan with mother, Aunt Aileen and cousin Allen to see Uncle Harry come home from England.” (Harry Shafer was Hazel’s elder brother.)
[Robert] “Larry got a crib – the best we could get – also a good mattress. That was his first night in it. He woke up and cried that night too.”
“(Larry) Was weaned from the breast and put on a baby bottle.”
25 December 1942 (Five months)
First Christmas: For presents, “Larry received a sweater, two rattles, high chair, two pair pajamas, two dishes, one pair shoes, one pair bedroom slippers.”
THE WORLD ON MY BIRTHDAY
Saturday, July 25, 1942Top Headlines This Quarter
THE FIRST ALL-U.S. BOMBING RAID IS MADE ON GERMAN POSITIONS IN FRANCE. THE GERMANS, HAVING MADE MAJOR GAINS IN RUSSIA, NOW LAUNCH THEIR MASSIVE ASSAULT ON STALINGRAD, INTENDING TO COMPLETE THEIR CONQUEST OF RUSSIA. U.S. FORCES LAND ON GUADALCANAL AND IN THE SOLOMONS IN THE PACIFIC.
Top Songs For 1942 – Serenade In Blue – Glen Miller, Tangerine – Jimmy Dorsey, Jingle Jangle Jingle – Kay Kyser, Sleepy Lagoon – Harry James, White Christmas – Bing Crosby, Jersey Bounce – Benny Goodman, Blues In The Night – Woody Herman, A String Of Pearls – Glenn Miller
Postage Stamp $0.03
Avg Income $1,231.00
US President: Franklin Roosevelt
US Vice President: Henry Wallace
July 25 Birthdays
Steve Podkarski – 1957
Steve Goodman – 1948
Walter Payton – 1954
Academy Award Winners:
Best Picture: Mrs. Miniver, Directed By William Wyler,
Best Actor: James Cagney Yankee Doodle Dandy
Best Actress: Greer Garson Mrs. Miniver
1942 Sports Headlines2:04.2 WAS THE WINNING TIME FOR SHUT OUT TO WIN THE KENTUCKY DERBY. ROGER HORNSBY IS NAMED TO BASEBALL HALL OF FAME. ST.LOUIS BEATS NEW YORK 4 GAMES TO 1 TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES. REDSKINS DEFEAT BEARS 14-6 FOR FOOTBALL TITLE. STANFORD DEFEATS DARTMOUTH TO WIN THE N.C.A.A. CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.