Typical small town street view during the mid 194os.
Public themes and events
* On this year, the first ‘bikini’ bathing suit was modeled in Paris. The bathing suit was named in reference to the impact the atomic bomb test on the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific.
* ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) the first digital computer is dedicated in Philadelphia, it is composed of 18,000 vacuum tubes.
* The electric blanket is invented. * The “autobank” concept is first used at The Exchange National
Bank of Chicago. Motorists drive directly up to a glass window, where tellers sit behind bullet-proof glass and use drawers to handle transactions.
Robert embarrassed at church (3 years, 6 months old)
[Robert, who is 24 years old, writes] 20 January “On this day we took Larry to church with us (Presbyterian Church at Clinton and 32nd St. in Berwyn, Ill.) We left him with a married woman who was minding children during devotional services. After Reverend Bremicher had finished about 23 minutes of his 25 minute sermon, who pops out of the ante room door, which were on each side of the pulpit, but Larry. Much to everyone’s amusement and suprise and to our chargrin, he says looking at the minister, “Hi”. Mr. Bremicher quick of wit replied, “Hi” and then continued on with his sermon. I had to get up and lead Larry to the rear of the church where we stood til the end of services. Afterwards I apologized but Mr. Bremicher laughed as did others.”
(Photo at right: At my Pierce grandparent farm, in front of barn, their pets: The dog in the background is Nancy, and the cat I’m holding, is Hitler.)
Larry’s prayers: 21 January 1946
[Robert] “Larry’s Prayers:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
And this I ask for Jesus sake
God bless Daddy, Mommy, me, my
Grandmas, my Grandpas, Grandma
Shafer, Grandpa Shafer, Grandpa
Glen, Grandma Elsie and my dolly.
There are various endings in the ‘God Bless line’ with Susan mentioned now and then with no prompting. He also blesses Allen and Gary Shafer also Aileen Shafer, Erick (little boy upstairs) and Barby (girl across the hall).”
Baby Book entries:
[Robert writes] March, “When Larry was less than 2 years and six weeks old, he had three $25 dollar War Bonds saved from his bank and from presents of his mother and Dad. Due to my entrance into the Navy he hasn’t had another one bought since then and during a year and a half. He has a pretty good start on another one though.”
Larry gets a big bed
[Hazel writes] on 21 April, Easter Sunday, “Last night was Larry’s first night to sleep alone in a big bed. We’ve told him that he’s getting too big to sleep in his crib now so he feels pretty good about his graduating, plus having a big double bed to himself. He’s getting quite tall now at 3 years 9 months – about 3 feet 2 inches.”
Food hoarders caught
One evening in the Spring, we were sitting at the kitchen table, eating oatmeal for supper, while listening to the radio when a news report came out. The news broadcaster said that Berwyn police had raided someone’s home. Mom and Dad were surprised, saying that the raid hadn’t been far from our apartment. The police confiscated a several hundred pound ‘hoard’ of sugar. The news went on, mentioning several other families by name, who had also been caught with hoards of food or other products. One of my parents explained that those people had broken the law by having more sugar than they should have. I was told that people were suppose to share when ‘times were hard’. When people hoarded it caused other people to suffer and do without.
[Robert writes] of 25 July 1946, my Fourth Birthday: “On Larry’s 4th birthday, 1946, his mother made him a big cake with four big candles. Also had chocolate and vanilla ice cream to go on the cake. Larry likes ice-cream the best. For some reason Larry won’t blow out the candles. I guess he must be afraid of fire. We brought him a tricycle for his birthday, but gave it to him before then so he could enjoy it.”
Mom tricks me
It was during the late afternoon, Mom and I were going to the movies. Since Dad was working “graveyard” shift at the time, he stayed home to get some sleep. No sooner had we left the apartment building and started down the sidewalk, when I suddenly had the urge to go to the bathroom. Mom told me to hurry up and that she would stand and wait or walk on very slowly, I could catch up with her. Away I ran. Moments later, I came bounding back outside and looked down the sidewalk…Mom was gone! I stood in surprised disbelief. “Mommy’s gone!? I had hurried… What should I do? ” After standing there and looking for a few long moments, I slowly turned and sadly began walking back toward the apartment.
Then, looking up, I saw her.
There was Mom!
She was standing stealthily up against the front of the apartment building and laughing.
She had leaned up against the building to hide from me.
In my haste to get back outside and catch up, I’d run right past her. Happy that she wasn’t gone and my being on the verge of tears, I ran to Mom. She told me she never would really run off and leave me.
We proceeded with our walk to the movies.
Mom had pulled a real good trick on me, probably the best trick anyone ever pulled on me during the years of my early youth.
US farming comes into the 20th Century
Meanwhile, down on the nations farms: Tractors had almost completely replaced horses and the milking machine was replacing hand milking in the dairy. Change was coming rapidly to the rural areas. Whereas in 1935, only 10% of US farms had electricity, by the end of the 1940s, some 85% were electrified.
Linda is born
[Robert] “During August, Larry spent about three weeks on Grandma and Grandpa Pierce’s farm at Coloma, Michigan. During this time Larry received a baby sister, Linda Franceen. After Linda came home from the hospital and Larry from Michigan, Larry enjoyed very much holding his new sister while he sat in his rocking. He was greatly pleased that we allowed him to do so.”
Linda’s newspaper Birth article:
“Six pound nine ounce Linda Franceen was added
to the R.F. Pierce family Aug.17 (1946) at
MacNeal Memorial Hospital, Berwyn. In
addition to the new arrival, the family have
a four year old son, Larry.”
The coal room
In the basement of our apartment building there was a large coal storage room associated with the building’s hot water steam radiator heating system. Periodically, a coal truck would drive up the alley, behind the apartment, to unload its coal down a chute into this room. When the coal pile was still high along the wall, it was fun to climb and slide down. Unfortunately, I only played in the coal room a couple times. When Mom saw my clothes marked with coal and my skin filthy with carbon black, she persuaded me (!) not to play in there.
One summer afternoon, a neighbor boy and I were playing in the sand box, near the apartment buildings side door, when Dad came home. As he opened the screen preparing to go inside, I greeted him with a cheerful, “Hi Picklepuss!” It was a silly little term I recently heard, but was unaware of its negative connotations. Dad had been working a rotating shift at the factory. It was a hot day and I suppose he’d had a rough day on the job. My greeting stopped him cold in the doorway, he silently turned, stepped over to the sand box and gave me a slap up side the head. I’d thought the statement was cute and funny. I didn’t understand why I was slapped. I was after all, glad to see Daddy come home from work.
1946 Fifth Christmas
[Robert] “On Christmas Eve Larry became very ill with a fever and a very sore throat. I called Dr. Ehlers but he couldn’t come. He gave a prescription of Sulfa ____ gum. Christmas Day Larry had to stay in bed but he enjoyed his many gifts especially a cowboy suit from Grandma and Grandpa Pierce. Other gifts from them were Tinker Tots, a book called “One Story A Day” and a bookcase. Dad Shafer sent $5.00 for his bank. Uncle Walt sent Larry a subscription to ‘Jack and Judy’. Bill and Elizabeth sent him a bowling game, Jack and Julie gave him a set of wooden toys. ‘Barby’ across the hall sent Larry a funny play dog called ‘Frisky’. Mother and Dad gave Larry a ‘Book of Bible Stories’ which he likes very much. Also we gave him a color book, chalk for his blackboard, two sets of tinker toys and a pair of woolen mittens.”