Dorothy Black’s WWII care packages

2013-01-20-001Sometime in the first ten days of October, 1944, a paragraph was written in The Daily Olympian about the World War II care package activities of my grandmother, Dorothy R. (McMurry) Black. She and my grandfather, Vernon C. Black, were married on December 18th, 1940, in Olympia, Washington, and by September, 1943, Vernon was in the Army, receiving basic training at Camp Abbot, a now-long-abandoned training facility near Bend, Oregon.

The short item was written by Alice Adams Watts and included in her “Here and There” column, a feature of the newspaper’s section, “Department for Women.” It’s just one paragraph, but it imparts a lot of insight into my grandparents’ relationship, my grandfather’s gastronomic preferences, my grandmother’s packing acumen, World War II food rationing, and more.

Detail of article

A lot may be learned about What to Send Service Men by listening to wives who have been sending packages overseas for lo these many months. Mrs. Vernon Black, for instance, is an ever-loving wife to Private First Class Vernon Black, in France. She keeps a steady procession of delicacies flowing in his direction. Among his favorite items, says Mrs. Black, are cheese spread, fudge mix, biscuit mix, chocolate brownies, sent in a sheet instead of a pyramid. She also sends jars of minced chicken, and, when she can get it, chipped beef. She has found that the small baby food cans are just right for many of the things she send. In order to utilize every bit of space, she wraps things in cleansing tissue—an item in much demand—and in pages of The Daily Olympian, being careful not to tear them.

The clipping that I have inherited has no date, but in the same article there is a notice of an upcoming event on “Thursday, October 12” (October 12 only fell on a Thursday once during World War II, and that was in 1944), and on the reverse side is an article, with a byline dated “Sept. 30”, discussing “Mr. Roosevelt’s speech to the Teamsters.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave only one talk to the Teamsters, on September 23, 1944. Thus, this article was published sometime between October 1 and October 11, 1944.

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