There is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States—every man, woman, and child—is in action and will be privileged to remain in action throughout this war. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives and in our daily tasks. Here at home everyone will have the privilege of making whatever self-denial is necessary, not only to supply our fighting men, but to keep the economic structure of our country fortified and secure during the war and after the war.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s radio broadcast to the nation, April 28, 1942

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dear Cousin



I won’t write much tonight,
I’ve been working all day picking.
This is my third day in the fields.
Day one was fun.
All of us girls rode out
to the farm in a truck.
It was gossip, gossip,
gossip, all day long.
Day two was okay.
We were a little stiff
from bending over the day before,
but, still we talked,
and sang lots of songs.
Today is day three.
My fingers have blisters.
Every bone in my body aches.
I’m tired of singing songs.
And, I’m tired of listening
to those girls TALK!
I told mother I’m happy
to help bring in the harvest.
But between you and me,
I’d rather be back at school.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. Poster courtesy Northwestern U. Library.

Friday, April 29, 2011

See You in the Funny Papers



The Sunday funnies were
always my favorite
part of the weekend.
We’d give the paper to dad
then Norman and I would
lie on the floor and look
through the comic strips.
We’d take turns reading.
Norman was real good
at doing the voices.
I concentrated on getting
the words right.

Now that Norman is away,
Dad and I lie on the floor
and read together.
Then we get the scissors
and clip comics and jokes
from newspapers and magazines.
When we have enough
we glue them into
a scrapbook and take it
down to the hospital.
Medicine for the
soldiers’ funny bones.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Cartoon from author's personal collection.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

About Parades



If there is such a thing
as too many parades, then,
I think we’ve reached that point.

Americans love a parade.
Nowadays they have one
to celebrate almost anything.

To encourage citizens.
To recruit volunteers.

To collect more scrap.
To sell more bonds.

To honor a flag.
To honor a war hero.

People persist in marching,
while bands continue to blare.



© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. All photos courtesy Library of Congress: children with flags, civil defense workers, tank, servicemen, spectators.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On This Early Autumn Day



It’s sticky hot,
the leaves are only
beginning to turn
yellow and red,
and yet we have to
wrap presents
for the boys.
If they’re not mailed
soon, they’ll never
make it in time
for Christmas.
We're playing Santa
in September!
Ho! Ho! Ho!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Poster courtesy Northwestern University Library.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Black Market



I’m so angry I could scream!
Someone stole my heifer.
Had the nerve to back a truck
right up to the barn and coax
my gentle Betty out of her stall.
She wasn’t afraid of anyone—
she’d been shown at the fair
and was used to people.
She was halter broke.
Could be led anywhere.
Was tame as a puppy.
She’ll probably end up as
black market beef.
My poor sweet Betty.
I hope whoever snatched her
chokes on her bones.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Poster courtesy Northwestern University Library.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Savings Stamps



Sometimes little sisters
can be annoying.
Take my sister, Jeanne.
Each Monday, everyone
brings money to school
to buy savings stamps.
Jeanne wanted to
buy stamps, too.
Father gave her 15¢.
On the way to school
she lost it!
The next week Mother
tied 15¢ in a corner of
Jeanne’s handkerchief.
When she got to school,
the teacher untied the knot
and Jeanne bought a 15¢ stamp.
She put the stamp in
her shoe to keep it safe.
On the way home,
Jeanne stepped in a mudhole.
I wonder if President Roosevelt
has a little sister? If so,
he’ll understand why it’s
going to take Jeanne a while
to fill her stamp book.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. Poster courtesy Northwestern University Library.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Great Month



October 1943
was a great month!
September was good,
what with Italy surrendering
to the Allies and all,
but, October beat that!
The Bronx Bombers
came back from last year’s
defeat to slam St. Louis
four games to one!
They did it without
Joe D or Phil Rizzuto.
They did it despite
the Cards' Stan Musial’s
.357 season batting average!
They did it! They did it!
The New York Yankees
won the World Series!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Program image courtesy Baseball Almanac.

Saturday, April 23, 2011




The church is open
twenty-four hours a day.
People come in
at all hours
to pray,
to remember,
to light a candle.
I make sure I go
on Friday nights.
We say a novena
for the boys.
When prayers are over,
the lights are turned out.
The flames of the candles
glimmer and glow.
My heart, too, glows
as the soloist sings,
Good Night, Sweet Jesus,
and I know
we’ve made it through
another week.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Certain Advantages



Things have always
been rough, after all,
there are eight kids
in the family. Father
worked days while
mother worked nights,
and we barely got by.
Now mother is working
at the railroad station.
She cleans out the cars
that carry the troops
on their way to the war.
I never would have thought
that a war could be good,
but for us, it has been.
Mother brings home
sandwiches and candy
bars left behind by
the soldiers, and now
even she gets to eat.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Brownie Face



They've been calling
me "Brownie Face"
ever since I got the little
box camera four
Christmases ago.

I look at my world
and break it down
into tiny 1 ⅝ x 2 ½"
deckle-edged pieces.

Maybe the WACs
can use my "Brownie
Face" to look at a world
in torn-up pieces and
make it whole again.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Baby Brownie camera photo courtesy Poster courtesy University of Maryland.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Letter Obsession



When I was younger
my alphabet book
told me "V" is for vase,
violin, and vegetables.

As I grew older,
I found "V" is also
for velocity, vicuna,
and valedictorian.

Now, the only thing
"V" is for is VICTORY!
We are obsessed
with the letter "V."

"V" is for victory gardens,
victory dishes, victory brooches,
victory puzzles, victory bobbie pins,
victory cookbooks, victory comics.

"V" is everywhere—
on signs, in magazines,
on old ladies, in windows.
Dot dot dot dash.

Will there ever be a day
when "V" will once again
be one letter, among many,
in an alphabet book?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. The photo, and other objects are from the author's personal collection.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Uncle Lenny



My mother nearly collapsed
when she heard that
her brother had been
shot down over Germany.

We knew nothing for
weeks, until one day,
the Red Cross notified us
that he was in a POW camp.

And then we got a letter.
Uncle Lenny is okay.
He is with other Americans.
He has only one request:

Send socks.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Train Stop



Before the war, the train stopped here
only to pick up coal and water.
This town was never a destination.

Now when the train stops,
soldiers and sailors scramble off.
They stretch their legs.

They’re greeted with a big "Hello,"
and a substitute sister’s smile.
My job is to pass out the doughnuts.

Once, a soldier was so grateful
he gave me a kiss—my first!
I was so surprised, I couldn’t enjoy it.

Now, please, don’t tell my mother!
If she finds out I’ve been kissed,
my doughnut days are over!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Junior Girls Canteen photo from the collection of Scott D. Trostel, used with permission.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Tanka



high desert wind
Manzanar dust scratches
our throats raw
still we sing in the choir
and smile for the camera

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Top and bottom photos by Ansel Adams, courtesy Library of Congress.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Ceremonial Launch



Mrs. Roosevelt came
to launch one
of the ships Dad helped
build at the shipyard.

I’m small, so Dad’s
coworkers pushed me
closer where I could see.
I ended up next to her!

She raised a bottle
of champagne high,
ready to christen the ship
with foam and bubbles.

When Dad saw me so
close, he grabbed me
and lifted me out
of the way of flying glass.

Gosh darn it!
I stood right next to
Mrs. Roosevelt and still
missed the whole thing!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Loose Lips



Whenever I pass that poster
hanging at the package store
I get this picture of a giant
standing waist deep in the ocean.
He sneezes and his lips go flying--
"Watch out below!"

It makes me laugh,
and if I’m laughing
I won’t be thinking
about something I may have said.
Something a lousy Kraut
could have overheard.

I don’t want the ghost
of no sailor saying to me,
"Johnny, you bastard--
you should have kept your mouth shut!"
Nope, I don’t want no ghosts
talking to me.

Not ever.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Poster courtesy The Wire.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When I Grow Up



When I grow up
I'll join the WACs.
Instead of dresses
I'll put on slacks.

When I grow up
I'll join the WAVES.
I'll learn to swim
and I'll be brave.

When I grow up
I'll join the Nurses
and save the soldiers
from rides in hearses.

When I grow up
I'll join the poets.
My words have power.
My rhymes will show it!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. WAVES, WAC, and Red Cross posters courtesy University of Maryland.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011




Captain Long John Silver
would be proud of a crew
that collected as much booty
as the soldiers of this town have done.

Wooden boxes that had been
sent to the front filled with medical
supplies are now coming back
packed with the spoils of war.

Bayonets and pistols,
collar emblems and medals,
field glasses and scopes—

items captured and sent home
to mothers who don’t
give a damn about treasure.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy WW2 Museum Online.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Free Admission



The Regent Theater is
giving free admission
to the matinee if you
contribute records.

It’s for the war effort.

The records are used
in making shellac.
Don’t ask me what
the shellac is used for.

It’s for the war effort.

I don’t think I can
bear to part with one
of my Sinatra records.
Not the Jo Stafford ones!

Not even for the war effort.

Maybe, just maybe, I can
get some of Enrico Caruso’s.
No one but Papa listens to opera.
And if he protests, I’ll say,

"It’s for the war effort."

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Sam Samuelian.

Monday, April 11, 2011




Appliances, hosiery,
butter, coffee, shoes,
anything rubber, sugar,

The list goes on and on,
but I think, what I miss most
are the smiles, the teases,
the boasts, the charms,
the arms, the kisses
of boys.

Gone to factories.
Gone to war.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Stockings, fuel, young men posters courtesy University of Maryland.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Last Straw



I turn off the water
when I brush my teeth.
I don’t travel unless
it’s absolutely necessary.
I never waste food.
I shut the lights
when I leave a room.
I reuse boxes until
they fall apart.
I can’t get tires for my bike
for the duration.
I wear Grandma-knit sweaters
instead of store-bought.
I give up my Saturdays
to work for the Junior Red Cross.
But this is the last straw—
no two ways about it—
this is the last straw!
Due to wartime
paper restrictions,
Comic Cavalcade
was cut to 92 pages.
Now, a half-year later,
it’s been cut to 84!
At this rate, my favorite
comic book will disappear
before you know it!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Comic Cavalcade cover courtesy DC Database.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Plane!



Oh! There’s a plane!
I hate when a plane goes by!
There aren’t many that fly over,
so I know if I see one it means
the Nazis are coming.

They’re coming to bomb us,
or maybe they’re going to the
POW camp in the next county.
Either way, there’s Nazis overhead.
Quick, let’s hide in the barn!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Poster courtesy University of Maryland.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Birthday Dinner



One of Dad’s favorite meals
is meatballs, gravy, and
hot buttered noodles.

Tonight the table is set
for a birthday dinner.
Dad is ready with
a broad smile and a
napkin tucked into his shirt.
Mom dishes out a big
portion of meatballs, gravy,
and hot oleoed noodles.
Dad takes a bite of meatball.
He chews.
He swallows.
"Darlin’" he says,
"You did something a
little different here."
"It’s just chopped chuck
and an egg," Mom says.
"And Wheaties?" Mom says.

"Uh, huh," says Dad
putting down his fork.
He turns to us. "Hey kids,
who’s ready for cake?"

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Discussion of Stars

William and Jack


Hey, did you hear
Martin got killed
in a jeep accident
out in San Francisco?

Yeah, I heard.
I can’t believe it.
He was only eighteen—
three years older than us!

I wonder if Mrs. Metcalf’s
going to change his blue star
to gold?

Why wouldn’t she?

Well, it’s not like he died
on some Pacific island
fighting the Japs.

But, he’s still dead.

I guess you’re right.
Dead is dead.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whispers at Hebrew School





Whispers growing



Louder words:







What is the Hebrew word for enough?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Last Period



We have a little celebration
to bid farewell
to our favorite teacher.
We joke, we tease, we laugh.
We make promises to write.
Then suddenly,
the talk stops.
There is nothing else
we can say without
one of us choking.
Of course,
men don’t cry,
so we stare at the wall
and pray for the bell
to ring.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photos from author's personal collection.

Monday, April 4, 2011

June 6, 1944


JUNE 6, 1944

It’s almost as though
everyone is walking
on tippy-toe.

New York City is quiet—
hushed and listening
for the latest news

of the invasion
that will lead us
on the path to peace.

Or not, depending
upon how it goes.
For now, all eyes

are on the news line.
All hearts have stopped beating.
Please, Lord...


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. Note: if you click on the photo, it opens in another screen and the news ticker is easier to read.

Sunday, April 3, 2011




He joined the navy
to see the world and
to send us postcards
from exotic places.

He ended up sailing
all along the east coast
protecting America from
unseen German subs.

And so, when he’s in port
he sends us postcards
of Boston’s baked beans,
swans at a park in Virginia,

or Mama’s favorites—
from a city called Providence.
His being in Providence,
she says, is a good sign—

Providence is another word
for "God is watching."

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Postcards and photo from author's collection.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bond Rally



Everyone loves going
to a war bond rally.
When Hedy Lamarr is
giving kisses for bonds
who wouldn’t pay $18.75
for a note that will be
worth $25.00 ten years
from now?

Big-star bond drives
happen in California.
In this eastern city,
we get circus clowns.
No matter, bonds sold
by clowns, and bonds
sold by stars, both
keep our boys flying.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. Poster stamp from author's collection. Poster courtesy University of Maryland.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Do You Hear Belles?



Sorry to be boastful,
but a woman can do
most anything nowadays.
She picks up a shovel
to turn over a victory garden.
She hefts a welding torch
and puts together a Victory Ship.
And now I’ve heard,
that right here in Wisconsin,
women have shown up
to replace men on
baseball diamonds.
Summer’s coming and I
can’t wait to see those Belles
put together a victory season!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Welding photo courtesy Library of Congress. Photo of Sophie Kurys of the Racine Belles from the author's personal collection.