Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Day I Was Born

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May 18, 1944

The day I was born the world was at war yet love was in the air. Bing Crosby’s “I Love You” at the top of the music charts. And so it has been throughout my life, no matter where or what, I have felt loved.

I was born at 6:45 on a Thursday evening in Warsaw, Indiana, in The McDonald Hospital owned by Dr. J. R. Baum. The total cost for delivery and five day stay was $57.50.

Grandma Hirschy wrote in her diary on May 19th: “…got a telegram from Sam this morning stating Rita Dorene arrived last night, 7 lbs.” Grandma then traveled from Pennsylvania a few days later to help when Mother got out of the hospital. An entry in her five-year diary records, “Sam carried Kathryn out to the car and into their new home. I held the baby.” Was that so he wouldn’t have to hold me, perhaps? Mother claims now that Dad was afraid of holding the baby.

Later in a letter addressed to my grandfather--“My dear companion,” Grandma wrote, “Kathryn got up to eat dinner with us in the kitchen this noon but got feeling fainty so Sam carried her back to bed and she ate there…”

I would never have known about Mother’s initial frailty had not Grandmother Hirschy kept such good records, and had these letters and diaries not been carefully archived by thoughtful family members. I remember Mother’s later pregnancies when she was strong and healthy and worked very hard almost till the last minute. To this day she never admits to a moment of weakness.

Grandpa Hirschy wrote in the family letter, carbon-copied and mailed to the six children scattered abroad, “Mother got home from Huntington a week ago today. She says the baby is a Hoyt, she has dark hair and is a very intelligent child, already understands when you talk to her. Hoyt and Hirschy must make a wonderful combination!!!!!”  (Yes, there were that many exclamation marks.) This quote makes me smile every time I read it and also makes me feel welcomed into a very loving family.

I am so grateful for another ‘birth’ in 1944. Scientists at Harvard University with some funding from IBM constructed the first automatic, general-purpose computer. The advances in technology make this task of writing my stories a thousand times easier than the labor-intensive communication my grandparents maintained with their children overseas. What a work of love that was!

Though my entry into the world was a happy one, there was great turmoil at the time; the world was in the throes of a terrible war. The now famous young diarist, Anne Frank, and her family were discovered while in hiding and died along with millions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps.

My own uncle, Mother’s younger brother Phil, was wounded in the war in Europe and went missing in action for weeks. Those were terrifying times. There was a shortage of manpower; women went to work and Rosie the Riveter, the ubiquitous poster woman of the day, transformed the image of femininity forever. Major annual events were canceled. The Indianapolis 500 was not held that year nor the U.S. Open Golf Tournament.

Those were very busy times for Dad and Mother. They were both studying in Grace Seminary at the time of my arrival. Dad, very tan from working on the railroad, was also pastoring a small church in Huntington, Indiana. Mother had a part time cleaning job. For most people, life moved on even while World War II was wrapping up. For me life was just beginning.

First photo:
Rita Dorene, 4 weeks old

3 comments:

sara said...

I loved reading this about you! how lucky you are to have those written letters and diaries from your grandmother!!

Kim said...

Yes, the journals and letters are such a wonderful blessing. I remember getting the "family" letters from Grandma Hirschey and we were always happy when we could read it without too much trouble...when it was the 10th sheet of paper with fading carbon paper between, it was almost impossible to read!

Susan said...

This was so interesting to read! Both of my parents were born in 1944, and you've given me a different perspective on that year. What a blessing to have your grandmother's diaries!