Sara Virginia

My grandmother was born on May 25th, 1918. It was during the flu epidemic of 1918 and her mother died when she was 9 months old of the flu.

This is an excerpt from my life story that I'm writing where I talk a little bit about her..

My grandmother had little tolerance for weakness of any kind. “Suck it up” was her mentality. I don’t blame her though for thinking my silly skinless ankle was nothing to freak out about, she had suffered much growing up as an orphan and she learned how to handle pain. Her mother had died when she was 9 months old and her father was an engineer who traveled the world building bridges. He was only home a few weeks a year if that, so she was passed from relative to relative. One aunt that she stayed with, Aunt Shack they called her, beat her daily, screamed all the time and made her sleep in a box when she was in trouble. Grandma had grown up working hard. She picked cotton, milked cows, churned butter, shuck corn, all the aspects of farm life. Then during World War II she built ships. While the men were off at war, women like my grandmother became welders, engineers, and such taking the place of the men in the ship yards.

My grandmother was only 4 foot 11 inches tall and very thin so she welded in the small tunnels of the ships, repairing them. One day a ship was brought in that had been out at sea for many months. It had been bombed and many of the men had died. The dead were in an air tight container that was only accessible now through the air vents and only one welder was small enough to crawl through them, cutting through walls to make the vents big enough to get the men out and bury them, my grand mother.

She said that once she cut through that last wall with her torch, the stench hit her in the face and she threw up all the way back out. 

She also told us that she danced with Clark Gable. It was a huge party to celebrate the launching of a ship, he was there with Carol Lombard and my grandmother danced with him. She also was the first civilian to ever Christen a ship. During the war they didn’t want dignitaries or celebrities to do it for security reasons so they decided they would allow ordinary people do it. They started with my grandmother.

While we were growing up, we heard lots of stories from her life. She was a great story teller. You felt like you were there when she was talking about her childhood, working in the ship yard, living during the depression, working the farm, dancing with Clark Gable.


Chantelle said…
Wow. Good stuff.
Anonymous said…
Mom's name is spelled Sara. She always made sure everyone spelled it that way instead of Sarah. I think Sara is french for Mary but I'm not sure. Love MOM

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