On the Homefront
In 1941, WWII begins for the United States, and life will never be the same for three women as they send their husbands, brothers, and friends off to war.
Ruth, a young wife and teacher, Lilly her teenaged sister-in-law, and Helen, a British war bride, learn to cope with rationing, change, fear, loss, humiliation, and brutality while they forge an impenetrable bond and grow to be stronger than any of them ever dreamed possible. They lean on each other for support, aided by the family and friends who surround them, but when one decides to go to the front lines as part of the American Red Cross Clubmobile program, how can they cope with her absence—and more telegrams reporting loss?
“I love the new music,” said Eileen, as she danced by on my right with Dick, a captain with the Third Army.
I nodded, trying to keep my feet from being trod on by Butch, a second lieutenant from Cleveland. He was young and had arrived in Europe only two weeks ago.
“So you girls drive all over the countryside, delivering coffee and doughnuts?” Butch asked.
“Yes,” I nodded, hoping for a faster song which would allow for less conversation.
“Wow, that’s amazing. What a great service for the troops. How close do you get to the front?”
I sighed, thinking of Group F and the Arizona. “Sometimes too close.”
“Where are you going tomorrow?”
I looked up at his face, “We’ll stop at a field hospital here in Reims and then two station hospitals on the road to Paris.”
He tripped but caught himself before he could fling me to the floor. “That’s a long drive for one day.”
I pasted a smile on my face. “We just go where they tell us to go.”
I was thankful when Danny cut in and saved me and my toes from agony.
“He’s pretty green, isn’t he?”
I laughed. “Well, he’s young and enthusiastic.”
Joe was a smooth dancer and always made our dances together fun. As the music switched tempo, he never missed a step and certainly never trod on my toes.
“Is this German offensive as bad as it sounds?”
Joe’s face grew serious. “I’m headed to Metz. I was in Paris on administrative duty, but now I’m anxious to get back to my men. It’s been a bad couple of days.”
“Be careful, Joe.”
He smiled again. “Are you worried about me, Ruthie?” He swung me in close, spinning us around.
“I’m worried about all of you, officers and enlisted alike. Don’t go getting a big head, buddy.”
“That’s Lieutenant Buddy to you.” He laughed.
While some of the Clubmobile girls had fallen in love, like Eileen, I had no expectation of finding love again so soon after Jack’s death. Yes, it had been more than two years, and yes, I met some wonderful fellas here, like Joe. But my heart still belonged to Jack. Just because I’d accepted his death and moved on in my life, it didn’t mean I was ready to move on in my heart.
The music and liquor flowed equally throughout the evening, but I finally had to drag myself and Charlotte away, knowing the morning would come early. Renee had already snuck out to bed, and I knew Eileen wouldn’t leave until the party ended.
As Charlotte and I climbed the stairs, she put a hand on my arm, pulling me aside on the landing. She looked pale, and I was starting to think it wasn’t from the exertion of dancing.
Her brow furrowed. “I heard about a Clubmobile girl from the Arizona, Mabel, do you remember her? She was injured and taken to a station hospital in Liege yesterday. Apparently, Group F got split in the retreat and the Arizona was in Bastogne when the German line broke through. Their driver was caught in the city when the Germans moved in and had to run out through machine-gun fire with a few other soldiers, just ahead of the advancing German tanks.”