Saturday, July 7, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 27: Independence

I am working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

I have several independent, unmarried great-aunts, two of whom I’ve already written stories. My paternal aunt, Lorene E. Hork Waldron, was also a very independent woman who married late in life. She was our “fun” aunt. She had no children, but loved to pay attention to us.

After World War II, she worked for one year in Tokyo, Japan, for the U.S. Army. We know about her activities in Japan through the letters written home to her mother, and to her two sisters, Virginia and June. She left in early March 1952.

The first letter is dated 9 March 1952 and she wrote of the first few days at sea. She claimed she “hadn’t been sick yet but had her thunder mug available just in case.” There were 2500 people on board, with twelve civil service employees, 300 women and children, and the rest military personnel and ship’s crew. She never named the ship but refer to it as the “Mighty A” which could be the USS Alabama.

She arrived Yokohama and was bused to Tokyo, where she and the other civil service employees were placed in the Osaka hotel. Many of her letters were about the many dates she had with different officers and civilian men.

Her job was as secretary and the rest of the others in the office were men who were auditors. She had to type up their reports. She became very spoiled with a personal maid who took care of her laundry, cleaning, and any other chores that were needed.

In May she felt an earthquake. “Last Thursday we had one that was a pip. I was sitting at my desk at work when it happened and was really scared! It lasted a full minute and was the worst one here in seven years. This old building really shook and the fellas in the office said my face was red as a beet!”

By June the occupation was over and she was assigned a new job. She was in charge of a typing pool consisting of Japanese girls, who typed well but had poor spelling skills. Lorene had to take care of the classified and secret work herself.

She also wrote about her disappointment in her brother, Billy (my dad) wanting to marry Lea (my mother). She felt he could do better, but didn’t write why.

Lastly, even though she went out on lots of dates, she wrote to her mother, “I guess I’m not the marrying kind. I’ll find someone over here if it’s supposed to be but I’m certainly not going to get married just to get married. Being unhappily married and a good Catholic at the same time isn’t my idea of an ideal life. This is leap year though so don’t give me up!”

To be continued…..

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.


  1. What an interesting life your Aunt Lorene had! Did she ever learn to speak Japanese? Looking forward to reading about how she eventually married.

    1. She did learn some Japanese. I was once with her at a Chinese restaurant when she tried speaking Japanese to a waiter, who turned out to be Japanese. I was pretty impressed!


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