When the war began, life was simple for my family in Walla Walla in central Washington's wheat country. The war formed a dim background in spite of rationing, a shortage of gas, blackout curtains and and my father walking nights as an air warden. Boys would shoot cap pistols at Germans and Japs instead of Indians, but otherwise life seemed almost normal.
But the impact of the war on my family became very visible when my father, who because of the family and his age could not enlist, made an enormous effort instead to gain a commission with the Office of .Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A prominent newspaper advertising man, he hitchhiked (gas rationing) across four states to get recommendations from prominent governors and senators to recommend his appointment.
Embarrassed when he failed to obtain a commission, he left Walla Walla and his family to take an advertising job with an agency in Boise. To support herself and me, my mother went to work selling shoes at Sears and began to go out with her friends and met men from the Army Air Base constructed during the war on the site of the airfield. By 1943, the dissolution of the marriage in Boise was probably inevitable, but shocking to me at age ten. As a result of the divorce, my father was awarded custody of me. My mother married a sailor and moved to the East Coast. I lived in three separate homes over the next two years before the war ended. The last of these is the home where I was boarded with a large family who took in foster children. I was brought in as a companion to the youngest of their four children, a boy who was seven years old at the time. Where my lucky number had been three for the number in my family, I was no longer an only child, instead lost in the crowd, living among people I had never met and sleeping on a porch with canaries raised for fun and profit.