Marcelle (Koellsch) Stoltz

    I grew up in a town near Metz in Alsace-Lorraine, which in my childhood was part of France. It was an
    industrial area, and consequently was more prosperous than much of the rest of the country. There were
    coal mines and steel manufacturing plants. There were ten children in the family and our house was large
    enough so that we were comfortable there. We even had an indoor bathroom, which wasn't common in
    much of the country at that time. I was the seventh child. There were three boys born after me. Two of the
    rooms were divided among the five girls. The two older girls got one room, and then I went in there. I was not
    welcome. I was about five years younger, and they had a completely different view of things. "Why do we
    have to have her in our room??? Why?"

    There was also a large kitchen. My parents had a radio, which we were not allowed to touch. My father had
    been a soldier in the German Army in the First World War. He had been born in the town of Baerenthal in
    1897. When I married, they wanted to know my father's nationality because they wanted to confirm my
    nationality. He had become a French soldier because of the Treaty of Versailles. With the treaty, Alsace-
    Lorraine went back to the French. I have a paper showing that I was a French citizen because of that.

    The countries didn't want to give up any of their population; especially males, because they could serve in
    the army. Even when I married an American, it was stated that I was a French citizen. We were raised with
    both languages. My mother was good at both. My father was more at ease with German. We spoke French
    all day with my mother, and when my father came home we spoke German.

    I was born in 1934. I don't know when I started to notice that some things were not right. We saw carriages
    drawn by horses and poor people loaded on them, leaving from somewhere. I didn't know where they came
    from. Then the Germans came in and claimed the land. They said, "You're not French. You're German."
    When I went to school we were taught German. They changed our first names to the German forms. Andre
    became Andreas; Paulette became Paula; Margaret became Margareta; Roger became Rudiger. And here I
    was, Marcelle. There wasn't really a German form of that, so they called me Marta. The note home said,
    "From this day forth, this child will be known as Marta." Parents were told not to speak French with their
    children. Under totalitarian governments like that, you'd better do what they tell you.

    I started school in 1940-41. We were indoctrinated there. A large picture of Hitler hung in each classroom,
    and we'd sing national songs. We had a Protestant church, which they called a Protestant temple. The
    Germans always had some sports event for the children on Sunday mornings. You couldn't go to church,
    Not that they forbid it, but you were pretty much expected to be at the sports events. They had a group for the
    young girls and group for the older girls. The older girls' group was called BDM for League of German Girls.
    We had uniforms, although they didn't have swastikas on them.

    Sometimes classes were interrupted because bombs would be falling. Not far from us there was a plant
    where the Germans were making bombs. They were called obuszerks. In the early years of the war, it must
    have been the English who would come to try to bomb that company. Earlier than that, one of my brothers
    and one of my sisters were wounded by shrapnel. Margaret got it in her arm and Andre's injury was near his
    eye, although it didn't damage his eye. It happened at a marketplace that had concrete walls and a slanted
    roof. It was like a farmers' market. There were soldiers there. One time I woke up and plaster was falling on
    my face. Bunkers were built in our backyard. They weren't just for us, but for everyone in the area. They were
    huge and had thick walls. I'd grab my mother's skirt and hang on for dear life when we went there. I was a
    very fearful child. I still get startled very easily. It's probably because I was raised during the war.

    The Germans had a lot of prisoners in our town. I don't know if they were Russians or where they were from.
    They used to make toys. They'd be given materials and they could sell them for Christmas.

    My parents had chickens and goats, because they had all these children. I can remember drinking milk
    warm from the goat. They also raised a lot of other food. During the war they had ration tickets that were
    needed to buy things. I'm amazed when I think of how much they had to do to raise all of us. My mother
    sewed, she knitted, and she made our clothes. She taught us how to knit and mend our clothes, and do all
    kinds of things. When the tomatoes were ripening, she would preserve bottles and bottles of them. She'd
    also preserve beans and make jams. She had a garden behind the house, and we'd have to weed it. We'd
    go with my father to the larger fields where he had planted potatoes, kohlrabi and carrots. We'd pick the
    bugs off of the potato plants. They'd make holes in the ground, line them with hay, and put the root
    vegetables in them to preserve them for the winter. My father would make sauerkraut.

    My mother was a good cook. On Fridays she would bake. I don't know how she coped with it all. At
    Christmas she'd make a lot of cookies. We'd pick hazelnuts in the forest. We'd also pick raspberries,
    blackberries and little strawberries that grew wild. My mother was like a nutritionist. When the doctor would
    come to give us shots, he'd tell her that she had the healthiest and tightest children. I still wonder how she
    did it. She was the disciplinarian in the family. I don't think I ever got a spanking from my father.

    My sister Freda was a daredevil. What I didn't have in courage, she had. She was unbelievable. All the
    backyards then were fenced in because people had chickens, goats, rabbits, and sometimes pigs. We
    always had to prove our courage to Freda. One day she told me (since I was such a "fraidy cat) to go into one
    of the neighbor's chicken coops and get an egg. The kids opened the little gate and pushed me in. As soon
    as I was in there, before I even got to where the hens were laying, the rooster jumped on my back. I think I
    got an egg, but the rooster had ripped my sweater. One that my mother had knit. At the next meal, my mother
    said, "Mede (which they called me when I was young), what happened to your sweater?"

    I wasn't good at telling fibs, so I said, "The rooster did it."

    "What rooster?" she asked.

    I don't know where Freda was sitting, but if she had been in reach, she would have kicked me under the
    table to let me know not to tell. I said that Freda had told me to go into the neighbor's chicken coop and get
    an egg to prove my courage. Well...we both got spankings...with a rug beater. I told our daughter, Catherine
    this story, and later she found a rug beater for sale. She bought it and gave it to me. I have it hanging on the
    wall.

    In those days they didn't have vacuum cleaners. To clean rugs they were brought outside and hit again and
    again with the beater. When it snowed they'd take all the rugs outside and lay them face-down on the snow.
    They'd beat the dickens out of them. You should have seen all the dirt in the snow. It really didn't wet the rugs
    when the snow was cold and dry. They'd come back into the house looking like new.

    Freda could swim, dive and outrun anybody. If a boy dared to be naughty to her, oh, my God!

    We used to swim in the Moselle River. There was a pond, too. It had been dug for the stones, but it wasn't a
    quarry. Small stones and sand came out of it. There weren't any regular swimming lessons. You learned
    from your brothers and sisters. It was after the war that we'd swim in the Moselle River, because we lived in
    the city by then.

    In 1944, the front was moving close to us and we were told to get out of our house. We were evacuated. My
    parents had prepared for this time. My mother would cook the butter to brown it slightly. It kept better that way.
    She had tubs of that. They took blankets and a few other things. The soldiers said we would be in the woods
    for 24 hours. We were in the woods, camping with another family when a soldier came and told us we
    couldn't stay there because the front was moving that way. We walked about six miles to the nearest town
    where there was a train station. We kids had taken scooters and bicycles, but eventually they were left at the
    side of the road. You get tired of pushing them after a while. My father had a wagon that he had used for his
    garden, and we brought that along with food and blankets and things in it.

    At the station our family was crowded into a compartment on the train. I think we were on our way for three or
    four days. At one time the train was bombed. It stopped and people ran into the bushes nearby. I can
    remember seeing women holding babies. As young as I was, it didn't quite register with me how dangerous
    that situation was. They even shot machine guns from the train.

    At one time the train stopped when we were over a river. I don't remember what river. My mother said if they
    bombed us while we were there, if the bombs didn't kill us, we'd drown when the train went into the river.
    We traveled into the eastern part of Germany. The nearest city to where we were was Eisenach. We stayed
    there for a couple of days The Germans were fairly organized for this evacuation. Most of the stations where
    we stopped had hot food for us. Not big meals, but hot soup. Also, they would disinfect us to help us stay
    disease-free, and free of fleas. There were prisoners on the train too, and they were disinfected also.

    They didn't want to leave us in the large towns. They put us in small villages. The villagers were called into
    the plaza in the center of town and told that if they had any rooms available they had to take some of us in.
    They were parceling us out, and I was hanging on to my mother's skirt. Two of my older sisters had to go to
    one house, and two others to another, on the same street. My brother Roger, my three younger brothers, and
    I stayed with my parents. My oldest brother had been drafted into the German Army.

    An engineer with his wife and children were living on the first floor of the house we were assigned to. He
    worked at the salt mine that was in that town. On the second floor there was a politician and his wife, who
    was a singer. They had a dog. We had the attic, which had two small rooms and a large landing. There was
    a kitchen with table, chairs and a couch. My father used to sleep in the kitchen. We'd have to squeeze into the
    beds. We lived there for a year. The people in the village had to give up dishes, cutlery, whatever little they
    had to set us up. Then there was what the Germans called winter help. That included things like blankets. It
    was cold in that region.

    Like all of the Germans, we had tickets for food. They had very good bread there. Sometimes supper was a
    baked potato and a piece of liver sausage. Everything was rationed, of course. You had to have tickets for
    everything. Sometimes my parents would have the money, but couldn't find what they wanted to buy on the
    market.

    The Germans also gave out a monthly payment that was called kindergeld. (child benefit) Often women don't
    want to have babies during wartime, and this was a payment to encourage them to. After the war, the French
    did something like that, too. It was called les allocations familiales. World War I had killed so many young
    men, and World War II killed even more of the next "crop." They were trying to rebuild the population. Women
    would get allocations during each trimester of pregnancy, and then another payment when the child was
    born. They did something like that in Canada also. One of my sisters lived there and she got money for her
    children.

    My father had to work in the salt mine, and my sisters had to work also. One worked serving customers in a
    butcher shop. The others had to work in the fields. There were no younger men available for work like that
    during the war. I don't remember how my sisters got paid. They might have gotten wages, or maybe they
    were given food. I just don't remember.

    The people were overwhelmed with refugees like us, but they were very nice to us. The Germans have
    always been very well organized people. They're hard-working and frugal. They had very little, but they even
    gave us gifts for Christmas. They gave food to my parents, including huge cans of vegetables. The engineer
    downstairs brought cans of vegetables to my parents. Food was hard to come by, so to give it to refugees
    was very generous. We didn't go to school all that year. They didn't have room for all the refugees in the area.

    When the American front was getting close to us, we'd see the fires and hear the booms. My mother told
    Freda and me to go down to the village and get some milk. There wasn't any because it hadn't come in from
    the farms that were by that time under American control. As we were going up the hill to return home, we
    could see the Americans coming out of the woods. The day before there had been a train that had a large
    amount of ammunition on it. It couldn't go forward and it couldn't go backwards. Everyone in the village,
    including us kids, had to go down to the train to help get all of the ammunition off of it and throw it into the
    river. We had to empty the whole train! First they had wanted to explode it, but they decided not to because
    that would have destroyed many of the houses and probably killed some people.

    There was a civilian group in town that was sort of considered to be "the last resort." They dug a hole in the
    road and filled it with ammunition. They were going to set it off and blow up the first American tank that came
    into town. The engineer who lived in our house reasoned with everybody, saying it would only destroy one
    tank, and after that they would come in shooting. He talked for a long time before he got the others to agree
    not to do that. They finally decided to put a white flag on the church.

    The Americans came in peacefully. They went around from house to house, and took knives and looked for
    guns. They never roughed anybody up or anything like that. They just looked around. Then the whole army
    came through. We saw tanks, trucks, cannons. The Russians were later given control of that part of
    Germany, but it was the Americans who were there first.

    My sister, my older brother and I went to see what we could find near where the Americans were. I found the
    first Life Savers I had ever seen. There was stuff everywhere. Stuff, stuff, stuff! You couldn't believe it! We
    found a large can of peanut butter, but we didn't know what it was. We knew what peanuts were, but we had
    never seen peanut butter. We tasted it and decided that it was good so we took it home. We found all kinds
    of cookies that we took home also.

    At that time the coloreds were still segregated from the whites. They came into town later. When I first saw
    them, I ran home. For a few days we kids were allowed to roam around and scrounge around for food or
    whatever we could find. There was a field kitchen that we would go to. They would feed us refugees, but they
    wouldn't feed the Germans. The older kids were ashamed to go to the camp looking for food, but that didn't
    bother us younger ones. I remember that they give us pea soup. When they had food that hadn't been eaten,
    they'd put it in a ditch and cover it with dirt. The Germans would dig it up and eat it.

    A week before the Americans got to us, my sister Caroline had been looking out the window one night. She
    called to our parents and told them to look out the window. The whole sky was lit up. It appeared that things
    were hanging in the sky. The whole village was lit. I don't know how they did that. We thought we were going
    to be bombed, but actually it was to tell the flyers not to bomb this area. They knew the treasures were there.
    In the film it says they didn't know about it until some people on the street told them. Maybe they knew
    because someone in the family had been working there. My father never said anything. They had airplanes
    flying overhead continuously until they had taken everything out.

    Before long, there was martial law. Nobody could go out of their houses from nine in the morning until three
    in the afternoon. The reason for this is that they had found out that the salt mine was loaded with gold, and
    all kinds of treasures that had been buried there. The movie, "The Monument Men," was about that and the
    little village where we were living. My father never said anything about that. Maybe he didn't know. The way
    they show it is that there were big doors in one section of the mine. Behind the doors was an area as big as
    a football field, with a huge amount of gold, and paintings and stained glass windows from cathedrals. The
    American Army had huge, long trucks that they used to carry it all off. I don't know how long; maybe a week it
    took to do it. When you see the film, you see that they wanted to get everything out quickly because they
    wanted to beat the Russians.

    When they were finished taking everything out of the salt mine, the Americans took all of the refugees and
    put us in the camps where the prisoners were. They were going to repatriate us back to our home countries.
    They put us in trucks with two benches in the back, but they put way more people in them than would fit on
    the benches. With three little boys, my parents had a great deal of difficulty, and almost lost one of them at
    that time. You'd see in the newspapers for years after that people who were still looking for their children
    who had gotten lost at that time, or when they were relocated when the front was moving toward their
    location.

    The period after the war was a hard time, especially for my parents and my older sisters. With so many
    young soldiers around, who were enthusiastically interested in the girls, parents felt that they had to be very
    protective of their daughters. After a time, we were repatriated back to Alsace-Lorraine. There was
    lawlessness there for some time after the war. People were being beat up; they'd spit in people's faces.
    Even people that had been your neighbors would treat you like that. They'd shave people's heads, especially
    women, and make a design of a swastika on it.

    Getting home was not nice. When we got back to France, we weren't allowed to go back to our house.
    Someone else was living there. We lived in the streets for three days. My parents were cooking on bricks.
    Then they found a place for us. It wasn't an apartment; it was an old gendarmerie. We never got to go back to
    our house. I don't think my parents even got their furniture back. If they got any, it was very little. They had
    money that they had saved during the war. They had saved because even though there were things they
    could have used and would have liked to have bought, they often didn't have ration tickets for such items.
    The French government took the money and said they would be given francs in return. They never got
    anything.

    My father was accused of collaborating with the Germans because he had worked in the salt mine during
    the time we were there. My older sister had worked too. When you live in a totalitarian country like Hitler had,
    you do what you're told. You just don't say no. You do what you have to do. If my father hadn't worked, he
    wouldn't have gotten ration tickets. He wouldn't have been able to get anything. It was a matter of survival.

    There was a couple who were friends of my parents. They had three daughters and a son.  During the war,
    the son became missing. He'd never been declared dead. His mother hoped until the day she died that
    she'd hear from him. The husband had worked in city hall. After the war he wasn't allowed to work in
    Moselle. They beat him so hard, that poor man. He found a job far away. They couldn't find an apartment
    together. They were separated for years. He was a gentle soul. He had been badly mistreated. He died from
    loneliness, from being away from his wife and his children.

    Those of us who had been in Germany during the war were called "busch." It was a derogatory term
    meaning pro-German. I had started to hate the French because they were so mean to the people. In
    Germany, people had been nice to us. When we returned to our own people, they were mistreating us.
    People were nearly beaten to death. When the authorities came to school, or when the principal came into
    our classroom, we were supposed to stand up to show respect. After the war when we were back in Alsace-
    Lorraine, when the authorities came to our room they'd say the busch have to remain seated. They didn't
    want our respect. In that way, even we young kids were mistreated. I felt awful about things like that.

    As I learned later, the Germans certainly had an agenda, but to a child, it seemed that we were treated well.
    If the people living in the village even had an extra spoon, they had to give it up so that the refugees could
    have it. A fork, a bowl, whatever they had extra, they had to give it up so that the refugee families could
    function in almost a normal manner.

    When we got back to France, they took everything away. As a kid, I didn't know about the politics. I just knew
    that people weren't nice to us. We hadn't been allowed to return to our house. Now instead of Hitler on the
    classroom wall, there was DeGaulle. I'd think, "What good have you ever done for me?" I was resentful about
    what had happened to us. Neighbors against neighbors. If you had a neighbor who owed money to you, he
    might beat you up and say that you had made extra money while the Germans were there, and he didn't.
    People were afraid to go out of their houses. I don't remember how long it lasted.

    It was at that time that my older brother went to Australia. He said he wasn't French, he wasn't German; he
    didn't know what he was, but he knew that if a war broke out, he could be drafted. He went to Australia and
    became an Australian citizen.  My three younger brothers became French soldiers in the Algerian war.

    I had a good number of young men at that time who liked to court me. I met Charles because he was a
    friend of the cook. I remember that when my father was in the army, he had said that it was good to be a
    friend of the cook. When we decided to get married, Charles had to get permission. The Army had to have
    Charles checked on because he had a security clearance. FBI agents went to the town he came from in
    south Jersey and talked to the neighbors. Charles's mother heard about that and wrote to him to ask what
    kind of trouble he was in. He told her that he wasn't in any trouble.

    Charles and I were married in 1957. They had to publish the banns of marriage at city hall. "This person is
    marrying that person," goes behind glass. It had to be posted there for six weeks, or maybe more, so the
    public would know in case anyone has an objection. Charles was 28 at the time, but he was told that he had
    to go see the chaplain. He said, "You're six years younger than me. You're 22 and I'm 28. What are you going
    to tell me?" You had to get married at city hall. If you wanted to get married in church too, you could, but the
    legal part of marriage was the ceremony by the mayor at city hall. The mayor was a Communist and didn't
    want to marry us. He didn't say so, but he wasn't there. He didn't want to marry an American to a French
    woman. We were married by the vice-mayor.

    The base was on a main street in downtown Metz. If we were driving through when the flag was going up in
    the morning, or coming down in the evening, any GI would stop and salute, and that would stop traffic. The
    residents there found that rather annoying. NCOs and officers had been told that they had to take two hours
    of French classes each day.

    The cook I (Marcelle) mentioned and his wife came with one child and left with three. I used to take the little
    boy, Bradley, to my parents. There was an Irish girl living upstairs who took the other two.  One day Carl, the
    cook, said to me, "I'm going to bring a GI over here who just arrived from America. He's a little shy." Carl
    wasn't as tall as me, and I thought he was going to bring a guy shorter than me. I told him not to do that. He
    said it would be okay. That's how we got introduced.

    Carl had a car, and with his wife and children, he brought Charles over and introduced us. We went to
    Luxemburg. The GIs based there went to Luxemburg often. They were paid in script, and they got a better
    exchange rate for francs there than they did in France. I gradually learned English by conversing with Carl's
    wife, Ginger. (Ginger Rogers her name was; can you believe it? That was her name.) It's helpful to know
    German when learning English. There are a lot of words in German that are close to English words.
    Speaking both French and German was a big help to me in learning English. Anyway, with the little French
    he knew, and the little English I knew, we got by.

    When we got back to Alsace-Lorraine, I had a hard time speaking French. That had been forbidden by the
    Germans. It was hard for the kids to get back to school. We had missed two or three years. In my generation,
    at 14 you would go to an apprenticeship. Even if you were going to be a saleslady, there was a period of
    apprenticeship. You wouldn't be paid as a saleslady. You'd be paid at an apprentice rate. People who were
    better off would send their kids to some school for higher learning.

    My background is more German than French. Like most Germans, I'm orderly, I'm frugal; I try to make things
    work. When Charles and I came to America in 1959, he made approximately $75 a week. That was about
    the cost for a month's rent. Gas was 17 cents a gallon. Bread was about 35 cents a loaf. So $75 a week
    wasn't too bad. I could always save money. It's natural to me to save money. I don't know why. I think things
    over before I buy anything, I say, Not now, maybe later.

    We moved to the United States in 1959. I was very nervous about that. Charles came over first. When you're
    in the military and you get the orders, you have to go right away. It took a bit longer for me. I had to do a lot of
    paperwork. I had to go to the embassy in Paris. I had to get a blood test and a lung X-ray. They had to check
    to see if I had a criminal record. They had to know of the background of my parents. They wanted to know if I
    was going to the U.S. to become a prostitute! I was married. What a strange question, but it was on the
    questionnaire. You had to have a sponsor. Of course Charles was my sponsor.

    Charles was stationed at Fort Devens. I stayed with my sister and her husband for a couple of days before
    the trip. I crossed the Atlantic in a propeller driven military plane. It was a long, cold flight. We had to stop in
    the Azores to refuel. We landed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. When I got off of the plane,
    Charles wasn't there. I sat on a bench and thought, "Now what?" If he didn't come, then what? What would I
    do?

    After a while Charles arrived. He took me to Philadelphia, and showed me the sights. We went to the
    historical sites and to several museums. We went to New York for a couple of days, and then back to
    Philadelphia to meet his family. They were all gathered - the whole clan. The house was full of people, and
    my English was very poor. I was terrified. I couldn't leave sight of Charles. His mother had made a big
    dinner, and had tables stretching from the kitchen through the dining room and living room. Everybody was...
    looking at me.

    I was very well dressed, with an off-white skirt and a blue top. I always had long hair. In those days it was
    auburn and I had it in a long braid that went almost to my waist. I wore very little makeup. The family was very
    lovely. Everybody hugged me. At home there had been no such thing as hugging all the time. Charles's
    mother said she never thought he would bring me to meet the family.

    When we got to Fort Devens, we began to look for an apartment. First we looked in Ayer. I didn't know much
    about Ayer, but I decided that I didn't want to live there. Next we looked in Fitchburg. The first place we looked
    at, I said no. It was a mess. We ended up renting an apartment on Rollstone Street. The couple we rented
    from, Thelma and Howard, didn't have children, and they rented the upstairs. It was a furnished apartment
    so we didn't need furniture or appliances, but we went down to Aubuchon's and bought dishes and sheets.
    Charles already had some pots and pans, and a coffee pot.

    Thelma and Howard were very nice. I was such a lucky girl. They almost adopted me like a daughter.
    Thelma's mother lived with them, but she was in a hospital when we were first living there. They wanted me
    to go to meet her, but I said, no, I didn't want to meet her while she was in the hospital. I'd meet her when
    she got home.

    When they went to bring her home, I was really curious. When they arrived, I looked down from upstairs. I
    saw an elderly lady getting out of the car, and I said to myself, "Oh my God, here comes trouble." She looked
    a bit like Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother. She wasn't in the house thirty minutes when she said, "You
    go get that girl up there!" They had been praising me, telling her of this beautiful French girl with beautiful
    hair.

    Thelma called to me, "Marcelle, could you come down? My mother wants to meet you." I was very polite, and
    very shy, but I wanted to go back upstairs. I was a bit awed and a bit afraid of her because she looked so
    authoritarian. Before long, though, she became very friendly with me. "Marcelle, come down. I've baked
    cookies," Mrs. Welch would say, and I'd go down and have cookies with her.

    Mrs. Welch was from German stock. Her husband was from Kansas. They had come to Massachusetts
    when he was diagnosed with leukemia because he could get better care here.

    Thelma and Howard introduced me to Halloween. We didn't really have that in France. They told me how to
    prepare for it. They also advised Charles on how to buy a car, and they came with us when we bought our
    first one. They'd have us for Thanksgiving. Mrs. Welch just loved me.

    Next door there was an Italian family named Cassinari. They would compete with our landlord and landlady
    and her mother to be nice to me. They had three daughters and three sons. They'd invite us to spaghetti
    dinners. In the summers Charles would be spending a lot of time at Camp Drum in New York, training
    National Guard troops. I'd be alone a lot, and Mrs. Cassinari would take me to the Cape. They wanted me to
    take part in all sorts of things. In addition to dinners, they'd invite me to showers; baby showers and wedding
    showers.

    Mr. Cassineri would sit in the yard a lot. I'd sit with him, and we'd talk, as well as I could talk. He had been a
    barber. When my trunks came from Europe, he helped me open them. He told his wife that I had all kinds of
    riches. I wondered what he had seen to make him say that. She told me that he had seen my silver set. My
    family had bought that for me because I was going far away.

    The first time I went to a funeral home was when Mr. Cassineri died. I couldn't believe it. He was all made up
    and had beautiful clothes on, and was in a silky casket, half closed. To me, this was just amazing. At home,
    when they waked people, for three days I think, there wouldn't be any makeup. When you saw someone in a
    casket, you'd see the wood. There wouldn't be any lining. At first I thought it was sacrilegious. I didn't say
    anything of course, but he was a simple man who wore simple clothes.

    Both of the families in Fitchburg were so nice to me! I remained friends with them until most of them died.
    We'd been friends and had gone to weddings, christenings and funerals. We also knew some people from
    Fort Devens.

    Charles was eventually reassigned and we went to Texas. Later we were in Europe. Before we left for
    Europe, we went back to Fitchburg for a visit. I said to Mrs. Welch that I'd be seeing her when we got back in
    four years. "Marcelle," she said, "I'll be pushing up daisies by then." We crossed the Atlantic from New York
    to Bremerhaven on the Navy ship, the Geiger. Mrs. Welch wrote to me once after we got there. The next letter
    I got was from Thelma, saying she had passed away.

    I had arrived here such a "scaredy cat," not knowing anything about the country, and it was like God put these
    two families here for me. They'd call me down from the porch. "You come down!" They'd share food with me.
    Things I wasn't familiar with. Watermelon. I'd never seen watermelon before. They'd sometimes laugh about
    my accent. They loved my hair.

    I didn't go to work until our daughter, Catherine, was almost twelve. I could bring her to school and Charles,
    who had flex hours, could pick her up. He did almost all the shopping. He'd do the banking, too. I worked for
    one company as a shipping clerk for nine years. I never cashed a check for years. Once when Mobil bought
    the company I was working for, they laid off all of the older employees, including me. When I went to the
    credit union in Fitchburg to cash a check, the teller said, "Oh, now we have a face to go with that name."

    We had lived in Fitchburg for about forty years, but when our daughter moved to Medway a few years ago, we
    decided we'd like to be closer to her and her family, so that's why we're here on Northrop Street.

                         
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