During World War II, we lived a block and a half off of 25th Street. We were just children. I was 12, my little brother was 10, my sister was five years old. My mother worked at the train station. Having no car, she had to be able to walk to work. She was a single mother. We weren't allowed to go on 25th Street, only when necessary. We would go around the corner to Gomers Market from 24th and Lincoln, we would buy a pickle, hot dogs, soup, rolls, bread. That was our entire diet. They were so kind to us there. We were always grateful for anything to fill our stomachs and we never grew up to be picky eaters.
Our mother worked two jobs, one at the railroad and one as a waitress. We learned love and respect for each other. Any food we might have and the kindness and of the storekeepers and business people on the street who were so kind to us.
We learned about our freedoms and the beautiful, wonderful country we lived in. We were allowed to walk to the train station if we needed our mother. We'd see the soldiers, sailors and Marines who came through each day. They would line 25th Street. The Red Cross was always at the station to serve them coffee and doughnuts.
They all looked so wonderful in their uniforms and course the girls were all in love with uniforms in those days, but were warned by their parents to be careful because after the war was over, they would lure them away to far-off paces (but they were so handsome) Duh! The fascination was there.
The bad places were there, I guess, but mostly what we saw were the good things.
We learned to love our country, each other and humanity. Prejudices were not in our vocabulary.
We were Americans. Those boys we saw were off fighting for everyone of us. Not just certain select groups. I learned all of this from living near 25th Street and seeing the good side of it. It is who I am today.
Orlee McGhee Johnson