March 1945
Click on the calendar for a specific date
Highlights:
Junior's birthday
Skating at White City
Stan
The Policeman's Ball
Hayride

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Ginny Merigold and Helen Romanelli


Hal Totten, Dot's friend and next-door neighbor

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Thursday
Mar. 1
1945

Today my jaw was really bad, so I went to the dentist. He said I had a terrific infection, and if I don't take care I'll wind up in the hospital.

I got home and stayed in bed cause he also said I can't go out of the house until Monday. That really cinched things.

After school, Ginny and Helen came over and, later in the evening, Totten, Ray Creigan and Grace Hoff came over. I hate all 3 of them.

They said Jim is having a party Sat. night and I'm invited. How sweet of him— I have to stay home.”

Sis comments:

Dot sure had a lot of trouble with her teeth. I can see her now, with her swollen jaw. It didn't seem to affect her having visitors and, of course, talking.

Totten, Ray and Grace were from Parker High and now would be called 'preppies.' We weren't in their class!”

Today's news:

  • Parker High, 68th and Stewart Ave., where Hal Totten, Ray Creigan and Grace Hoff attended, was closed in 1977. A new facility, Paul Robeson High School, opened the same year nearby at 6835 South Normal Blvd. The Parker High building is now occupied by the Amandla Charter School.
  • I have no information about either Ray or Grace. It's possible that Grace Hoff could have been this person. Please email me if you can shed any light on either of those two people.
  • It's only Thursday, and my mom has been told by her dentist to stay in bed all weekend, until Monday. I wonder how long she can keep that up.
  • Born today: actor Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica, The A-Team).

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Dot's friend, Vertus, who she met recently, was serving in the US Merchant Marine aboard the USS Gilmore (pictured.)

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Friday
Mar. 2
1945

Today I felt lousy as usual, but got a letter from Vertus. Still haven't stepped out of the house since Doc Sharpe said 'no'.”

Sis comments:

Dr. Sharpe was our dentist at 63rd and Normal Blvd.”

Notes:

  • Vertus Strutzenberg, Lil's sister, who Dot and Sis had met on Feb. 20, was serving in the Merchant Marine, serving aboard the USS Gilmore. The ship, a submarine tender, had returned to Pearl Harbor on Jan. 29th and sometime thereafter departed for Brisbane, Australia, where it arrived on Feb. 23rd. The Gilmore then traveled to Subic Bay, Phillipines, arriving there on March 13th. (Wikipedia)

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Merle, Dot and Sis; Florida Centennial 3-cent postage stamp, issued today, March 3, 1945


Hal Totten

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Saturday
Mar. 3
1945

Today, I got a real nice letter from Bob [K.] saying he's coming in on leave real soon.

In the evening, Merle and Eleanor came over, and then Sunny. We had a swell time talking about old times on Brighton Place, and new times. They went home at 11:30. Then Sis, Sunny and I took a walk for some Sodium Perborate for my mouth.

About 2:15 a.m., Hal called me and asked me how I felt. Mighty neighborly, eh what?”

Sis comments:

I guess Dot didn't follow the doctor's orders. She should have stayed in the house until Monday.

Hal called at 2:15 a.m.?? We usually didn't get calls after midnight, if even that late.”

Notes:

  • Bob K., like Vertus, is serving in the Merchant Marine.
  • Eleanor (no photo) is a friend or former neighbor from the old Brighton Place neighborhood.
  • Sodium Perborate is, today, an ingredient used in tooth whiteners, and various household cleaning and bleaching products.
  • Although service members' letters, like Bob's, were mailed for free, the regular U.S. first class postage rate at this time was 3 cents—unchanged since 1932.

Today's news:

  • Report Yanks Cross Rhine; Nazis Flee; Begin Shelling Duesseldorf; Take Big Cities
  • Batman & Robin begin a series of appearances on the Mutual Broadcasting System's Adventures of Superman ((listen)).
  • Finland (a formerly neutral country) declares war on the Axis powers.
  • Writer-director George Miller (Mad Max) born in Australia on this day in 1945.

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Dot, Sis and Sunny went shopping around 63rd & Halsted on this warm Sunday.


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Sunday
Mar. 4
1945

Nice warm day today. Still didn't feel very good, but Sis, Sunny and I went down 63rd, window shopping.

Later, we went to Minuet's and ate some lunch. Came home and sat around.

Called up Helen, and about 7:30, she came over. We went to Parnell for a short while. But didn't stay long.

Went to bed at about 1:30.”

Sis comments:

Window shopping and eating... where was Mom when all this was going on with a 'sicky'??”

Today's news:

  • Sinatra Probe Ordered: An investigation to determine whether Frank Sinatra, crooning idol of the bobby socks army, is entitled to his new draft classification of 2-AF. Sinatra issued a statement, saying: “I'd like to accept the decision without comment as millions of guys have.”
  • Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, joins the British Army as a driver.

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Fuschia was a popular 1940s fashion color.

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Monday
Mar. 5
1945

Very hot out—54 degrees. Today I didn't go to school either, but went to the dentist's.

Then I went downtown with Sunny and I bought a fuschia coat and fuschia dress. I like both very much.

Also got caught in the rain, so stopped in Parnell and called up home. Marge came and got me with an umbrella. Pat Flodin and 3 other fellows were in Parnell.”

Sis comments:

I also had a fuschia dress and coat, so we tried not wearing them at the same time. It was a popular color back then; sort of a bright cranberry. I'd forgotten all about it.”

Today's news:

  • Japs Stiffen Resistance on Iwo; 12,864 Killed in 13 Days
  • Dresden Leveled, Nazi Says: “The allied air raids on Dresden on Feb. 14 and 15 caused the greatest destruction oa big urban area has ever suffered.”
  • Americans Win Burma Natives With Kindness
  • 108-1/2 Hour Week in War Plants, Japanese Goal

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Sunny (left) and Dot, Englewood High School

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Tuesday
Mar. 6
1945

Cold and snowy, about 10 degrees.

Today was Course Book Day, and what a day, gosh. I missed a lot of work, but that's my way. There was a snowstorm, wind and all.

After school, I caught up on some of my work. Helen and Ginny dropped in after school. Marge, Sis and I went to Parnell but didn't see a soul.”

Notes:

  • Course Books are similar to report cards: a periodic recording of a student's grades and other information.
  • Yesterday it was 54 degrees, today it's 10. That's typical of March in Chicago.

Today's news:

  • On the Hit Parade this week: A Little on the Lonely Side, by The Frankie Carle Orchestra. ((listen))

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Newsreel footage documenting the Allied takeover of Cologne and the bridge of Remagen. “The defenses of fortress Germany are crumbling—fast.” (8-min.)

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Wednesday
Mar. 7
1945

Today after school I got my clothes ready and at 7:00, Mom, Dad, Sonny and I dressed for Jr.'s party. Bob came in on leave. He had his Navy uniform on, and was he being wolfy. We took pictures by Joe's and went home at about 12:45.”

Notes:

  • "Jr." is Dot's cousin on her mother's side. Joe is her uncle.

Today's news:

  • US 9th Armoured Division crosses the Rhine River at Remagen Germany.
  • Cologne, Germany, is captured by the Allies.

--

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Thursday
Mar. 8
1945

School was ok today. Helen came home with me for a while. I watched the baby* after school.

Later in the evening, I went down 63rd and met Sunny and did our shopping. Then I went to Parnell, saw Don Doty and also Chuck. Met Helen and Ginny in there, then Lill and Sis. We had sundaes and Cokes. Lill and Sis treated, all reet. Marge came in later. Gad, we had a keen time, but must have really made a big racket.”

Sis comments:

Lill and Sis treated again?? We still were working at Spiegel, I guess, making 50-cents an hour. Spending it all at Parnell!”

Notes:

  • *The baby Dot watched was Lee, Jr.—her aunt Marge's son. (Marge works days at the Morrison Hotel, downtown.)
  • Lill is Vertus' sister.
  • Don Doty is a friend of Chuck's.
  • What's become of Ralph?

Today's news:

  • Patton on Rhine; 3rd Army Armor Dashes 50 Miles Inside Reich
  • 51,000 Civilians Take Up Private Flying in 1944; Doctors, Priests Are Among Novices
  • Hollywood: Vincent Minelli is preparing for his marriage to Judy Garland by building three extra rooms on his hillside home. There still isn't room for a swimming pool–unless they plant one in the cellar.
  • Born today: Mickey Dolenz (The Monkees)

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"Carriers Hit Tokyo". (5-min. newsreel)

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Friday
Mar. 9
1945

Today was a swell day. In the evening, Dell and Lill came, so we went to White City skating. Lil met some usher who had worked with her at the Brighton. I don't know his name, but he was with me all night and can really skate good. We played all the machines there.

Got home at 11:15, and then went to Parnell. Lill and Dell stayed till 1:30 dancing and telling jokes. Swell fun.”

Sis comments:

Who is this Dell and Lill??

I thought at first Dell was my aunt Dell, but she was married with two kids and very seldom came over, not to mention White City.

If Lill was Vertus' sister Lill, as I thought, she never went to Brighton Park or worked at the Brighton theatre. The fact that they stayed until 1:30 a.m. and evidently walked home means they lived nearby.

It really has me stumped!!”

Notes:

  • White City, at 63rd & South Parkway (now King Drive), originally had scores of attractions and rides, rivaling the Riverview amusement park. By 1945, however, its roller-skating rink was one of the few venues remaining. [more information here]
  • The Brighton theatre closed in 1991 and was demolished in 2003.

Today's news:

  • Willard Waterman debuts in Those Websters on CBS. He would later become the star of radio's The Great Gildersleeve.
  • Radio and movie star Red Skelton marries Georgia Davis (Hoosier Holiday).
  • U.S. B-29s begin a massive fire-bombing of Tokyo, Japan.

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This evening, Dot and Sis went to the show and saw Carolina Blues, Rainbow Island (L'isola Dell' Arcobaleno) plus a stage show.

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Saturday
Mar. 10
1945

Sis and I got up at 1:30 and went down 63rd. Bought a lot of odds and ends. Came home.

Totten asked me if I wanted to go to a splash party at the YMCA, but I said no. I kidded around with him for about a half-hour. Bob K. also called and wanted me to go out with him.

Instead, Sis and I went to the show; saw Carolina Blues and Rainbow Island, also a stage show.”

Notes:

  • Dot and Sis may have gone to the Englewood, which featured stage shows or vaudeville acts between second-run feature films.

Today's news:

  • 300 B-29s Raid Tokyo; Heart of City Aflame; Biggest Super Fortress Attack of War
  • 1st Army Captures Bonn; Patton Lays Seige to Coblenz

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Stan

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Sunday
Mar. 11
1945

Stayed home until 3:00, then Sis, Marge, baby Lee and I went to Parnell. Then went walking down 63rd, window-shopping. Who did I see but STAN, with Bill Simmons and Chuck. I don't think they saw me tho.

Later on, Ginny came over and we went to Parnell's again. Doty came in and sat with us. Chuck came in shortly. Both were dressed nice.

Loads of wolfs were out tonite, hmm-mmm.

Came home and studied, altho... Stan keeps entering my much-crowded mind.”

Notes:

  • Stan had paid Dot a surprise visit on Feb. 15.
  • Doty is Chuck's friend; Bill Simmons is presumably a friend of Stan's.

Today's news:

  • Boom Days End in Shipyards: Mass Exodus from West Begins: Men from the middle west who flocked here at the start of the war to build ships are on their way home by the thousands, with many more thousands contemplating such a move in the near future.
  • 15 Square Miles of Tokyo Laid Waste in Raid
  • Goebbels Calls On All Germans to 'Stand Fast.'
  • The Imperial Japanese Navy attempts a large-scale kamikaze attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet anchored at Ulithi atoll. [more information here and here.]

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The Southtown, 610 W. 63rd St.

Trailer for the film, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.

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Monday
Mar. 12
1945

Today, after school, Helen and I went to the Southtown. Saw Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. Wow, what a tearjerker. On our way home, we saw Herb Roberts, Stan and the rest of those guys. Went home, and then came back and met Sis, but didn't see Stan again.”

Notes:

  • Dot had met Herb Roberts on Jan. 20. Herb didn't show for their first date; the next time, Dot turned the tables.

Today's news:

  • Eight Towns East of Rhine Won
  • Nagoya, Japan, Plane Plants Raided by 300 B-29s
  • Germans Given No Rest By Men of 42nd Division
  • New York becomes the first city to prohibit hiring discrimination based on race or creed.

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Helen Romanelli

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Tuesday
Mar. 13
1945

Aujourd'hui*, had a nice time at school. Helen came over after school and we jabbed for quite awhile.

After supper, Marge and I went to Parnell's for a Coke and met Sis, so she came along. Gosh, the weather was beautiful*. Got to bed about 1:30 (as usual).

Helen and I really have some heart to heart TO HEART talks.”

Notes:

  • *Dot was practicing her French. (Aujourd'hui = 'Today'.)

Today's news:

  • Yanks Five Miles Past Rhine; Ruhr Factory Cities Periled; 23 Towns Won
  • Bare Huge City Housing and Rail Projects: A slum clearance bill was taken to Springfield…with Mayor Kelly's backing.
  • *Spring-like weather had settled over most of northern Illinois in March of 1945. A total of twelve new records were set from Chicago to Rockford throughout the month of March, 1945. (National Weather Service)

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Chuck with Dot's sister; the front steps.

Saturday Night spent 12 weeks on the Hit Parade, peaking at #2. ((listen))

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Wednesday
Mar. 14
1945

It was a lovely day today. I went for a walk down 63rd after supper. Met Chuck and he joined me. We talked about things in general. He led me all the way home and then sat on the front steps. He'll be 19 on May 3. A big boy already. Although I like him, that's probably as far as it would ever get.”

Sis comments:

I don't think Chuck was Dot's type, so he was never a serious contender in the romance dept.”

Today's news:

  • 100,000 Russians Cross Oder Toward Berlin, Nazis Report; Soviet Troops 33 Miles from Reich Capital
  • Brthdays: Walter Parazaider, of the rock group Chicago, born today; Albert Einstein is 66 years old today.

  • Sports: Manager Jim Dykes of the White Sox, minus his uniform, but equipped as usual with a cigar, watching workout in Terre Haute, Ind. camp.

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Dot's aunt Marge

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Thursday
Mar. 15
1945

After school today, there wasn't much doing. It rained most of the day anyway.

I went for a walk after supper and cried my eyes out from pure lonesomeness. Gosh I do love Stan.

Later on, Betty and I went to meet Sis and Marge. About five of the ushers let us in free and were fooling around with us. I think they were in grammar school.”

Sis comments:

I always knew Stan was the 'love of her life.' Dot really had a hard time getting over him. That is, until another "hunk" came around!

I wonder what theatre we were let in for free. Probably the Englewood or Empress. They were more lax in their management than the Stratford or Southtown. Every so often in the Empress you'd see some bright light coming from the dark exit doors, meaning somebody was slipping-in, helped by the 'help'.”

Today's news:

  • Yanks Kill 20,000 on Iwo Jima; U.S. Formally Raises Flag Over Island
  • British Planes Hit Nazis With New 11 Ton Bomb
  • Bob Hope Made M.C. for Oscar Awards Tonight
  • Musical birthday parties today: Sly Stone (Sly & the Family Stone), 1 year old; Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), 5 years old; Mike Love (Beach Boys), 4; Harry James, 29.
  • Billboard publishes its first album chart; the King Cole Trio is #1.

Going My Way wins seven Oscars at the 17th Academy Awards, hosted by Bob Hope. It will be the last year for the Academy's plaster, wartime-era statues. In the above video, Gary Cooper presents Best Actor winner Bing Crosby with his Oscar.

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Sis (top) and Dot at their former Brighton Place home, in 1939. Merle (holding Sonny-Dot's brother) lived upstairs.


Above: The city of Würzburg, Germany was almost totally destroyed on this day by British bombers. 5,000 died within 20 minutes.

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Friday
Mar. 16
1945

72 degrees. Today, 8th period was omitted, so Ginny and I went to Parnell—and was it hot outside.

Later on, Merle called and wanted Sis and I to come over. We said sure. I got there at 8:00 and Sis came at 8:30. We walked down Archer [Ave.] and then went to Herman's* for a hamburger. Came back to Merle's and sat around. Got home at 11:30. Really had a keen time over there.”

Note:

  • *Herman's may possibly have been at 56th and Ashland, and later known as Oswald's.

Today's news:

  • 4,000 Marines Killed on Iwo Jima, New Estimate
  • Film Oscars Go to Crosby and Bergman: The song “Swinging on a Star” from Going My Way won the original song award.
  • Ike Decorates 10,000 Airborne Heroes As Unit; Division Is Hoored for Holding Bastogne.
  • Weather: The temperature reached 78 degrees in Chicago on March 16th, 1945, setting a record that stood until 2012, when it was 82.

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The Hotel Sherman

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Saturday
Mar. 17
1945

All day today we got ready for the Policeman's Ball at the Sherman Hotel. Sis and I went down 63rd, then to 47th & Washtenaw for Sis's coat. Came home and dressed. I wore my fuschia crepe dress, black sandals, and pearl earrings and combs.

Helen came and we walked to Parnell. Saw Chuck and Frenchy Jackson, but then [went] to our L.

All I can say about the dance is: phooey. We left at 10:30.

Got down 63rd and ate in Minuet. Boy, there's no place like 63rd.”

Sis comments:

I remember the Policeman's Ball, and it sure was a disaster. We had visions of all these good-looking, single policemen, but they were mostly couples—probably married, by the looks of them. All in all, an older crowd.

I thought we went there with Sunny though. She got these tickets from her father who owned the tavern. I imagine he was obligated to buy them. Maybe Sunny wasn't with us, because Dot didn't mention her name.”

Notes:

  • The Hotel Sherman [information here], on the northwest corner of Clark and Randolph, had banquet seating for 2,500. It was once known as the largest hotel west of New York City, and as "Chicago's only Loop hotel with a drive-in garage". It was demolished in 1980. The site is now occupied by the Thompson Center (also known as the State of Illinois building).
  • Dot bought her fuschia dress and coat on March 5th.
  • Helen, Sis and Dot likely boarded the L for downtown here, at the Parnell station.

Today's news:

  • 'Tis Great Day for the Irish and St. Patrick: ‘Erin go bragh’ will be the theme today for scores of gatherings marking the anniversary of St. Patrick. Mayor Kelly has been invited to head an imposing committee of city officials and attend the dance and entertainment tonight at Carpenters auditorium, 6414 S. Halsted St.
  • B-29s Burn Japs' 6th City; Drop 2,500 Tons of Fire Upon Kobe; Yanks Near Open Plains of Reich
  • Patton's Tanks Race to Cut Off 2 German Armies
  • Birthdays: One year old today: Pattie Boyd (later wife of musicians George Harrison, Eric Clapton).
  • Anniversary: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

Above: The Sherman Hotel, at Randolph & Clark, where Dot attended a Policeman's Ball on St. Patrick's Day evening.

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Dot's aunt Marge, Bob Dusold, Bob Plant

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Sunday
Mar. 18
1945

“Got up at 9:00 and dressed up, then went outside and boy, it was warm. 62 degrees. Took a few pics of Marge and then went in. Bob Dusold came around with his car, so I sat around talking to him.

Later, Ginny, her sister, and Helen came over. We walked around and went to Parnell's, then to Minuet. Ginny went home, so Helen, Sis and I came back to our house and sat on the front steps. Saw Hal and Bob Plant.

Later in the evening, Sis, Sonny and I went to Parnell's.”

Notes:

  • Bob Plant and Ginny Merigold would eventually become husband and wife.
  • Despite Bob Dusold coming by Dot's with his car, not many teenagers during these days had the privilege. Most U.S. car manufacturers had suspended production of new models during the war, and gasoline was rationed.

Today's news:

  • Tokyo Reports U.S. Carrier Planes Raid Kyushu Island; Attack Home Isle for More Than 7 Hours
  • More Older Men Facing Call in Draft
  • Ike Warns Nazis Face Merciless Bombardment
  • Chicago Island Airport First Choice of Aviation Lines: A point about two miles off shore on the line of 39th St. has been adopted in plan commission studies.
  • Sports: Maurice "Rocket" Richard, of the Montréal Canadians, becomes the first National Hockey League player to score 50 goals.

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Stan

1945 Newsreel highlighting the ongoing collapse of Hitler's Third Reich.

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Monday
Mar. 19
1945

Today in school I found out that a girl named Irene Davis is going with Stan now, and that he is in the Navy—GREAT LAKES. Her sister Colleen is in my gym class. Gosh, I wish I never heard about it. That really hurts down deep. I always hoped I could be with him when he got into the Navy, cause that's what he always wanted—bad.”

Notes:

  • Stan would remain in the Navy for several years. Eventually he became a restauranteur in the west suburbs. When I spoke with him on the phone during 2008, he had 13 grandchildren.
  • From the Navy's official Great Lakes Naval Training Center history: "The average American in uniform in 1945 was about 26 years old; ironically, born when the "War to end all wars" ended. He (most were male) stood five feet eight inches and weighed 144 pounds (an inch taller and eight pounds heavier than the doughboys of WW I).

Fewer than half of his buddies had completed high school, and about a third of them left school after eighth grade.

Sailors were a little younger than the average (although, as we have seen, patriotic fervor brought men approaching retirement age into the service, itching to fight the fascists.)"

Today's news:

  • Remagen Span Falls; Bridge to Be Repaired: Many Americans Die; 200 Engineers Are Thrown Into Rhine
  • 2,000 Planes Pound Heart of Ravaged Berlin
  • A Japanese kamikaze hits the carrier USS Franklin, killing over 700.
  • Hitler issues his "Nero Decree" ordering that all German infrastructure be destroyed to prevent its later use by the advancing Allied forces.

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Registering with the Ration Board (Office of Price Administration, or OPA) for a sugar rationing book. (Library of Congress)

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Tuesday
Mar. 20
1945

A very dull day. Sis went to the Ration Board, and I met her afterwards in Parnell. We saw Doty, Mary Ellen and Herb Roberts. It was quite rainy and cool outside. Doty and Chuck sat with us for quite awhile.

Big thrills today.”

Notes:

  • A system of rationing in the United States lasted from January 1942 until December 1945. President Roosevelt hoped that rationing would limit the sale of certain products so that those valuable resources could be redirected to war production and the military.

Some of the items rationed during World War II included: tires, cars, gas, bicycles, fuel oil, kerosene, stoves, solid fuels, sugar, coffee, processed foods, meats, fats, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, rubber footwear, shoes, and typewriters.

Each family, single person, or institution such as a hospital or restaurant was issued ration books that provided them with either coupons, points, or certificates allowing them to buy a limited amount of each rationed product.

Today's news:

  • Link Himmler in Bomb Plot to Kill Hitler
  • Congress Acts to Avert Food Famine in U.S.
  • Negroes Fight Beside Whites in Two U.S. Armies… marking a break in the U.S. army's traditional policy of segregation… in response to repeated requests from the Negroes themselves for a chance to fight for their country as well as work for it.
  • Nazi Civilians Engulfed by Tide of Battle
  • Post-War Radio Demand Put at 100 Million: RCA and Nabc have just demonstrated their post-war television set. It projects a picture on a screen 16 x 21 inches. Cost of the set was estimated at $395.
  • Birthdays: Born on this day in 1945: NBA (Lakers) coach Pat Riley; Star Trek producer Rick Berman. Celebrating a 17th birthday: Fred ("Mister") Rogers.

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Corner of 63rd and Halsted Streets, 1943, and Whelan Drugs; Dot's mom, Pauline.

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Wednesday
Mar. 21
1945

Today was the first day of Spring, but was quite cold outside and windy.* I met Sis after work on 63rd and Halsted and we went straight home cause Parnell was closed. Mom went to a club meeting. It was a very dull day.”

Sis comments:

Boy, talk about weather changes... 62 degrees and then windy and cold.* Didn't keep us home tho.”

Today's news:

  • Attack Japan's Navy: Carrier Planes Hit 28 Ships in Inland Sea; 475 Aircraft Destroyed in Bold U.S. Raid
  • Sentence Four Negro WACS Who Protested Taking Menial Jobs: The four contended that they were ordered to do menial work “because of their color.”
  • Largest Warship Christened: The mighty U.S.S. Midway—heaviest, strongest and fastest carrier ever built—will be covered with “1945 model aircraft” so new they have not yet seen combat action.
  • *Weather: The temperature in Chicago at 8pm was 42 degrees.
  • British troops liberate Mandalay, Burma.
  • The U.S. Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics initiates the development of rocket-powered surface-to-air guided missiles.
  • “The grey, troubled streets of Paris began to show patches of color, and U.S. soldiers on furlough caught the first faint scents of spring. Here & there window boxes showed bright yellow daffodils, pink hyacinths, deep-toned violets. The war news was good, and shops blossomed with a gaiety of frothy spring hats and gaudy costume jewelry.” —TIME Magazine, March 19, 1945 issue.

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Top: Kelly Library; Now playing at the Englewood Theatre: The Missing Juror (“Only a ghost knew the secret behind six murders... and he wasn't talking to the cops!”)

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Thursday
Mar. 22
1945

Well, we went to the library and then later in the evening we went to the Englewood and saw The Very Thought of You (****) and The Missing Juror. Both were swell. On the way home, we stopped in Parnell and then met Doty and Chuck. Discussed our hayride.”

Notes:

  • The hayride being discussed is scheduled for Saturday night, March 31st.

Hit Parade this week:

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The Peoples theatre, at 1620 West 47th Street. Below, in its last days. (cinematreasures.org; Library of Congress)

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Friday
Mar. 23
1945

Today was a beautiful day. In the evening, Sis and I went to Sunny's show and waited around for awhile, talking to some of the ushers. Then Sun, and Sis and I went to an ice cream parlor and had a Coke. I also called up Ralph, but he wasn't home. Sis, Sun and I walked from Ashland to Washtenaw. Sis and I went home at 11:30.”

Sis comments:

Why did Dot call Ralph?? Wish I could remember.

Sunny worked at the ticket booth in a theatre on 47th & Ashland. We always considered it a kind of "dumpy" place and really didn't care to see movies there, even thou it was a "freebie" for us.

Ashland to Washtenaw was a long walk!”

Notes:

  • Ashland to Washtenaw was about 1-1/2 miles.
  • “Sunny's show” was the Peoples, located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. It seated 2,400. The theatre was closed in 1989 and demolished in 2001. The site is now occupied by a Walgreens drug store and parking lot. (More information here.)

Today's news:

  • Musician David Grisman born on this day in 1945; Actress Joan Crawford celebrates her 40th birthday.

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Operation Varsity, launched on March 24, 1945, included British, U.S. and Canadian glider landings east of Germany's Rhine River.

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Saturday
Mar. 24
1945

A gorgeous day today. About 7:30, Ginny and her sister came over for my blue coat. Then in a little while, Helen came over and we walked towards 63rd & Parnell. In front of Parnell was Doty, Chuck, Totten and Irving. We stopped and talked to them for quite awhile about the hayride. Then Sunny came and we went in Jim's. Later on we walked her home and talked to Coletta on the steps till 2:00.”

Notes:

  • I don't know who Irving or Coletta were; Sis didn't identify them in her recollections.

Today's news:

  • Born on this day: movie director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential), renowned paleontologist Robert T. Bakker.
  • Actor Steve McQueen's 15th birthday.
  • The Allies begin an airborne assault (Operation Varsity) over Germany.

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Dot, in the living room

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Sunday
Mar. 25
1945

Today it rained nearly all day. About 2:00, I called up Jim asked him about the hayride. He said sure, he'd pick me up about 6:30. Later on, Helen came over and we went to the Englewood. The pictures were lousy. Then we went to Parnell and had a Coke, but didn't see anyone.

It'll be a month since I saw Jim. Last time was Feb. 10th.

Notes:

  • Jim came to the Valentine's party on Saturday, Feb. 10th. Dot was griped that night because Jim was more interested in the pool table than in her.

Today's news:

  • Singer Aretha Franklin is 3 years old today.

--

Ginny and Helen

.

Monday
Mar. 26
1945

After school, Sis and I went for a money order and then I sent it out to Palos Park. Later in the evening, Sis and I went by Ginny's and then Helen came there. So all 4 of us went to the bus station and asked about the schedule. On our way home, we sang every song we could think of. Sis and I walked Helen up to 58th & Normal.”

Notes:

  • Palos Park (location of the upcoming hayride) in 1945 is an outlying village (today considered a close-in suburb) approximately 10 miles southwest from Dot's.
  • The bus station could possibly have been near the Englewood passenger-train station on 63rd street near Parnell Ave. Whether there was a Greyhound-type bus that ran directly to Palos Park, or if they planned to take a city bus line and then transfer someplace to another bus, I do not know.

Today's news:

  • Japanese resistance ends on Iwo Jima; U.S. Marines raise third (and final) flag.
  • Poet Robert Frost celebrates his 71st birthday; singer Diana Ross is one year old.

--


Typical White Castle restaurants from the 1940s. (Top: AfterImage/George Tice)

.

Tuesday
Mar. 27
1945

After school, Sonny and I went by Ginny's house and then we went to White Castle's and Parnell's. Saw Jim but he didn't see me.

Later in the evening, Sis, Ginny and I went up to 55th & Halsted to wait for Helen and—god, was there a powerful wind blowing. She came around 25 to 9, and she went into Skateland to see if Saby* was in there. He wasn't. Gosh, I felt sorry for her and I don't think he's even worth writing about.”

Sis comments:

*This guy, Saby, was really a loser. None of us cared for him. Helen sure could pick them!”

Notes:

  • Skateland Arena roller rink was at 5951 So. Halsted, about a half-mile from Dot's.
  • I wasn't able to determine whether the present White Castle locations—at 55th and Ashland Ave., and at 67th & Halsted (both within walking distance of Dot's) were there in 1945. (More information here and here.)


Site of Skateland Arena, 5951 S. Halsted St. (2018 view.)

Update: a kind reader recalls that the White Castle was at 63rd St. and Union Ave. (one block east of Halsted.) Wimpy's—a small hamburger chain—was next door. At that time, Union dead-ended at 62nd St. In the 1960s or 70s, Union Ave. was extended and the restaurant demolished. The site is presently the intersection of Union and 63rd.

  • Due to wartime food shortages, the White Castle chain had shrunk from 137 to about 85. At the end of the war, the hamburger price was raised from 5 to 10 cents.


A White Castle hamburger

Today's news:

  • 7 Armies Over Rhine: Yanks Mop Up Limburg; Nazi Front Broken; Patton's Men Take Over in Frankfurt.
  • Big B-29 Fleet Bombs Kyushu, Jap Home Isle
  • Lloyd George, Ex-Premier of Britain, Dies
  • Cruiser Chicago Meets Tests in First Shakedown Cruise
  • U.S. Bombers Go to Support of Red Offensive
  • 800 White San Quentin Convicts Refuse to Eat With Negroes
  • The aerial mining of Japan's ports and waterways (known as Operation Starvation) begins.
  • U.S. Army captures Wiesbaden, Germany; Eisenhower declares Germany's western front defenses broken.
  • Ella Fitzgerald records It's Only a Paper Moon. [YouTube]

--

Tonight, Dot and her sister Louise saw The Doughgirls and Hi, Beautiful at the Englewood Theater.

Newsreel clip about the "German Rocket Bomb". Germany's last V-1 buzz-bomb attack occured today.

.

Wednesday
Mar. 28
1945

Today after school I went home with Helen and then went to Callas's for a Cherry Coke. Then we went to Minuet's and had a hamburger. On 63rd and Parnell we met Doty and a M.M.S. and a sailor. Found out that Doty was leaving tonight for New York. Too bad, Helen*.

Later in the evening, Sis and I went to the Englewood and saw The Doughgirls and Hi Beautiful, also 5 swell acts of vaudeville.

My jaw's acting up again.

Sis comments:

Boy, Minuet's had the best hamburgers. I can still remember the taste and how they looked after all this time. They were more or less steamed, had some sort of mild chili sauce on them, and a few raw, chopped onions. I couldn't eat some of that stuff now, but it was worth going out at midnight for, then!”

In The Doughgirls, a newlywed couple's honeymoon is invaded by three young women, and the romantic scene soon begins to look more like Grand Central Station.

Notes:

  • The “M.M.S.” was a Merchant Marine serviceman or sailor.
  • The (unconfirmed) location of the Callas Restaurant was 55th & Halsted, near the Halfield Theatre.
  • *Helen, of course, had a big crush on Doty.

Today's news:

  • There's Plenty of Meat, Says OPA Official
  • ‘Rout Under Way’; Patton Tanks Drive Within 223 Miles of Berlin
  • Block-byBlock Battle Raging in Frankfurt
  • Nazis Whipped on West Front, ‘Ike’ Declares
  • Russians 23 Miles From Austria in Hungary Drive
  • Germany launches its final V-1 (buzz-bomb) attack on London.

--

Sunny and Dot

.

Thursday
Mar. 29
1945

Didn't go to school today—my jaw was swollen. Helen came over after school and Sis, Sunny and I went to Parnell and had a 3 Graces. Then we came home and later went down 63rd and bought odds and ends for Saturday night*. Gosh, I hope I don't regret inviting Jim.”

Sis comments:

Poor Dot with the swollen jaw again. No wonder I remember that condition so well.”

Notes:

  • *Dot and her sister are planning a hayride for this coming Saturday night.
  • The 3 Graces is a banana split with three scoops of ice cream

Today's news:

  • Nazis Flee Montgomery's Tanks
  • Berlin War Plants Bombed in Daytime By U.S. Flying Fortresses
  • Germans Plead for Sympathy From the Allies; Hitler Cause Lost, Nazis Virtually Admit
  • Washington: A sensational document, purportedly disclosing Communist plans to sovietize the western hemisphere, today was turned over… to the house subcommittee investigating Red penetration into the army.
  • Future NBA (NY Knicks) star Walt Frazier born on this day.
  • Famed baseball pitcher Cy Young turns 78 years old; Eric Idle (Monty Python's Flying Circus) celebrates his second birthday.

--

Jim Parks and Dot

.

Friday
Mar. 30
1945

Today was a busy day. About 11:00, Sis and I took a walk by Dell and Lill's and had a heck of a good time. Came home at about 6:00.

At 7:30, Jim called up and asked me if he could come over, and we could go and take a walk, and I said sure. In a half-hour, he came with Hal and we got Janice. Walked up to Morgan [St.] and really had a keen time. We stopped in Matthews on Greene 63rd and I had a strawberry sundae. Carved our initials in the tables and then went to a penny arcade for 45 min. Jim took me home at 12:15. He really is sweet.”

Sis comments:

“Dot says, 'We took a walk by Dell and Lill's'... Boy, this really bugs me that I can't remember them. Hope my memory will be refreshed.

Janice was Hal Totten's girlfriend. Morgan was Morgan Boulevard. Never heard of Matthews on Greene 63rd. Probably was south of 63rd St., which we didn't venture into too much. It was Parker High territory.”

Notes:

  • Presuming that Matthews on Greene 63rd was located at 63rd & Green, it would have been near the large L. Fish Furniture store.
  • “Parker High territory” was centered around the school, at 68th & Normal Blvd.—one mile south of Dot. In the mid-70s, Parker closed. A new facility, Paul Robeson High School, opened in 1977.

Today's news:

  • U.S. Troops Seize Frankfurt and Mannheim
  • Allied Advance Stresses Loss of Nazi Air Power
  • White Sox May Thrive in '45 if They Sign Four Holdouts
  • Soviet Union forces capture Vienna.
  • *A German pilot defects to the U.S. in a Messerschmitt fighter-bomber.
  • Musician Eric Clapton born on this day in 1945.

--



Walter's Barn in 1953; Walter Witt

(Witt family photos)



Chicago in 1945. The city limits are shown by the black border. Built-up areas are shaded. The distance from Dot's to the outlying village of Palos Park was about 10 miles.

(map via Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis; Mayer/Wade)

.

Saturday
Mar. 31
1945

Ah, the day of our hayride at Palos Park. Everyone seemed to have called me up, and all day I was getting prepared.

Jim came at 6:00 and Pete and Ginny came at 7:00. Jim, Lill, Pete, Ginny and I rode there in the car. Got there at 7:30. We had to wait until 9:00 for the wagons, so we walked around the countryside.

When we did get on the wagon, it was heavenly. Jim and I just laid in the hay peacefully. He kissed me loads of times and we both cuddled up cause it was cold. Later went to the cozy shelter and finally home at 12:30. I sat on his lap with his arms around me.”

Sis comments:

Ah, finally the hayride! We went to Walter's Barn in Palos Park and thought we were going far, far away.

Just think: this would be the same place that my daughter, Nancy, and her friends would one day go [mid-60s] for their horseback riding. And it would still be run by Walter. A small world!”

Update:

  • Walter Witt's daughter sent this information about Walter's Barn in 2007:

To bring you up to date, [Walter's] barn and property are still the same as it was in 1945, just older. My Dad, Walter Witt, has passed away (1989), but he kept the stable going until his 65th year, when he semi-retired. He then just had horses that were boarded in the barn. I think it was just to keep busy after a lifetime of working with horses.

The hayride part of the business stopped somewhere in the 1970’s. To answer Sis’ comment, the property is still owned by the Witts, not developed. My Mom, who made the hot chocolate and hot dogs for the hayride groups, is still with us. She just celebrated her 90th birthday in August.

The picture of Walter [at left] depicts how you were greeted by him when you came to the stable to ride.

Notes:

  • Pete is Ginny's boyfriend. Lill will one day become Sis' sister-in-law.

Today's news:

  • Trap 25 German Divisions; Yanks Race 90 Miles in 16 Hours
  • City's Churches Expect Record Easter Throngs; Message to Be Hopeful as Victory Nears
  • Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie makes its debut on Broadway.

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