The other special memory I have of my grandparents was watching my grandmother make pancakes. She poured the batter in a special way that resembled whatever animal I wished it to be. The stories that we would then tell around the large dining room table were centered on which appendage of what animals my brother and I would feast on first.
My grandmother was only 68 when she passed away in 1980. Grandpa lived another 20 years, but devoted his life to his Ruthie.
One of the most powerful pieces of evidence of this love affair was the diary Ruth kept while Abe went away to the Army. It begins, "We're in the Army Now. 1941 March 29 Sat-Abe left today for Ft. Knox, Ky to report to First Armored Div. for active duty. Due there tomorrow. Stayed overnight in Charleston with Grace. I'll not join him until later or until arrangements can be made to move. Few days later-Abe wired to say he is being sent to Pine Camp, N.Y. with the 4th Armored Div. (24th Engrs.)"
The diary continues in my grandmother's hand to explain her life as a single mother of Gary (born Oct. 1938), moving to California, the birth of daughter Katharine Belle (Kitty) in 1943, and her longing for every word, any word, from Abe. While reading the opening pages it is hard not to anticipate the words entered on December 7, 1941. When the reader finally arrives there, my grandmother simply writes, "Pearl Harbor-how can we ever forget it!"
My dad did an amazing job of preserving his mother's diary in a bound volume, adding pictures of himself posing with each of his parents as a young boy. Probably the most memorable feature of this collection are the pages of letters that my grandfather wrote to my father during the war. It is so interesting to read the parallel accounts; my grandmother's fears of the reality of the war and the stories my grandfather recounted to make sense (and light?) of the situation for his young son. As it turns out, my grandfather was also a wonderful artist, drawing pictures with almost every letter. To make the situation even better, my grandfather, Major H.G. Martin, was the base censor. He read every letter that left the base, but may have made allowances for his own correspondence.
Abe returned to his family on 22 Jul 1945. "This is the big day! Abe walked in about seven-thirty this evening, surprising us almost to death. Gary was thrilled to see him as was I-but Kit is still a bit puzzled. It's wonderful having him home again. He left the Phillipines June 28."
Dad, you are so very right. The Martins do have great stories to tell and I hope you understand I am very proud of them, too. Using this blog as a vehicle to publish and preserve these stories has been a dream of mine for a long time. Please continue to comment.