The Burns Diaspora, 1941-1943

        
 
By the spring of 1941, the family had outgrown the shop over Mr. Rodgers' tile shop, and bought a larger place across the street from Sylvia Court, where Dave and Wilma had lived before the move to East Thomas Street.
Business picked up, and soon they'd bought a nice truck to haul around rugs and furniture.
Married couples were not allowed to teach in the same school system, so Don and Helen helped out at the shop, Don with cleaning and mending, Helen with promotion and sales. They moved into the little brown house on East Thomas Street for a time, and Dave and Wilma moved to one of the cottages adjacent to the shop. Later Don and Helen moved to the High Point project in West Seattle (shown below).
Meanwhile, back in Cleveland, Ebba continued to work long hours at Lakeside Hospital, and went with Gerry Burke and other friends on weekend picnics in the countryside south of Cleveland.
At some point, the relectant suitor, or so he seemed to Ada, popped the question.
Ebba and Gerry were married in August of 1941, during what she called the "dog days" of summer.
A month later, Bob headed off in the fall of 1941 to Whitman College in Walla Walla, where he had won a full scholarship in Business Administration. He roomed at Lyman House.
On December 7, 1941, the world changed in a heartbeat. Family letters written in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor reveal decidedly isolationist beliefs across the board.
Linda Lee Burns was born three weeks later, on December 27, 1941, a brand-new citizen of a nation at war.
Ebba wrote frequently, fretting about Seattle's vulnerability to attack. The family worried too, but carried on much as before. Business was reasonably good, and they hired help, including Fred, standing next to Dave, an employee with a drinking problem who later died of alcoholism and showed up on Bob's medical school autopsy table.
In Seattle, the war effort had intensified. Boeing, hidden under a camouflage netting, churned out airplanes at maximum capacity.


The shipyards (shown below), where Don worked as a chipper (paint scraper) for a time before he was drafted, were building warships at an equally frantic pace. Seattle was one of the top three cities in the United States in war contracts per capita.
In the spring of 1942, disheartened by the state of the world, and suffering also from a broken heart, Bob dropped out of college and came home, much to the consternation of all members of the family, since this rendered him immediately vulnerable to the draft.
Gerry Burke was drafted into the army in May of 1942, and ordered to report to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
  
Ebba decided to move West, and Guy took the train out to fetch her and her multitude of possessions in the summer of 1942. They bought a truck, and stopped to visit Gerry on the way out.
On November 26, 1942, the newly constituted family, minus Bob, who had gone back to school, enjoyed its first Thanksgiving together under one roof in a very long time. At this time, Ebba was living with her folks in the shop itself, and Dave and Wilma had set up house in one of the two cottages adjacent to the shop.
The family's thrifty habits, learned during the privations of the Depression, helped them prosper despite the hardships imposed by the war. Guy browsed the piles at St. Vincent de Paul (middle photo below), located just up the street at the foot of Lake Union, and the neighborhood's scrap metal heaps (bottom photo).
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Despite hardships imposed by war, the family had accumulated enough cash to buy a place out on Lake Ames, up in Snohomish County. After seven years of urban life, they wanted a place in the county where they could fish to their hearts' content.


In the spring of 1943, Gerry Burke was released from military service in return for working in a defense-related industry in Seattle. He and Ebba took up residence in the cottage next door to Dave and Wilma, and he worked at the Associated Shipyards.
This turned out not to be such a happy state of affairs. Gerry was used to adult company, and was intensely irritated by Patty and Linda. Tempers started to fray rather quickly.
In June of 1942, Bob returned home from a successful term at Whitman. His last evening on campus, he'd had a date with someone special, and was on Cloud Nine. With a high draft number and this new romance cooking, he felt happier than he'd been in some time.


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