Four Generations in Two Different Women Who Are the Same. Respect!
Proud Americans that did not "survive" the Great Depression but were the rock that held the country together.
Growing up poor, both the nation and our gal.
Up and to the wars.
The roaring twenties was a time in the US of great opulence and optimism. In 1923 a girl was born and those were great times. However by 1932 the Great Depression hit and times were very bad. Our Gal Dorothea was born in 1923 and so by ten was a child in an economic catastrophe. Her brother died of a childhood illness that is now all but eradicated. The girl was now destined to become a nurse. So from the age of about ten the girl new poverty.She was a lucky one. Her father and mother were very resourceful. Somehow her father kept employment and a home to live in. And this meant land with room to grow food which they did in abundance. Every common vegetable and several high producing fruit trees. Fresh food for two short growing seasons and canned and preserved for the winter.
The home was then bought as one of the first under the FHA around 1935. This was a recovery program to help us rise out of the depression which would last until about 1942. Poverty had a nation in a tight grip of despair but not a lack of heart and hope.
Our gal was destined for much more and indeed began early.
At a young age Dorothea was at a fine Nursing College and by the time of our escalating involvement in World War II she was practicing nursing on the west coast of the United States. She did not join the military but rather followed Rosie the Riveter into our factories and provided medical care for those millions involved at home in supplying our troops with supplies and the tools of a military.
She lost her first fiance' to D-Day June 6th 1944. She lost friends in industrial accidents caused by safety shortcuts installed to produce much more much faster to our troops. America was out of the depression but until much later the sacrifices of the time continued.
Where indeed, oh where indeed have all the young girls gone?
Fifty years later a girl is born.
During a time of "Peace Talks" the town of Cu Chi outside of Saigon is fully over run by North Vietnamese forces. A pregnant mother fleas into the city. In April of 1973 a girl is born in secrecy as her father is a South Vietnamese "scout" for the last of the Green Berets operating in Vietnam. There are skirmishes and some shelling of Saigon at the time. There is the smell of cordite and that raspy taste of copper in the mouths of many, caused by the scent of blood in the air. She is hidden and her birth disguised. Her father broke his leg on his "last" parachute jump and is captured in 1974. Mere months before the fall and and evacuation of Saigon. He spend 4 of the first five years of his youngest daughter's life in a re-education camp where as many die as survive.
The father and mother are very industrious and retain a small farm in Cu Chi. Dirt floors and no plumbing but they survive and begin again to thrive. The girl is Hang Nguyen. The country just finished a two decade civil war and being on the losing side the oppression is on a massive scale. And she grows up in poverty but love and hope. She is taught well in a Buddhist school. And so she becomes a lucky one who gets to go to grade school. She excels and gets to go to more school and more school until in Saigon she earns degrees in English and Business.
She dreams of moving to America and having a car and a home with a husband and child some day.
What is your comfort zone?
Have you ever known poverty to where you worried about what to eat?
War is Hell.
Dorothea did well.
She married a Doctor and eventually moved to a small town to raise children and have a large house. She worked as a nurse from time to time and after children were raised began a brilliant professional career. She ended up owning substantial land and became the first Chairperson of a board of a major hospital in Arizona. She also ran a very successful bed and breakfast and traveled most of the Western world and Africa.
She ended with with six children and a life of abundance but always a frugality that was palpable.
An interesting notion, so far true!
Hang at forty.
Well her rural home has no white picket fence. But in fact her fairly new car is an import. She lives in Southern California and her boy at 4 is already more than half her size. That husband she found loves her to death and she has earned another degree and a few more diplomas and a license in medical coding and one in real estate and she is a designer for home interiors.
Life is good
So four lifetimes for two women.
The differences in our beginnings and our accomplishments are just huge if we make them be that way. The choice was there for these two women and they seized on the good portion and left the rest behind.
I was blessed to know both of these ladies' fathers very well. They were honorable men who provided for their daughters. Who went the extra mile to convince their girls that there were no boundaries for them. That life was what you make of it and to be happy with what you have. Work hard for the pleasure of working. Find pleasure in accomplishment and results as well as the journey.
I was blessed to know both of their moms (yahoo one still living in Cu Chi) and they are salt of the earth and instilled frugality and common sense. Both housewives that held families together in damn tough times. Visionaries that see the world as an opportunity and never a prison. Both accomplished farmers. Both held down homes when husbands went off to war. Strong and yet tender.
And being one I knew both these women's husbands and they love(d) their wives and supported them in their endeavors and built them up as best they could and can.
So that in the end these women could have two lives.
Let it be known that both these women have/had something in very close commonality. Not hoarders by any means. But a very strong sense of an almost palpable fear of losing abundance.
Oh do not get this wrong. Neither has ever flown first class. Neither has ever had abundance of jewelry of even a flashy car. Both insist on owning land. Both will go to the grocery store and instead of one can of corn will buy three. Neither ever skimps on food and both love(d) eating out. Savings accounts are sacrosanct and credit is eschewed except for property.
Neither one will ever have an epitaph of "nice". Neither will ever give effusive praise except for their children. Neither will ever compromise integrity.
They are in fact very hard women. Filled with great advice born of hard lives, but judgmental as all hell. Long term memories of slights and of good works. Both hardcore God fearing, but not at all religious.
Now here is the strange part. Both married completely anti-materialistic men. Both married men with heads in the clouds and obscenely over educated. Men who are not great providers but rather goofy intellectuals and yet supposedly great fathers.
And so we ask in the end: What about these ultimately same stories motivates them in the end?