Having heard this part of the story many times before, I asked my father, “How old were you then?” He said, “I never knew! We didn’t celebrate birthdays, and I couldn’t tell you my birth date or even the year I was born.” The time came when chimes were too much for him to resist. Like a siren’s song, they lured him away from the farm at the end of the day. He started running toward the sound. Paul called after him but was too tired to give chase.
“I’m following the bells. I’m following the bells!” he called, and Paul yelled back, “Joseph! Mother and Father will blame me for this! Don’t do this to me. Come back!”
My father said he still remembered the last time he saw his brother in Italy with his green beret in his hands nervously turning it like a steering wheel. But my father felt joy and delight as he ran away from that farm and headed in the direction of the bells in a nearby town. His spontaneous escape was justified, he didn’t have anything to lose. Little did he know he would never again see his family home.
Joseph abruptly stopped the song and announced to the audience that he wanted to introduce his new wife, Tilly. Joseph’s announcement stopped Bruno in his tracks; all eyes turned to my mother, and Bruno shared the unwanted spotlight. My father hurried stage right to escort her up onto the stage to the exuberant applause of the audience. She immediately obeyed her husband but was puzzled at all the attention. He sensed her hesitation, and he gave her a look that said ‘follow my lead.’ She had it drummed into her head that a husband’s word was the supreme law. She forced a smile as my father escorted her to the microphone.
Then, my father began to serenade my mother. She stood there and wanted to melt into a puddle. My mother could not resist his charms when he was singing so beautifully to her. My father poured all his love and romance into the song, and my mother fell in love all over again. The tone of his voice hypnotized her. The pain of the honeymoon and the fear of the future softened, and for a moment she was lost in a trance. When the song ended, the audience erupted into thunderous applause. My father looked at the table seeing Bruno had taken my mother’s chair. My father decided to keep his wife onstage. The band broke into the next scheduled song, “Funiculi Funicular." Everyone clapped, and some stood up to dance. As she did at her family gatherings, my mother began to sing along with the chorus. Surprisingly, my father couldn’t remember when he heard his young wife sing out loud before and was amazed at her perfect pitch. At the end of the song, the audience reacted spontaneously, demanding that Tilly do another number.
I was desperate for work. One of my new neighbors had a car, and I convinced him to drive me to the Martin factory. I walked through the entrance and spoke to the receptionist telling her I was here to accept a job. The receptionist directed me to another room to fill out an application. When the supervisor came to interview me, he told me that there was a filing position open. I accepted the job on the spot. I said, “I am so happy to help out and do something for the soldiers by working here, in an airplane factory!”
The supervisor led me down a long corridor passing many closed doors. I could hear lots of noise inside but couldn’t see anything from the main hallway. The supervisor guided me to my new work location; a great modern warehouse. When I came to the plane assembly area, I saw women everywhere. Women on ladders, crawling over the fuselage, welding, female mechanics, all assembling these airplanes.
I looked for the papers that I was supposed to file. The supervisor picked up a long metal stick that looked like a nail file and started to train me how to file down the sharp metal edges that were used to build the airplanes. Glenn L. Martin offered me a “filing job” for a fraction of what I made in the shirt factory. But this was war.
Dating has been challenging since no one will ever rival my Skipper. Many younger men, 85-90, have asked for a date, but I don’t feel comfortable getting serious, I want to leave my options open. I enjoy a casual dance, the yacht club, a nice dinner or pizza night. I’m not looking for intimacy. Some men have tried to get my attention by letting me win at cards. Others have taken me out on a few dates and then asked me, “When will I be able to leave my PJs at your house?” I’ve even heard men shout out, “Don’t try to date Anna Foultz. She’ll let you pick her up, but she will never let you in her house.” I still see my Skipper inside my house, and I will love him with all my heart until we are together in heaven someday.