by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 1942–Sep 1945

Now I ain’t one
to bring up my past—
there are some things
you don’t want to know!
But I grew up when
things were aghast,
the country had
taken a blow.

There warn’t no work
for grownup men and
young’ins were a burden,
not a sin.
Some fellers bummed 
the countryside
just lookin’ for 
work to provide
for wife and
 kids back home.

If you had two sets of clothes
you were well off, God knows.
 And we all had a garden patch
and grew what we could
and ate what we should
and made it all last
for food was scarce
and money was
 hard to come by.

My pappy was a
carpenter of sorts,
he had a hatchet and 
a pocket knife.
He built our house
the hard way for he was
that kind of man.

We scoured the
RR tracks for coal 
carried home
in a sack.
We wore shoes with soles
that glued over the holes
that kept our feet
 from ground.
Our mothers sewed and fixed
and never dropped a stitch,
each button, hem and hole.
From feed sacks
she would sew a
dress for sister Flo
and maybe a shirt
for poor ol’ me.

As I look back and see
how things used to be
I feel no sense
of loss or denial.
I managed to prevail,
became as tough
as nails and lived
to tell the
next generation
about it.

*     *     *
The author: Robert Lin Cook served with Regimental Weapons Co. (2d-2d) from 1942–44, at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during a 33-month overseas tour.

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