GREENVILLE - A Greenville woman was one of the first contributors to the Ohio Department of Aging and Veterans Services joint War Era Story Project.
From late May through August this year, the departments asked Ohioans to submit their memories from the start of World War II through the 1940s. Forty-six stories, including 88-year-old Ouida Peacock’s entry, were included in the first release with more stories planned to be released per month until all submissions have been shared with the public.
The War Era Story Project was a follow-up to the Department of Aging’s award-winning 2009 Great Depression Story Project. Since this project was intended to explore Ohio’s war time experience, the department teamed with the Ohio Department of Veterans Services to collect stories from veterans of World War II as well as the men, women and children who held steady on the home front.
“World War II was, without a doubt, one of the most challenging and influential periods in our nation’s history,” said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the Department of Aging. “Our elders not only lived through this time, they learned how to live, how to survive and, ultimately, how to thrive. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and this project is but a small token to say ‘thank you’ for all you did to make our state and nation safe and strong.”
“Everyone who lived through the second world war, whether on the battlefront or the homefront, certainly has very vivid memories of those days,” commented Tom Moe, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. “It’s important to capture these before this generation passes. There’s much that we can learn from them today about persevering through tough times and often tragedy, yet still maintaining their resiliency and going on to live important and productive lives.”
The project garnered submissions from 283 individuals, including 21 who currently reside out of state or who did not provide location information.
Ohio residents represent 50 different counties. Of the authors who provided an age, the oldest was 100 and the youngest was 25. The average age of authors was 83.
Peacock, who resides at the Brethren Retirement Community (BRC), said her granddaughter is the one who informed her about the writing project.
“I’ve been writing ever since we came to live here [at the BRC] nine years ago,” said Peacock, who remained at the facility since her husband’s death. “My husband was paralyzed on the right side and I didn’t want to leave him but I had to have something to do. I love to read…history, anything during the era we’re talking about and on pioneer women, who were strong. I’ve written a lot of things but as far as I know they never went any farther until now. I could go on for hours. I even wrote a kid’s story for my cousin’s child. My daughter is going to compile my stories.”
She is amazed at all of the stories she has heard at BRC.
“If I can get these people to write…,” she said. “When I started, I wrote about some simple things, notebook after notebook of stuff.”
Peacock grew up somewhat in Red River in the Bradford/Gettysburg area and when she was 14 they moved to Pleasant Hill.
She worked at the Brethren Home as a registered nurse for 10 years in the 1960s and 1970s.
“I’m a nature lover,” said Peacock, who enjoys cooking. “I get involved with trees, plants and animals. My husband was a trapshooter and we loved to fish.And, I love to cook. He was the most pleasant man I ever seen. He was never without a smile, even after his stroke.”
She is the mother of three children, Marcia Kinsey, an RN, who, like her parents did, travels by RV across the United States and Canada; Matha Schleintiz, a professor at Edison Community College; and Martin, a Church of the Brethren pastor in Eaton. There are seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
“There are so many good stories lost here,” she said. “One woman was born in South Dakota where there were sand storms and another one was a pilot.”
Those interested may read, download and print individual stories at www.aging.ohio.gov/news/storyprojects.