Memories of the 1940s
CATHEDRAL CITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
An Oral History White Paper
Interview Date: January 19, 2002
Zuma Henry, Edna Cobb, Harriet Colglazier
Photo by Robert Hillery
Memories of Growing Up in Cathedral City
John Greb Bradley
Lucille Greb with her Two Sons
Jim and John
at Walters Trailer Court
1941 Oldsmobile in the Background
I was born in August of 1940. The world was already at war but America was still technically neutral until the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
When I was five and my brother Jim was three, our Father died suddenly after an attack of rheumatic fever. My Mother, Lucille became a widow at 35 with two babies to raise alone. At the same time Mother was told by our doctors that Jim and I would not survive another winter in the cold, damp of Seattle, WA. Our chronic asthma required a warmer, drier climate.
Shortly before Christmas of 1945 we arrived in Cathedral City. At Walters Trailer Court Mother bought an affordable single-wide trailer perfect for a mother and two small children.
Cathedral City in 1945 was a quiet backwater near the more popular (and expensive) playground of Palm Springs. Did I say “quiet backwater”? The long war was finally over, and families were being reunited as solders returned from battlegrounds abroad.
The Palm Springs Airport had been requisitioned by the Army and the air was filled with the noise of propeller aircraft taking off and landing. Many of the girls living in Walters Trailer Court were dating flyers, and the pilots loved buzzing our Park to wave at their dates. The noise and excitement of the low flying planes were unbelievably exciting to us kids!
About this time my Mother received a letter from an old family friend who had also been my first teacher (kindergarten). In the letter was my first report card, and the stamp on the letter was of a transport plane comparable to those buzzing our trailer court (see photo of us holding airplane models of the period).
Other memories and impressions
of a five-year-old in 1945:
Women running frantically to get wet laundry off the clothes line as a dust storm approached (no electric clothes driers yet!).
Women scrubbing down their kids in the twin basins in the laundry room.
Women sharing ration cards on their weekly trek to the grocery store.
Our robust health during the winter of ‘45/’46 (no asthma attacks in Cathedral City!).
The sadness and excitement of being far from family and friends.
Living in a small trailer community after so many years in a more traditional neighborhood. I have since learned that Walters Trailer Court was located in the general area where City Hall now sits.
It is very exciting to me that life has returned me to this area where such an important chapter of my life took place. And I’m back in a Senior Mobile Home Park about a mile from our old “homestead”.
Jim and John Greb
with WWII Model Airplanes
P.S. After we returned to Seattle, Mother met a wonderful man who raised us as his own boys and who was with my Mother past their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Paul Bradley flew airplanes and trained young pilots in England during the war. He was a man among men!