Frances R. Schmidt

1941: America is Forever Changed
Benedict (Benny) Farley and Bianca Martucci were a young couple who lived in separate apartments in my building. They were on a date at the Marlowe Theatre on December 7, 1941 when their lives and the lives of all Americans were forever changed. I wasn’t physically with them at the theatre but heard the shocking news as soon as they came home. Yes, you probably already know what I’m talking about – it was the day the Japanese Army bombed Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II.
My tenants were scared – truly panic-stricken. All many could do was stand up and volunteer in the War effort, while their hearts and souls prayed for peace. When you read my upcoming novel, you’ll learn more about these troubling times – about V-mail (Victory Mail), Production Soldiers, Ration Stamps, victory gardens, and the meaning of The Blue Stars of America.
Benedict and Bianca’s story however involves a hasty marriage and a monumental goodbye. I’ll share more details later, but here’s a little bit of insight about this couple. Shortly after they started dating, Bianca invited Benny in to have a cup of coffee and a piece of homemade chocolate cake. This is when I overheard them talking about their childhoods. It was a serious conversation and I was listening intently as Bianca wiped a tear from Benedict’s eye.
When Benny was only thirteen years old, he became one of thousands of children put into the Orphan Train Movement. He was suddenly taken from his orphanage and put on a train with other children ranging from five to thirteen years of age. All that Benny and the other children were told was that they were going on a long train ride, but they were really headed to the Midwest to join farm families – some in the US and others to Canada. Benny’s story may shock you when you read more about what happened. Bianca too unfortunately became an orphan at the age of seven, although she was sent to the Saint Vincent DePaul Female Orphanage Asylum in Buffalo New York. Here she grew into a young woman before heading out on her own.
Their remarkable tale and the tales of all my tenants helped me understand life’s twists and turns and in turn made me stronger. Each decade of my life has been filled with a rich history, and the life lessons I’ve learned from my tenants who came to live with me – special people from all over the world. I hope when you read this historical novel, you’re inspired in the 21st century, by stories of the past.
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