Early Life

Sirens, Rationing and Chinese Community

Postwar and Reflections


Katherine Croft was born in 1939 in Bluefield, West Virginia. Her father worked there briefly as an architect, and then her parents moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, and then Baton Rouge. While in Baton Rouge, Croft's father worked for a prominent architect, while her mother taught mathematics at Louisiana State University. Croft does not recall much of the war years because she was so young at the time. She remembers living comfortably during the depression. Her parents would take her to get ice cream in the park on the weekends. She does not recall major events like Pearl Harbor. She does, however, remember her mother having a disdain for the Japanese people. When her mother was a child, going to school in Shanghai, she witnessed Japanese killing her friends. Croft's mother had a proactive mentality throughout the day. Her mother would make her sit and learn Chinese or practice the piano before she could go out to play. Croft remembers her parents planning a trip to China and all the preparations. While her parents were packing essential items, like powdered milk, Croft was calculating how many Double Bubble gum packs she needed to pack to last her a year. However, Croft's grandmother called one day and told them not to come to China because it was too dangerous. Her grandmother eventually immigrated to America. Her parents eventually moved to a shotgun house in Gentilly [Annotator's Note: a neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana]. TEST


As a young child during the war, Katherine Croft distinctly remember the sirens that would go off. She knew that her parents would draw the shades and turn off the lights. She was scared of the noise, but it reminded her of fire drills in school. She recalls the rationing for everything like nylon, sugar and meat. Her mother had ration books. One day her father brought a live chicken home, and then he killed it so they could eat it. Croft was affected by this event that she did not like chicken for a long time. Croft remembered for the war effort, people were asked to donate their pots and pans. Her family drove to the lakefront and threw pots and pans over a fence for donation. She also recalls driving by a Japanese internment camp and seeing the prisoners in the courtyard. She remembers everything being so scarce that her father, who was designing airplanes for Higgins [Annotator's Note: Higgins Industries in New Orleans, Louisiana] at the time, built a box fan to put in the house. Croft's family were members of a Chinese association with the Chinese Presbyterian Mission located uptown on Roman Street. Her parents had many friends from this association.


Katherine Croft remembers very little of the end of the war. Her family and friends did not talk about the subject very much. She recalls that an American lady spearheaded the Chinese association that her family were members of. She also remembers taking Chinese lessons, which she hated. Her grandmother would send her Chinese books and Chinese calligraphy pens. Croft believes that the events of World War 2 means more to the American people. Americans should show reverence to the Pledge of Allegiance. She recalls her grandmother taking pride in her naturalization, and was reverent about education. Croft believes that people were proud to be Americans and pitching in to do what they could for the war effort.

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