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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Tom and Mary Turner Lane's marriage and the birth of their daughter

Tom was deployed six weeks after their marriage. While he was gone, Lane moved back to New Bern with her parents and volunteered for the Red Cross and various other local organizations. After he returned, Tom found a job as a civil engineer. Their daughter was born in 1946, and Lane went back to New Bern for the birth because they could not find housing during the postwar era.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MARY TURNER LANE:
I guess our married life during the war was like that of all my friends, all of the Army wives, the Navy wives, the Marine wives. We were together about six weeks, I think. We had two weeks on this coast, four weeks on the west coast. Then he went to Alaska and on to the Aleutian Islands. My role, or the way I handled my life at that time, was to write a letter every day, do the volunteer work of plane spotter, a knitter for the Red Cross, and to work—first in the New Bern Recreation Department, arranging recreation for service men, and then in the public health department.
PAMELA DEAN:
So you weren't teaching at this time.
MARY TURNER LANE:
No. As I look back on it, it's interesting that the superintendent would not hire me because I could not guarantee that I would complete a year. When I said that I would leave if my husband came back from overseas, then I was not a good risk.
PAMELA DEAN:
You couldn't predict what you would do because you were—it would depend entirely on what the Navy did with your husband.
MARY TURNER LANE:
Oh, absolutely. So better not to hire the person. After the war, Tom got out of the Navy. I guess in 1945. Got a very good job with the Civil Aeronautics Administration and was assigned to the state of Pennsylvania, living in Harrisburg. After a year with that organization, he was made chief engineer for the state of Virginia. But for the first year we were living in Harrisburg or living in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, in a new residential development filled with couples that were exactly like we were. Straight out of military service, all with there first jobs, their first babies, these were their first homes. So it was wonderful. It was, as you said, the fulfillment of the dream. The war was over, and I often said that I could suddenly let my breath out and relax and believe that all was wonderful ahead. Toward the end of that time Tom, was sent to Virginia to take over that state, which was really a wonderful situation for him at age 31 to be in charge of all civil construction for an entire state.
PAMELA DEAN:
Excuse me. When would this have been?
MARY TURNER LANE:
This would have been in the summer of 1946. I forgot to say the baby was born.
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes, I was going to….
MARY TURNER LANE:
No, that would be the summer of 1948. I forgot to say that Mary Ellen Lane was born.
PAMELA DEAN:
A very important point.
MARY TURNER LANE:
Yes. December 9, 1946. Interestingly enough, I was back home with my mother again. We could not find housing in Pennsylvania. So the only transportation between cities then was by train. And we had lived in a hotel for two months and we really couldn't have a baby in a hotel. So the doctor sent me home by train from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and here I was back with my mother and father to have this wonderful baby girl. So it was while I was gone that Tom bought the house in this neighborhood that proved to me so wonderful.