Interview with Lila C. Milford
Interview By Mark Milford
Marion High School
Interview on May 14, 2003
At Mrs. Milford's House
With comments from Matt Milford
MPM: I’m doing a veteran research project on veteran Lila Milford of 1212 North Wood court Marion in on the date May 14, 2003 with Matt Milford commenting Mark Milford interviewing and Lila Milford being interviewed
MPM: Lila where were you born and when?
LCM: I was born in Detroit Michigan in 1926. Neither of my parents was born US citizens but were both so proud to be naturalized. But my father happened to be in World War One and World War Two.
MPM: Did you have an occupation during the war?
LCM: NO, I was a very small child.
MPM: Ok, you had no educational background. Were you in school at all?
LCM: Yes, I went to a small catholic school in River Forest IL, Now this school has expanded tremendously, it has a very active alumni association, so many of their teachers have there doctors and their masters. And it stagers me when I get information from them, of course its primarily its pleas of help to encourage other young people to attend this grammar school.
MPM: Were you located in Detroit during the war
LCM: I was born in Detroit, but then during the depression my parents moved to Chicago in a suburb called River Forest Illinois.
MPM: Did you have any relatives involved in war work?
LCM: My father did have a job during World War two but then he couldn’t stay still. He was so proud to be an American. He was glad to be in World War one and then in World War two. He wanted to be involved so he joined the merchant marines.
MPM: Did the war effect your life?
LCM: Absolutely in high school and college.
MPM: How so?
LCM: Our life was so different, no young men, our father was gone, our car was put away because their was not enough gas for anything but essentials, of course we had rationing, yes very defiantly. My mother was Norwegian, he family was under the German influence. It was a very hard time for her whenever she got information from there. So having two foreign born parents was a bit different from the normal.
MPM: Were you treated differently from race?
LCM: Not particularly, no. We didn’t talk about that. But we had a life that was not normal because of being in a war situation.
MPM: So what were the initial changes when the war began? Do you remember how old you were?
LCM: Yes, I was in grammar school when the Japanese came to Pearl Harbor. I don’t think that they enormity of the situation clicked then at all.
MPM: Did you parents have any feelings about the war?
LCM: All of them did, some of the feelings were, my mothers concern of her relatives, my father, being so pro- American, even though he was born in London, he was wanting to do something to help the war effort, and he did work for a short time in a munitions factory and he wanted to do more, so he joined the merchant marines, actually he was too old to join the army.
MPM: What type of social activates existed
LCM: We had, do know I went to a small catholic girls school, we had completely different social activities then now. They concentrated on our scholastic work. We went down to the museums, primarily that’s what we did. We didn’t date at all.
MPM: Was anyone in your family in contact with the arms forces?
LCM: Oh absolutely, oh yes, my Norwegian cousins were all involved. A couple of my first cousins in this country went to Canada and trained with the Norwegian air force.
MPM: At any point during the war were you worried that America might lose?
MPM: No one else had that feeling?
MPM: What affect did the war have on your physical and mental well being?
LCM: It was the only mode of life that we knew, and my mother even though my father was gone was supportive, we moved to new jersey because when my father came in it would have been too hard for him to come to Chicago, so instead he came in New York and the part that we were in was an hour and a half from the ports so my father could come home then when he was on leave.
MPM: What was your fathers name for the records?
LCM: My fathers name was George Leopold Chenal
MPM: Did everyone have enough food?
LCM: My mother managed so well, no one felt deprived.
MPM: What was your most memorable experience during the war?
LCM: The end, it was a very peaceful quiet day, we happened to be in fish creek Wisconsin, when the actual broadcast was made, we had the radio on and there was a candle light service, we went to church.
MPM: Have you visited any of the war memorials?
LCM: Absolutely, I have been to many of them both in England, Norway, France, and I told you I took that trip to Germany where grandfather went as well. Do know that I have very close first cousins that have a very straight backed deprived childhood because of living in Norway and the Germans took so much of the best, and there was much of it in the first place, and they lived with the minimum including cold fish and I went back with my mother after World War Two. My mother collected things in large trunks from her friends and we went to her relatives. At that time I was between my sophomore and junior year at Notre Dame, I went with my mother back to Norway after World War Two with these extra items that they had not seen for years. My first cousins told me they haven’t nay new clothes in seven years, they took their jackets and turned them inside out. They were wonderful seamstresses; there was absolutely the minimum for them. They had cold frozen fish; there idea for a treat was yellow turnip. I’ll never forget that.
MPM: How did your community respond to the war?
LCM: My community, I didn’t even think of that. I was just a student. I’m sure it was very adequate. There were wonderful people there.
MPM: What type of shortages did you remember?
LCM: Very few, no, it was just , I give the credit to my parents, they made things fun for us and it didn’t feel like we were being deprived. My father was a reader, used to read aloud sometimes at nite when he was at home, he read poetry, its because he was so involved with reading that we always went to the library, everyone had the same problems so you didn’t feel different.
MPM: What was your reaction when the war ended?
LCM: Very happy, pleased. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. You just lived from day to day.
MPM: Do you remember the general reaction to the announcement?
LCM: Pure joy, for those know that my father was coming back, it wasn’t a big hardship on us like some were. We knew our dad was safe and we would just continue our life.
MPM: Anything else you would like to add?
LCM: Do remember have some student drive to VA and drive through cemetery and look at the tombs to help remind you how many people have given their lives to give you yours today.
MPM: Good insight, thank you.