Gail Kittleson, IA
When Gail’s not steeped in World War II historical research, writing, or editing, you’ll find her reading for fun, gardening, or enjoying her grandchildren in Northern Iowa. Women of the Heartland, Gail’s World War II series, highlights women of The Greatest Generation. Gail taught college expository writing and ESL before writing women’s historical fiction. From northern Iowa, she facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats, and enjoys the Arizona Ponderosa forest in winter.
As a StoryTerrace writer, Gail interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.
A Baby Boomer On the Farm
From my perspective now, it’s easy see the ongoing effects of World War II on my family, even though I came along five years after it ended. But as this picture shows, our mother found reasons to smile—or created them. Scrounging up a Christmas tree from the ditches around our Iowa farm took some effort, but she managed.
On birthdays, she faithfully produced a homemade cake lighted in each child’s honor. Her father, Grandpa Lawrence, came to see us at least once a week, often on Sundays. Mom fixed homemade noodles and beef, and Grandpa helped himself to the globs of fat accompanying the roast.
Her brother Harold, who had spent four long years in the infantry, liked children. As he created a box kite for us one spring, he convinced us we could get into it and fly through the sky like Peter Pan. Of course, he was joking, but he had no idea how much words meant to me, even then.
One Christmas, Uncle Harold dressed up like Santa and arrived at Grandpa and Grandma’s house during the evening. He nearly pulled off the guise until I recognized his shoes—a stickler for details, too.
When Uncle Harold met his future wife, a schoolteacher, he brought her out to the farm to meet us. What a pivotal moment—a real live teacher might join our family! Impressed by her long beautiful fingernails, I stood in awe.
To ease any tension, Uncle Harold brought along bubble gum and regaled us with whoppers that popped and stuck to his cheeks. Theirs was the largest and most beautiful wedding I recall during those years when young aunts got married left and right.
A farm provided all we needed, but the grass is always greener, and we loved visiting cousins in the big city of Des Moines. Sometimes I got to stay for a week and swim in what was to me a massive public pool. I longed to live there instead of seven miles from the small town where we went to school, which meant long bus rides.
As often occurs, we see better in retrospect. The farm made a good place to grow up and Mom exhibited great patience as she listened to me moan about not living in town. It was almost as if she realized that some day I would understand.
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