Thursday, April 07, 2022

PTSD 1944

PTSD did not officially become a diagnosis until 1980 but I will never forget how it affected our lives one lovely spring evening in 1944.

This grainy picture is me, age 11, and Ron, one of the many British sailors that our family hosted during World War II. "Our boys" usually came in pairs but a few of them, like Ron, practically lived at our house and they would often come out alone ... hopping on the train just as soon as they had leave. This day he had arrived from Boston's naval yard where his ship was docked and I was the lucky greeter

Ours was a big family. 5 girls, my parents and many friends ...not to mention the sailors. On the night that I recall we were all gathered in the living room.  It was a hot night and we'd opened the window that looked out on the screened in porch in order to circulate the air.

Ron was the center of attention, sitting on the floor near the window and entertaining us with his news. All of a sudden a car backfired in front of our house. It was a very loud bang and we all flinched and covered our ears. Then, as we all came back to our senses, we realized that Ron was no longer with us. Where was he? What had happened?

My mother was the first to act and she rushed to the porch to find Ron crouched on the other side of the window, shivering and covering his head with his arms. He had instinctively jumped through the window to find safety and it had been so quick that we literally didn’t see it. When we realized what had happened our dad held us back and told us to stay where we were.

It was an hour before Ron and mother came back in and we tried our best to act normal and put him at ease. It was our first lesson in the horrendous unseen wounds of war but it would not be our last … and mother was always there to comfort the boys that we came to love.


Blogger kenju said...

What an interesting story - and a sad way to be introduced to the way PTSD affects people.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

I remember in those in those days it was called "shell shocked". Sadly there was no good treatment then or even understanding.
It was so wonderful that he had your family in his life.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Joared said...

So tragic the effects war has on people.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

And here am I having a senior moment trying to remember what they used to call PTSD. I think it was considered a weakness at that time and not a psychiatric condition.

3:41 AM  
Blogger Marie Smith said...

Your family was quite exceptional to understand PTSD and react the way they did at that time Ginnie.

5:22 AM  

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