In Honor of Veterans Day, Women at The Allendale Community for Mature Living Share Wartime Experiences
Reminding us of the meaning of Veterans Day, five ladies at The Allendale Community for Mature Living recently shared their firsthand stories of life during World War II. Gathered in the comfortable library at The Allendale Community, a full-service retirement community in Allendale, N.J., residents Nancy DeGennaro, Anne P. Detrano, Ann Lalka, Gloria Maloney and Esther Moscato provided fascinating anecdotes and insights into living through WWII as young women on the home front and in Europe.
Crucial to the success of the U.S. war effort were the millions of women who not only kept the home fires burning, but also went to work in the nation’s factories, hospitals and offices, contributing immensely to the Allies’ eventual victory. The ladies at The Allendale Community witnessed one of history's most momentous events, and their stories add unexpected richness to the Veterans Day narrative:
• Like Rosie the Riveter, Gloria Maloney, who “barely knew how to change a light bulb,” trained as an electrician on airplanes, and Esther Moscato became a riveter, building Avenger and Wildcat airplanes.
• Anne P. Detrano was a nurse and an officer in the U.S. Army who served in Great Britain and France, where she worked to save soldiers with terrible head wounds.
• Ann Lalka discovered that on the night of her birthday, her young fiancé survived a 17-hour ordeal on the open seas when his bomber plane went down in the Pacific Ocean.
• Nancy DeGennaro experienced the war on the home front, listening to President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats and making do with rationing coupons, before marrying a sailor who just missed getting killed when his ship was bombed.
Alongside their memories of the drama and suffering of those years, the ladies shared stories of their day-to-day experiences and described the high-spirited camaraderie that developed among young women living and working together in wartime. “As terrible as it was,” said Detrano, “those were also wonderful years.”
WWII Narratives Fast Disappearing With Passing of the “Greatest Generation”
When the United States entered World War II, American women were called on to serve the nation in many ways. Unprecedented numbers of women entered the ranks of factory and office workers, helping American industry meet the wartime production demands for planes, tanks, ships, and weapons. At the height of the war effort, nearly 40 percent of all adult women were in the work force.
With each passing year, however, fewer members of America’s “Greatest Generation” remain as witnesses to the nation’s heroic efforts at home and abroad during World War II. There is not much time left to listen to their stories: Americans who actively participated in World War II are now in their 80s and 90s, with war veterans dying at the rate of 797 a day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Established in 1967, The Allendale Community for Mature Living is located on 12 suburban acres in Bergen County, N.J. Renovated in stages to offer the most modern amenities, The Allendale Community pioneered modern-day eldercare and has evolved into a full-service senior housing community where residents can enjoy an individual, customized lifestyle based on their specific personal preferences and healthcare needs. The Allendale Community provides a continuum of care on one campus.
The primary goal is to help older adults remain as active and self-sufficient as possible throughout the natural aging process by offering flexible healthcare services and a full complement of hospitality services and enrichment programming in one convenient location. More than 200 staff members include many long-term employees, health professionals, registered nurses, licensed therapists, social workers, dietitians, certified nurse aides and recreation and activities professionals as well as an organizational ombudsman.
PHOTO CAPTION: Reminding us of the meaning of Veterans Day, five ladies at The Allendale Community for Mature Living recently shared their firsthand stories of life during World War II. Residents (standing, L-R) Nancy DeGennaro, Esther Moscato, Ann Lalka, (seated L-R) Gloria Maloney and Anne P. Detrano provided fascinating anecdotes and insights into living through WWII as young women on the home front and in Europe.