“When I am gone, all my lessons will be gone,” said Russell. “I am 86. That’s a lot of living. Although the doctor said I could live until age 102, I wanted to get things down on paper to share the lessons I have learned with my family and friends before I forget. Maybe they can learn something from them.”
Organized by decade from the 1930s to the cusp of a new century, the book recounts his lifetime of memories from growing up in the Midwest, coming of age in wartime, marrying the love of his life and traveling the world. The vignettes touch on memories of the Great Depression, debilitating dust storms and migration westward, war and politics, love and loss.
“Everyone in America was involved in the [war] effort,” he said. “For example, people saved their cooking grease in cans and once a week a big truck came into town to collect the grease for the munitions factory. All goods were rationed: gas, tires and shoes. There was no TV, only radio and newsreels at the movie house. Today there is no ceremony when soldiers are shipped home in coffins. Our military men and women make heroic sacrifices daily and are not properly recognized or thanked.”
Today, Russell is a lifetime member of Lions Club and attends every Wednesday meeting. He is an active member of St. Marks Methodist Church. He walks 30 minutes a day and takes himself out to breakfast several times a week, somewhere on the water. He visits his wife’s gravesite at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery and remembers good times, bad times and everything in between.
Excerpt from "Doing What Comes Natcherly"
“Late in 1941 found our family and country moving uneasily toward the future as war erupted in Europe. To help England, the United States made a deal called the Lend Lease Program. We loaned England many ships to escort their lifeline convoys, which were being sunk by the German U-boats. Meanwhile, Japan was warned by President Roosevelt to end its conquest of China. The situation finally exploded on Dec. 7, 1941 when Japan bombed the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, including all the military bases and our giant naval base at Pearl Harbor. Most Americans knew about Hawaii but had never heard of Pearl Harbor. The next day, the president delivered his message to Congress: “Yesterday, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy …”
And suddenly, we were at war.
I was 14 years old at the time. When the news came over the radio, we were visiting with Verne and Uncle Millard, who said, “Well this will be short and sweet.” It was neither. From that day in 1941 until the final surrender of Japan in 1945, the life of every American changed. On the civil front, our industrial might rapidly came to bear, turning out tanks instead of cars and modifying practically every other daily activity we knew. Rationing was immediately put into force. Gasoline, tires, shoes and all types of foods, including meats, sugar and canned goods were rationed. An office of price administration was established, controlling prices and issuing ration books. Gasoline rations were based on activity or business.”