This sequel to Father Was A Caveman takes place on the homefront during the World War II years. It follows the adventures of the Harmans when as a new family, with their house in tow, they begin their life on the road as a special breed of vagabonds.
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We Were Vagabonds is the second book in June Harman Betts' Echoes In My Mind trilogy. While it stands alone as a story, it can be read as a sequel to, Father Was A Caveman, as it continues the saga of Burrel Harman and his family when they are reunited after they have been scattered apart for a year.
This book paints a vivid picture of an American family's life on the homefront during the years from 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, until shortly after the war ends in 1945.
Burrel vows never to be seperated from the children again and comes up with a creative way to keep them together. His solution leads to some exciting, joyful and even frightening experiences as with bride and children in tow, he does his part for the war effort when he follows the large defense construction jobs. This book is filled with humor , adventure , and family love and relationships as they adjust to becoming a new family and life on the road as a different breed of vagabonds.
In Wahington DC, Burrel works on the construction of the Pentagon. Then near the Cheasapeake Bay in Maryland he helps build what later became the Putuxant River Naval Base. There they find themselves living in the middle of a junkyard where June and Polly experience one of the most terrifying experiences of their lives. Then in Jackson Mississippi they discover what it is like to be Damn Yankees in the deep South.
Their adventure begins in Zanesville Ohio, takes them through many states and ends in Newark Ohio just 25 miles from where they started. Here Cecil, the teen-aged son discovers that pretty blondes and unreliable cars make a volatile combination. Then with help from an unexpected source, his sister June begins her quest to be reunited with her long-lost mother and little brother Dickie.
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The long awaited day finally arrived, and the very air at the station was charged with emotion, running the gamut from happiness and anticipation to sadness and despair. Waiting for the arrival of their train, June, Polly and Cecil sat on the bench observing the drama unfolding around them. Men, women and children, who had been standing watching a train pull into the station, would suddenly run with outstretched arms to enfold a young serviceman as he stepped off the the train. This would be followed by joyful voices full of love and laughter.
On the other end of the emotional scale was a family or girlfriend saying goodbye to a young soldier, sailor of marine before he boarded the train. From their expressios, it was clear that some of them were afraid this would be their final farewell. Pretending to look at a magazine, June watched one couple kissing and embracing. The girl was crying and holding onto her soldier, as if by sheer force she could keep him with her. As the train whistle sounded and and the conductor shouted, "All Aboard!" he slowly disentangled himself and headed for the open door of the train car. Resolutely looking every inch a strong brave soldier with his ramrod straight posture and strong jutting chin, no one would have known this parting was as difficult for him as the girl he was leaving behind. Only June, watching, saw a tear threaten to escape from his eye.
This scene and what greeted them when they stepped onto the train again brought the reality of the war closer to them. The car was full of soldiers, sailors and marines, milling about in the aisles or sitting on their suitcases. These were young men on their way to camp, some for more training and others to a point of embarkation to somewhere overseas.
Women, mostly young, some with babies or small children occupied most of the seats. They were either traveling to or home from the base where their husbands were stationed. Difficult though it was for June, Cecil and Polly to get through, Polly had traveled by train since she was a child and was undaunted by the lack of seating. "Come on," she commanded. "Follow me. There have to be three seats somewhere on the train." She led them from car to to car until she found three seats together.
---When night came, the conductor turned the lights low and the hub-bub of the day dimished as people tried to sleep in their seats. Gazing out the window at the star filled sky and the lights from an occassional farmhouse, June could hear the hushed voices and someone playing the harmonica.
Her thoughts wondered to the next day when her father would be meeting them at the station in Newark Ohio. This town, where her mother had grown up, where her parents had met and married, where she had been conceived was to be her new home.
Her last thought before she went to sleep was that maybe now she would get to see her mother and little brother who had so abruptly disappeared from her life years earlier. Certainly, being so near, no one would keep them apart any longer. Would they?