In this photograph from 1943, James Doran (1919-1997) is still a carefree single young soldier, home on leave before shipping out to Europe. His Army cap just contains his curly locks of hair and his grin stretches from ear to ear. The bevy of beauties posing with him include his sister, Margaret Doran (1921-1967) standing – front left, and two friends. Written on the back in lovely red penmanship it states, “Jimmy, Ada, Helen + Me. Taken in Kearny Park, 1943”. The edges are worn and creased.
Kearny is the next town up from Harrison, NJ, where the Doran family were living at that time. Margaret and her girlfriends worked in the local factories for the war effort. They were part of a new liberated generation of women, like “Rosie the Riveter” that replaced the men in the factories during the war years. I love their fashion look with the matching Navy shirts, crisply creased slacks, and fitted blazers with ribbons pinned on the lapels, and neat shoes. Later Margaret would marry the love of her life, Walter “Fiddles” Sikora. Margie was always such a fun person to be around.
This is from the photograph collection that I affectionately call the girlfriend one, because of the many pictures of pretty young women. Pasted onto the black pages of the album, the printing on the backs were hidden until I carefully peeled them off. Fifty years after these pictures were taken during his enlistment with the Fourth “Ivy” Division of the US Army, James went over the names with me. He rattled off the names – Dolly with the dimples, Eileen from England, and Paulette from France, among others, without first looking at what was written. Plenty of Army photos with James and buddies posing together were also in the album. The reminiscing brought smiles to his face as he fondly held each photo.
Like all soldiers, James had plenty of horrific memories, too. Landing on D-Day he earned a Purple Heart in Normandy. Many of his friends didn’t make it home. His brother, John, was killed in action in 1944, and is buried at the Brittany American Cemetery in France. Only the lucky ones made it back home. We must always remember what the greatest generation did for our freedom.