The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Anna Franklin Coulter

Anna Franklin Coulter was from Kassel, Germany. She arrived on the SS Washington on April 3, 1948. This is her story.

The years right after the end of WW2 were tough ones in Germany. Especially for people living in the cities, cities that were barely functioning due to the heavy damage they suffered during the war. My hometown Kassel was one of them. Although my family was lucky and had a place to live, food, fuel and clothing was rationed and in very short supply. Every able-bodied person had to go to work or the all-important ration-card was denied. So, when my girlfriend and I heard of the U.S. Army looking for English speaking help, we applied and with our bit of English we learned in school, we were hired. That is how I met my husband. Harold was the manager of a newly opened PX and I worked for him. It was 1946 and I was eighteen years old. We dated and fell in love and made plans to marry and travel to the States together. His tour of duty was almost up but he was able to extend his overseas stay for a year and work for the Army as a civilian. During this time we got all necessary papers together, papers that permitted me to leave Germany and enter the USA.

We were married in February of 1948 and then left Germany in the middle of March. We had a lovely honeymoon in Paris and then boarded the SS Washington March 27 at Le Havre, France.

The trip would nave been a nice one had it not been for the spring storms of the Atlantic. It turned into a nightmare of seasickness. All my new husband could do was to wrap me in a blanket and take me to the top deck for fresh air.

But everything comes to an end and we docked in New York on April 3, where we spent a couple of days sight seeing and then left by Greyhound for Chicago. Why the bus? My husband did not want me to see all the bad parts of the towns we passed through, and that is what one sees from the train. Instead I saw a lovely countryside with such litter and garbage along the highway, something I had not seen before. It impressed me as I still remember it.

Chicago, also quite a city, treated me well; in fact I never met anybody who was not nice to me. Husbandsís large family took me in as one of their own. Unfortunately, we had to live with his widowed mother for a while since apartments were at a premium.

In January 1949 our daughter was born and in 1953 we had a son. Eventually we bought a home in the suburbs and life was good. We were married 31 years; he died in 1979 of cancer.

Would I do it again? You bet, in a heartbeat! This is a great country. I have been a US citizen for many years, worked for the US Postal Service for 22 years and then retired.

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