The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Olive Geralding (Downes) Jaworski

Life Story

The Girl From Down Under

By Jean J. Hart

On July 1, 1916, Olive Geraldine Downes was born in Roseneath, NZ to Jessie (Schmidt) and Charles Hunter Downes. She was named after the “Mount of Olives” from the Bible. They lived in a two story house at 41 Maidavale Road. It was a 3 bd/1 bath home, where Olive shared with her 3 brothers, Allen and twins, Philip and Keith. Three years later, they welcomed another baby boy, Lawrence H. Downes. They were of English, Irish and Jewish decent.

Charles H. Downes was a carpenter for many years and drew plans for homes as an Architect. He had his own business and built 3 churches, which are still standing, a Greek Orthodox in Wellington, Methodist in Lower Hut (north of Wellington), and Catholic Apostolic in Wellington, NZ. They attended their own church, which was Brethren. She remains a Christian, today. Her father was a substitute Pastor for several churches.

Olive had an interest in playing the piano at an early age. She started when she was 8 years of age, and practiced every day until the age of 13. She was only one lesson away from becoming a piano teacher, when the Depression hit in the late 20’s and early 30’s. The economy improved after 2 years and she went to a private school for shorthand and typing lessons. She graduated at 16. She was a team player in basketball for two years. At 18, she worked in a Deli for another 2 years preparing sandwiches and cashiering. At 20, she because a Nurse’s Aide for 2 years in the South Island at a Hospital in Hamner Springs. She cared for a lady who was very ill, Lady Batterbee. At this time, the Downes family was very successful and had several cars and a full time maid. The Downes name was very well known for her father was greatly involvement in their community.

Olive’s father worked at a Government Hospital Building. He made a connection with the Batterbee’s, which introduced Olive to Sir Harry Batterbee. He held a prestigious position in Parliament as an English Diplomat. Olive eventually drove a Limo for the family for 4 years. This was a very unusual job for a woman, particularly driving a manual transmission and being a chauffiese. She loved the job and enjoyed all the trips and events she attended.

Olive played in a couple of bands as a pianist for several years before and during World War II. She had dated a New Zealander lad named Mark Hoare, who died of an infection. This broke her heart as they were to marry. She decided to meet some of the Service Men from the U.S., as did many other women in New Zealand. There were thousands of U.S. Military stationed in New Zealand during WWII. She met a Lieutant who was to be sent overseas and wanted her to wait for him. She wanted to marry, immediately, but he didn’t. He left on his service call. Olive decided to go to a dance one night and met Polish, German and Russian decent, Arthur Jacob Jaworski, a Sergeant, in the Marines, 2nd Marine Division. He served in the South Pacific. He had been several major pushes as a participant in the capture and defense operation against the Japanese Army at Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, from Dec 1942 to Feb 8, 1943 and participated in combat against the enemy forces at Tarawa-atoll, British Gilbert Islands from Nov 20, 1943 to Dec. 4, 1944.

Olive and Arthur were very much “love struck” and married shortly thereafter at Saint Andrew Church in Wellington. The ceremony was on the terrace in a winter afternoon setting on July 10, 1943. Olive had to hurry to put the ceremony together and purchased a designer French Wedding Gown from an advertisement she found in the newspaper, size 10 and a perfect fit. It sold for approximately $20.00. They had one maid of honor and best man. She was 28 years old and he was 31 years old. Her first marriage, she learned later, it was his third. They had a wonderful honeymoon, but Arthur was starting to feel the effects of the war and later struggled with his illnesses from serving.

Arthur had previously been found missing in action with malaria. He was very thin and had been given Quinine by the Army, who found him as the only survivor in his troop. After his honeymoon he was sent to Hawaii to re-cooperate for four months and was sent out to participate in 2 more major pushes in capture and defense at Tarawa - allot and British Gilbert Islands. His lost his teeth from poor diet, had depression symptoms and horrible nightmares after he served.

There was great opposition from the New Zealand government to release all those newlywed women to American soldiers. The American government was being very protective of the women, too. Olive had a difficult time getting approval to leave. She had to show proof of marriage, provide a letter as to why she wanted to move. In addition, she had an extensive medical exam and was interviewed, at length, by the U.S. A. Marine Corp.

It wasn’t until January 11, 1945 that Olive arrived in the United States. She was 2 months on a military ship, General W. F. Hase, which departed from Novmea, New Caledonia, with a few civilians and a couple thousand troops. Needless to say, the women were closely guarded from the soldiers who hadn’t seen white women for months! Olive had a roommate, Nancy Gleason. They both got into some mischief and became forever friends, until dear Nancy’s death in early 2010. (They modeled Hula outfits for those manipulative Military Men and accidently threw a sweater overboard in enemy waters.)

Thirteen months later, after their marriage, Olive arrived in port at San Francisco, California. The New Zealand women and husbands were greeted by the San Francisco news media, which were anxiously waiting to interview the new comers. It was a fun experience. Everyone left shortly after for their destinations. Unfortunately, Olive was left behind for five days at a hotel. Arthur was stationed in Virginia Beach, VA. Olive was just terrified of the enormity of Cosmopolitan San Francisco and just sat down and cried. She called the Salvation Army to locate her husband, but they had no record. What was she to do…? Fortunately, she was able to reach her new father-in-law, George, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to locate her husband. She took a train across country and arrived a week later in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at Yorktown- Naval Mine Depot. They lived there for one year. Arthur served out his time and Olive worked as a typist, cashier and payroll servant for the Naval Military Personnel Department.

The war had ended and they moved to Youngstown, Ohio. They lived in a rented room for approximately six months and then bought their first home together on eight acres in Pulaski, Pennsylvania. They lived there for a year. Olive was really missing her family and friends in New Zealand and cried a lot. She wanted to visit or live back in her home town. By this time, they had their first daughter, Jessie Ann Jaworski, born on June 27, 1948.

On March 31, 1949 this new family headed for New Zealand from Canada on a ship called, Aorangi. It departed from Vancouver, B.C. They lived with the Downes family for 18 months. Arthur worked in a factory, which he did not like. In 1950, they returned to the United States and bought a 100 year old farm house on 84 acres in New Castle, Pennsylvania. The farmhouse was made of large tree timbers and incredibly insulated and is still standing. It is located on Rural Route Matilda Avenue.

On May 11, 1952 their second daughter arrived, Jeanette Joy. Olive needed help with her daughters, due to the fact that Arthur worked long hours, plus attended an Agricultural College on his G.I. Bill.

Grandmother, Jessie Downes, made her first voyage to the U.S. and visited for 4 months. Pictures were taken of her on a horse. She was dressed up like a cowgirl with hat and boots. This was so different for her, since she was an English city lady. She sadly left and missed Olive. They were very close. The first daughter, Jessie, became ill with rheumatic fever and they were told to move to a warmer climate or she would be on medication all her life. Arthur was a great fan of cowboys and Indian shows, so he traveled the southern route through Tucson, Arizona to head for warmer climate. He tried to get a job in Tucson. The family stayed a few weeks, but there wasn’t a job opportunity for him. He was extremely disappointed. They continued on to Santa Monica, California. They purchased a restaurant in 1958. They tried to make it work for 8 months, but it was difficult, due to the lack of customers, (even though a few famous actors frequented their establishment) they had long working hours cooking and cleaning, plus they had babysitting problems. The long hours and unreliable care created problems for their children.

They sold the restaurant and headed back to the farmhouse in Pennsylvania. They were there until 1960. They went back to California, but headed north to Millbrae, south of San Francisco. Olive was still very homesick and she had her concerns regarding her mother, who was having some personal problems. They went to visit in 1961. They moved back to New Zealand for three years. Arthur used his knowledge and passion to purchase an 82 acres Jersey dairy farm in Ngonotaha, North Island, located close to Rotorua. There were many animals to care for, such as pigs, sheep, chickens, dogs, cats and a couple of horses. The farm was really dilapidated with many repairs. They worked 24/7 without help to restore the land. It was a tough 3 years for Arthur and Olive. They had lost considerable weight and struggled from day to day. They both cried a lot due to the hardships they had to endure. It was a real strain on their relationship. The girls had some adjustments to make with farm chores, different culture, language and not being accepted as Americans. The Jaworski’s were known all over New Zealand as the “Yanks”, in 1961 thru 1964. They were the only Americans living in New Zealand, as far as known, many New Zealanders told us, “Go Home, Yanks.”

Arthur had to have knee surgery as a result of an old injury from the farm in Pennsylvania. While in the hospital, he met a man who had a similar surgery. They became friends and eventually this gentleman purchased the dairy farm. We, also, sold our 1958 Studebaker car to the highest bidding farmer. Everyone at our sale thought this American car was a luxury car! Hahahaha Back to the U.S. we headed. The British invasion of English Rock and Roll Bands were popular. It appeared we were following the “Beatles” to the States! This time we settled in San Jose, California. and lived in a doublewide mobile in a Mobile Home Park. Arthur worked, initially for Sanford University as a Security Guard, but went onto working for Westinghouse as an Air Plane Turbine Machinist. Olive got a job through another New Zealand friend, Madge Nelson. (Her husband was Richard Nelson, who was a Marine with Arthur in WWII. They knew each other in NZ.) Olive worked at DeAnza Junior College. It was located in Cupertino, CA. Her job was in the Physical Education Department, in the Locker Room. It was a great job with great benefits. She was able use her skills in bookkeeping, handling money and working independently. The younger daughter, Jeanette, attended college there and received an AA Degree in Law Enforcement. The older daughter, Jessie, had received an AA Degree at San Jose Junior College as a Dental Assistant and married in Denver, Colorado.

Olive’s mother died of natural causes and was buried in Rotorua in 1963. Olive’s father died of a stroke, in 1964, and is buried in Wellington. Her last brother, Philip, died in 1997. Arthur became ill with cancer in 1974. Both daughters lived in Colorado, Olive and Arthur had moved up to Oroville, California on an acre of property. It was a long and argues time. Arthur was very difficult to take care physically and emotionally. He was very thin, experiencing unbelievable pain and on heavy medication. After a long struggle with this disease, he died of cancer on July 8, 1978. He was laid to rest in Oroville, California with a Three Gun Military Salute Ceremony, with only the immediate family attended.

Ten years later, Olive moved to Sacramento, California where her younger daughter, Jeanette (aka Jean), and Olive’s first granddaughter, Carrie Roth lived. This little five year old was the apple of her eye and is still precious to her, today. They lived there for many years. Olive did visit New Zealand another two times, in 1995 and 1997 with Jessie and her husband. They stayed with relatives and had a wonderful time. Olive was able to see her brother Philip before he passed.

Jean moved to Tucson, Arizona in 2005 and Olive followed, by this time Olive had had many falls, several cancer surgeries and now in her late 80’s. After 19 years with Jean, she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to live by Jessie. She has been there since 2006 in an assistant living home for seniors. She is visited, weekly, by her two granddaughters, Rebecca Ann and Ann Marie Young, along with Jessie and her husband John Young. Jean and Carrie also makes annually visits.

Olive has had an interesting life traveling, living in two different counties, loved playing the piano, liked to do the Hula dance, sewed for the family and friends, and volunteered her time, along with feeding the homeless. She learned to play Bridge in her 80’s. She played Bridge and competed. She received a couple awards, but is now into bingo, crossword puzzles and the card game “Kings Corners”. She colors her hair, wears makeup and is still the best dresser! She has a slightly changed New Zealand accent. (Most Americans believe she is from England or New England, but she still replies, “Never been there.”) Her mind remains sharp. Olive has provided the details of her life story to daughter, Jean. Other information was collected from Ancestry.com and from Military Records of Arthur’s. (Olive has no comment about her life story being in a book or it being displayed in a museum.)

She turned 94, July 1, 2010. Besides taking heart medication and using a walker, her health is good. She enjoys daily activities at the senior center, attending family events and going on short trips for vacation. She loves her long naps, too!

Olive lives in Milford, Ohio, close to Cincinnati, where Arthur was born and raised. Her younger daughter, Jean, lives in Tucson, Arizona, where Arthur always wanted to live and enjoy the Wild West. There still remains a connection for Olive regarding Arthur in Cincinnati and Tucson. Olive is the only remaining member of her immediate family from New Zealand. She occasionally keeps in touch with her long dear friend and cousin Laurel (Downes) Smaling in Levin, New Zealand, except for one New Zealand friend living in California, Lorna Caravella, all her “down under” friends have passed away, two this year – Nancy Gleason and Margaret Costello. They died less than a week a part, which was devastating to all.

Olive is loved by her family and continues to have contact with her immediate family by phone, visits and living close to loved ones. Her fond memories remain in New Zealand.

Written by, second daughter, Jean J. Hart, WWII baby *Information collected has mainly been derived from my 94 year old Mother, who hopefully, has recalled events as they occurred. Bless her heart for being the great Mother and Matriarch she has been and remains in our family. jean hart harttohome@yahoo.com 8/18/10

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