Irma Vajda


Her Story

She is a role model for home front wives of World War II who stayed at home to raise children, as most did, rather than joining the military service or working in a factory. These wartime heroines are often overlooked. She was a child of immigrants that grew up in a immigrant community of Hungarians in Cleveland, OH and that formed her life in many ways (mine as well), and presented its own challenges.

She took on new roles as mother AND father and assumed role of head of household as she worried over her husband's return. She proved to be a harbinger for the many changes that occurred in women's lives following the war and down through the years. I captured this story in a book about her wartime years, Dear Hubby of Mine: Home Front Wives of World War II. It presents touching letters written by my parents: A housewife and sailor husband with shared immigrant experiences who penned more than 500 letters during World War II; the letters inform the book. Abridged versions of the letters weave a loving romantic story with actual events occurring on the home front and the battlefront. The letters are further brought to life through the 25 original family photographs and remembrances from the period.

The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II will be celebrated in 2020. Most of the participants have passed on. While servicemen’s stories have been broadly told, the tales of the resolute war wives, who had a significant impact on the outcome of the war and the well-being of the country, have not been widely shared. While some women joined the military, and others entered the workforce for the first time, the majority stayed at home to raise children. Dear Hubby of Mine focuses on this latter group of women whose stories have been under-represented and largely uncelebrated in World War II literature.

In addition, my parents’ immigrant backgrounds formed in the Hungarian community in Cleveland, Ohio, shed light on the experiences of other minority groups and refugees that came before and after them. While many readers may see the story as a touching romance, and it is, others may appreciate the depiction of the country in the 1940s under wartime conditions and how that influenced America’s culture in the decades to come. Women charted new roles during the war that led to new freedoms in the years ahead and eventually brought about major societal changes.

She was a fighter for the "little guy" and knew that women had a difficult battle to get ahead. For those that struggled the most, she acknowledged that the road had pitfalls that some might find it difficult to bridge, but required our understanding and support. She returned to school and earned a two-year college degree when she was 75 years old!