Meeting Ila

Daughter of the Manager

"I found another inspiration."

"On my work scholarship, I would be assigned to certain areas that I was to work in. And mechanical drawing was one of the big things that I had trouble with, but I finally mastered it and I became good at that, so that's where I would work. They would send me somewhere to make drawings of certain things. And I was going through one day, and I looked up to the office window, and an angel had set right there by the window. It was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life. A fellow named Will Hurston, from Troup County, was on the same program I was on. And I stopped Will and I said, 'Will, have you seen that girl in the back office?' 'Yes, yes. And let me clue you in, her father is one of the managers, and look at you!' And I looked at me, and I said, 'Mm kay.' And I blew out the candle.

But somehow our paths would cross, and I'd be carrying messages, or doing something, and our paths would cross, and she stopped me one day and she said, 'Are you still in school?' And I said, 'Yes.' 'What's your plan?' And I says, 'I'm like everyone else. I have no plans. Everything is hanging in the balance of whatever happens to me in the military forces.' And we talked and talked, and we became friends. And her parents didn't necessarily like it, and I can understand that. I certainly do. But somehow I found another Roosevelt. I found another inspiration...

So we became close friends, and we all understood – her family and my family – everybody understood that I was going into the military. I talked to her father about it, and I said, 'Let me tell you this.' I pulled everything out of my pocket and laid it on his desk. And I said, 'Everything I've got in the world is right there. The only other thing I have is that old Ford automobile out there that I use going to and from school. But I'm going to tell you that someday that will not be the end. I'll see that that happens.' He said, 'Well, you may not make it back here.' I said, 'Well, that's very true, but I have asked her the same. I posed this question for her, what will you do if I do not make it back? And she said, 'I'll be like the other thousands of young ladies whose husbands also failed to make it back.'" I said, 'I'd rather you ask her the question than answer it.' So everything was in limbo, and we were back and forth, and when things were going just right for me physically and in school, we married. And we had six months together before I again volunteered for the Marine Corps."