This year, Edna Buck, a resident of Calder Woods senior living community in Beaumont, celebrated the holiday season with her Calder Woods friends and neighbors. She’s pictured here at the community’s annual Christmas Open House. But when asked which holiday season she remembers most, it’s the 1945 season that most rings clear in her memory.
When Edna’s husband stepped off the train at 10 p.m. one night the week before Christmas in 1945, they didn’t even recognize one another.
Raymond Buck was one of hundreds of thousands of GI’s trying to get home in time for Christmas that year. The war was over, and they had survived. Everyone had plans, lives and families to start, and dreams to bring to life.
Thinking he would be in uniform, Edna had eagerly scanned the face of each military man who disembarked.
He remembered noticing two women wearing the same coat—Edna and a friend who’d accompanied her—but in the excitement of the moment he somehow failed to recognize her.
Disappointed, Edna was determined to await the next train at 12:30 a.m.
Raymond took a cab to Edna’s aunt’s house, so her uncle went to fetch her from the station in his car.
“When I got out, there was a man in a suit, top coat and hat,” Edna said. “And it was my husband.”
She almost fainted, then she ran into his arms.
At her mother’s house in Lumberton, Edna had been sick in bed with the flu, but when she got word that Raymond was coming, she got up, washed her hair and got dressed.
She took a bus to Beaumont.
The couple spent Christmas at her grandparent’s home in Pineland.
Her brother, also a soldier, had made it home as well, and the family was ecstatic to have everyone home, alive and together.
“We had a big tree and big dinner,” Edna Buck said. “Everybody came and brought stuff.”
She gave her husband new clothes that we all too big for him; he’d lost weight after being wounded. Raymond gave his wife French perfume—“the real stuff.”
Tears came and her voice broke when asked what she remembers about that Christmas.
“I can just see it,” she said. “It was a good Christmas.”
This article originally appeared in The Beaumont Enterprise.