To Annabella, the word
"war" means "your man is going." One is synonymous
with the other. Through four years of her childhood, all the story she heard
was war, and all the men went. Her father was gone for four years. Her grandfather
enlisted as a liaison officer and worked with the Americans. She learned that
war was terrifying and, at the same time, that you must endure the terror.
When America went in, her reaction was automatic. It meant Tyrone would go.
Even as the blow fell, she steeled herself to meet it. That's not courage,
she says -- just a reflex left over from childhood.
In Europe, all the men went. It came as a surprise to her that here men are drafted in many categories. Because of his dependents, Tyrone had been classified 3A. "Maybe it's a miracle," she thought. "Maybe it won't happen -- anyway, not yet." But she's no good at self-deceit. When they heard of this friend who'd been drafted, the other who'd enlisted, she couldn't misread the expression that crossed Ty's face. Her first instinct had been right then. If they didn't tell him at once to go, he'd go himself. And as any true woman would, terror or no, she loved him for it.
People told Tyrone how important movies were to the war effort -- as an educational force, as entertainment for the soldiers, as a prop to civilian morale. He said: "Movies will still be made after I go." They told him the government needed his income tax. He grinned, "With all the billions they need, they won't miss mine." They went on persuading and hoping against hope. He went on grinning and looking around.
He didn't want a commission. He's a man with a taste for thoroughness. Whatever he learns, he must learn from the rudiments. As he saw it, an officer's primary function is to lead and handle men. How can you handle men unless you've been one of them?
He had no equipment for such specialized branches as engineering, science, ordnance. He could fly, but they wouldn't take him as a flyer. First, he was over-age. Second, while educational requirements had been lowered, they still weren't low enough to to include Tyrone, whose formal studies had ended in high school. By a process of elimination, he reached the conclusion that, without special training, the most useful thing a a man could do was just to go in.
The decision was his
own. Annabella stayed on the sidelines. She doesn't even remember when they
first put into words what they said without words on the day of Pearl Harbor.
Sometimes you remember a conversation. He takes you into a corner and says,
"Listen, darling---" and it becomes a thing you don't forget. But
not with this. He must have said it in the middle of something else -- in
the car maybe. . . . She knows only that she lived so long with the thought
of his going, that when he said it at last, it came without shock.
from Motion Picture magazine, June 1943 continue