Ursula Turner, Coffeyville, grew up haunted by sirens, but not the southeast Kansas sirens that warn of approaching tornadoes.
"I was born in Germany in 1941, during World War II," said Turner, one of the writers attending a reception for local authors Monday at the Pittsburg Public Library.
The sirens warned Germans that Allied bombers were overhead, most likely headed to drop their bombs on the larger cities or other important military targets.
"We lived in a little town about 40 miles north of Frankfurt," Turner said. "I can remember most everything from the time I was about 3. I can still renmember the sound of the bombers buzzing around overhead. My mother would get me out of bed and we'd all go to the basement. We didn't get hit that often, but my grandparents lived near a larger city and on Christmas Eve of 1944 they got 50 or 60 bombs."
She said it was thought that an Allied bomber crew, concerned about being hit by German anti-aircraft fire with a full load of bombs aboard, dumped them all.
Her father was off fighting in the war, leaving her mother with little Ursula and her older sister. Turner remembers that times were hard and food sometimes scarce.
"We bartered a lot with the farmers," she said. "My mother and sister would tear up old sweaters and knit them into mittens and scarves, and trade them for bacon or eggs, sometimes a few potatoes. My mother grew a lot of her vegetables."
Turner's father kept bees before the war, but she said soldiers took all their honey.
"The bees needed something to eat, so they gave us some brown sugar to feed the bees " she said. "We'd put some brown sugar on our bread."
Turner came to the United States in 1960 as the wife of an American GI. They settled first in Iowa City, Iowa, then moved to Junction City in 1964. She has been in Coffeyville since 1970.
Communication was a bit of a problem for her at first.
"I had learned British English in school, so when I got here I talked funny, but I learned American English pretty quickly," she said.
Turner is still fluent in German and reads it well. She writes letters to her sister in German, but wouldn't want to do other writing in her native tongue.
"I took all the writing classes at Coffeyville Junior College," she said.
Her first marriage ended in divorce, and after that she began working for the Coffeyville Journal.
"I was lifestyles editor for nine years," Turner said. "Now I write things on Coffeyville churches."
Her other books include "Hello There," a collection of her newspaper columns, "Sirens" and "Sirens II," "My German Christmas," "A Dalton's Revenge," a fictional novel based on the Dalton raid on Coffeyville, "A Mother's Sins," a romance novel, and "The Story of Col. James Dalton, Founder of Coffeyville."
"I could never type a book at first on the computer," Turner said. "I write it out by hand first, then type it in."
She also found a new husband, Jack Turner.
"I've had him for a while now, so he's not so new," she said.She sells her books at arts and crafts festivals, libraries and stores.
"There are some at the Dalton Museum and the Brown Mansion in Coffeyville," Turner said. "I sell them anywhere I can get them in."
Anyone wishing additional information may go to uturnj@sbcglobal.net.