Rachel Mae Krauss née Leonhard was born in 1920 in New Philadelphia, Ohio. She grew up the middle of three sisters, in a hard-working family.
Because Rachel’s parents were out earning a living, she and her sisters sometimes had to take care of themselves. The girls would return home from school and get dinner ready, as much as they could. After this chore, they were free to go play. In the summertime, the girls would often pack a lunch and go to the park.
Rachel laughingly recalled a time when “snow was so deep, they had to plow the sidewalk with a horse.” Rachel and a neighbor girl persuaded Rachel’s little sister June to sit on her heels so they could take her hands and pull her all the way to school.
Rachel and a young man named Charlie Krauss had just begun to date when World War II began. Rachel remembers that she and Charlie were in a restaurant with another couple, eating dinner, when they noticed a commotion in the street outside. Paper boys brandished newspapers with headlines announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor.