Wilma Shore as a writer has been of continuing interest to me, and the recent citations in the FictionMags Index which included links to the full texts of McCall's magazine, in the Internet Archive, made for a rather good couple of hours' reading. She didn't collect any of these three stories in her one book of fiction, Women Should Be Allowed, but they are nearly as good as those that are, particularly the last of them. I have to wonder if she sent her stories to the Ladies' Home Journal first, on her market list of women's magazines, and if the possible title change of her first story for McCall's (as it would make a bit more sense if titled "You Can't Tell My Mother") or some more conservative tilt in the magazine made it less-favored by Shore for her best work in this wise.
"You Can't Tell Your Mother" is the first and slightest of these three, dating from the May 1942 issue of McCall's, just far enough into US direct combat in the war for a bulletin elsewhere in the issue about how rayon stockings are Almost as good as nylon or silk, but special care must be taken with them. It's a mostly charming, if sad, story about a young girl (a bright 8yo), who confesses to one of her mother's coworkers her own terror of Uboats/submarines generally, as well as other war-driven fear, and how she doesn't dare share these with her mother, despite the protagonist encouraging her to do so, for fear of burdening her mother unduly...which gets the childless protagonist thinking about how very terribly complex as well as terrifying the current crises can only seem to all of us. I suppose, if the title is Shore's, it was meant to suggest that the girl would advise us thus, but I suspect Shore might've found a more deft way of doing so.
"A Woman in Love" (from the April 1943 issue) is a much longer and more complex story, focused on the relationship between a married couple of their early middle years, and how they are drawn into direct participation in the war effort, and the stresses this (and external stresses from coping with the demands of wartime activity more generally) places on their relations...told from the wife's point of view, the story is somewhat less thoroughly supportive of her somewhat cooling response to how her husband begins to disappoint her, for the first time in their marriage, in his less than self-sacrificing commitment...without damning her or him from Shore's perspective. But I think Shore wanted us to be a bit disappointed in her for the nature of her disappointment in him.
While the best of the three is her last in McCall's (ever, as far as the FictionMags Index, or FMI, is aware), from the March 1944 issue, "Something of Her Own", a rather fully-realized account of the somewhat confusing cautious slide into a romantic relationship between two somewhat unconventional young professionals, she working as a stenographer, he as a slightly dissatisfied but obligated junior corporate lawyer, and both always not quite sure of what they genuinely want from life, and never fully at ease with the choices they make or have thrust upon them. It rather expertly deals directly with the complex of emotions wartime separation inflicts on couples, along with the other matters of family, worklife and other pressures that most of us have faced to one degree or another in this country (and most if not all others, in somewhat differing ways) over the last century.
These are sensitively-written stories, with relatively little if any Forced Uplift (much less Happily Ever After/For Now strictures that are placed on most romance fiction over the decades), and interesting to see in the context of even the sober times they were published in, in a magazine that wasn't (perhaps correctly, but not completely correctly) seen as fully advancing the cause of women as whole persons...but particularly in those days, when they were interested in Wilma Shore contributions, along with those from a relatively few people whose names might strike similar faint bells (such as Rachel Field or Faith Baldwin), doing what they and the magazine staffs (and it's notable how many of the executive editors were men in this decade, and for the next couple of decades at least) felt they could to provide various sorts of service to their readers. (Shore on the new sobriety of the women's magazines and other "slicks" as World War 2 ground on.)
From the FMI:
- McCall’s [Vol. LXIX No. 8, May 1942] ed. Otis L. Weise (McCall Corporation, 15¢, 126pp, cover: [photo] by Nickolas Muray)  (Full Text)
- 13 · Don’t Let Me Go Alone · Mary O’Hara · ss; illustrated by Harry Anderson
- 16 · I Knew His First Wife · Barbara Aldrich · ss; illustrated by Walter Klett
- 18 · Orphan Train · Martha Cheavens · nv
- 22 · Experience Not Necessary · Mona Williams · ss; illustrated by Michael
- 24 · This Is Our Day · Ursula Parrott · na; illustrated by Valentino Sarra
- 28 · And Now Tomorrow [Part 4 of 5] · Rachel Field · sl; illustrated by Andrew Loomis
- 30 · You Can’t Tell Your Mother · Wilma Shore · ss; illustrated by Frank Bensing