All the characters except Tom, Anna and Jo Ann were named during a contest, in which readers chose from a list of appropriate names for the era and personal characteristics.
Tom – a short good-looking man, who had an eye for the ladies. He was in his 30th year in 1941 when he married his 1st wife Anna, who was eight years younger.
Anna – the beautiful country girl who carved out a career for herself in the city, teaching – typing and general book-keeping – to injured veterans to rehabilitate them back into the work force.
Jo Ann– the author and Tom’s daughter from his 1st marriage to Anna.
Ethel – Tom’s 2nd wife who he married in 1953, who had no interest in his previous relationships. She chose to ignore his life before her.
Maude – Anna’s older sister, whose sweetheart was lost during the war. She never married, teaching 7-9th grade until she retired. The sisters lived together for the duration of WWII and were never far from each other throughout their lives.
Laura – Tom’s mother, a quiet soft-spoken woman who loved her son and would do anything for him. Even to the extent of not seeing her grandchildren.
Herbert – Tom’s father who was no longer able to hold down a job and as a result he was not the man of the house. His family did not respect him.
Jack – Tom’s younger brother, a pilot in WWII, who left home to escape the unhappy relationship that defined his parents’ life. The two brothers remained close until Tom remarried.
Sara – The beautiful and very young Scottish girl who was the mother of Tom’s Scottish daughter.
FernTom’s daughter born to the beautiful young Scottish girl at the end of the war.
Janice – Tom’s 3rd daughter from his second marriage. She followed her mother’s lead in that she also refused to acknowledge any of Tom’s children who were not her mothers’.