Excerpts from the War Era Story Project
On the home front during World War II, life went on. But for some, life was just beginning and the worldwide strife would have a powerful impact on their character. Some of these "war kids" share their most notable experiences in the latest installment of the War Era Story Project.
William Moore, 79, of Lima, was eight years old when WWII began.
"As a young lad, I do recall a few incidentals, such as the voice of President Franklin Roosevelt on our old Philco, speaking to the nation, watching Dad use his rationing coupons when buying gasoline and Mom sending me down to Joe Weise's Market in the North end of Lima with a can of grease saved from her cooking. (I believe that the grease was used in making ammunition for the war effort.) Also, in grade school, we used to practice taking shelter in an underground tunnel that went from our school building to the rectory in case of an air raid."
Loretta Carlier Dean, 81, of Hillsboro, recalls some of the ways she and other children helped support the war effort.
"During my sixth grade year, we were taught to knit. We made afghans for the Red Cross - even some of the boys were quite good with knitting needles. We also saved tin foil wrappers and put them into balls. They were sent somewhere for the war effort. Another memory is letter-writing. We would write to relatives and friends in the service. Route 50 went through Fayetteville, and occasionally trucks carrying troops from Camp Atterbury in Indiana would travel East. We would wave to them and they often would throw their addresses to anyone along the side of the road. You always wondered where they were going and if they would come home."
James L. Matson, Sr., 71, of Wapakoneta, was born into a world already at war.
"We lived between two railroads: the B&O and the Nickel Plate Road. We used to pick up coal along the railroad for cooking and heating. We did not have electric until 1954-1955. The B&O railroad was 80 ft. from our home. The Nickel Plate Road was 180 ft. from our house. If it wasn't for the railroads, we would have frozen to death in the winter."
Abe Lincoln, 78, of Brookville, remembers a neighbor returning home from the war.
"I saw Bob Clark when he came home from the war in the Pacific. I was about ten or eleven years old and was fascinated with his dark tan and the knife he made from parts and pieces of Japanese airplanes. Bob took the time to sit down and go over the knife and explain that the handle was made from material he cut from the windshield of a Japanese Zero. The blade was made from another part from the same airplane. I think his son got the knife, and Bob eventually lost the deep Pacific tan I remembered."
Eileen Schuckman Funk of Westerville, recalls an early morning surprise.
"I was awakened by a gentle knocking on the front door. Looking out my window, I could see that it was still dark, but the birds were singing. After another series of knocks, I heard the front bedroom door open. Sliding quickly off my bed and cracking my door open, I saw my grandma enter the hallway reaching around to tie the belt to her robe. 'Those beggars,' she mumbled and grumbled. 'It's just too early for them to come to the door.' She made her way to the first landing and I tagged along behind still listening to her moaning about the beggar.
"Grandma, her hair mussed from sleeping and still most unhappy, descended the long stairway. When she approached the door, I put my arm around the stair post and looked on. Through the leaded glass door I could see a vague reflection of a person on the porch. Grandma opened the door quickly then stood like a frozen statue. There he was! My Uncle Louis was standing in the doorway looking so handsome in his Army uniform! He looked at grandma and wiped the tears from his eyes. Grandma began crying loudly, and then mother and son hugged and cried together. My heart stood still for quite some time. At the age of five years, holding on to that stair post, I was an eyewitness to a mother's love for her son and a son's love for his mother. This moment has been recalled to mind so often during the years to follow. I am so grateful to have been the little girl looking on during this beautiful moment."
Photo shows sixth grade students of Fayetteville Elementary School in St. Martin, Ohio in 1942-43, submitted by Loretta Carlier Dean (fifth from right)
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