Friday, February 19, 2010

More war stories

Aunt Joyce sent another batch of memories for her childhood years during World War II. She was the youngest of my dad's family, shown below in this picture from 1941: back row, from left, Jack, Grandpa John Hanson, Grandma Laurel Hanson, Rosemary; front row, from left, Dave, Joyce, Frank (Dad).

"There were no high school sports played in Iowa during the war years due to tire and gas rationing. Rosemary (Dad’s sister) never saw a high school game during her school years . . . tires were almost impossible to get, ration stamps were needed so used tires were never seen just sitting around and everyone knew how to patch their own tires and tubes.

"Rosemary would grocery shop at the noon hour and carry the groceries home on the school bus to save my parents having to drive the mile and a half to town to get groceries. This was done by a lot of kids. We didn’t have weekly church service because we went to a small mission church with only five other families because of the gas issue so had limited services. There were no new cars, as it was war equipment that was being manufactured and if you sold a used car it was done through a government list to whoever’s name was next.

"Many would 'give' the car away and receive money for it to keep from having to put it on the sell list. After a lot of my dad’s farm equipment burned in the barn fire, he put his name on lists for a combine, harrow, plow, disc and some other pieces and waited two years to get a combine during which time he used a neighbor’s.

"Farm equipment was also not being made, which is why the farmers became so good at using baling wire to hold things together. My dad re-soldered the edges of disc blades as they couldn’t get new ones. When I started school in 1941 I went to school all day as a kindergartner and in the last three war years we had school six days a week so the high school boys would be out of school early in the spring to do farm work.

"John (Dad’s brother) graduated in the end of March 1943. The only time that everyone really went to town was to receive the bodies of soldiers by railroad car. And the entire town went to every funeral. However this wasn’t until very late in the war as those that fell both in the European and Asian Theaters were buried there and brought back when things got better. The parents were asked where they wanted their sons buried . . . in the US or left where they fell in our cemeteries there. That is why the foreign cemeteries like in Normandy, all over Europe, the Philippines and all over Asia is really American land deeded to our government, so our soldiers were buried in American soil.

"I remember when rail cars would come in and they would open the door and get out a casket and you could see other flag draped caskets in it. Dave (dad’s bro) and I both well remember practicing “bombing protection” and “gas protection” procedures during school. You got under the desk for bomb protection and there was a covered bucket of water in each room that was to be used to dip cloths in to cover your face in case of poisonous gas. Actually pretty unrealistic as we were in the middle of the heartland of the US and I don’t think there were bombers that could have reached our areas."

Today, I am thankful - and humbled - to live with such an abundance of material goods.


  1. Interesting stuff Melinda. These stories remind me a lot of the stories I would hear from my grandparents and uncles. They would all have been about the same age. My dad and most of my uncles served in WWII. I have lots of questions now, unfortunately was too young to think about things while they were still here to ask. And think picture looks like a lot of pictures I have. I enjoy hearing about this stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I agree!! We are so spoiled and take so many things for granted!!! Very cool indeed!