The War Years

While we were growing up things were changing all over the world. We studied about other countries in school, but they seemed so far. Little did we know that most of the young boys would know first hand about battlefields in Africa and Europe and far away islands in the Pacific.
Three days after my eleventh birthday, on a quiet Sunday, radio programs were interrupted. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and we were at war.
There were rumors of sabotage and Japanese civilians were so feared that they were moved to camps, one that I remember was at Hershey, Nebraska.
Overnight plans were made to change the countryside to places to manufacture arms and station soldiers . Young men were drafted and there was a huge shortage of teachers. We were prepared and were looking forward to a move to Saint Paul, Ne. where Dad would have a much better job teaching junior high. At the same time the Cornhusker ammunition plant was being built at Grand Island and there was not a house to rent in the whole town. We returned home and he kept his job for another year when Grandpa and Grandma decided to move to town and we moved to the farm. The place is now just a corn field just off the interstate highway at the Hampton interchange.
There were airfields all over Nebraska. The closest ones were Harvard and Bruning. The sky was always buzzing with planes training to go overseas. We learned the names of the planes. The big bombers would fly in formation doing practice bombings with the fighter planes escorting them. We would watch the fighter planes practice dog fights with each other. It was like watching the movies.
One afternoon some pilots decided to play games and see how close they could get to our windmill. They were probably ready to go overseas or something and were celebrating. It was exciting and scary at the same time.
A bus came to the small towns and picked up anybody that wanted to work at the munitions plants. There was no excuse to be unemployed. Among the things that were rationed were sugar, coffee, meat, shoes, gas and tires. You were issued stamps to buy rationed groceries. You were allowed gas according to your occupation and a sticker was affixed to the windshield. It would be a letter. I can’t remember the letter we had on the farm. Our dad gave his extra shoe stamps to our Aunts who liked new shoes better than he did. There was a terrible shortage of rubber and underpants were made with buttons instead of elastic. Every bit of metal could be salvaged and sold. We were dismissed for a day from school to pick up railroad spikes when they tore out the railroad. Many courthouses had a civil war cannon on the lawn. They were taken and melted down for munitions.
We went to Aurora one Saturday night and the southern sky lit up like one giant fire. When we got to town we learned that two bombers collided and burned up at the Harvard Air base. Another time everything shook like an earthquake and it was an explosion at the Naval Depot at Hastings.
War is always romanticized and when you are growing up everything is exciting.
Our two pretty Aunts were having the time of their lives. All the young men were drafted, but the soldiers came into Aurora on the bus. They got to know some of them and brought them out to the farm to meet the family. The boys showed them the rabbits and they spent the day. I remember one of them having so much fun playing our player piano. A few times when we crossed the railroad into town we would meet a troop train and the soldiers would wave out the windows and whistle at the girls. I wonder how many of them came back home. I think of it now when they say “Old men make wars so young men can die”.
Finally when I was in High School the church bells began to ring and our Superintendent came in to tell us the war in Europe was over.
The following summer there was talk of a super weapon. The armies were ready to invade Japan and Japan refused to surrender. Finally it ended after atom bombs were dropped on two cities in Japan. I didn’t know it at the time, but Max, my future husband was in the Phillipines. He would have been one that invaded Japan.
Japanese emissary plane on its way to sign the treaty to end the war.
Max Northrop was there.

Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 1:18 am  Comments (1)  

Here’s the fou…

Lois NorthropHere’s the four of us ready for Sunday School.  Norma, Me, Jerry, Max.  Standing by Grandma’s house in Henderson.

Published in: on January 6, 2012 at 2:02 am  Comments (1)  

 People of my …


People of my generation like to think we are the greatest generation because we lived through the great depression and a world war.


I am only 2 generations away from immigrants who came to this great country to worship as they chose. They taught us so much about standing up to what we believed was right.


Many mistakes have been made along the way.


I was born in December of 1930 at home. I had 2 older brothers so mom was very happy to welcome a daughter. I am sure she made all the clothes I needed. The house was always clean and ready for the doctor to make a visit. She had a garden and canned everything possible. Every good housewife baked her own bread and very little came from the grocery store. She belonged to a women’s club and when it was her turn to entertain the house really got a cleaning.


Dad was a teacher and probably didn’t make any more than 50 dollars a month for 9 months. In the summer he had to find work to pay the rent and grocery bill. He played in the town band and there was a band concert once a week in the town square. He sang tenor in the choir.


The radio was the center of entertainment for the family.


Once a year Dad went to Lincoln to Teachers Institute. In later years Mom got to go along and we went to the country to stay with our grandparents. That was as far away as any one traveled.


When I was 2 years old I got a little sister. That was the year when everyone had to sacrifice and anyone who had a job was very lucky. Our parents had to raise a family with very little. It’s funny but I don’t remember thinking we were poor because all of our friends were in the same boat and some were worse.


Of course I don’t remember those early years so most of my stories will reflect the later 1930’s.


We never owned our home so we had to move several time. We always named our houses. I was born in the brown house, we moved to the Penner place when I was in second grade. When Grandma died we moved into her house so that was Grandma’s house. Even though we lived in town we raised chickens and so did all the neighbors. We had electricity and running water, but the outhouse was outside because the town didn’t have a sewer system. The car was used mainly to go out of town. We walked to school and church and pulled a wagon to the grocery store. Mom made our clothes and usually my sister and I were dressed alike. Mom was a real artist when it came to sewing. She would copy dresses from the catalog and make them look exactly like the picture. Many times the clothes were made from older clothes that we got from our aunts. I could write another story about these two aunts who were so pretty and wore makeup and high heels. We loved to dress up in their clothes and almost broke our necks walking on the high heels.


Those were the early years. Times changed greatly. Our parents worried from day to day how they would pay the bills, but the kids just remember playing in the sand, going to band concert and picnics at the river. Little did we know what a mad man was planning in Europe or that one Sunday morning every program on the radio would stop to tell the world the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. How our world would change after that day.

Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 2:43 am  Comments (1)