Today’s fear, quarantine, and rationing made me think of this fictional story I wrote in 2014.
Just Junk to Some
It was December7, 1941. I can remember sitting on the floor in front of Dad’s Crosley radio with its dark oak cathedral case listening to The Lone Ranger. The program was interrupted by John Daly’s voice announcing, “The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbor. With no warning at all, we have been invaded. Japan has viciously attacked the United States, killing American citizens on American soil.”
We eventually learned that the unprovoked air attack on Honolulu sank or damaged five battleships, three destroyers, two cruisers, a minelayer, and a target ship. The attack destroyed ninety-two naval planes, seventy-seven army planes, and one hundred fifty-nine other planes were damaged. Two thousand, four hundred and two men were killed and one thousand, two hundred and eighty-two men were injured. America was saddened at the loss of life, but it quickly turned to anger. It was an insult that we couldn’t ignore. Our fathers, brothers, uncles, aunts, and cousins rushed to the recruitment offices to enlist.
We were much too young to join the ranks, but we scoured the neighborhoods with wagons, carts, and even sleds to collect every bit of scrap that we could find, beg, and carry by ourselves. It became our duty to collect everything that we could locate to make our soldiers and sailors safe. We had no money to buy bonds, but our daily excursions kept us busy supplying the recycling center with tires, tin cans, pots, pans, bed springs, and even newspapers. Each morning found us marching up and down the streets and alleys scouting for anything that could make lives of the enemies more difficult and ease the hardships of our brave men and women overseas.
Although we were just kids, in our young minds we just were just as patriotic as the men and women who volunteered for military service. We stayed at home; too young to join, but we were doing what we could to support to our military.
Every evening, we headed for home, tired and covered in dirt and rust. Because moms knew the reason we were coming home dirty, they didn’t often complain. Smiling, they would say, “Get washed up and change before supper.”
In the dim yellow light of the radio dial, we would hover at our parent’s feet listening for any updates and items of news on the war. We waited quietly to hear any tidbit of information about wins and losses. We learned the names of battle sites in Europe; Dunkirk, Normandy, Dresden, Maginot Line, and Asian places like Guadalcanal, Bataan, Corregidor, and Iwo Jima.
Rationing and coupons became an integral part of our civilian lives. It caused each family to tighten belts. Sugar, butter, gasoline, shoes, coffee, meats, cheeses, and tires were just a few of the things that were restricted, but our sacrifices were nothing compared to the sacrifices being made by warriors fighting overseas for freedom.