Second World War: Christmas Present Was Portable Radio

Nebraska woman recalls using her father's last Christmas present, a portable radio, to let her students listen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt declare the U.S. entry into the Second World War.

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My stories of the Second World War are not my parents', but my own. On May 2, 1941, my father was killed in a double traffic accident bringing me home from the Obert school where I taught. Late in the summer I got a call from Hubbell, Nebraska, asking me to come there to teach English and history. No teacher ever went back to Obert for a second year. I told the Hubbell superintendent I would come if they could find an apartment so my mother could live with me. We went. The apartment was created - in the home of nice people - from a large bedroom and oversized closet. 

The last Christmas present from my father was a small radio with its own aerial. When we heard the news story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it was on that radio. When I went to school the next morning, I asked the superintendent to let me bring the radio to school so all of the pupils could hear President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's declaration of the United States' entry into the Second World War. The superintendent didn't believe I had a radio that I could carry to school and the whole school could hear. I did not have a car. It was the first time that the entire school had heard history being made by radio.

Guelda Shirley Jensen
Stanton, Nebraska


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.