Second World War: President Roosevelt declares war

Woman remembers receiving news of President Roosevelt's declaration over the radio.

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It was a beautiful September day. Indian summer was really putting on a show, the year was 1939. 

I was busy doing my housework, singing along with the radio, which was about the only means of communication with the outside world. The children were busy playing outside while my husband was out back repairing a sagging-down shed.

Suddenly the music stopped. An excitable voice on the radio said, "Attention folks, President Roosevelt has just declared war!"

I was stunned. Was I hearing right? I listened a minute longer then I ran out to tell my husband. The neighbor was already there, he too had heard. Soon there was a group of people in our yard discussing the announcement. Everyone was stunned. America at war again. The terrible World War I was over in 1918. It was supposed to be a war to end all wars.

Soon our boys were being drafted. The beginning of the second World War was a sad time for all, never knowing if they would return or not.

More supplies were needed - food for our boys overseas. They deserved the best; they were giving their best for our country.

Then came rationing. Once every month - and sometimes every two weeks - we received a book of blue ration stamps, sometimes they were of different hues but they were still the same.

We as a nation griped as always and many exchanged stamps. Substitutes for different foods were tried, and if you didn't have enough until your next book of stamps came out, you went without. People learned to be more conservative.

It seemed, though, there was always someone there in case of emergency to help out.

My baby boy Ernie was born in 1942. He was having problems digesting his milk. He seemed to be allergic to all milk formulas.

Finally the doctor said to try Eagle Brand. It agreed with him and I thought the problem was over.

In those days, the only place you could buy Eagle Brand was in the drug store. It soon became hard to get as more people started using it to supplement their milk supply. My doctor wrote a prescription for me, so I got some to help out, but I wasn't getting enough. The drug stores weren't getting as much Eagle Brand, so I was giving the baby a feeding of Eagle Brand one time and formula the next. I was beside myself. I hoped that Ernie would outgrow his problem.

Mr. McCall, who lived up the road a mile, stopped by one day with a quart of whole milk. "Do you think little Ernie can have this?" he asked.

For the first time in weeks, Ernie kept the milk down and slept so soundly all night that I got up several times to check on him.

After that, Mr. McCall supplied us with whole cow's milk until Ernie was weaned. He was an angel in disguise.

I think that when rationing was over and the boys came home was one of the most wonderful days of my life.

Evelyn Williams-Hall
Sioux City, Iowa


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.