Both of my parents were too old to fight in the Second World War. They lived in Liberal, Kansas. My dad helped farmers and worked for the Highway Department. My mother cleaned houses and babysat for women who went to work. Many of the men were in the Army. My husband farmed.
Gas and tires were rationed. All windshields had the sticker, "Is this trip necessary?" Shoes were also rationed. We bought our children shoes that were made of a paper product. When they got wet, they fell apart. We used our coupons to buy them some more. We received tokens for change.
We traded our coffee stamps to friends for sugar stamps. We didn't use coffee. We were only allowed so many stamps at a time. Our third child was on Pet Milk formula. We were only allowed so much, but my dad knew a grocer, and he would buy us some. Two nieces worked in a grocery store, and they saved some so we always had milk for the baby.
The government built a new air base in Liberal to train pilots to fly the B-24 bombers. My dad got a job at the air base as a fireman. If a plane got into trouble landing, they were there with foam and water to put it out if it caught fire. There were many crashes. Many of the boys who were training had never been near a plane.
One Thanksgiving the family was at our house for dinner. Just as I glanced out the window, there was a big noise and a huge explosion. Two planes had collided in mid-air just north of Liberal. Later we drove down to see it. All the crew members of both planes had been killed.
Near Moscow, Kansas, another plane crashed. The pilot couldn't get out, and people couldn't get close enough to help him. They just had to stand and watch it burn.
Everyone in one way or another had a part in the War. Long days were spent in the fields to produce food. We made do with what we had.
Liberal was a small town, and the housing shortage was terrible. People lived in chicken houses. It is too bad that some people took advantage and charged terrible rent. Finally the government passed a rent control program.
It was a happy day when the War was over.
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.