Second World War: Scrap Metal Drive

Iowan remembers a scrap metal drive she participated in while a college student during the Second World War.

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During the Second World War, I was a college student at the Central University of Iowa, there to obtain an elementary teaching degree. 

As girls stood in line near dormitory mailboxes, there were often shouts of joy, intimate smiles and heart-breaking tears. We waited patiently, and prayed for any kind of a letter, note, post card or picture from our classmates, boyfriends and brothers who were serving in the U.S. military forces far away.

There was much excitement when a weekend leave was permitted. There was also great disappointment when shipping-out orders were announced, many times to an unknown destination. We said fond farewells, never knowing where, when, or if we would be together again.

One day our college classes were dismissed for a citywide scrap-metal drive in Pella, Iowa. There were not many young men left in college; they had enlisted or been drafted for active military service.

I was one of the droves of girls who walked the city streets, knocking on every door asking for any scrap metal.

We collected such things as old kitchen utensils, clocks, pans, skillets, tools, irons, buckets, toasters, coffeepots, waffle makers and even children's toys!

We met trucks at some of the intersections in Pella and deposited whatever we had been given. Toward the end of that day, the trucks dumped their load of various metals all in one scrap-pile near the railroad tracks. There it could soon be re-loaded into a railroad car to start the journey to be transformed into more useful war materials.

As a loyal group of C.U.I. students, we girls gathered 'round that ugly pile of old metal and gave thanks to God. We asked him to please "bless these bits," and speed them on their way - to help bring for everyone a future, a better day.

Hope C. Robinson
Yale, 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.