Second World War: Soldier Boys

Illinois woman recalls passing trains full of soldier boys during the Second World War.

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During the Second World War, I was in my teens. Army trains went through our small town and stopped for a moment; the soldier boys opened windows, sometimes coming to the platforms between cars to throw out slips of paper with their names and addresses, hoping we would write. 

We knew a train was coming on a certain date, so I bought a pretty but inexpensive crepe dress. My friend's father took us to meet the train.

As we waited, there was a sudden shower. We ran for the station, but it was closed. As we went back, I found my new dress had shrunk to well above my knees, clinging like wallpaper. There were also ugly spots of dye on my slip. No soldier boy was going to see me that way, so I hid in the car. Next time we met a train, I took no chances, but wore an old, well-laundered dress.

Violet Beard
Marshall, Illinois


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.