Second World War: Students Sacrificed Much for the War Effort

Iowan remembers students giving up pastimes and opportunities to help the war effort during the second World War.

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An ominous air lingered over our country when I entered high school in 1941 as a green freshman just out of country school. The second World War had gone on for two years, and we wondered if and when we would be drawn into the War. Our chosen radio program on the afternoon of December 7 was interrupted with the news that the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor! We were at war! 

Life for the next four years was to be radically different than what I had anticipated. We were deprived of many things because of shortages, especially the gas shortage, but our patriotism and our feeling of doing something toward the war effort made up for it.

One by one, male teachers were drafted or enlisted, until we had only three older men teachers. Women took their places, but it was impossible to find a football coach. Our superintendent became the official coach, while a young man who worked at the post office was the acting coach. He led our team to victory after victory.

One of our class members left school in his junior year to enlist in the Army. He was killed in action, and we attended his funeral shortly before our graduation.

We had no field trips, no annual; our music and sports contests were held at schools close by. We got on the Greyhound bus downtown to go shopping in other towns. But we survived. What a feeling of ecstasy when V-E Day was proclaimed in May and V-J Day in August of 1945. We could start to get back to normal.

Jeanette Larson
Story 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.