Sunday, January 17, 2010

Memories of World War II

As I write some of these postings I am painfully aware that they are getting rather ancient.  It is information, however, that probably no one else in the family is very familiar with.

I was 4 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked.   I didn't remember much about it for awhile but by the time I was 5 or 6 I became very apprehensive about reports that were coming over the radio and conversations between neighbors and other adults in our town.   I remember being afraid that Dad would be drafted and have to go fight in the war.  He was about 30 years old and Mom hoped that would be enough to keep him home but it wasn't certain.  All of the young men from 18 - 26 or so were being drafted.  When each person was drafted the Ward would have a "farewell" party for them at the church with food and dancing.  Even though I was very young, I went to many of them.   Two of the young men that were drafted from our little town were killed and never came home.  There was a lot of sadness in the town when we were notified.  I can't remember their names but one was Worthy Becks brother and  the other was a Passey.  If any one knows their names I will edit this posting and put them in.

Every morning at breakfast time we would sit around the kitchen table and listen to reports of the war on an old radio that could barely pick up the signal.  We were not allowed to talk during breakfast because it would make it more difficult to hear the reports.   I remember hiding behind a tree, a wagon or something else whenever I would see a group of planes flying over, which happened fairly frequently.   For many months after Pearl Harbor it was expected that the Japanese would invade the West Coast and perhaps push well into the United States before they could be stopped.   In anticipation of this the Government built 2 nice runways in bottom lands between Paris and Dingle which could be used as a fall-back position in the event of such an attack.   When the runways were complete the whole valley turned out for a ceremony and a celebration.   That was the first time I had been up close to real war planes.  They did takeoffs, landings and high speed flyovers with aerobatics.  It was very exciting.   Little did I realize that 20 years later I would be in a jet fighter doing high speed dives at 500 knots over Texas.

As I look back upon that time period, it is easy to believe that the country and the people were in a state of paranoia.  I suppose we were, but communication was limited in those days.  Intelligence was not available and everyone seemed to expect  the worst.  Almost everything was rationed, gasoline, sugar, building materials etc.   The future looked bleak.  As future readers of this, don't make the mistake of judging the events and decisions of those times by the view of history  we have available today.

One day Dad and I went to the canyon to get a load of firewood for Winter.  When we came home that evening  as we entered the yard West of the house, Elsie Roberts came out of her house and called over the fence that the war was over.   I remember the  feeling of happiness that  went through us.  That night we milked the cows early and went to Paris.  There was a party going on that surpassed everything that I have ever seen in that town before or since.  The streets were blocked off and there was music in the streets and bands and dancing everywhere.  Everyone went from worry and concern about those in the war zone to joyous exuberance in minutes.   I have wondered many time where all the bands came from.  The soldiers started coming home immediately after that.  It was a good day.  I was 8 years old.

By Ellis


  1. Thanks for the great posts. I love reading and learning about Grandpa and Grandma and their young family. I had no idea the airport in Bear Lake was built for that reason.

  2. I was born the year before the Second Wrld War started for America, but it was already going on in Europe and in the Far East. I too remember those times of intent listening to the radio reports, but I was to young to really understand much of World War II as it was happening. Later, while I was on my mission in Germany I got to see a lot of the ruins from the war that still remained and I remember so distinctly talking to people whose homes had been bombed and their families ripped away from them and some who had spent terrible years in Nazi concentration camps. America is a great nation and the freedom we enjoy as well as the freedom enjoyed by nearly every free nation in the world today was paid for at a huge price by the blood of many American military personel and others who were willing to lay their life on the line for the freedom of their families, and their country as well as even the freedom of the people of nations with which we were at war. I fear we pay to little respect to their sacrifice and pray we never forget the lessons of those years.