World War II

December 7, 1941

... I learned ten years later...

by Ann Robbins Talbot

I do not remember the day. I was a second grader and my father was trying to recover from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of thirty-three. The war began in December and my father passed away in March. My mother remarried a year later and we came from Stoneham to Melrose. I guess I was fighting my own personal battles adjusting to a new family while the war went on.

I do remember buying defense stamps at school and helping to do the math on Stamp Day. I remember stepping on the tin cans, and standing in line to buy white margarine and kneading the color into it. We had some extra food stamps because my brother joined the Navy but no extra gasoline. I remember the dark curtains, the air raids, my stepfather's hard hat as a warden. I remember the fascinating pictures in Life magazine and the thin paper of the Vmail. And I remember the end of the war with hymns being played on the radio.

When I became a junior at Melrose High nearly ten years later, our history teacher, Miss Garden, took a year's exchange in Hawaii. Subsequently our teacher was a lovely Hawaiian lady who, as a teenager, had witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor from her home in the hills. She really sparked our interest in a war that we hadn't understood as children. I became particularly interested in the internment of Japanese-Americans. That year the war films became available and I remember going to see them day-after-day after school in the MHS auditorium.  

I was just too young to remember the actual day.

December 7, 2007

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