I remember a day in 1942 when I hid under our dining room table for half the afternoon. They sent us home from school early that day. I suppose it was just a practice drill, but I didn’t hear the “practice” part. I was convinced that enemy bombers were on the way.
Nobody was home. My father was at work, and I don’t know where my mother was. Maybe having coffee with a neighbor lady. When she came home and found me under the table, she took me by the hand and hauled me out. “Why in the world would they bomb us?” she asked. It was a good question. We were two hundred miles from the Twin Cities, fifty miles from Fargo. There was nothing whatsoever to bomb in my home town, unless maybe it was the arsenal that we Lutheran kids were told was in the basement of the Catholic Church.
We all helped out with the war effort as best we could. My dad was an air raid warden. My mother and the other ladies knitted sox and sweaters for the soldiers. I saved my pennies and bought stamps, and when I had enough, I traded the stamps for a war bond. I had three twenty-five dollar bonds by the end of the war.
One day a Very Important Person came to our town, and we all went down to the high school gymnasium to hear him talk. He was the governor of our state. After his speech, he stood by the door and shook everybody's hand as we were leaving. He was a little man with a big, round head. He looked like a carnival freak. My father said he was going to be President some day. I must have made a face or something because my father looked at me and frowned. Anyone would be better than Roosevelt, he said.
Jake Barnes lives on the Left Coast with his lovely wife and three cats. He is a scribbler and an idler. He is an ancient mariner, an old-fashioned story teller. His motto is Plain English, Please.