Shirley Henderson was 13 and living with her family when Pearl Harbor was bombed. She recalls life on the homefront during the war, from being a monitor for ration cards to going to Sunshine Dairy on “Cowboy Nights” and getting the latest war news from the newsreels when she went to the movies.
Effie Erickson grew up in East Natick and graduated from Natick High School in 1938. She talks about life as a secretary and nurse’s aide during World War II, and also about her first cousins, the Liljas (five sons joined the Marine Corps; four fought in World War II; two – George and Ralph — were killed in action). She also talks about her husband, George Hall, who worked at the atomic bomb testing site at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Louise Stone spent most of her childhood in Natick, and was working as a secretary in Boston when the war began. Her husband, Edward L. Hale, was drafted into the Army and stationed near New York City. In order to be closer to him, she moved to a rooming house in New Jersey and worked as a secretary on the Manhattan Project for about a year and a half. Louise tells of her experiences in wartime New York and Boston, from commuting on the subway to rationing.
Dorothy Capone has several relatives taking part in World War II – from an uncle wounded at Anzio, to a brother who served in the Navy, a cousin-in-law who sailed on the Bowdoin looking for German submarines in the Artic, to relatives in Italy who lived in caves after the Germans took over their community.
Beatrice Wadland is a lifelong resident of Melrose; she currently lives at the home where her husband grew up. The daughter of a World War I veteran, Wadland remembers growing up during the Depression, and life on the Homefront during World War II. During the war, her husband worked for General Electric, helping develop the first jet engines.
While lying in bed at night, Thomas Hunt would hear squadrons of bombers fly over his home in New Canaan, Conn., and knew the types of planes from the engine sounds they made. This is just one of the stories Tom recollects about his boyhood days before and during World War II. He talks about his brother, Bob, who served in the Marines and was wounded at Okinawa, and about his own experiences serving the U.S. Army in West Germany during the Cold War in the 1950s.
Rose Bates was born and raised in Natick, the daughter of Italian immigrants. She has lived in Natick all her life and remembers many of the local businesses no longer in existence. During World War II, she took part in rationing programs and was a nurse’s aide. After the war she married Robert Bates, a World War II Navy veteran.
Shirley Woods graduated from Cornell University with a degree in sociology in 1943, and went to work as a project engineer at Remington Arms in New York, making $5 more per hour than her husband, a chemical engineer. She later worked at Columbia University, where she oversaw the spectrometer machine helping to build the prototype of cells for poisonous gas. They volunteered to move to Oak Ridge, Tenn., where she and her husband worked on the atomic bomb, although there was a time when she didn’t realize what the testing was for. Shirley reminisces about rationing, bonds, and how all family members did their part.
When Faith Peak was a high school student, she listened to Lowell Thomas on the radio talking about the war and Germany’s invasion of Poland. As a Senior Service (Girl) Scout, she helped the war effort by dismantling an iron fence, cleaning up the Charles River (for scrap metal and rubber tires) and recycling playing records. Her mother was the air-raid warden for their large apartment building. Faith recalls food rationing, using red or blue stamps, wearing cotton stockings because there was no nylon, and tending a victory garden. She talks all about what life was like on the home front, writing letters to servicemen, saving her salary to buy war bonds, and following news of the war on the radio and with movie newsreels.
Charlotte Lastnik was a civilian secretary for the Army during World War II and talks about going to area hospitals (including Cushing Hospital in Framingham) to interview former POWs. She also talks about life on the home front, from rationing and gas cards to air raid wardens. After the war she worked for several other government agencies before meeting Abraham Lastnik, who served as a PFC in a tank battalion in the war. By the time they married in 1960, he was working as a chemist and design engineer at Natick Labs. He would eventually own 12 patents for clothing he designed and tested.