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.
Dan Callanan left Malden Catholic in February 1943 to join the Marine Corps, because his father had served with the Marines during World War I. Callanan would be trained as an aerial photographer, and would serve in North Carolina, Florida and at Midway Island in the Pacific Theater.
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.
In 1942, Zecil Gravitz had just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in chemistry. She began work at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia researching “fluxes,” part of the process in building battleships. She would join the Navy WAVES in 1943, working at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and in Philadelphia as a chemist, and later as an expeditor.
Joseph Barisano joined the U.S. Army shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He spent most of his time with Military Government, driving officers around. He earned four battle stars while serving in England, France and Germany.
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.
Marcia Bloom answered the call for women to serve and spent 2 1/2 years in the Women’s Army Corps. A shy young woman, she learned how to handle herself in whatever assignments she was given, from drum corps to military police and even as part of a radar crew in Orlando, Fla. Many of her stories are humorous, although she did experience some discrimination because she was a woman. While in service she made many lifelong friends. Marcia talks about her husband, Otto Zwecher, who fled from the Nazis in Austria and became an interpreter for the U.S Army during the war, and about life in Natick after the war.