Some Lessons from WW2

I was eight when my late afternoon kid’s program (either Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy, or Uncle Don) was interrupted by the news flash that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. Our lives from that time on rapidly changed pace and direction.

We personally had an aircraft warning station in our front yard (we lived in the foothills of a mountain a few miles west of Hartford, Connecticut) I became an expert on friendly and enemy planes (I got to assemble the model plane kits demonstrating same) and would show nervous beginners how to make the 8 part aircraft reports by phone to Washington, DC — “One, bi, high . . . ”

My father, as one of many businessmen, tried to take on an extra night factory job as a volunteer — they were dropped shortly as they were generally more nuisance then help.

Our family became one of many to plant a victory garden — the rabbits prospered as lettuce and such came up, but my mother did can and store both vegetables and fruits in season. We also adopted Butch and Betsy — a little ram and baby sheep for later meat supply. Big mistake to name animals, as they become family pets and who could eat one’s dog or cat!? They went back to where they had derived, but did a great job of trimming and fertilizing our lawn while they were with us. Tiny, our pig for a year, also went to a pig farm — was a great garbage disposal unit while he was with us. Again the family pet syndrome — have you ever experienced the happy greetings of your pig as you delivered breakfast to him?

Things that did work and which lasted for quite some time after the war were car pooling and hitchhiking. I was traveling hundred of miles as a teen by simply sticking out my thumb and picking up a ride. I had only one hand laid on my knee and told the old dude that I was getting out at the next cross road. Sadly there were some much reported violent incidents finally about hitchhikers and that practice stopped as quickly as it had begun. However, in this era of massively high gas and oil prices it seems reasonable that we might set up formal ways to arrange car pooling and rides again in those parts of the country in particular which do not have adequate public transportation. There are other things that might be figured out to reduce the burdens of the war costs and the energy emergency. We used to burn wood in our fire places to cut the amount of oil that we would use. Possibly electric heaters might help reduce heating costs by targeting areas of need in a home? They are obviously not safe with small children. But others might find them offering savings?

Enough for now. Do others have ideas here for drawing on our community resources to reduce the pain?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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