Keith’s Corner

Daily Life in WWII

By Keith Gibson

Daily life in WWII was a lot different than in today’s world.  We youngsters in K-6 during the war years were very aware of the world situation.  We had lectures on the threat of invasion, enemy infiltration and sabotage.

I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of the McGill Sheriff’s office watching a high, altitude balloon passing overhead.  The sheriff let several of us boys use his binoculars to get a better look.  These balloons were launched from Japan and were designed to catch the jet stream across the Pacific Ocean and then come down over the US.  They carried incendiary bombs to start fires.  The intent was to catch our forests on fire.  Several people were killed, but did very little damage to our forests.  The military had several air bases along the northern California/Oregon coast with fighter planes to shoot the balloons down.

We were warned not to touch them at all. We grade schoolers were involved in the war effort in several ways. Many folks thought we kids were weird because we walked around with our heads down all the time.  We weren’t weird, we were supporting the war effort by scanning the ground for small pieces of tinfoil or string.

We carried small balls of tinfoil and string in our pockets.  Any scrap of either was added and later turned in to the authorities.

After the war was over we found out that the tinfoil scraps were dropped from our bombers as chaff to confuse enemy radar.

We had to cut the bottom out of tin cans, put both lids inside and then flatten the can.  The cans were put in a box by the garbage can and later picked up by KCC.  They put the cans in large troughs in a building (we called the leaching plant), just below McGill on the tailings. There were pools of blue and green water close by the bldg. This water contained copper sulfate.  The water was used to fill the troughs.  The iron in the cans was replaced by copper thru a leaching process. Thus pure copper was produced.

Tin cans in those days had paper labels and these were peeled off and put in a box with other paper for the so-called paper drive.  We recycled everything many years before it became fashionable. We boys thought that it was a waste to use the cans for just storing food and leaching copper. There had to be some way to use them for a fun thing.

So, by utilizing our amazing and inventive minds and thru many complicated experiments, we arrived at a logical use for the cans.

We placed them on the ground and then carefully stepped on them in a secret manner.  The rims of the cans crimped onto our soles and we could walk around on them. It was noisy but fun.

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