Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Post: Recollections of World War II

Doris and John Larson

Over the course of this year, we will sporadically feature stories on World War II from local Dickinson County residents, interviewed and written by Amy Feigley. 

The year was 1941. People were doing the East Coast Swing to Tommy Dorsey, the Andrew Sisters and Glenn Miller. Citizen Kane and Here Comes Mr. Jordan were drawing crowds to the movie theaters. Life was grand for all until that fateful Sunday in December when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Life suddenly changed for everyone. 


For Doris Larson, helping with the war effort back home was something that she proudly did. She started working at Ehrsam’s in Enterprise at the end of 1943. “We got used to working a certain shift and then got rotated. I learned to run a lathe and a flange machine for a plane” says Doris. “I then worked in the drafting room and started to draw the legs for the elevators and punch boards.” 

Doris (Hoover) Larson enjoyed reminiscing about her high school days, when she met John (her future husband) and life was great. “We met at the fair in Abilene one night” says Larson. “When we were back at school, Glen Dalton passed me a note from John saying that he wanted a date with me. His parents were going to be in California and he was going to have a party. I knew that would not turn out well, so I didn’t go.” 

Fast-forward to 1941, for 20 year old Doris, this day would be embedded in her memory forever. “John was in the service and more and more men were being called into the service, including my brother Dale” says Larson. John was stationed in Olathe, then went to Virginia for training camp, then was off to San Diego, California and was eventually sent overseas to Okinawa, Japan, where he was a mine sweeper. 

While stationed, John was granted leave and returned to Olathe. On March 12, 1944, he and Doris were married. She took a leave of absence to be with her husband. When he returned overseas, she returned to Ehrsam’s and lived with her sister and brother-in-law Miriam and Loren Nichols. 

In 1945, John was granted another leave, this time to San Diego, California. Doris hopped on a train and joined him. Like most wives, she was anxious for the war to end and for her husband to return home. She eventually got her wish. 

When the war ended, Doris was pregnant with her daughter Susie. She was still working at Ehrsam’s, but left the company three weeks before Susie was born. John returned home from overseas on December 15, 1945 and eight days later on December 23rd, daughter Susie was born. Doris had many concerns when John returned home, such as where they were going to live and what was John going to do. John and Doris eventually rented a home near his folks and he began farming with his father. “We made that little house as homey as possible. There was no electrical power at all. We had a lamp from John’s grandmother that we used, as well as a lantern” said Doris. 

That next spring, Doris was anxious to plant a garden. John had borrowed a walking horse and plow and made a garden space for her. They eventually bought cattle from a neighbor so they would have milk, cream and butter and family members brought them pullets so they could have eggs. 

“Things are much easier now than they were back then. We did not have the conveniences that we do now. But, I would not have changed a thing.” Doris and John were married for 59 ½ years before he passed away. They raised two daughters together and shared a life of love and happiness, through good and bad times.