Scenes from a Life - Ruths Story - Second Installment
The year: 1942
Another round of correspondence between Ogontz School and Ogontz White Mountain Camp staff to Ruth’s father. This time, I’ve included some historical context as well.
Ruth is 16 years old.
The United States has just declared war on Japan in December 1941.
February 1942 – President Roosevelt signs an executive order to remove Japanese Americans from their homes and send them to internment camps. The first of ten internment camps opens in March, 1942, in Manzanar, CA.
March, 1942 – a group of African American men, later nicknamed “The Tuskegee Airmen”, graduate from military flight training school at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and become the 99th Fighter Squadron. No white military commander will accept them, so they won’t be deployed until a year later.
April 11, 1942 – letter from Ogontz School’s Abby Sutherland to Ruth’s father:
“Again comes the time for us to make plans for the coming year – Ruth’s final year in High School, although that seems hardly possible. Taking everything into consideration, we feel that Ruth has made good progress and that she is “growing up” with many of the qualities we wish so earnestly for her. We hope you are reasonably pleased and satisfied with her progress and development, although we think her record could be improved and we are all striving earnestly to make it come up to your and our ideals for Ruth.”
April 28, 1942 – President Roosevelt addresses the nation via radio, reminding them that, “There is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States—every man, woman, and child—is in action, and will be privileged to remain in action throughout this war. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives, and in our daily tasks.” He also said, “more money than has ever been spent by any nation at any time in the long history of the world,” would have to be spent, “to build the factories, to buy the materials, to pay the labor, to provide the transportation, to equip and feed and house the soldiers, sailors and marines, to do all the thousands of things necessary in a war.”
May, 1942 – mandatory gas rationing begins on the east coast of the US, primarily to deter people from driving their cars so they wouldn’t wear out the rubber tires. The military needs all available rubber, and most of the countries that had supplied rubber to the US are now under Japanese control.
June 12, 1942 – A young Jewish girl in Amsterdam named Anne Frank receives a diary for her 13th birthday.
June, 1942 – The US Navy defeats the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle of Midway – a key turning point in the Pacific front of the war.
June 24, 1942 – letter from Ruth’s father to “Miss Gentry” at Ogontz School to notify them that Ruth plans to attend Ogontz White Mountain Camp (in New Hampshire) for the summer and will arrive at North Philadelphia train station on June 29th. (NOTE: apparently Ruth was to travel with other Ogontz students and/or staff from Philadelphia up to New Hampshire for camp. Something else I’ll have to research.)
June 27, 1942 – New York Times, page 5 article reports that 700,000 Jews have been killed by the Nazis, going on to say that “To accomplish this, probably the greatest mass slaughter in history, every death-dealing method was employed—machine-gun bullets, hand grenades, gas chambers, concentration camps, whipping, torture instruments, and starvation.”
June 30, 1942 – New York Times, page 7 article titled “1,000,000 Jews Slain by Nazis”
July 6, 1942 – Anne Frank and her family go into hiding in Amsterdam
July 6, 1942 – postcard from Ogontz White Mountain Camp staff member, Dorothy W. Wurts, to Ruth’s father:
“Ruth has enjoyed her horseback riding during the past week. She has passed many of the canoeing tests and is working on her tennis strokes. I am so glad to have Ruth in my cabin this summer.”
July 13, 1942 – another postcard from Dorothy Wurts to Ruth’s father:
“Ruth has worked hard during the past week on her endurance in canoeing. She is enjoying her riding and is making new friends.”
July 20, 1942 – another postcard:
“Ruth is working hard on her tennis strokes and is enjoying her horseback riding. She is trying to improve her paddling.”
Summer of 1942 – The half-hour radio program, “Your Hit Parade”, sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes, played each week’s most popular/best-selling songs every Saturday night. Programs in 1942 featured songs by Glenn Miller, Kate Smith, Bing Crosby, Harry James, Johnny Mercer, Dinah Shore and Tommy Dorsey.
Summer of 1942 – US Air Force decides to join Britain’s “strategic bombing campaign” against Germany focused on destroying “the morale of the enemy civil population.” This is a significant shift from the military’s long-standing policy against targeting civilians in warfare, which President Roosevelt had once called “inhuman barbarism.”
August 3, 1942 – another postcard from Dorothy Wurts to Ruth’s father:
“Yesterday Ruth paddled in the War Canoe for the Brown Team and tonight she is playing the piano at our music appreciation program. She is working hard at all her sports.”
August 17, 1942 – another postcard:
“We are all glad to have Ruth back in the cabin after her absence due to the measles. She looks very well and I am watching her to see that she does not overdo.”
August 25, 1942 – Ruth turns 17 years old.
September 29, 1942 – Ruth returns to Ogontz School to begin her last year of high school . . .
Stay tuned for more of Ruth’s story as I uncover it. I’m headed to the former Ogontz School this coming week to do more research.
I welcome your ideas and suggestions for questions about Ruth’s life to try to answer through my research.
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