Since it is Memorial Day this weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to share another story about a veteran from our Oral History collection today. Leo-LaVonne Carr shares this story about learning code and the end of World War II:
“[W]e lived in an apartment. We…five miles from where we worked and this lieutenant and his brother lived in the same apartment building so when they would call them they would run down and they’d get me and we’d go down to the signal corps and decode it you know. So the….very day before the day was over with the Japanese we decoded it and we got the message that five o’clock the next day the war would be over. So we had to make up messages to ever tributary all over the whole United States….the Marines, the Navy, the Army…the everything. But we couldn’t tell anybody. They locked us in there and we was in there all night and all day and even the girls that worked daytime, they couldn’t come to work. They had to go back home ‘cause we was getting all this stuff ready you know. And so at five o’clock that night we had all these empty tapes. We had the policemen were this way. The teletype…or telegraph company was this way and the fire station was this way and down below us was the radio station and we took empty tapes and we threw it out and we said the war was over. Well all those tapes got caught on the streetcars and the buses and the messages just went through just like that. Well then we sent the message to Fort Leonardwood and all the smaller places where they had the service guys and they stole the jeeps, knocked the fence down, stole the trucks, came to Saint Louis and you could buy booze in any drugstore and everybody got drunk and the roads were wider than this kitchen and by the time we got all the messages sent out and could go home all these people hanging on each other drunk, going up and down the street singing and then all the bands came to the big park right in the middle of Saint Louis town…the city of Saint Louis and they played and everybody was dancing. Everybody was drunk and I was dead on my butt.”
It sounds like it was one of the biggest celebrations anyone has seen all over the country, but unfortunately for Leo he was too exhausted to join in! You hear a lot of similar stories about parties happening in the streets when the news was announced (and even a few famous pictures). Most of you readers are probably too young to remember the end of World War II, but do you have any other stories (or maybe stories from your parents and grandparents) about the end of different wars? Let us know in the comments, and join us next week for another Hometown Heritage blog!