KIDS WHO LEFT SCHOOL EARLY
December 7, 1941 is the day that President Roosevelt called, " the day that will live in infamy. " The Japanese
attacked Pearl Harbor and thus started World War II. For me, the next day was memorable also. I was a freshman in Avon High School
and 14 years old. A classmate who had a seat next to mine was Carl Peterson.He was absent that day . Carl was in Boston enlisting
in the Navy. He was a resident of the Lutheran Childrens home in town .
We called it the Swedish home because just about every orphan
who lived there had a name that ended in "..son." There were kids who were shy of the minimum age of seventeen who were able to join
up. Administrators of the orphanage probably felt that every kid who left was one less mouth to feed , so why not let him go.
Carl left , many of those who remained in high school were counting the months before they too could reach that magic age of seventeen
and put on a uniform. Sixteen , and a driver's license , used to be the milestone everybody looked forward to. Now it was seventeen
Avon square was the social center of the town for most males above the age of fourteen.The cold of winter or heat of summer
could not keep the guys from hanging out in front of the stores and lunch room. The first place a Soldier, Sailor or Marine would
visit when he came home on leave was the square. Their accounts of basic training helped many a prospective enlistee to choose the
branch of service that was right for him. It wasn't long before the news arrived of two early enlistees who were killed in action
, Bob Malley and John Maguire.
Parents used to display a banner in their front window to show there was someone from that home in the
service. A blue star on a red and white background could be seen in many homes. Some banners had more than one star. (The Sullivan
family from the midwest had a five star banner. When their ship, the USS Juneau, was sunk in the Pacific , the five brothers were
aboard. Life magazine had a photo of the banner when it was changed to five gold stars.)
When we walked home from school we could see
the gold stars on the banners of the Malley and Maguire houses.
When I was a senior in 1945 , I was one who left school early to enlist
in the Navy. The school thought I should get a diploma even though it was April and not June. I was told that a white sailor cap was
placed on a seat with my name at the graduation ceremony. My name was called and my father left his seat in the audience to receive
the diploma. Nobody took a photo.