Today marks the 81st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, when Japan attacked the U.S. Naval Base in Hawaii, historically known as the entrance of the United States into World War II. Today, we honor and remember all of those who lost their lives during the attack.

As it has been 81 long years since this event occurred, there are few people still with us who remember what life was like at this pivotal time in American history. We spoke to one man who does remember, Husted Lynn, who was only four years old at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but still has vivid memories of this point in time. 

His memories taught us a few things we did not know about mid-Michigan during World War II, for example, that the Owosso Speedway was a prisoner-of-war camp at that time.

Lynn was too young to fight in the war, but his older brothers, brother-in-law, and cousins did fight in the war. The following are his vivid memories of what was happening in his backyard, where he stayed home to tend his family's farm, while our country was at war. We invite you to share your own memories or family history associated with this day in the comments.

Interview

“Japan attacked Pearl Harbor there in Hawaii and World War II started for the USA 81 years ago. I remember it well, but I was only about four years old.

Edward, my eldest of five brothers, was the only one that was old enough to go in the military at the time and my brother-in-law Junior volunteered a little bit later. Junior actually ended up serving under General Patton. Even though we were too young to go into the military, we were ready to whoop ass! Anyway, a lot of my cousins also went into the military, the Navy, the army, and Marines. 

Back then, it was hard to get tires for a vehicle. If you had a vehicle, people would put rags or sawdust in the tires so they could drive them because rubber at that time was for the military.

I remember the government would come around and confiscate chickens, hogs, and other livestock to feed the military. Sometimes they would only leave one rooster and maybe two hens for you to start off again. Sugar, coffee, lard all kinds of things like that were rationed. I still have some of my dad's ration books.

They even made a movie with the Little Rascals, an adaptation of Hal Roach’s Our Gang short film comedy series, of kids collecting scrap metal and junk for the military. Back then, if you didn't want anything taken you put it under lock and key in your corn crib or your Smokehouse. You even had to watch your wire fence because people would come out at night time and cut the fence and steal it to sell it. If you had bigger families, you got more rations. A lot of families would trade ration stamps. We were very fortunate we lived on a farm because we could raise a lot of our food.

Just before my brother Edward got his draft notice, he had appendicitis and he got a deferment for 8 weeks and then they took him into the military and made a cook out of him when he was sent to Hawaii. His next stop would be North Africa, they already had issued those plastic goggles for the sand, but he was very fortunate—he did not see battle.

Pennies in 1943 went to steel as they used the copper for bullets.

I remember Joe said women’s nylons were not made anymore so they could use the material for parachutes. Nylon was put on ration, so the women started shaving their legs and using eyebrow pencil to make a line up the back of their leg to make it look like they had nylons on.

And World War II we even sent troops over to Cambodia to protect China from Japan. Uncle Lionel was in the Marines and served in the South China Sea and then, when we got into the war with Germany, they would send German prisoners to POW camps all over the United States. We had one about five miles from us. Then after the war was over, they give the prisoners a choice: they could go back to Germany, or stay in the United States, and a lot of them became citizens. That’s why the United States is made up of a lot of different nationalities. 

This is all why people from my generation keep things so long. You get to thinking, “well, I might need that later!” I have to laugh now because I remember even you kids would come over to the house and say, “Dad if you got this or that…” and I'd go out and find it no charge!”

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