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Wartime Childhood in Mississippi
Digital History ID 4146

Author:   Willie Morris

Annotation: Novelist Willie Morris recalls his wartime childhood in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Document: . . . [T]he teachers would exhort us with shouts and occasional slaps to finish all of our weiners and sauerkraut or our bologna and blackeyed peas. It was our small contribution to the war effort, to eat everything on our plate. Once the third grade teacher, known as the cruelest in the school, stood over me and forced me to eat a plateful of sauerkraut, which I did, gagging and in tears, wishing I could leave . . . and never come backā€¦.

The war itself was a glorious and incomparable thing, a great panorama intended purely for the gratification of one's imagination. I kept a diary on all the crucial battles, which I followed every day in the pages of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Jackson Daily News, and whenever the Allies won one of them, I would tie tin cans to a string and drag them clattering down the empty sidewalks of Grand Avenue.We never missed the latest war film, and luxuriated in the unrelieved hatred exercised for the Germans and the japs. How we hated the japs, those grinning creatures who pried off fingernails, sawed off eyelashes with razors, and bayoneted babies! The Germans we also hated, but slightly less so, because they looked more like us ....

Source: Willie Morris, North Toward Home, 20, 35.

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