Before the War
  War Begins
  Going to Work
  War Comes Home
  Daily Life
  The War Ends



This man is preparing his car for driving during a blackout by painting his headlights black. Photo Credit: Corbis Images

Things changed after the war began. We had to do many things to secure the safety of our country, especially since we were on the East coast. The East and West coasts were especially scared of air raids. It was thought that the coastline would be the first target for enemy planes coming over from Europe or the Pacific. We turned off all lights when the air raid sirens went off. We painted car headlights halfway down with black paint to keep the light from reflecting into the sky so that they could not be seen by enemy aircraft. The lights on the boardwalks at the Jersey Shore were painted black on the ocean side so that enemy ships could not see the shore.

My uncle became a plane watcher as part of the Civil Defense. He would go to a tower on the Staten Island shore with his binoculars and look for enemy planes. He taught me how to listen for planes without seeing them — something I still do till this day.

Things changed at my school as well. We could no longer study German, which I would have liked, since my heritage is German. And now we had to take two war courses — Morse code and meteorology. I particularly liked meteorology and could have been the first weather woman if I had stuck with it.

Another change was that gasoline was rationed to two gallons a week. Some jobs like priests, ministers, and doctors had a higher allocation of gas because it was important to their work. But the rest of us had to be careful about how much driving we did.

Think About It
Why do you think Morse code and meteorology were considered important for the war effort?