Kindergarten And World War II

I can’t claim much knowledge about this.

But the connection is there.

As a very small child I spent two years attending a Catholic school for preschool and kindergarten.  My brothers would have been in kindergarten when I was in preschool.  When I was in kindergarten I would have attended the school without a sibling in attendance.  The only time in my entire school attendance that I would not have had at least one if not three, four or maybe five siblings in the same school with me at the same time.   This has nothing to do with the story, it’s just another twist.

I can’t say I  have a huge connection to World War II when I think of my preschool years.  I was born long after the  war.  My acquaintance with the war is through history and meeting the veterans through my work.

I have few reminiscences of those very young years of mine.  I thought it a pleasant memory to recall our bus driver picking me and my brothers up in his Cadillac on the way to school instead of using the bus so he didn’t have to come back our way with the bus to get us.   I recall my cousins attended the school.  I recall a climbing concoction made in the shape of a dome, one could climb all the way to the top, over and back down.  I remember a lady there, a nun?  Or a nun in training?  Who was holding a steak to her chest.  Why?  I have no idea.  I just remember it.  I would be ever so grateful if there was someone else who could tell me what that was all about.  Truth be told, I was 3, 4 and 5 years old.  I’m lucky to have any recollections at all.

Over the years I had heard rumor that Tokyo Rose resided at this school.  Yes.  That Tokyo Rose from World War II.  I was too young and wouldn’t have known.  But I started looking in to it.

I can find no evidence of Tokyo Rose ever residing there.

But I did find out why such rumors existed.

There is truth to the story.  There is a story.  Right war.  Wrong traitor.

Axis Sally was the convicted traitor from World War II who resided at the school.

I pulled up  her picture.  I wanted to immediately say I recognized her.  But I can’t.  But, I also can’t say she isn’t familiar.  I can’t help but wonder.   Did she teach me music?  Did I talk to her?  Did she talk to me?  I was there.  She was the music teacher for kindergartners.  What was she like?  What did the nuns think?  Was she nice to the children?  Did the children trust her?  I know it sounds a little silly, but that kind of matters to me.   How did a convicted traitor ‘get’ to teach children?  Why did the federal government think that was a good idea?  I am reading conflicting reports.  Some of what I read suggest she did what she did, against her beliefs, and to stay alive.  Other things I read disagree, siting her own beliefs and life choices were what took her to where she was during the war, against America and American allies.

Like I said, I have no real knowledge of this.  But my life briefly crossed paths with a character from a time in history that still haunts and torments this world.  I can’t help but wonder about it.  Our paths crossing may not have altered either of our lives.  But now ….. I can’t help but look back.

Kindergarten Me

Kindergarten Me

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48 thoughts on “Kindergarten And World War II

  1. Nice bling for kindergarten! And how lucky you were to only have spent two years in the halls of Catholic schooling. I still have physical and social scars from the Sisters of Mercy (although we called them Our Ladies of the Halogen Lamps) and Christian Brothers (who next to the Jesuits were almost as brutal). Consolation: at least you didn’t have the Enola Gay parked on the playground!

    • Oh Eric. 🙂 Sorry for your sorrows! But I actually attended more Catholic education. From first grade all the way through high school graduation. I must have been much more fortunate than you. I had good experiences for 99% of my religious schooling. Any bad experiences were not religious/school based at all. One nun did slap my hand with a ruler. I still am not sure why….it was not a typical manner of treatment on her part, and I was not a ‘bad’ child. It’s not like I saw kids getting hit or nuns acting mean. That was a one time moment that is probably larger in my mind than it was. And so true….NO Enola Gay’s in the parking lot!!!!!

      • No need to be sorry. They were like washable tattoos. 🙂 But the Christian Brothers (At an all male HS) would not hesitate to slam us against lockers or chalk boards if we were deemed problem boys. And I wasn’t!! Oh yea, Sister Rosetta Stone (eighth grade principal) was a fright. We avoided her at all costs. Was it one of those rulers that had the thin metal strip embedded in its side?

        • I have a difficult time imaging you as a problem anything.

          And seriously….Sister Rosetta Stone???? 🙂

          My hand was actually slapped with the flat side. And I don’t remember it physically hurting, but the sting was in the act of it. We were all waiting to be dismissed. The entire class. Sitting. Talking quietly. My hand lying flat on the desk. My head turned to another student. And SMACK. 😦 Makes me sad for my little self. 🙂

  2. What an adorable picture!!

  3. bikebrown says:

    I had a teacher in public grade school who would smack the back of your hands with the metal edge of those rulers. Still not sure what lesson that was supposed to teach us other than big people can hit little people.

  4. Gibber says:

    Is that a dress you’re wearing? 😉

  5. That reminds me of a film I once saw, and thus comment would make a lot more sense if I could remember the name of it!! It was about seeing a war criminal in a different context. Yeah, that’s all I got. If j can remember the name of the movie, I’ll get back to you.

  6. 😀 😀 Well, at least you cross paths with history, but at such a young age! That’s a cute picture of you, Colleen. All my nice thick hair. Sigh.

  7. April says:

    The kindergarten you is quite cute! WWII fascinates me, and I read and watch as many documentaries/books about it. There is a lesson in the history, and I hope our world has learned from them. I have the same question about her teaching children. ? We never know who we will cross paths with.

    • 🙂 Thank you April.

      We don’t know who we are meeting or passing do we?

      Do you ever read Koji’s blog? His perspective is so unique. Japanese American. Family history in America and Japan during the war. It’s heart breaking, well documented with pictures and stories.

      • April says:

        No, I will though. I remember an American, who just happened to be of Japanese descent speak with our high school US History class. I can remember coming home fuming. What we did the the Native Americans was horrid enough. To learn the conditions and what we did to more fellow Japanese Americans just took me over the edge. I’m also still fuming over the treatment of black people after the Emancipation Proclamation which carries on to this day. Humankind can be cruel. I wish that wasn’t the case. I have dreams of a perfect world, know it will never happen and it is one of the things I deal with at times. If I dwell on it, I can find myself in a state that, for me, is hard to deal with on a *normal* level.

        • Koji has a very unique perspective. His family stories and stories about his friends “Old Man Jack” and Mr. Johnston are powerful. Some of them are not ‘easy’ reads though….so be careful.

  8. It wasn’t all that long ago. Darling photo of your cute self.

    • 😉 I can claim cuteness for a minute or two Paulette. 🙂 Thank you!

      The war was not all that long ago. Especially when I walk in to a veteran’s home and they sit there with their scars and stories and pictures.

  9. inmycorner says:

    First: totally cute photo – but your eyes are filled with mischief and wonder. It is not a surprise that you would spend time thinking about brushing paths with an historical character. I wonder how you would have interacted with her? Would you have challenged her – enough to change the course of her what would be history? I think that you are even curious is proof enough that you would have made a difference – and maybe changed the world? At least for her.

    • 🙂 I cannot admit to mischief. 😉

      I wonder what she thought of after the war. Being with all of the children, back in America, after seeing what she had to have seen. Being in America after saying and doing what she did. Did she do it because she was forced and was trying to stay alive? Or did she do it because it was her belief. Of course I have no idea. But what did she think. There are some books out there. And I think just because of this very small connection, I am going to get them. I am curious.

  10. Kentucky Angel says:

    I have read and heard my own stories about Nazi’s and Pope Pius XII. They turned me off a lot about the Church, but now with Pope Francis I’m beginning to hope again. As for WWII, it fascinates me, probably because I had 3 uncles and 1 aunt over there. My aunt was a nurse, stationed in England, 2 of the uncles were mess sergeants, and the 3rd uncle was in the infantry, fighting his way from North Africa up to Berlin. I remember the day the war ended, although I was only 3 1/2 years old at the time, but I can remember that day as if it was yesterday. And I agree, your photo is beyond cute Colleen. I’m wondering about the steak Sister had clutched to her chest though. I was taught by Ursulines and I don’t think they ever had steak. It’s a funny mind picture though.

    • Yes, the steak image sticks in my head. I have no idea why I remember that. But I do. She was wearing a white blouse. I can ‘see it’ but have no idea what it is I am remembering.

      I have met many a men and women who served in WW II and their connection to it is much deeper than mine. I think this just brings me a little closer to their world. In my thinking any way.

      • Kentucky Angel says:

        I have to laugh at the steak image. The white blouse could mean she was a novice, and maybe she was the cook as well as teacher. That would definitely stick in a child’s head, and even mess with your mind.

        Only one of my uncles ever talked about the war, and the things he talked about had more to do with his volunteering to take over as mess sergeant only if he could cook the things he liked, than the actual war. I have photos of them when they met up in Paris, then again in Berlin. The one in the infantry had 3 platoons killed around him, was the only survivor, so he came home with some horrible issues that even his kids don’t know about. Those are some of my mom’s memories I’ll never post.

        • Yes, the steak thing…..it just doesn’t have a handy explanation.

          And your uncle? I get it. Some of the things I have heard make me completely understand why our soldiers do not want to tell their families anything. The burdens they carry are more than I can understand. My heart aches for all of this.

  11. markbialczak says:

    It’s a compelling bit of history to wonder about, Colleen, for our country and little you. I love the photo of my kindergarten buddy. 🙂

    • 🙂 Thanks MBM. 🙂

      It is fascinating to me. Makes me want to learn more. My uncle was sharing more information with me that, again, makes me want to learn more. About people brought over after the war, and placed in America……

  12. lexiesnana says:

    I am in envy that your memory is so good. This is fascinating.

  13. reocochran says:

    This is so interesting. Great questions, too. No answers from me, who loves history and knowledge of facts… Your kindergarten you is adorable! I have a photo with short hair as a young girl of first grade I think which resembles you! If we get together for coffee someday, I shall bring my photo and we can ‘pretend’ we knew each other, since we certainly do now! Hugs to you, Colleen for wondering…

  14. niaaeryn says:

    Wow! I would want to know the same too. How was she with the kids? Truth be told no one will ever know really if she did what she did to survive or otherwise?
    Nice pic! I only was in Catholic school very very briefly and only recall angry older women and the uniforms…no hitting students when I went.

    • I hope to get the books about her. I’ve read a few “notes” about her that speak highly of her ‘character’ after the war. But I also read some articles of her where she was not thought of well at all of course, because of the war. What a conflict… I just can’t help…. how did the children respond to her without knowing any of this? And the parents? It appears the nuns, according at least to the article accepted her in to their school.

  15. Mustang.Koji says:

    First of all… What are you wearing? And is that a girlie, dangly think on your wrist? 🙂

    As for Tokyo Rose… Did you know she got the weekends off? More importantly, there were about a dozen “Tokyo Rose’s” that were broadcast. Iva Toguri is just the one most associated with the name. Pretty much after the war, the was a male Allied counterpart, Tokyo Mose.

    So… moral of this. There were several Axis Sally’s… Perhaps you may recognize one after all. 🙂

    • Yes I know there were more than one Tokyo Rose and at least two names associated with Axis Sally. “This” Axis Sally, Mildred Gillars, was tried and found guilty of treason and spent time in prison, twelve years seems to be the consensus on everything I read. She was the ‘one’ most associated with “Axis Sally”. I’ve found where Iva Toguri was granted a presidential pardon, but I have not yet found where Mildred Gillars was granted any such pardon.

      And I am not responsible for any girly things my mom made me wear as a child. 🙂

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