Evelyn and Orville Bruss

Evelyn Bruss was born in 1921 in Cokato, Minnesota. After graduating from high school, she moved to the Twin Cities and attended the Minnesota School of Business. During the war, Evelyn worked out of her home and also did some work as an auditor. Orville Bruss was born in 1918. During the war, he served in the Minnesota National Guard before going on active duty with the U.S. Navy stateside at the end of the war.

Evelyn and Orville married in 1947 and found a home in Minneapolis. Evelyn was active many years as a homemaker and was involved at the Christ Lutheran Church. Following military service, Orville worked as a chemist with the Metropolitan Water Control Commission for thirty-five years.

In this interview, Orville and Evelyn recall their communities during wartime. Evelyn relates how living on a farm shielded her family from changing during wartime. Orville further describes his feeling of relief once the atomic bombs were dropped and the war came to an end. Both interviewees share their shock and sadness at the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Feelings on the Atomic Bomb

OB: We danced for joy when President Truman gave the go-ahead sign to drop the atomic bomb, though it did kill a lot of civilians—but so did Pearl Harbor, kill a lot of civilians. They [the Japanese] shouldn’t forget what they had done to us on December 7.

President Roosevelt’s Death

OB: Well, he [President Franklin D. Roosevelt] was almost irreplaceable, we figured. I worshipped the guy. I voted for him all the time because he seemed to have gotten us out of the doldrums that we were facing.

TB: Was it [Roosevelt’s death] kind of a shock though?

Yes, it was a shock, ‘cause we had had him so long. I didn’t think he was going out. I don’t even know how old he was. By today’s standards, he would be a young man, I imagine. And a great speaker, those fireside chats—we just worshipped the man, I think. I looked forward to hearing him.

Draft Shenanigans

TB: Were there a lot of people who tried to escape the draft [during World War II]?

OB: Oh, definitely. Some people would be jumping off the piano to flatten their feet and taking aspirins by the handful to make their heart irregular, or whatever it is. A lot of shenanigan stuff going on. Kids tried to get away from it. Some went to Canada to escape it. But Canada, they got into it after a while, too, so there was no escaping it.

TB: In other wars, especially Vietnam, there were a lot of protests and stuff. Were there any protests or anything at this time?

OB: I can’t remember any. I think Roosevelt had such a smooth tongue [chuckles] that everything was right. You know, that we were hallowed people.

[directed to Evelyn] Don’t you think? There were no protests, were there?

EB: No, I don’t recall any.

AH: Also, because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was a lot of—.

OB: Yes, that united everybody.

AH: That really set the ball in motion towards not only mobilizing the country but getting everyone in the same frame of mind that we have to not only defend ourselves, but go get these guys [the Axis Powers] over there. We came after them.