Priscilla Hall was born on February 9th, 1922 in Montpelier, Vermont. She was 19 years old and a recent high school graduate when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She met her future husband through a friend. They were roommates attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. They married in 1942. Priscilla had a brother who was stationed in Europe for the British Royal Airforce in Canada. Her brother was Missing in Action for almost half a year while he was in Europe. Priscilla is now living in Chestertown, Maryland, at Heron Point.
In this interview, Priscilla shares stories on how she and her family were personally impacted by the war. She retells a story about her brother’s experience being Missing in Action as well as his military accomplishments. She recounts details on being newlywed during the war, as well as stories involving war bonds, working with her husband, having children during the war, rationing, loss and race relations.
Brother’s War Story – Landing in and Escaping Occupied France
Well, he was pilot, and I have pictures of him and so fourth. He was shot down. He parachuted and landed in France. He hid in a stack of hay for several days because they were looking for him. They knew he had come down, and finally—he was on a farm and the farmer’s wife was out in the field—he finally showed himself because he was getting hungry, I guess, for one thing, and he also had been hurt. She didn’t say anything to him. She didn’t speak English, and she went and got her husband. He came out, and he said—he had been trained evidently by the French or by the Army or whatever to ask certain questions when this happened—because he said, “Oh, you’re a spy!” Of course, my brother said, “no,” and then he said, “Well then you tell me who’s sleeping with Maggie.” And you have to give the answer, and, of course, it was Jinx which you wouldn’t know but that was an old comic. So then he knew that he was not a spy, and they took him in, fed him, and hid him for a few days. Finally, dressed him in French clothes, some of their clothes, and gave him a bicycle, and he escaped over the line into safety. He had to cross a bridge. On either side of the bridge there was a guard, a German guard. And his bike broke down in the middle of the bridge, but they came and fixed it for him. They never caught on that he was a—and he got out.
Meeting Her Husband on a Blind Date
On a blind date at Dartmouth College. I had a friend in boarding school named Adrian Brian—I mean Adrian Beck—and his middle name— we called him Skip. Then he went on to Dartmouth, and his roommate was Dave Brian. He called me one day and asked me if I would like to come out and be a date for his roommate. His roommate was looking for somebody who wasn’t a debutante. He was from Wilmington here and used to the debutante life. And he wanted a country girl, and Skip said, “Oh, I know just the one!” So he contacted me. Of course, my father said no, I couldn’t go. But then Skip wouldn’t give up. He called again, and he said, “You love to dance, and Glen Miller is playing.” And I said, “I’ll be there.” I loved to dance. So that’s how I got there. I just defied my father at age eighteen, decided I was old enough to go and do these things. And so I had to walk two miles to get to the bus to go—I didn’t dare ask my father to take me—to get to the bus to get to Hanover where the Dartmouth College is. So that’s how I met him.
Husband’s Experience in the War
My husband was in the V-12 Program, and he had to report for drill. All of the medical students had to report for drill just to keep them—because they would be going into service. We, the three wives, would go over and laugh at them as they were drilling. They were so crazy. I mean, we sort of took it as a joke except that it wasn’t any joke when I had to press all his— his uniform. I would be in tears.
So that was very difficult for you then, him having to go into the service?
Well, partly that and partly it was hard to iron the darned things!
Losing a Close Friend in the Service
Well, another thing that happened, Skip that I was telling you about that introduced me to my husband, he was the best man at our wedding and so fourth. He joined the Marines, and he went off to—and he didn’t need to. He was a brilliant man, and he was— could’ve had a nice Washington job. But, he went into the Marines and was killed on Guam. So that was a real sorrow when that happened. And I was pregnant at the time with my second child, and I said— we—my husband and I agreed that if it was a boy, we would name him Adrian Brian. And he was a boy so I have an Adrian Beck Brian in the family.
Thoughts on Japanese Internment – Then and Now
Well, I never knew about that much until after the war. During the war, there wasn’t many of— we didn’t get the news, that kind of stuff all the time coming at us. And I was so busy with other things, I didn’t spend much time with a radio. So I knew it happened, but I would guess probably, if I thought anything about it, the government knew what they were doing and so forth, and I didn’t. I now am horrified when I read about and hear about it—what happened. But at that time, you just were very accepting, assumed that they were doing the right thing.