Ralph and Leona Van Dyke

Ralph Van Dyke was a young student when he heard about Pearl Harbor. He describes how his town reacted and his school grew trees for a bomb shelter.


Fear of an Attack

To begin with, I remember Pearl Harbor – December 7, ’41.  I was living in a little village, in Kennedyville [Maryland] at that time in Kent County, right up the road  here. I remember the adult people there in the town that day talking about it. They said, “My heavens, they bombed this place, this Pearl Harbor.” I don’t think many of us had ever heard of it at that time, you know?  Of course, everyone thought – especially children, when you hear the old folks talk about it – “Maybe I better go home before they bomb us here!”  They [were] going to start a war or whatever.  We had never heard of a thing like that.


Growing Trees for a Bomb Shelter

At that time in Kennedyville, when I went to elementary school there (this was going into ’42), they practiced air raid drills in the school. The elderly people thought it would be best if we put some cover or protection around the schoolyard. So they planted all these cedar trees.  Some of them are still standing today, remnants of that. And I remember when the bell rang, we were to orderly go out of the school and everybody get behind a cedar tree. Well, as we know today, one bomb would have blown the school down, and all the trees and children with it.