“If there was a ‘best part’ of being in World War II, what would it have been?” Cierra Foth asked veteran Bill Krause.
“We won,” he answered. A smattering of applause and laughter erupted from the Legacy Park residents watching the exchange.
Eleven seventh grade students from Peabody-Burns Junior High School interviewed veterans of World War II and Vietnam April 29 at Legacy Park, Peabody. The students are part of Cathy Silver’s family and consumer sciences class. They have made several trips to the care facility this semester to visit with residents, play games, and help with projects.
The students had prepared a series of questions for the veterans and they got a variety of answers.
Residents Krause and Earl Dolbow are World War II veterans and Johnny Trent is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Krause served in Europe and Dolbow was in the Pacific.
All three men told the students they made good friends in the service, but were no longer in touch with the men they fought beside.
None of the three vets had high praise for basic training, although they all agreed it was necessary to prepare them for war.
They used a wide range of personal hygiene facilities during their tours of duty and told the youngsters about the difficulty of just showering.
Trent explained the 55-gallon drum shower.
“Fill it and get in,” he said.
Krause said he felt lucky to be able to shower once a month or so.
“Usually in something we rigged up trickling out of a pipe. Cold … ” he explained.
Dolbow seemed to have the best option.
“We had the whole ocean,” he said.
Near the end of the interview Gunner Winter asked the men if they had any advice for young men and women today. As the veterans thought about their answers, Orlene Scrivner spoke from the audience.
“Don’t start a war,” she said.
The three veterans told the students that war is nothing like what they see on television. They advised the young people not to think of war as Hollywood showed it.
“That’s not how it really was,” said Dolbow. “My advice is don’t buy it.”
Roxanne Dallke, Legacy Park activity director, thanked the students for coming and invited them to visit during the summer.
“We can always use volunteers,” she said. “And the residents enjoy seeing you and visiting with you.”
Silvers said the students would use their questions and their notes about the veterans’ answers for discussion when they returned to class. They also will write an essay for their English class.
Dallke said the exchange between residents, students, and other community members is something the Legacy Park staff is working to encourage.
“We’re all in this together,” she told the students. “We’re all part of this community.”