In a gold waitress uniform, Doris Wilson served Sunday dinner to the after-church crowd at McDonald’s Drug store in Perry, Iowa. A hint of Evening in Paris perfume always permeated the store. They sold a lot of it. She also worked at the soda fountain, but the restaurant section was always especially busy after church on Sundays.
Sammy Kaye’s Sunday Serenade provided background music over WHO Radio. A news bulletin interrupted the music: The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
“The Japs? Why would they bomb Pearl Harbor?” someone asked.
“Does this mean we’re at war?”
“Where is Pearl Harbor anyway?” asked another.
“Hawaii,” Doris said. “I’m afraid this does mean war. And my brothers are all the wrong ages.”
“How many brothers do you have?”
“Five. Donald is already in the Navy. His ship was stationed in Pearl Harbor a few months ago. He said we shouldn’t trust the Japs, and he was right.”
Thank God Donald had jumped ship a couple of weeks earlier to return to the Minburn farm to see the family. With war breaking out for real, who knew when they’d all be together again?
And thank God Danny was too young to be drafted, and Junior was still in high school at Washington Township School. But Delbert would probably be recalled by the Navy, and Dale had already registered for the draft. Donald wasn’t safe in the Atlantic either. Doris feared for all five brothers.
President Roosevelt had made a prophecy back in 1936, “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
He was right. And Doris’s premonition was right.
One by one her brothers volunteered until all five had left the Minburn farm and were in military service. That generation of the Wilsons, having endured poverty during the worldwide Depression, was destined to suffer the anguish of losing three brothers during a world war.
The family’s WWII story is told in Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II. It’s the story behind the five brothers featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa.