Wishing You Home - Kansas Press Association


Wishing You Home - Kansas Press Association
Wishing You Home
By Eunice Boeve
Illustrated by Michelle Meade
Chapter 4
A New President
The story so far: A letter from his dad
and a joke at the end for Bobby helps
ease their worry. Bobby learns that the
Japanese bombs on Pearl Harbor killed
his teacher’s fiancé, but she is still kind
to Lela Ann, whose mother was
Japanese. Tommy is still angry and
hurting over his loss and also afraid for
his mother who, in her grief, has
withdrawn from her family.
Just before school was
dismissed on Thursday, Mr.
Sawyer, the principal,
opened the door and called
Miss Ward out of the
Immediately, everyone
but the new girl, Lela Ann
Collins, scooted about in
their seats and talked in
whispered voices. With a
big smirk on his face, Nub
Swanson pulled out his pea
shooter, a hollow tube he
carried in his shirt pocket,
and chewing up a small
wad of paper, spit it
through the pea shooter.
The spit wad hit the back of
the new girl’s head and
rolled down to hang from a
strand of her long black hair.
Some of the kids giggled. Bobby’s
fists tightened in anger. Lela Ann Collins
never moved but went on with their
assignment of writing out their spelling
words for the test tomorrow, but Bobby
had a side view of the girl and he saw
tears drop down on her paper.
“Do it again, Nub.” He heard Tommy
whisper. “Hit her again.”
Nub let fly another spit wad, again
hitting the back of the girl’s head.
“Dirty traitor!” he hissed. Then he called
her a bunch of other names in that same
loud whisper. Some of the names were
because she looked Japanese. They knew
she had a white father, but she had to
have a Japanese mother somewhere.
Now some of the kids started saying,
“Stop it Nub!” and “Quit it!”
For one wild second, Bobby thought
to jump up and stand by the girl to
protect her, but he knew he dared not,
not when Tommy was his friend. Then
Miss Ward was back in the room and
everyone straightened up in their desks
and pretended to be working on their
spelling words.
Miss Ward started to speak, cleared
her throat and said, a slight quiver in her
voice, “Class I’m sorry to have to tell
you but our president, President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, died this afternoon.”
Stunned, Bobby heard her give
today’s date, April 12, 1945. “A day we
will always remember.”
He knew his dad placed a lot of faith
in the president. “He brought the nation
out of the Great Depression,” he’d often
heard him say, “And he’ll lead us out of
this war”
Now fear gripped him, and Miss
Ward’s voice faded until it was like the
sound of a bee or a fly buzzing around in
the classroom. Yesterday, his mom had
called him to come listen to the radio.
Usually he couldn’t bear to hear the
newsmen talk about the war, so while his
mother listened to the news, he’d go
outside or down in the basement where
only a rumble of sound reached his ears.
The newsmen often gave the number of
U.S. men killed in a battle. But although
they never gave the names of the men
who died, at least until the families had
been told, he had a fear that one would
say, “The identity of one of the dead is
known, a Robert Benton, Sr. of
Elmwood, Kansas.”
“Listen, Bobby,” his mom had said
with excitement in her face and in her
voice. “Listen! They’re saying our
soldiers are driving the Germans across
their own country and their defeat seems
certain. Maybe even within this month.”
But that was yesterday. Now
President Roosevelt was dead. Bobby
shook his head and tried to pay attention
to Miss Ward’s words. She was saying
that Vice President Harry S. Truman
would become the next president. Tears
blurred his vision and a knot tightened in
his stomach. Could this new president
end the war or would it go on for so
many years that his daddy could never
come home?
That evening while his mom made
their supper, Bobby sat at the kitchen
table and wrote to his dad about Miss
Ward’s announcement of President
Roosevelt’s death. But he didn’t write
about how Nub had shot spit wads at the
girl and called her names or what
Tommy had said to egg him on.
“Is it all right to put a joke in this
letter to Dad?” he asked, looking over at
this mother who was standing at the
A puzzled look crossed her face. “Of
course. Why would you not?”
“Because of President Roosevelt. Dad
will be sad about that.”
“All the more reason to add a joke,”
she said, giving him a quick smile.
“Maybe it will lift his spirits.”
Bobby nodded and bent over his
letter again. He wrote down one of the
jokes he had copied out of the library
book. Dad, Why did the girl racehorse
run faster at night than she did in the
He grinned as he wrote the answer at
the bottom of the page and folded it up
to hide the words.
“So,” Mom said, smiling as she
watched him fold the letter and fit it
inside the envelope with his dad’s
overseas address, “what joke did you
use? Maybe I can guess the answer.”
But she couldn’t.
He grinned and told her, “Because
she was a nightmare.”
To be continued.
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This is an original serial stoy that is written and illustrated by two Kansas women. To learn more about them, go tho their websites: www.euniceboeve.net and www.michellemeade.net