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The setting of each story is
noted below its title. In
cases where the exact year
is not known, “c.” (circa)
indicates that the year given
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Stories on this page:

1. A Courageous
Soldier (1939)
Alexander Baszczij
New Jersey, USA

2. Stuck in the
(early 1940s)
Hannah Myers
Ohio, USA

3. Pop! (c. 1940s)
Madison Kirkwood
Alabama, USA

4. Flag of Freedom
Ellie Guyader
Alabama, USA

5. Knock ’em Out
Jeff Dicker
Missouri, USA

6. A Lucky Save
Michelle Favichia
New Jersey, USA

7. Ocean Waters
Amanda Diamond
Missouri, USA

8. The Uncontrollable
Mare (c. 1942)
Karleen Alma Kolar
Nebraska, USA

9. Extreme Makeover:
Statue Edition
(c. 1943)
Caitlin Magruder
Missouri, USA

10. Warning:
Crocodiles Ahead
(c. 1943)
Joe Sandahl
Idaho, USA

11. A Close Call
(c. 1943)
Isaac D. Aderman
Michigan, USA

12. Oranges on the Beach
(c. 1943)
Caitlin Harper
Idaho, USA

13. The Big Different
Keyonnia Austell
Missouri, USA

14. Jumping Wonders
(c. 1944)
Aleesha Shi
Missouri, USA

15. Hero (1945)
Shannon Flynn
Missouri, USA

16. The Independence
War of Israel (1948)
C. Abraham Rosenthal
Colorado, USA


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stories from the Volume 6
anthologies as well as
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Grannie Annie, Vol. 6, and Grannie Annie, Vol. 6 Expanded
Stories Dated 1939 – 1948

A Courageous Soldier

southern Poland; 1939

I hadn’t seen my family in months. Hitler’s soldiers hadn’t come within miles of Poland yet. “So why should I stand here?” I thought to myself in the burning heat, morning to night every day. It was September 1, 1939, and it was going to be the hottest day in September. That’s when I decided I was going to take off my uniform. Then, right when I took off my uniform — BAM! A shot came out of nowhere. Everyone ducked and looked at each other as if they were wondering what was going on. But everyone knew.

BAM! Then came another shot and another. Next thing we knew, we saw German soldiers marching toward us. We fought until we were out of ammunition, but after the last bullet was shot, I was captured along with my partner. All the other soldiers had been captured also, but then killed. Since we had taken off our uniforms, the soldiers thought we were regular townsmen passing by when the fight had begun.

My partner and I were sent to a concentration camp on the other side of Poland. But as we were transported there, I made a plan with my partner to escape. There was another man who tried to escape, but he died when the Germans opened fire at him. When my partner and I jumped out of the train, the soldiers opened fire at us. I was fortunate enough to escape, but my partner wasn’t. He was shot in the back three times. I ran to the woods as fast as I could, not knowing what was happening to my partner. I looked back and saw him lying dead on the ground. We had agreed that if one of us died, we would leave him behind. So I went on with my journey back home.

I walked two weeks in the woods, hoping no one would catch me. I walked during night and sheltered during day. I hunted small animals like squirrels and picked edible mushrooms. It was important I picked the right ones with the sponge-like bottom, or I could have been dead.

Once I reached my home, everything seemed normal except two things: I could not see my child playing outside or smell my wife’s cooking. I went inside my home and could not believe what had happened. The Nazis had taken my wife and my daughter. My heart was broken. “Why me?” I asked myself. “Why me?” I decided to go back and fight again, after I thought about what the Nazis had done. Once the war was over, I found out that my family had been killed in the concentration camp and there was no hope of seeing them again.

I later found another woman and married her. She was a fine woman who knew how to cook and take care of a family. Well, she had taken care of four younger siblings. We had five kids together — one son and four daughters.

Alexander Baszczij, great-grandson of Vincent Skora, the narrator; New Jersey, USA


Stuck in the Quicksand

near Clio, Michigan, USA; early 1940s

My great-aunt Dolores spent a large part of her childhood living on a family farm. During World War II her mother had to work in a factory, and food was rationed* in the city. Father went to war. Dolores was sent to the farm so she would have enough food and would not be alone while Mother was at work.

There was a small lake on the farm, which Dolores liked to swim in. The lake had an area of quicksand, and Dolores was not allowed in the lake. She would have to sneak in order to swim. She avoided the quicksand and just got in and out of the lake on a beach area that did not have quicksand.

One day while Dolores was swimming, two horses wandered to the lake for a drink. Dolores saw the horses walking toward the area with quicksand, but she was already in the water. By the time she swam to the safe beach and ran toward the horses, they were already stuck in the quicksand. They struggled too much and began to sink lower. Dolores ran to the house to get help. By the time the men ran down to the lake, the horses were already too stuck to rescue.

Dolores then had to explain why she was wet and in her bathing suit.

Later that same summer a farm worker was driving a tractor along the hill by the lake. He hit a tree stump, and the tractor turned on its side and began to roll down the hill. The worker jumped out, but the tractor landed in the quicksand. Because there were no horses to pull the tractor out, it also sank in the quicksand.

After that, Dolores never swam in the lake again.

* Rationing was a system that gave citizens a fair chance to purchase their share of items that were in short supply during the war.

Hannah Myers; Ohio, USA



Carbon Hill, Alabama, USA; c. 1940s

“Pack your bags!” my grandfather Emory heard one dry summer day. His father and all of the men in his family were being sent off to fight in World War II. Emory’s mother had decided to go to his grandmother’s farm, since his father was leaving. Huddled in the car, his family drove to the noisy farm. The farm was located in rural Alabama, so it took a while to get there. It was surprisingly different without having his father along. Being the only boy in the family, Emory often felt lonely.

As they arrived at the farm, each child was given a list of chores. Emory was used to chores, but when his eyes glimpsed the extended list, he said aloud, “Holy cow!” He knew that living on this farm would be hard work.

Walking over to the chicken coops, Emory heard lots of clucking. Soon he found his wise grandmother sitting on an old stack of hay. My grandfather asked curiously, “What’s for dinner?”

Answering, his grandmother said, “You’re looking right at it.”

“How are we going to kill them?” my grandfather said nervously.

“First,” declared his grandmother, “we have to pop their necks.”

Picking up a chicken, his grandmother said, “You might have trouble with this.” As she swung the chicken, its feathers drifted to the ground. Astonished, my grandfather heard a loud pop!

He said, “I think I will give it a try.” Hastily, he bobbled the shaggy chicken upright. Swinging the chicken back and forth, he listened for the key sound. But it never came.

“It takes practice,” chuckled his grandmother.

When it came time for dinner, Emory was starving. He had worked hard on his chores that day. He was also disappointed because he had not been able to get the chicken’s neck to pop.

Months passed, and Emory spent much of his time in the chicken coops. “Hallelujah!” he shouted one evening. Again he shouted, “I’ve done it!” Emory ran excitedly back to the house to tell his grandmother. She congratulated him and tucked him into bed.

A few weeks later his family received a letter from his father. His father was coming home. Emory felt his heart jump. He could not wait to see his father. Emory said his goodbyes to his grandmother and headed home to meet his father. When he arrived home, his father was waiting for him. He ran up to him and gave him a huge, loving hug. At dinner that night he told his father about how he had learned to pop a chicken’s neck. His father was exceedingly impressed. Emory enjoyed having his father home. At last he could spend quality time with his father.

Madison Kirkwood; Alabama, USA


Flag of Freedom

Landerneau, Finistère, France; 1940s

Do you know anyone who would risk his or her life just to have a simple flag? Well, I do. My French grandfather and his sisters and mother made a flag during the French Resistance in World War II. His mother and sisters sewed it illegally.

Pierre, my grandfather, was just about nine years old when the Nazis invaded France. It was terrifying for such a young boy. He did not understand what all the Germans were doing there and what the black “spider” on a red flag meant.* (It was really called a swastika.) All he knew was that the Nazis caused his parents to get worried.

When the United States joined the war, France had hope. Now they had the powerful United States Army fighting for them with the French and British armies. To celebrate this, Pierre’s family went secretly into their tree house, even though the Nazis were down the street. The family had saved up rations** and money for a very long time and finally bought red, white, and blue fabric and began sewing the Stars and Stripes together. They knew very well that they were risking being captured and sent to concentration camps by making this flag. Pierre, being the only boy, was keeping watch. The whole time they were sewing the flag together, nobody outside the family went into the tree house, and the family was never found out.

When the war was finally over, Pierre took the flag out, and many years later he came to the United States and showed it to everyone in my American family, including my American grandfather, to whom Pierre gave the flag. When he brought the historic flag to us, the once-bright red, white, and blue colors were very faded. The once-white stars had a yellow, bleached look to them. One side of the flag had more stars on it than the other. With its faded colors and wonderful story, we could tell that the flag belonged in a museum. Anything with a story like that deserves a place in a museum.

Eventually, my grandfather did donate it to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, where it is today. Most people would not think a faded, ripped flag would be of any importance, but no matter what anybody says, I will never stop being so proud of Pierre — the lookout and my grandfather.

* The flag of Nazi Germany included a black swastika in a white circle on a red background.
** Rationing was a system that gave citizens a fair chance to purchase their share of items that were in short supply during the war.

Ellie Guyader; Alabama, USA


Knock ’em Out

St. Louis, Missouri, and New York, New York, USA; 1940s

How many boxers in the world do you know that are in a Hall of Fame? Jackie Dicker or, as I call him, “Uncle Jack” is in one. Jack Dicker started training to be a boxer at the South Broadway gym in St. Louis, Missouri, when he was only seventeen years old. He trained hard by boxing the bag, sparring in the ring with other boxers, and boxing other opponents. Four years later, at the age of twenty-one, he became a professional boxer. In his whole professional career he lost only one fight, for a record of 24–1.

As a kid, Jackie had it rough. He was the youngest and shortest of four children. He was small but very tough. His parents were from Russia and split up when they came to America. This made Jackie upset, because he was a young child. It made him angry — so angry that he wanted to become a boxer.

Before he went pro, he boxed in St. Louis. Jack was so good at boxing that he was invited to represent the United States in the Olympics, but he rejected the offer. Jack rejected the offer because he thought he was tough as nails, so he decided to represent his country in World War II.

Participating in the war did not stop Jack from becoming a great boxer, because when he returned home in 1946 he won many championships, including the St. Louis Golden Gloves tournament.* Next on his journey he went to New York and captured the National Golden Gloves Championship at Madison Square Garden. Jack continued to get better, and he won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) title by knocking out the undefeated Nicky Sanders with a right hook. After all of these achievements, he finally became a professional boxer.

In Jack’s first match as a professional boxer, he lost. He thought that he would not make it as a professional. Jackie trained very hard to make sure he never lost again. And what do you know — he ended up winning the next twenty-four matches and never losing again.

In 1995, when he was sixty-nine years old, Jackie was inducted into the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. But with all of his achievements he said that friends and family are most important.

Jackie married the girl of his dreams, Bertha Mae Barg, and they were happily married for fifty-seven years. He raised four children and put them all through college, cheering them on and helping them succeed at their life goals. Two of his children, named Ron and Dale, always wanted to get in the ring like their father had and become boxers. Jack said no, because he didn’t want them to take the beating he had taken. So Ron and Dale became state wrestling champions for Parkway Central High.

At the age of seventy-nine Jackie passed away. Just two weeks before Christmas he was driving to a hip examination. At a red light, he slumped over the steering wheel and was gone. He will be greatly remembered for his accomplishments and his love for the sport of boxing.

* The Golden Gloves competitions are for nonprofessional boxers sixteen years of age and older.

Jeff Dicker; Missouri, USA


A Lucky Save

Ukraine, USSR*; 1941

My great-grandmother lives in Russia. She is still living today, but her husband has passed away. The way they met, though, was unbelievable.

My great-grandmother originally lived in the Ukraine — this all took place in the Ukraine. Her name was Yevdokia, and she was the gentlest person you could ever meet. She lived in the country, and she had her own small house.

Unfortunately, she lived there during World War II. However, a person as kind as Yevdokia could never just sit around and let the wounded soldiers die. So every night she would sneak out into the fields and get the injured Ukrainian soldiers off the battlegrounds and into her home so she could nurse their injuries and save their lives.

There was a problem with this though: No one was allowed to hold any soldier in their homes, and if they did, they could suffer severe consequences. That was a risk my great-grandmother was willing to take.

Each night, when the moon was at its highest point, there my great-grandmother would be, rescuing the abandoned Ukrainian soldiers that lay in the fields. Yevdokia would take them back to her house and quietly take them to her basement. Why did she put them in her basement? It was because a Nazi general and his soldiers would walk around to each house and inspect it. The Nazis would make sure there weren’t any weapons or soldiers inside. They would carelessly search whatever they might be looking through in each house for any sign of weapons or soldiers.

The trick was that the Nazis had no idea there was a basement in this house, because it was covered. The basement was really a hole underneath the house, and the entry hole was covered by a dresser. There Yevdokia would treat the soldiers. They stayed with her until they were better, and then they would be off to fight again. One man was injured so badly that he almost died right in front of Yevdokia. This man had been shot in the stomach twice. This soldier’s name was Alexander. As Yevdokia was treating this man, she began to fall in love with this brave soldier, and the brave soldier began to fall in love with Yevdokia.

What you may be thinking is that next they will get married and live happily ever after. We’ll you’d be wrong, because that is not how it went. One day the general’s soldiers found the soldiers Yevdokia kept in her secret basement. They beat, whipped, and harassed probably the bravest woman ever to live. She lived through it, but then she was the injured one.

Eventually she and Alexander did get married, started a family, and chose to move to Russia. I guess this proves that the greatest pleasures in life can come from the most unsuspected things.

*During World War II, Ukraine was a republic in the Soviet Union (USSR). In 1991 it became an independent country.

Michelle Favichia; New Jersey, USA


Ocean Waters

North Atlantic Ocean; 1941

In November 1941 my great-uncle Lawrence Mann faced one of the most petrifying experiences in his entire life. Lawrence was on the U.S. Navy ship the USS Wilson in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lawrence was in his sleeping quarters. A huge, chaotic storm was raging on outside. Suddenly Lawrence’s door burst open. A man stood there. He barked at Lawrence over the howling wind. He told Lawrence he must go to the engine room and fix a broken pipe. Then the man left just as quickly as he had come — going to do another important task, no doubt. Lawrence knew this wasn’t a request but an order. He stood up and ran out the door.

The ice-cold hail hit his bare skin like needles. The freezing winds seemed to wrap themselves around him like a snake. He ran by the railing on the edge of the ship. The metal deck was slippery like ice, his feet almost sliding out from under him multiple times. When he turned a corner, a gigantic wave hit him dead-on. It swept him off his feet and dragged him into the dark, deathly ocean waters.

The water sent what seemed like millions of electrical shocks through his body. Luckily, a life preserver had also been thrown overboard. Lawrence swam and grabbed hold of the preserver. He held on for dear life as the storm raged on. The Wilson kept on going through the dark storm, oblivious to its fallen passenger.

Lawrence thought for sure he was going to drown, or die from some other horrendous act to come. Even so, he kept on holding on to the little golden chance that he would live, and return to his wonderful, beloved family. The storm was no easier to withstand in the ocean than on the boat. The waves went up and down like a roller coaster that was impossible to get off of. Finally, the storm ended. Lawrence was alive.

Lawrence was stuck in the horrible, seemingly deadly, waters for two days with nothing but his life preserver and will to live. Lawrence used his last bit of strength to hold on to the preserver. When he was just about to give up, he saw a boat coming toward him. He yelled out toward them, and the boat turned toward him.

The men in the boat pulled him out of the water and asked what had happened. Lawrence relayed his story to them. They told him that the Wilson had sent out a signal to all the boats nearby that some men had probably gone overboard. They had decided to see if anyone was still alive in the ocean to save.

Lawrence thanked the men, his heart full of gratitude. He returned to the Wilson to finish his service in the navy. Lawrence told all of his children and grandchildren this story, which has been passed down as a true miracle in my family.

Amanda Diamond; Missouri, USA


The Uncontrollable Mare

near Wolbach, Nebraska, USA; c. 1942

Back when hard candy was a penny, my grandmother rode her horse to a country school near Wolbach, Nebraska. The two-room schoolhouse was four miles from her home, so it was a long ride in the bitter winter. The school attended by the rest of her family was only two miles away, but that school held first through eighth grades. Only her school had ninth and tenth grades. Grandma wanted to finish high school.

Grandma Maryalice had just started riding Bird, her own horse, to class that school year, in the fall of 1942. Bird was still getting used to being away from her darling weanling. She did not like the fact that her young foal couldn’t be with her. The ride to school was calm, even if Bird was slightly fidgety. Grandma left the mare in the weather-beaten school barn, as everyone did, and left for the first subject of the day.

After class concluded, Grandma approached the barn. Upon entering, she discovered just how anxious Bird was to get home. She could barely climb onto her horse before they exited the barn in a burst of rapidity. Off they went — a blur to the world! The speed was so great that Grandma had to let go of her books and lunchpail to hold on for dear life!

As she saw that she was approaching her brothers’ and sisters’ school, Grandma quickly steered Bird into the porch. The horse suddenly halted. Grandma’s brothers came out to help hold down the excited horse. Both Grandma and Bird needed a good rest, since one was aching from hanging on, and one was weary from dashing two miles.

Grandma rode the now-composed mare to her rural home. Bird was unhappy to have to stay in a different pen than her baby until it was weaned. I guess you could say it was the correct punishment.

The next day Grandma’s dad drove her to school in the family car. They had to stop along the road and pick up her books and lunchpail, of course. After a while, Bird got used to being away from her weanling. She continued to be the main source of transportation to school until Grandma’s tenth grade graduation.

My grandma continued high school in Omaha, Nebraska. She worked and stayed at her aunt’s house. Every single one of Grandma’s four children, including my dad, got to ride that excited mare around the family farm. They said that Bird stayed a kind and memorable family horse. Bird, still uncontrollable at heart, died of cancer around 1967.

Now candy is much more expensive, and I ride a bus to my school in Wolbach. I live between Cedar Rapids and Greeley, and only a quarter of a mile away from my wonderful grandmother. I hear this story, and it is my favorite one, but I do not think I would like to ride a horse to my school. I will forever remember the exciting tale of the uncontrollable mare!

Karleen Alma Kolar; Nebraska, USA


Extreme Makeover: Statue Edition

New York, New York, USA; c. 1943

On a tired rainy day at The Mary Louis Academy a dangerous plan was being formed. . . .

The notorious Sister Angelica (known for not being so angelic) was out to lunch with a few other sisters, and my grandmother (also notorious for being not so angelic) was idle and twitchy — never a good combination.

And there, outside, with a golden halo of sunshine hitting her glorious self, she sat — a positively devilish reprieve from the drowning boredom.

My grandmother and her five fiendish friends were plotting the most epic prank in The Mary Louis Academy history, with my grandma as the ringleader. Demonic Debbie, Satanic Susie, and Villainous Vicky ran, gathering their diabolical decorations. They stole quietly toward the victim — a six-foot-tall statue of Joan of Arc holding a crown in her hand and wearing sandals and a sash.

The girls had decided that the fearless Joan of Arc deserved a pampering. With that, the gang descended upon their prey, laboring tirelessly with their noble goal in mind. Finally they stepped back to look upon their work of art. Joan of Arc now stood fashionably — her fingernails and toenails painted, lipstick on her lips, hamburger in hand (they figured she got hungry standing for centuries), and as a last touch they placed a hat upon her head. Their masterpiece was complete, and the girls wiped their brows.

Giggling, the guilty girls scurried on back to their unassuming positions, barely able to contain their anticipation of seeing their uptight principal dance.

Finally the moment arrived, and Sister Angelica emerged from her old Ford, unsuspecting and conniving. The girls held their breath as she walked toward the statue, still not noticing. As soon as the statue came into sight, Sister Angelica (and I quote) “gave a gasp, her face draining of blood as she pointed a shaking finger at the beloved statue.” The girls laughed hysterically from their posts and gleefully skipped back to school.

Later that day an assembly was called, and all the young girls were told to pray for the poor, poor young wretches who had done this terrible thing to poor Joan. The girls eventually confessed, but there were too many girls to expel, so instead Sister Angelica assigned them the task of cleaning up beautiful Joan. My grandmother reminisces of that day and shares that even though they looked remorseful, inside the girls were howling, because the look on Sister Angelica’s face was definitely worth their trouble.

To this day, my grandma gets a faraway look in her eyes when she thinks about her younger days, but with eight kids to raise she could never reveal her sinful younger days. Her talents were not wasted, however; they were passed on to her fifth son, who spent his days throwing apples at police cars from the rooftop.

Caitlin Magruder; Missouri, USA


Warning: Crocodiles Ahead

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; c. 1943

Did you know that crocodile attacks kill approximately three thousand people a year? The crocodile is one of the most deadly animals, and it has no predator except for humans. The crocodile has a famous way of killing its prey. First, the crocodile comes out of the murky water and seizes its prey. It takes the prey back under the water and begins rolling beneath the water until the prey is dead.

My great-grandparents went to the country that is now known as Rwanda, in central Africa, in the middle of the 1930s. They were there as pioneer missionaries. In the beginning of the 1940s, they were trying to return to Sweden for a furlough, but World War II was raging in Europe, so instead they traveled south. They were driving toward South Africa for some vacation.

Halfway through their journey, they stopped at a hotel near the mighty Zambezi River. Later that afternoon, my great-grandpa took my grandpa, who was a young boy then, down to the river for a refreshing swim. Before they jumped into the river, they saw a sign, but my great-grandpa was new to the English language, so he couldn’t read it. They then swam and played in the river for about an hour. When they were walking up to the hotel, they met a man who said, “Tell me that you haven’t been swimming in the river; it is full of crocodiles. Yesterday a woman lost her dog to a crocodile there.” Then they walked back to the hotel, stunned.

That night my great-grandpa had a dream where he saw himself and his son swimming and playing in the river. Surrounding them was a circle of crocodiles. When he looked closer at the crocodiles, each one of them had a white rope tied around its jaws. Then my great-grandpa woke up, amazed, and thanked the Lord for the protection.

This story truly proves that even though crocodiles are feared, there is someone with greater power. Also, even though we are not always aware of the dangers ahead of us, God is there to protect us.

Joe Sandahl; Idaho, USA


A Close Call

Moran, Michigan, USA; c. 1943

“Everyone down!” Every light was off in the house because of the danger of a bombing. It was World War II.

My father had just heard — then he saw it — a bomber plane. He didn’t know if it was German — and he didn’t want to find out.

Oh, I almost forgot. My name is Wayne, and I had just turned seven. I was the oldest in my family. I lived with my mother, father, and brother, Mick. He was five.

The engine spluttered. The plane flew low right behind our house and landed on a field behind our forty acres. The next day my dad found out what had happened. He came back and said that everything was okay. The plane had been flown by some American pilots whose meters had gone crazy, so the pilots didn’t know where they were.

The next day the pilots ordered parts. A few days later, when the parts came in, they repaired the plane. A few families from our area came to see the plane before it left. The pilots let us climb inside the airplane and showed us what it was like inside. I got to sit in the pilot’s seat. It was really fun! I got to see all the meters and steering levers and everything.

Then they cleared everyone away. They took off on a road near our land. No one was supposed to be too close to the road, but Dad took me into the woods, where we watched the plane take off. It lifted off the ground right in front of us! I was so excited I almost forgot and ran into the road. I remembered just in time.

My grandpa told me this story about his childhood. I like it, because I like to learn about planes and about World War II.

Isaac D. Aderman; Michigan, USA


Oranges on the Beach

Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales, UK; c. 1943

Have you ever had so little going on in your life, and then had something good come along? It’s surprising, really, to think that miracles actually can happen.

In 1943, when World War II was happening, people were extremely low on food. They had things called “rations” — people got a set amount of butter, milk, sugar, etc. a week. It’s easy to say that they barely ever got fruit or sweet things.

It was a normal summer day on the coast of Wales, except for the fact that the war was happening. Valerie woke up, did her morning chores, and collected the rations. Her mom suddenly came bursting through the door and said, “Valerie! Go down to the beach and collect as many oranges as you can! The Germans torpedoed a cargo ship filled with oranges!” Valerie rushed down to the beach to find not only a few dozen oranges, as she had expected, but hundreds!

That evening Valerie and her mother sampled a few of the oranges to find that they were cooking oranges!* Her mother said she would never have enough sugar to make marmalade, but she would put some aside every week to save for it. Soon enough, they had enough sugar. Then Valerie and her mom spent a big part of a day making marmalade. They made so many jars it lasted them a whole year!

“That marmalade was so good,” said Valerie. “It’s a shame it didn’t last longer; I suppose it was a break from all the negativity all the time.”

Valerie, my grandmother, found out that even in the toughest times, good things can come. Just try to stay positive, and things will be okay in the end.

* Cooking oranges are a slightly sour type of orange, often used to make jam or marmalade.

Caitlin Harper; Idaho, USA


The Big Different

Warren, Arkansas, USA; 1943

My great-grandmother grew up in the 1940s. She went to a school in Warren, Arkansas, where she and her three brothers walked two and a half miles every day to get to school. They walked through colored town into white town to get to the church building, where school was held. “The church wasn’t much, but it was a good place to be.” It was a one-room building, where all grades were taught at the same time.

My great-grandma said life was hard in Warren, Arkansas, for colored people. “The white folks called us out of our names* and thought they were much better than us, but as many names as the white folks called me wasn’t going to stop me from getting my education. All white folks weren’t mean — just the ones that were brought up like lions and were taught to look at us like prey. People thought that we would be scared walking through white town every morning and afternoon, but we really weren’t.”

My great-grandmother said walking to school in the winter was the worst thing about going to school. “The schools today are much better about transportation.” Having to walk two and a half miles in the snow as deep as her knees was horrible.

“The white folks had a better school. The school was located in their part of town and was much warmer than ours. All we had was a potbelly wood heater to keep us warm.” As far as my great-grandmother had to walk, they deserved a better school with more textbooks.

My great-grandma always wanted to go eat in a restaurant where she could sit anywhere. She always dreamed about it all the time when she stayed in Warren, Arkansas. In 1946 she went to a restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, where she could sit anywhere she wanted to eat — and do it in peace.

My great-grandma caught the bus to school when she moved to St. Louis. She went to Washington Technical High School, where she took a business course and finished school in January 1949.

* To call out of name means to use an insult in place of a person’s name.

Keyonnia Austell; Missouri, USA


Jumping Wonders

Yixing, Jiangsu, China; c. 1944

Imagine if your father had passed away when you were only two years old, and you had to care for the sheep, raise crops, and walk to school — no matter how cold or hot it was outside. How would you feel if you had to do that — all of it — by yourself? That is what my grandfather had to do when he was a boy and he lived in the countryside. He was an extremely hard-working boy.

Among all of the sheep he had, there was a petite black sheep. She was the only black sheep he had. My grandfather called her Xiao Tiao Tiao,* Chinese for “Jumpy.” Xiao Tiao Tiao would follow my grandfather everywhere while jumping at the same time. There was barely any time that you would see my grandfather without Xiao Tiao Tiao. The faster Grandfather went, the more Xiao Tiao Tiao bounced.

When Grandfather needed to go to class, he would tie Xiao Tiao Tiao to a tree on a mountain. Xiao Tiao Tiao would wait there patiently, waiting for Grandfather to come back. When Grandfather was finally dismissed, Xiao Tiao Tiao would jump with sheer joy as she saw Grandfather coming to untie her. Xiao Tiao Tiao was like an imitation of an extremely loyal dog that has wool for fur and hooves for paws.

Xiao Tiao Tiao grew into a beautiful sheep with fleece that was as soft as a chick’s down and colored like a midnight without stars. My grandfather is still a hard-working man. From this story I learned that humans could be friends with animals of any shape, fur, or size. It doesn’t matter who your friend is. All that matters is how much friendship you have.

* The sheep's Chinese name is pronounced see-ow tee-ow-tee-ow. The literal translation is “Little Jump-Jump.”

Aleesha Shi; Missouri, USA



Springfield, Illinois, USA; 1945

“I don’t think we should do this anymore.”

The robber rolled his eyes. “Of course we should do this. Do you know how much these gas stamps* are worth?” He said, “Now come on. Let’s hit this place already, before the owner comes back.”

It was 1945, a Sunday to be specific, and I was busy putting on my church clothes. My family goes to church every Sunday at exactly 10:30 a.m., just like everyone else in town. Everyone else in town, however, gets to drive to church.

Not me.

I have the privilege of walking one mile to get to church. At least, that’s what my dad calls it — a “privilege.” But I don’t think it’s a privilege at all; I think it’s unfair.

“Dad,” I said on the way to church that morning, “why can’t we ever drive to church?”

“Mary,” he replied, “I don’t need to waste any gas stamps when you have two healthy legs. It’s a warm, beautiful morning out, and you have the privilege to walk to church. I don’t see why you’re complaining.”

I sighed quietly and kept walking.

That morning as we were strutting through town, it felt like something odd was going on. There were fewer cars on the roads and fewer people on the sidewalks. I was sure something wasn’t right when I saw Mr. Morris, the owner of the gas station, shutting off all of the gas pumps. My dad went over to talk to him.

“What’s going on, Tom?” my dad asked Mr. Morris in a hushed tone.

“We were robbed last night,” said Mr. Morris quietly, choking on the word robbed. “They took all our stamps.”

My dad was silent.

Mr. Morris sniffed and then said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just don’t know.”

I stood there with my family, shocked. “Who would steal another person’s stamps?” I wondered. My dad just looked at Mr. Morris for a few seconds, and then came over and whispered something in my mother’s ear. She nodded. My dad went back over to Mr. Morris.

“Tom, I think I can help you. As you know, I work for the state, so I receive more gas stamps than most people for my travels. However, I enjoy walking to the places I go much more than being cooped up in an old car, so my gas stamps are of no use to me. I was wondering if you would take them off my hands — and put them to good use?” my father said.

Mr. Morris was so happy that he actually hugged my father, and my father hugged him right back.

When I think of a hero, I think of Superman. I think of Superman flying from city to city, saving people’s lives, and catching villains. But as it turns out, you don’t need to have super powers or a cape to be a hero. All you need is a big heart, like my dad’s.

* Only customers who had ration stamps could purchase rationed goods during World War II, and business owners had to collect the stamps when they made a sale.

Shannon Flynn, granddaughter of Mary; Missouri, USA


The Independence War of Israel

Jaffa, Israel; 1948

In 1948, at the time of the Independence War of Israel, my safta* was fifteen — too young to be in the military. But she and her friend Aliza were determined to help. So the military employed them as deliverers. That’s how they came to be delivering supplies and food to Israeli soldiers fighting in Jaffa.

On the way to the soldiers, they were very careful, knowing that they were walking in a war zone. Since they had no backpacks, they carried the packages — several packages of food and two closed boxes, probably guns. Two fifteen-year-olds, carrying guns and food in a war zone — alone, with no armor — would be very easy to kill. But, in spite of this, they made their way carefully to the house where the soldiers were, without any problems. They were thanked and told to “get out — it’s too dangerous.”

They came to Alia Street while exiting Jaffa. “Is it safe?” Aliza whispered to my safta.

“I think so,” she whispered back.

“Then let’s go.” The two girls darted forward.

BANG! BANG! Their progress was interrupted by the sounds of shots.


BANG! BANG! BANG! The sound of shots followed them as they ran for cover.

BANG! DANK! A bullet ricocheted off an electric pole. Glancing down, my safta noticed blood gushing from a hole in her ankle. The bullet that had ricocheted off an electric pole had hit her in the ankle! She crumpled, and Aliza dragged her to safety.

My safta was in a hospital for days following this. Although my safta has only a scar, this story will always remind me of the brutality of war: the wounding of civilians.

* Safta is Hebrew for “grandmother.”

C. Abraham Rosenthal; Colorado, USA



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