Vol. 15


The Birthday Wish

1937; Hodgen, Oklahoma, USA

A young girl holds a gift close as a tear slides down her cheekKids in 2020 might look forward to a hoverboard or a video game for their birthday. Some might even wish for a fancy new iPhone. This was not the case for Anna June.


It was June 25th in 1937, and Anna June was anxiously awaiting her seventh birthday, which was four days away. It was a hot afternoon in Oklahoma, and Anna June was making bread with her grandma. As she rolled the dough, she wondered about what she might want for her birthday.

Life in Oklahoma in 1937 was much different from the lives of kids today. 1930 had been just the beginning of the Great Depression. Most people in the country were very poor, and work was hard to find. People had to live on what they could grow or save.

Anna June thought long and hard about what she wanted, and she finally came up with the perfect idea: She wanted a store-bought can of pork and beans and a loaf of store-bought bread. As she and her grandmother were getting ready to put their bread in the oven, Anna June said to her grandma, “Have you ever had any food from the store before?”

“Like what, Anna June?” said Grandma.

“Well, have you ever had a can of pork and beans or a loaf of bread from the store?”

“No, but it would be nice” was all Grandma said.

When it was approaching June 26th, Anna June’s grandma had worked long and hard to reach the goal of $1.50 so she could afford Anna June’s birthday presents. On June 28th, Anna June had the biggest smile, and she couldn’t wait to get her presents.

She woke up the next morning and she realized that it was her birthday. She sprinted out into her kitchen, and there sitting on the table were a can of pork and beans and a loaf of bread all nice and wrapped up in the plastic bag with a nice clip to hold it together. Anna June couldn’t believe her eyes. She screamed, “This is the best birthday ever!”

Her grandma walked into the kitchen, and she saw Anna June shedding tears of joy! Anna June asked her grandma to help her open the can and eat it all.

Ben Oetjen, great-grandson of Anna June; Missouri, USA

Illustrator: Ava Hamilton; Missouri, USA



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