John Thompson is interviewed by Patrick Pace(rghs 98). John is currently the Agriculture teacher at Rocky Gap and is a retired Air Force pilot.
Patrick: Hello. This is an interview with Mr. J
ohn Thompson by Patrick Pace. Where and when were you born?
John: I was born in Washington D.C. way back in 1935, August 16, to be exact. I was raised in Washington D.C. until I was about fourteen years old. My....do you want me to go ahead and tell about my parents?
John: Maybe I'll just wait until your next question.
Patrick: Who was your mother and father?
John: My father was Mangus Lee Thompson. He was born and raised in Augusta County Virginia. His parents lived on a farm along with his other ten brothers and sisters. They eked out a living never having a whole lot of extra money but they always had plenty of food and clothes. My father then moved to Washington D.C. and he had several different jobs before he finally became a fireman with the fire department in Washington D.C., which was a federal job. Being in Washington D.C. it was owned by the federal government. My mother was born and raised in Ceres, Virginia in Bland County. She had eleven brothers and sisters. My mother moved to Washington D.C. and went to nursing school and she was a nurse. So, as a kid growing up, I remember my mother being a nurse and my father being a fireman.
Patrick: Who were your grandparents and where were they born and raised?
John: O.K., my father's mother and father were born and raised in Augusta County, Virginia. His name was William Thompson, my grandfather's name. My grandmother's name was Sarah. My mother's mother and father were born and raised in Bland County. His name was John Atwell and my grandmother's name was Laura Atwell. Earlier they raised twelve children and a lot of them are still living. One, a set of twins, the first kids that they had were two girls, they were twins. One of the twins got caught on fire in front of the fireplace when she was a toddler about two years old. She went running out to the field to her mother and her clothes were on fire and she burnt to death.
Patrick: Who were your brothers and sisters?
John: I have three older sisters and the oldest one is a school teacher in California, or was a school teacher in California. She's retired now but she still teaches part time. My middle aged sister was a beautician and her name is Betty. She married a fellow whose father was a state senator from South Carolina. He had a large farm in South Carolina and he left it to his children. That's where my sister lives now with her husband, whose name is Robert MacMillan. My youngest sister, she also moved to California, and married a fellow by the name of Gayle Matthews and he did work for McDonald Douglas until he retired a few years back. They still live in California.
Patrick: Where were you raised?
John: I've already answered that. I was raised in Washington, D.C. However, when I was fourteen, well actually thirteen years old, my father and I moved to a farm in northern Virginia that was owned by an uncle. We had over 3,000 head of hogs. We had about 50 beef cows, a couple of milk cows, a couple of work horses, and a tractor. We farmed raising mostly those hogs for profit, which back in the early 1950's was quite profitable because we fed them garbage that only cost $25 a year. We got the garbage from Washington, D.C. All we had to do was go up to the garbage plant , we had a fellow do this for us, and pick up the garbage in a big dump truck. We hauled the garbage to the farm and dumped it out and fed those hogs and raised them until they got close to market weight. Then we'd get the hogs up and feed them corn. We'd feed them corn for two to three weeks. Then we could actually, legally call them grain fed hogs, but they weren't really grain fed for very long.
Patrick: What did you do for fun?
John: Gollie. Starting way back from when I was a kid. I lived close to the school that I went to, grade school. The grade school had a large play ground with a large ball field and it also had people who ran a club house there at the ball field all during the summer when the school wasn't going on. So, you could play ball: softball, they had a football field there, and you could play football. They had horseshoes and just about everything you'd have on a playground: basketball courts, see-saws, and slides, so I spent most of my time up on that play ground when I was a small kid.
Patrick: What were your chores around the house?
John: Well I had a lot of chores. I had to clean my room, the room that I slept in. Of course I had to carry out the trash and the garbage. But, since I had three older sisters, I didn't have to do any of the laundry or any of the washing of the dishes, or things like that.
Patrick: What was your house like?
John: It was a small apartment in Washington D.C. and I guess if I had to live in that small apartment now, I'd consider myself poor. But at the time, I guess I considered myself middle class because all of the people that lived around me had basically the same things. I never considered myself poor. I always had plenty of food and I didn't want for anything.
Patrick: What did you cook your food on?
John: In the apartment, there was a natural gas that ran in. So, we had a gas stove. I didn't do much cooking. My mother and my sisters did the cooking.
Patrick: When you moved to Ceres, did you have a garden?
John: Oh yeah. Even before Ceres, I can remember way back during World War II. My father had what was called a victory garden. There were places in the city that the federal government would let people use. It was federal land and they would let people use it. All you had to do was sign up for it. You'd have a small lot of land where you could raise a garden because back during World War II, prices were high. Things were rationed in an effort to save money and have fresh vegetables which were hard to come by. People had victory gardens and I used to help my father in that victory garden during World War II. Then when my father and I moved to the farm we had a large garden. Then the next year after the farm in northern Virginia is when I moved to Ceres and lived with my aunt and my uncle, Tom and Lily King, one year. They had a large garden of course and they had a fairly large farm. I worked in a garden a lot and enjoyed it.
Patrick: What kind of things did you grow in the garden?
John: I grew about all of the vegetables that we needed or wanted for the year. We canned a lot of stuff. . . just about every kind of vegetable that you can imagine. We grew and preserved or canned.
Patrick: Where did you go to school?
John: I went to . . . if you're talking about the very beginning. . . I went to a grade school in Washington D.C. called ?Starger? and that was up until the sixth grade. Then I went to a junior high school which was called Gordon Junior High. It was a fairly large school in the northwestern part of Washington D.C. After I went to years to that, that's when I moved to northern Virginia to the farm. Then I went to Mount Vernon High School there. Of course that high school was a large school too. It's probably a whole lot larger now than it was then.
Patrick: What kind of lunches did you have?
John: Well, I didn't finish my school. After I went to Mount Vernon, I went to Ceres High School. By then, I only had two more years to go. My junior and senior year was when I went to Ceres so . . . Grade school lunches, I can't remember them being particularly good or particularly bad. When I went to junior high school, by then I was making money by doing a lot of different odd jobs. Delivering newspapers was my biggest job but I also helped deliver ice, and I helped on laundry trucks, and I helped deliver groceries at the local grocery store. I'd go down there and go to school with my wagon and carry the little ladies groceries home in my wagon. So, I had a lot of extra money. So, when I went to junior high school, there was a delicatessan owned by an old Jewish fellow right across from the junior high school. I drove to the delicatessan and got real good lunches there. I got fresh lunch meats, hard rolls, along with soda pop. That's where I ate my lunch in junior high school. When I got to Ceres, for my lunches, my aunt that I lived with used to fix my lunches. I carried them to school. I used to eat country ham biscuits almost every day at lunch and I never got tired of it.
Patrick: How did you get to school?
John: When I was in grade school I walked to school because it was less than a block away. To junior high school I also walked but it was quite a way further. I'd say it was probably close to two miles taking the short cut through the woods but I walked to junior high school. When I went to Mount Vernon High School, it was over twenty miles on a bus to Mount Vernon High School. When I got to Ceres, it was about five miles to school on the bus. I can remember that I wasn't particularly fond of school when I got to Ceres. When I got to Ceres I loved school. If I should happen to sleep late for some reason or miss the bus, it didn't slow me down. I'd go ahead and walk the five miles to school.
Patrick: What were your teachers like?
John: Well I can't remember all of my teachers. I can remember the real bad teachers I had and I can remember the real good teachers. In grade school the very best teacher I had was my first grade teacher. Her name was Mrs. White. She was a real sweet lady and treated all of the kids like they were hers. I can remember my fourth grade teacher and she was, I thought, the meanest lady I'd ever met. I guess you remember the real good teachers that you had and the real mean ones. When I got to high school at Ceres, I had a couple of real good teachers there. I liked all of them but some of them were better than others. My English teacher was Mrs. Waddle and she was a real nice lady who lived on a farm with her husband. Her husband was a member of the board of supervisors back then. She was an extremely good English teacher and probably taught me more about English than I ever learned from anyone else. Another real good teacher was the Agricultural teacher. His name was Eugene Orr. He passed away within the last year. Back then we used to have two hours a day or two periods for Ag class. We were allowed to do a whole lot more in Ag class. The way Ag classes are now, they're a little less than an hour long so by the time you get your tools out and get ready to work, it's almost time to start cleaning up again. But back then when you had a two hour class and also if you finished your work in other classes, teachers would let you out to go to the Ag shop if you were working on a project, and I always was. I had a lot of good teachers. The principal of the high school was a real nice teacher. His name was Mr. Thomas and all of the kids called him baldy because he was bald. He was an extremely nice person and he also taught chemistry when I was going to school. He used to let us write up a lot of our own experiments and perform different things in the lab, some of which was probably not too safe. Under todays' standards I'm sure that they wouldn't be allowed.
Patrick: What kind of trouble did you get into at school?
John: I guess I got into more trouble than most kids, especially during grade school and junior high. Not anything that was real, real serious, but again under todays' standards it might be considered serious. I can remember back in junior high school we had a science teacher there and her name was Mrs. ????. She was extremely old for a teacher and she'd gone bald over the years. She used to wear a wig. She used to scratch her hair with a pencil and her whole hair would move across the top of her scalp. We thought it was hilarious. She was a nice old lady but she was getting kind of old and senile. You could fool her real easy and one time, one thing that we did to her was quaker oats, used to and still do sell oatmeal, in brown cylinder cans made out of cardboard. One time we got one of those and we spray painted it red. We took a piece of dynamite fuse and stuck it in the end of that thing. We set it on her desk. We lit that dynamite fuse as we saw her coming down the hall then to her classroom. We lit that dynamite fuse then and all of us crawled under our desk. When she came in the door, she saw that big thing that looked like a stick of a big bomb that was going to go off. She, bless her heart, tried to get us all out of the room because she knew it was going to blow the room to bits. She did succeed in getting us all out of the room before the fuse burnt down. Of course, we were all way down at the far end of the hall waiting for the bomb to go off, which of course it never did. We got in quite a bit of trouble for that from the principal but we also got a big laugh out of it.
Patrick: How were your holidays celebrated?
John: Well, I guess you don't want me to tell you about any more trouble I got into? O.K. well, some more trouble that I got into. Well, when I got to Ceres, there was me and a couple of other boys that were always getting into trouble and the teacher that I mentioned earlier, Mrs. Waddle, taught us English, we used to give her the hardest time I guess. We would put rotten eggs in her desk and we would sometimes hide all of the other kids books and silly stuff like that. But, one time, she demanded the room to be extremely quite. Especially when we were given an assignment to read some literature and write down our thoughts about what we read or whatever. She demanded that the room be extremely quiet. Well, one time we decided that we were going to put a little buzzer behind a picture that was in the back of the room. We ran some real fine copper wires down through the cracks in the wooden floors that was in the school room. We ran the wires all the way down to my desk and ran them up the back of the desk and up my shirt sleeve to a mercury switch that we had gotten. I don't remember exactly where we had bought the mercury switch because we didn't have Radio Shack back then. Anyway, we had a little old mercury switch that we activated. We probably tore up part of the thermostat and got the switch but I can't remember the details about it. Whenever I'd raise my arm, it would activate the switch which would activate the buzzer behind the picture in the back of the room. The teacher thought that we had a bobby pin stuck under the desk, and was flipping the bobby pin to make that noise. It drove her crazy because she couldn't figure out which one of us was flipping a bobby pin because she could see our hands above the desk. Of course, I would only raise my hand whenever she had her back turned so she never could figure it out. After driving her crazy with that for quite some time, we finally broke down and told her what we had done and where the noise was coming from. She thought about it for a minute and I guess she was going to punish us but then she thought well, no, that was kind of ingenius. She said if you continue to think like that and do ingenius things like that, she said I guess it'll be allright. Anyway, she didn't do anything to us for that.
Another thing that we did, she and her husband had brought a brand new Oldsmobile Starfire '88. It had a big old engine in it and us kids, we thought that it was the neatest car we'd ever seen. It was one of the fastest at the time. We were always bugging her to let us drive the car. She'd just kind of laugh it off and one day we asked her about driving her car again. She said well, it's out there and if you can get it started then go ahead. She didn't realize that she shouldn't have said that because all we did was we went out. . . and that was a 1951 Oldsmobile. . . the switch was on the dash and it was fairly easy to take a bobby pin and hold it across the switch and start the car. All we had to do was to have one person hold the bobby pin up on the dash while another one drove the car. That's what we did. We went out and started the car up. There was a road that went all the way around the school house at Ceres. They've since blocked off the back part of it and added some more onto the auditorium. At that time the road went all the way around the school house. At lunch time, we went out there and cross wired the car and we were flying around the school house and just throwing gravels everywhere. Some of the other kids were in the lunch room eating with Mrs. Waddle and she could hear all of that commotion out there and the gravels were flying up against the windows in the lunch room which was down in the basement of Ceres High School. She had made the comment to the other kids I wonder what idiot's out there tearing up their car and spinning around the school house. Of course the kids who were in there realized that it was her car and they finally told her. She came out and stopped us. Initially, she was extremely mad about that, however, when she realized that it was ingenius for us to be able to crosswire a car, she got over it. She said alright boys, I told you that you could drive it if you got it started so I don't really have any right to be mad at you because I gave you permission to do what you did. She said but don't do it any more.
Patrick: How were your holidays celebrated?
John: Well, I guess they were celebrated much like they are today except when I was a kid growing up, for Christmas, I'd get some clothes like kids get today and maybe a few toys. It was nothing like the children, or at least my kids, get today. I can remember one Christmas I had gotten a bicycle. It was the worst Christmas I ever had because living in a relatively small apartment, you didn't have any place to hide a bicycle. It came in a big box and when it came, my parents put the box under their bed in the bedroom. Of course, I didn't know what was in the box. One day when they weren't around, I went in there and opened the box and saw that it was a brand new bicycle. I knew it was for me. Come Christmas morning, I knew exactly what I was going to get for Christmas. Everybody else was opening their presents and they were real surprised and here all I got was a bicycle which I knew I was going to get because I had already went and peeked. I never peeked at another Christmas present after that.
Patrick: How did teenagers court when you were young?
John: We had quite a bit of fun during school. Of course they had dances, square dances, and mostly some local talent would come in and play music for the square dances. We'd go to drive-in movies in Wytheville and Marion, and surrounding little towns. I guess probably the main difference between the way kids court now days and the way kids courted back then is the girls were not near as promiscuous when I was going to school as they are now. I guess one reason for that was because of the way they were brought up in the home and the church. All of the kids went to church every Sunday and to Sunday school. They were taught that it wasn't right to have sex until after you were married. That's what the kids believed in and if any girl, especially, would have sex prior to marriage, everybody thought that she was rather low-life. Girls were shunned if they had sex prior to being married when I was growing up.
Patrick: What was Ceres like when you were growing up? What kinds of businesses were there?
John: The biggest difference back then was they had a lot more country stores. There were two little country stores right in Ceres itself. If you went out of Ceres, you didn't have to go too many miles before you'd run across other country stores. People back then didn't go to town except maybe once a week they'd go do Wytheville. During the week they'd run out of small things like salt or pepper, or something they'd forgot to get in town. Besides the country stores having these small things, they were a gathering place for the guys. Not only for the old folks, but the young kids would gather at the country stores in the evenings. They'd play checkers and sit around a big pot-bellied stove and tell hunting stories or fishing stories, or talk about farming which was the biggest form of livelihood back then for the farmers. It was really a whole lot slower life than what we lead now. People were a lot . . . people back then acted a whole lot different than what they do now as far as their every day way of life.
John: Another thing that I can remember that we did one time was on Halloween. We never did do any malicious things to anyone's property at Halloween but I can remember one time we took this guy's wagon. It took quite a bit of engineering but we used some block and tackles and some boards and we took the guy's wagon and put it on top of his barn. Of course the old fellow came out the next morning and saw his wagon on top of his barn and couldn't imagine how in the world the wagon got there let alone did he have any idea how he was going to get it down. We let him fret about it for a couple of days and then one night we went back and again re-engineered and took the wagon, took it off the top of the barn, and put it back where we got it. We never did tell the old man how it got up there or how it got down. But, like I said, we never did anything that would permanently damage anyone's property. I can't think of any more pranks right off hand that we pulled.
Patrick: What's your wife's name?
John: My wife's name is Gwen Thompson.
Patrick: Where were you married?
John: I was married at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Patrick: What was the ceremony like?
John: It was a real quiet ceremony. There was only myself and my wife and my three step-children and my sister-in-law and the chaplin that married us. I believe that was all that was there.
Patrick: How many children do you have?
John: I have a total of five children. I have two children by my first wife and I have three step-children with my second wife.
Patrick: Do you think that it was easier to raise children back then than it is today?
John: Well, raising my children, wasn't that far back. It wasn't that much different than it is right now I think. If you would ask my father that same question, he would probably say that there is quite a bit of difference now than there was when I was brought up. Kids nowadays are given a whole lot more than what they probably need. They expect a whole lot more than what they probably need. My father told me that I could get my car whenever I got enough money to buy it. Nowadays, kids are bought cars by their parents right and left.
Patrick: When you moved into the area, did you notice any differences in the weather? Were there any differences from where you lived before?
John: Oh, when I moved back here? Yes. I think the winters were a lot more severe. There was a lot more snow back when I was a kid growing up it seemed to me like. I know we had a lot more sleigh riding parties back then than they do now. I also know that the roads were packed with snow a lot more. In fact, I can remember holding onto bumpers of cars with a sled, pulling me down the road on the sled at 50 miles per hour. The road was packed with snow and ice. We used to have a lot of sleigh riding parties. What we'd do, we'd get on an old country back road that was dirt but covered with snow. We had an old jeep that we would use to pull the sleds up to the top of the hill. At the bottom of the hill, we had a great big 55-gallon barrel that we built a fire in to keep warm by. We'd slide up and down that.
Another thing that we used to do besides sleigh riding. . . I'll tell you about a sled that we built. It was a five man sled. We made it out of angle iron. The front part of the sled, which was the steering part, we took the steering column and it turned independent of the rest of the sled. It was really two sleds in one. The steering wheel was hooked to the front part of the sled and that's what turned the sled. It was a powerful sled. It could hold five people without any trouble. Sometimes even more. One time we took that sled to the top of Wallkers Mountain. There's was a loggers road that came off of the mountain. The road was almost straight down the mountain. We worked for hours to get that sled to the top of Walkers Mountain. Then we piled on top of that thing and we were coming down that mountain at a tremendous rate of speed. The snow was pretty heavy and there was a stump that was buried in the middle of the logging road and we couldn't see it. The stump stuck up enough that it caught underneath part of the sleigh. We hit that thing at a tremendous rate of speed and the sled stopped. The five of us continued on down the mountain with the one that was doing the steering, with the steering wheel in his hand. It just ripped it right off the sled. Of course, we rebuilt the sled and continued on sliding down the big hill with that big sled.
Patrick: Do you remember any particular bad snow storms or floods?
John: Like I said, there used to be a lot more snow. I can remember it drifted in a lot of places and it would be up over the fences in the field and you couldn't see the fence because the snow was drifted across it. I don't remember any flooding other than the creeks getting up a little bit high. I don't remember any flooding. I can remember talking to some old people in the county who talked about flooding even right here in Rocky Gap. They said that one time it came a flood , old man Fred Simpkins told me this, before he died. He said that all of Rocky Gap was flooded and that this Laurel Fork Creek that now is behind the shop here, it used to be over in front of the school house. It came down through Rocky Gap in front of the school house, and even people that live over there talked about when they dig down in their yards they . . . so anyway, Mr. Simpkins told me that the all of Rocky Gap was flooded and it was several days before the flood waters receeded and people were able to get back into their homes and all in Rocky Gap. He said that when the water finally did receed, that the creek, Laurel Fork Creek, was displaced and it was then where it is right now, over against the ridge here that runs behind the school. Before that, it ran in front of the school.
Patrick: How did your family celebrate Christmas?
John: Pretty much the same as they do now except when we were growing up, we didn't get near as much presents as my children get and I imagine most other kids get. We'd usually get just one big present at Christmas time. Of course, we celebrated the same as everybody else because we went to church. Of course we had Christmas trees and all of that but we didn't get a whole lot of presents like kids get these days.
Patrick: What was your tree like?
John: The tree was usually pretty good. Usually us kids decorated our tree at home. We decorated with a lot of things that they don't have now. We strung popcorn on it and stuff like that. We had some lights and some balls on it too. Sometimes my father and I would go out and pick a tree out and we'd go out in the country and cut our own tree to bring in. It was pretty much like trees are nowadays I guess.
Patrick: Did you have a special meal on Christmas?
John: We usually had turkey. My mother would usually roast it.
Patrick: What was Halloween like?
John: We discussed Halloween, when we put the wagon on top of the barn. We didn't really go around trick-or-treating very much out in the country like we were. We would pull a few pranks now and again but usually there would be a party of some kind. Usually it was at someone's house or at the school at Halloween. Rather than trick-or-treating, we would just go to the school and have a dance or a party there.
Patrick: What were your costumes like?
John: If you're talking about high school, we didn't have costumes during high school. If you're talking about when I was a kid, they were just like costumes are now except probably more of them were made by my parents than they are now. Most of them are probably bought in stores. We just made them out of sheets and blackened our face with charcoal and stuff like that.
Patrick: What other holidays were celebrated?
John: We probably celebrated as much as they do now. Some of the things that we did that are different now, is I can remember, as a kid growing up, that it seemed like everybody worked. Even the kids worked. Nowadays they may say that it's child abuse, I don't know. All kids worked and everybody liked to work when I was a kid growing up. It was part of our entertainment, to work. Especially when we worked on a farm, we would really enjoy going out and doing the things that we had to do on the farm. Some of the best times that I ever had as a kid growing up was when the thrashing machine would go around and we'd follow the thrashing machine from one farm to the next and thrash out the wheat and oats and whatever grain was grown. At lunch time, the ladies would cook a meal while we were on the farm thrashing wheat, all of the ladies would get together and cook a tremendous meal. We would have about a half a dozen different kinds of meats, pies, and every kind of vegetable you could possibly imagine. It was a huge meal. After we'd eat the meal, we'd get awful lazy and we wouldn't work half as hard in the afternoon as we did in the morning. But still, we'd get the job done.
Patrick: Who was the first President you can remember?
John: The first one that I can remember was Franklin D. Roosevelt. I can remember when he died I was out in front of my house in Washington D.C. I can remember that my sisters hollered out and told me that the President had died. They'd just heard it on the radio. He was the first President I can remember.
Patrick: Who was your favorite movie star?
John: Probably Gary Cooper.
Patrick: Do you remember the first movie that you went to see?
John: No. I can't remember the first movie because when I was a kid growing up I used to go to the movies every Saturday. You could get into the Saturday movie for fifteen cents then. You could buy a drink for a nickel and a bag of popcorn for a nickel. So, for a quarter you could go to the movie, and usually on Saturday, there would be a double feature. Also besides the double feature, there would be a bunch of cartoons. So for a quarter you could go spend the entire Saturday afternoon at the movie. I can't begin to tell you the number of movies that I saw. I can remember falling asleep one time in the movie and my mother and father knew that I had gone to the movie, but they couldn't find me because I didn't come home at supper time. My dad came down to the theater and he walked in there and found me asleep. He came in there and woke me up.
Patrick: Do you remember where you were when you heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor?
John: I can't remember that exactly. I wouldn't swear to it but I think I was in school when I heard about that happening on December 7, 1941. I remember having mixed emotions about that. At the particular time, my best friend in school was a Japanese boy. A lot of people in the United States hated the Japanese so much that they didn't like any Japanese person. I knew that my particular friend, whose name was Roger Suda, his father was the manager of a grocery store. He had a sister. That Japanese boy and his sister were two of the smartest people I've ever met. They always made straight A's in school. He was really a nice kid.
Patrick: Did anyone in your family have to fight in World War II?
John: Yes. My father did, I guess because he had four children: myself and three sisters. He was a fireman for the Washington D.C. Fire Department. He had been in the Navy prior to World War II. I had several uncles who fought in World War II.
Patrick: What was it like at home during the war?
John: I can remember some things that were different. We rationed food and some of the things that were hard to get I remember were bacon and a lot of different meats. Bacon was almost impossible to get. Butter was hard to get and people started using oleo margarine. It came in a big old plastic bag. It was white and inside it had a little coloring thing and you'd have to break that little coloring tab and mix the stuff up in order to get it to turn yellow. Then it would resemble butter. There were lots of things that were rationed besides food. Gasoline was rationed. You could only get so much gasoline so you had to kind of plan your trips and save up your coupons in order to take a trip or anything back then. People just didn't take as many trips and they didn't drive their car unless they had to.
Patrick: Did everyone in your family support the war?
John: Oh yes. They supported it.
Patrick: Do you remember where you were when you heard that the Germans had surrendered?
John: I was in school but I don't remember the exact circumstances.
Patrick: Was there a lot of talk about it when it happened?
John: Yes. Everybody was talking about how wonderful it was and how people could come back home and start to rebuild. We were lucky that there wasn't a lot of stuff torn up in our country. Of course, other countries were torn up pretty bad.
Patrick: What was your reaction when you heard that the atom bomb had been dropped on the Japanese and they had surrendered?
John: I thought about my Japanese friend and how some of his relatives who lived in Japan were probably killed from that bomb. But, the way that I thought about it was, even though that bomb killed several thousand people, it also probably saved lives in the long run. If they hadn't dropped it, the war would've continued on for who knows how many more years. Who knows how many more people would've been killed because the war was still going on.
Patrick: Thanks for doing the interview.
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