Brownie Troop 612 studies children from WWII
Third grade Brownie Troop 612 from Melrose Avenue School needed a project to earn their "Her Story, Try-it" badges. The Brownies decided to talk to women who were girls growing up in Jamestown during World War II, then write essays about their experiences.
With the help of troop leaders Jeanette Warner and Ann Zainyeh, the girls compiled the essays into a newsletter and published the first edition of the GS Gazette 612 ,both on the Internet and off-line. According to Warner, the girls did all the work. "They even did their own editing. We didn't change a thing, and published it just as they wrote it," Warner said.
In the opening essay, "Jamestown in WWII," the girls talked about life in Jamestown in the 1940s as Norma Walsh remembered it. Walsh, a life-long Jamestown resident, mesmerized the girls with stories about growing up on Conanicut Island during the WWII era.
The girls wrote, "How hard life would be for a child nowadays to find things to do because there was no TVs or computers," they said, "Norma would save scrap metal, such as cans and toothpaste tubes, in order to provide metal for the war effort. Other children would go door-to-door collecting metal. This helped Norma later in life by teaching her to save and recycle."
At the end of the essay, they wrote, "When interviewing Norma, we learned that although times seemed hard during the war, many still found joys in everyday life." Norma Walsh's stories about her experiences during WWII left a lasting impression on the girls that they will remember the rest of their lives, Zainyeh said.
Ellen Brownell told the girls anecdotes that inspired the essay, "How Jamestown has Changed." The Brownies questioned Ellen on what she did to help the war effort. "She responded by saying that she helped the war effort by buying savings stamps that gave money to the war," the girls wrote.
In their essay about Ellen's life as a little girl, the Brownies said, "Jamestown has changed since WWII from the bridges, the new technology, new clothes, new ways of living, changing high schools, women working, different activities, buying food differently, and a lot of other things have changed too."
The Brownies said their newsletter was important because they learned what life was like for all children during the Second World War, not just women. Consequently, they decided to talk to a man. They interviewed Prescott Froberg, who moved to Jamestown from Providence when he was 12 years old. They called Froberg's essay, "A Day in the Life of a Child in WWII."
The girls wrote, "When Mr. Froberg moved to Jamestown there were no paved roads and only thirteen houses in the "Shores" of Jamestown. They also said, "Mr. Froberg would get up in the mornings and collect the chicken eggs. He would go into the kitchen to make himself the usual breakfast, cereal or eggs." They said, "After he was done with breakfast he walked to school, because there was no gas for cars because of the war."
Froberg reflected on his family growing a victory garden. "His family grew a victory garden, a victory garden is a garden where fruits and vegetables were grown. This helped the war because they didn't have to go to the store and buy the food, so there was more food for the soldiers to survive," they said.
The final essay was an account of Martha Milot's experience as a child in WWII. The Brownies wrote, "Even though Ms. Milot didn't live in Jamestown as a child, she still had memories about that time period." They wrote, "Her and her friends filled old tobacco boxes with bubble gum, candy, and things the soldiers may like. She also grew a victory garden."
The girls said Milot told them, "Air raid drills occurred in school where students would duck under their desks and cover their heads, so if a bomb fell they would be protected. That sounds kind of silly, but they thought it would protect them," they wrote in the essay.
After completing the project, Meghann Maguire said, "I learned about what women had to do to help with the war effort during WWII." Madison Hodrick said, "The project taught me about how hard it was to save money during the war." And Isabella Zainyeh said, "I learned about all the work that women had to do for the war."
At the completion of the project, "The girls all wrote thank you letters to the ladies they interviewed, to let them know how much they appreciated their time and input. And the ladies all wrote letters to the girls thanking them for their interest," Zainyeh said.
The newsletter containing all four essays can be found online at www.jamestownri.com. When the website opens, click on "the schools" in the menu and the GS Gazette 612 will be on the main page.