This is the first in a series of posts about what would happen if the world suddenly stopped and you were transported to another time in our history. In the first installment, we will go back approximately 75 years to a time when World War II was in full swing and the country was finally beginning to recover from the Great Depression.
The Absence of Electronics
The first thing you notice is that most of the electronics that you depend on to connect to the world do not exist – no computers, no iPads, no smart phones, no TVs. Phones exist, but you likely have a party line that you share with your neighbors. Long-distance calls are rare, expensive, and really poor quality.
News comes from the newspaper and a battery-powered radio (if you are lucky enough to own one). The rest of your news comes in the form of hand-written letters. Matter of fact, you write several letters per week to family and friends. Of course, letters to servicemen, particularly those serving over seas, are of top priority.
For men who are serving in the military, letters are the primary connection to people back home. You try to keep the letters cheerful and upbeat per the government’s guidelines. You are not to share any news that might be depressing or negative except if absolutely necessary. Then you are to keep it brief and factual.
Letters are also your only connection to your loved ones in the service. You spend lots of time praying for their safety and praying for the next letter to arrive. That letter tells you that they were at least alive several days to a month ago. The letters are often short and lacking details of where they are or what is happening as such information is strictly forbidden and will be censored if a soldier dare write about it.
You are very connected to the people around you as you are all in the same situation. Nearly every person has a son, grandson, nephew, brother, uncle, or father that is serving.* You all know the pain of separation and nearly everyone knows someone who has died in the war. You and your neighbors are a family and support each other.
Friends, family, and neighbors provide both emotional support and day-to-day support. You share ration coupons despite it being technically illegal. Your kid’s feet are growing and they need shoes. Without the coupons, you will not be allowed to purchase the needed shoes. Meanwhile, you don’t drink a lot of coffee, so you give those ration coupons to your friends so that they can enjoy their coffee.
You also work with the schools, churches, and other community groups to support the war. You are all one community. The community collects scrap metal with people giving up things that really aren’t scrap for the sake of helping the war effort. You are connected to everyone else. The entire country has the same goal – you want the war to end so that all your loved ones can come home.
You know sacrifice. Yet, you know that others have sacrificed more than you. You feel blessed that your sacrifice has not been greater.
And In Your World
Coming back to the present, the questions for you are: Could you live in a world without electronic communication? What would you do if you had to write letters and wait days or weeks for a response? How strong is your connection with your family, neighbors, and friends?
In the next article “The Day The World Stopped – The Civil War Era,” we will dive into life over 150 years ago.
* Note: There were a few women that served in the military during WWII. However, this is written with a focus on men, as a vast majority of those that served were men.