Ms. Prott’s Story About World War II
In Chapter 8 of Running Like Crazy!, I wrote:
That afternoon Georgie and I had some yard work to do at Ms. Prott’s house (remember her and the Haunted Toad from my first book?), so we rode our bikes there. We raked up piles of leaves, had some juice and cookies at a table in her back yard, and listened to her tell a really terrific story about being an Army nurse in India during World War II. (It’s on my website.)
Here is Ms. Prott’s story…exactly as she told told it to me and Georgie.
My name is Glenora Jean Prott. Mr. Ronald Mack, a friend of mine, asked me to tell him the story of my U.S. Army service in India during World War II. He is a fine young man, so I am pleased to do as he requested. Oh, and Mr. George Sinkoff is here, too.
I am speaking into Mr. Mack’s smartphone (that’s what he told me it is called). It appears to be recording everything I say. I suppose Mr. Mack will transcribe my words into his computer and then transfer that onto the Internet. I do not have a computer. I am 97 years old and do not see the need for one now, at this point in my life.
I have never written a story before, but Mr. Mack says if my story is true, then all I have to do is tell what actually happened.
Well, it was a long time ago. It was 1942, and I was a U.S. Army nurse in India. It was the Second World War. Did you know I was born during World War I? Of course, no one called it World War I back then because they didn’t know there would be a second one. It was called The Great War. But in 1942, there was a war going on in China and in Europe and on many islands in the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps you’ve heard of how the Japanese planes bombed our ships in Pearl Harbor. That’s in Hawaii. India was a wonderful and terrible place. I suspect you’re wondering how it was wonderful and terrible at the same time. Am I right? Am I wrong?
Oh, the wonders I saw. Small boys leading huge elephants around. Did I tell you I once rode on one? Oh, yes I did! It was very exciting. And I ate strange and delicious foods, so very different from what my mother cooked for us in Nova Scotia—that’s Canada, you know—and Massachusetts when we lived in the house Georgie now has as his own. And beautifully colored clothing and buildings shaped like nothing I had ever seen before. But I was a nurse—I told you that already—and it was wartime. So my job—some of my memories are so terrible—was to give medical aid to the pilots and soldiers who loaded and flew the planes that went Over The Hump from India to China. They were called the Flying Tigers. Their planes were painted to look very menacing.
The Chinese were, you see, fighting a difficult war against the Japanese, and much of their supplies came from America. And the only way to get the supplies to them was to fly over the Himalaya mountains. You do know about Mt. Everest. Am I right? Am I wrong? It’s the tallest mountain in the world. Well, these planes had to fly over and between these mountains—not Mt. Everest, it’s too high. That’s why they called it Over The Hump. And it was very dangerous. Many planes crashed or were shot down by the Japanese when they got to China.
In India we were safe from enemy attack, but there were other terrors. There were snakes. I am sure you know how dangerous cobras are. But have you heard about kraits? They are so poisonous the soldiers nicknamed them “10‑step snakes,” because if you were bitten by a krait, they said you’d get only 10 steps before you died. I don’t know if that is true because I never saw anyone bitten by one, I am happy to say.
And there were mosquitos that gave you malaria. We all took pills to prevent it.
Oh, but the leeches were, to me, the most terrible. They would attach themselves to you without your knowing, and their saliva would numb your skin so you wouldn’t know they were sucking your blood. Oh my, I saw some so fat with blood they looked like little sausages!
Those flights Over The Hump helped win the war. I’ve read that in many books. I was just a nurse, but I did my job well, so in that small way, maybe I helped, too.
That’s enough about me and my story. Would you boys like another cookie?