(Continued from 1945 Banister Daily Diary Part 2: Gerald and Jim)
Floyd made it a point to recognize special family days and events in his diaries. In 1945, he noted the birthdays of each family member, major holidays, gifts received, and his 27th wedding anniversary with Lala.
From time to time, he and Lala also recorded major events in the local area and around the world. These types of entries were the exception to the rule, and I suspect that when they did take the time to record items of this nature, it was simply because it was very important to them or of great interest.
Senator Hooper’s Murder
A local murder caught Floyd’s attention. On January 11, he wrote, “Senator Hooper was murdered around 6 Oclock on Harsheys corner on M99.”
This reference regards the assassination of State Senator Warren G. Hooper who was driving to Albion that night. The murder took place relatively near Floyd and Lala’s home and it certainly would have been an important news piece at the time. Hooper was allegedly murdered (shot execution style) before he could testify before a grand jury. Hooper’s murder remains unsolved to this day. (for more info, see https://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/2011/02/peek_through_time_politicians.html)
Floyd’s entry about Senator Hooper was only one sentence long, but the fact that he included it in his diary indicates it must have caught his attention as something worth recording. It was certainly a very unusual event that people would have noticed and talked about.
The April 11 entry contains a second reference to the Hooper murder. Lala wrote, “Jim and other F.F.A. boys helped look for gun that killed Sen. Hooper.” Searching for murder weapons would not typically be an F.F.A. activity, but what a memorable experience that must have been for Jim and the other boys!
Just one day later, Floyd wrote about the death of another important political figure. “President Roosevelt died suddenly at Warm Springs, Ga. of cerebral hemorrhage.”
The End of WWII
In 1945, WWII ended, at last. After years of war, this was likely a very welcome turn of events for Floyd and Lala as it was for people around the world. Naturally, Floyd and Lala recorded this extremely important news as it happened in real time.
What’s interesting is that they reported on events that were happening overseas as the war came to a close, but they did so in the midst of personal life events. Floyd’s entry for May 6 reads, “Bill England, Mr A Conley, Gerald Marion Tom Daker & I cut 30 logs in pope woods. Germany surrendered all her forces to Allies at 8PM Our time.” World events of this magnitude were certainly very important, but not always the first to be recorded in the entry as one might expect.
The following list is comprised of all the diary entries that mention WWII. Clearly, this was important news to the family as the reader can follow step by step how and when the war ended, and what countries played what role. I particularly like the entry from August 14. When Japan surrendered and the war was finally over, Lala describes, “We can hear horns and bells.” What a great celebration that must have been!
May 6 (Floyd): Germany surrendered all her forces to Allies at 8PM Our time.
May 7 (Floyd): Announced war is over in Europe. The official announcement will not be made until 8 oclock our time from Capitals of three main power Russia England & United States. Mrs. Dingee & I went to work but shop was closed on account of war finish in Europe.
May 8 (Floyd): It was officialy (sic) announced that war is over in Europe & Germany surrenders unconditionaly. (sic) Russia signed in Berlin.
August 6 (Lala): New atomic bomb dropped on Japan. Very powerful.
August 8 (Floyd): Russia declared war on Japan effective Aug 9.
August 9 (Lala): Nagasaki bombed with atomic bomb.
August 10 (Lala): Japan asks to surrender according to the Potsdam conditions provided she can keep Emperor Hirohito. Celebrations in China, Okenawa, & Manila. Britain and America waiting to see what happens.
August 11 (Lala): U.S. replied to Japan’s surrender note.
August 12 (Lala): Waiting for news from Japan.
August 13 (Lala): Still waiting for ans. from Japan.
August 14 (Lala): At 6 o’clock we heard Japan has accepted unconditional surrender. We can hear horns & bells.
August 15 (FLoyd): There was celebration at end of Jap war.
September 1 (Floyd): Japan signed surrender papers on Battleship Missouri in Tokio (sic) Bay before General McArthur & Adm. Chester Nimitz.
September 2 (Floyd): Was proclamed (sic) V.J. Day by President Harry S. Truman.
For most of us alive today, our knowledge of the events of WWII are limited to what we know from historical records and firsthand accounts. Floyd and Lala lived through the War and undoubtedly understood the significance of its end. I can just imagine them listening to the radio or reading in the newspaper and following along as events unfolded.
Lala’s notes for six days in a row in August specifying the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan’s surrender, the U.S. reply, and waiting for Japan’s final word are particularly meaningful to me. What was it like to hear such news about these events and wait day by day for more information? Did she eagerly await updates as much as it seems from her diary entries? As a former school teacher, did she comprehend and acknowledge that she was witnessing a major historical event, in real time, and what did this mean to her?
These are the types of questions I wonder but I can never really know, for sure, her answers. I can, however, imagine how she would have felt based on her written words. In the 1945 diary, Lala certainly gives the impression that she, like the rest of the world, eagerly awaited the resolution of that war once and for all and felt the need to record it as it happened.