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Broehm, Barbara / World War II through the eyes of Manitowoc's homefront youth
(December 2000)

World War II through the eyes of Manitowoc's homefront youth,   pp. [1]-30


Page 17

Broehm 17 
would try to re-enact what we saw in the movies. I lived next to a swamp,
and the setting 
made a perfect battlefield... we were out toget those Japs.'62 
Many young boys in Manitowoc shopped the army surplus store. Harlan stated,
"We couldn't afford real helmets so we bought the helmet liners.. .this
was the same 
thing the soldiers used under their steel helmets!" He said that the
neighborhood boys 
would put on these helmet liners, grab their BB guns and go out in the swamp
and 
pretend they were in the South Pacific fighting the war. He adds, "the
in-thing was to 
carry a ped-o-meter, and of course everyone had a code-o-graph ring."63
Captain Midnight's code-o-graph ring was used for decoding messages from
the 
Secret Squadron. Captain Midnight fought with the Allied forces in the air,
on the sea, 
and on land throughout the world. J. Fred MacDonald, author of Don't Touch
that 
Dial!" claims that American children fought World War II in front of
their radio sets. 
"To take them into the thick of the battle, there were the likes of
Don Winslow of the 
Navy ... a Naval aviator who bombed ships, attacked Nazis, and hated Japanese.
Hop 
Harrigan was a 'big brother' image to youngsters ... he was an American warrior
to the 
core."64 
"I never missed Captain Midnight," said a homefront boy. He adds,
Captain 
Midnight was constantly chasing down Nazi spies, and I got my Code-o-graph
as a 
premium offer through Wheaties cereal.'6i 
62 Harlan Demsien, interview by Barbara Broehm. 
63 Harlan Demsien, Interview by Barbara Broehm. 
64 J. Fred MacDonald, Don't Touch That Dial! Radio Programming in American
Life, 1920-1960 
(Chicago, Nelson-Hall, 1976), 69. 
65 Karl Kappelman, interview by Barbara Broehm. 


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