Being a Teenager During World War II at Ocean City, Maryland
This event really brought the war home to us. Of course food and gas were rationed. Everyone in town collected cans, tinfoil, lard and other items that were needed to help the war effort. I remember that my mother, Violet, also had a victory garden.
The U.S. Army came into town and built machine gun emplacements on the beach and along the western shore of the Sinepuxent Bay. These were beehive shaped structures made from sand bags stacked much like ice blocks were for igloos. Lookout towers was built only along the beaches. The tower was a small room, about 6 by 6 feet, and was located every so many half-miles along the beachfront. Kids my age, who were about thirteen, were recruited to man the towers along the beach to spot invading planes. We (my partner in the lookout was Sally Cropper) were provided with binoculars and a phone that rang directly to the coastal defense forces. When we saw a plane we identified it and called in the direction it was flying, the altitude, and the number of engines the plane had. The station that Sally and I manned was located about a mile or so north of the town. Mrs. Annie Pruitt Quillen, the wife of Coast Guardsman Samuel Quillen would pick us up at sunrise and delivery us to the lookout and return to get us before school started.
We also served as Junior Air-Raid wardens. When a drill was held, the fire whistle blew and we jumped on our bikes, wearing armbands for ID and carrying a flashlight and a whistle. Our job was to see that everybody got off the streets and that no lights were showing from homes, hotels and businesses. If lights were seen we would blow a whistle to let them know. The coast was kept very dark so that the lights would not guide invaders. Car headlights were painted black except for a narrow slit. The boardwalk shops had no outside lights and you had to enter through a maze of plywood boards that kept the inside lights from showing.
The older teens were organized into a "minute man" group and trained with wooden rifles to be a defense against invasion. One time our Boy Scout troop was recruited to assist in their training. Our job was to plant a bomb under the old bridge that entered town at Worcester Street. We painted sections of broomsticks red and tied them together to simulate a bomb. We made it to the bridge but the "minute men" found us and chased us all over town.
Fortunately there was never an invasion on this beach.