Here is our final blog post! In this post, we will discuss the role of race during wartime Loomis, the news of the war on campus, and we will even talk about air raid drills! We will also compare Loomis’ war experience to other area prep schools, including bond parades, athletics, and the students’ personal efforts to support the American troops.
Above: 1942 yearbook dedicated to the men of Loomis serving their country
While researching, we stumbled upon an article titled “Chinese Refugees Come to Loomis Via Turkish and Chilean School”. The first sentence peaked our interest most. It read “One of the good results of World War II is the tendency toward mutual understanding among the races.” This directly answers the question we have been asking, what were some changes on campus during World War II? Because much of the war was based on racist views of Jews and others by the Nazi party we can assume Loomis wanted to become more diverse as to not exclude others like the Nazi party did. Loomis did not want to exclude other races and wanted to learn about these people and their cultures. Most students at Loomis at the time were white and Loomis wanted diversity. This article discusses how Loomis increased the number of foreign students they had. It also talks about the arrival of two Chinese refugees from Chile. The boys were asked about the Chinese view of America and therefore expanded their knowledge of another country and the people who live there.
We found another fascinating article about when the 1945 seniors heard a talk about radar and air-crews. One night in the Palmer common room most of the senior boys met and listened to someone talk to them about these training programs. Learning about the war and different ways they could help became a regular thing for boys at this time. People even visited campus to inform students about what they could do or learn to help. Despite living fairly isolated on “The Island,” there was no escape from the knowledge of the war and recruitment of boys and men across the nation to help out.
Air raid drills and instructions were introduced during World War II, and each student was expected to know exactly what to do and where to be when and if the time came. Practice drills were performed often and were taken very seriously. The Air Raid signals was a series of short blasts on fire horn and sirens. This was played so that it could be heard all over campus in case of a real situation in which they would need to prepare all students for. The all clear signal was simple and easy to remember; it was a long continuous blast or ring. This training drill prepared each student for not only an air raid but any situation.
Now, we will begin to talk about the war experiences of other schools during WWII. We reached out to the archivist at Chase Collegiate School, a private day school located in Waterbury Connecticut, and gained an new and fascinating perspective of the war. At the time of the war, Chase was an Episcopal girls’ boarding school called Saint Margaret’s School for Girls. The school was extremely supportive of the war effort, boaders dedicated weekends to attending first aid classes, creating boxes of fun games to keep soldiers busy, and knitting scarves, hats, mittens, and bottle covers to send to send to troops. Even the youngest elementary school students helped support the war effort. We were amazed to learn that the elementary students collected 67,423 lbs of scrap metal in just one drive! They also managed to collect 16 lbs of keys alone! The whole school frequently hosted war bond drives, stamp drives, and even skating parties to raise money for the Red Cross that were open to residents of Waterbury. In 1944, the girls sold more than $22,150.00 worth of bonds! One senior class even voted to make the war bond the school’s mascot! We learned that Saint Margaret’s School for Girls’ French Club raised money to buy an ambulance for Free France. The girls also had frequent round table meetings with boys’ schools to discuss the war.
Above: Advertisement for war bonds from the 1944-1945 Saint Margaret’s yearbook.
In winter of 1943, fuel shortages caused Saint Margaret’s School to close for an entire month. The archivist noted that students wore their winter hats and coats to class when they returned to avoid freezing.
Even after the war, the girls’ fundraising didn’t stop. Saint Margaret’s School hosted a Victory Loan drive to raise money for hospital equipment and aid reconstruction efforts. The school sponsored two schools in Free France and even a Belgian war orphan. A junior class hosted a United Nations themed party.
Above: Students at Saint Margaret’s from their 1944-1945 yearbook.
At Worcester Academy, another prep school, the track team was not able to participate in any track meets due to the school’s strict rationing of gas. Worcester’s soccer team was only able to play a few local games within walking distance. The school’s hockey team’s page in the yearbook described their year as “hampered by two major factors– inexperienced players and the lack of a coach,” proving that they also experienced a rough season due to the war. Worcester’s rifle club, however, had a more successful season. It boasted 37 members who, due to the school’s support of the sport due to its military affiliation, participated in far more matches than any of the other sports.
Above: Yearbook pages of various Worcester Academy sports teams.
Link above: Loomis Chaffee Drill Team in Grubbs Quad, 1942