We looked at this list
every morning . . .
Ruth Smith



I was sixteen years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the beginning of World War II. When we got the news on the radio, my friend Genevieve Avanzino and I were baking different sizes of star shaped cookies to stack on a wooden pole and base to make a centerpiece for the table, a Christmas tree for a Home Economics class luncheon at Reno High School that week.

The news left us all numb. My brother, John, was already in the Army as he was one of the first fellows in Reno to be drafted in April 1941. Since he had been in training we knew he would be some of the first in battles. When the men were drafted it was for one year, and we were looking forward to his discharge and returning home in the spring. We stayed glued to the radio for more news. At about 3 o’clock Monday morning, John called from Fort Lewis, Washington. He said he’d been standing in line for hours to tell us not to worry. He expected to be shipped out soon and didn’t know where they would be sent. Troop movements were a deep secret from then on during the next four years. “Military secrets” were a part of our lives from then on, and it was difficult for us not to know where in the world our loved ones—relatives and friends, were. We were “world minded” from then on, because these fellows were all over as battles went on many continents and islands. When we wrote letters it was the fellow’s name, rank, and serial number and then an APO number and sent to one of our seaports on the East or West Coast. We were constantly worried.

Later our local paper listed the names of those men from Reno and Nevada who had been killed or wounded the day before. We looked at this list every morning, hoping none of those we knew was on the list. A lot of tears were shed when we saw a familiar name. A terrible way for a young person to grow up with so many lives at risk, thousands were killed every day and the lists became longer as the battles increased.

When we got to school on Monday morning, December 8, we were told there would be an assembly of all the students to listen to President Roosevelt’s message to all the nation when he declared war with the Japanese.


Ruth Armstrong was born November 9, 1925 in Reno, Nevada a half a block from the University of Nevada gates. She was born at home and lived there the first 25 years of her life. She had two brothers and they lived with her mother and grandmother. Her father died when she was six years old. She was married in May 1951 to LaMar Smith and has lived in Reno all her seventy-five years, except for one year when she was gone to the University of Oklahoma while her husband went to get his Masters Degree in Library Science. She was a researcher for the University of Oklahoma while they lived there. She graduated from UNR in Home Economics and had enough credits for a degree in English Literature and History also. Her grandmother wanted her to be a nurse, but there was no nursing school. Her father died when she was young and couldn’t afford to go anywhere else except UNR. LaMar and Ruth had twin girls, and one died. Her daughter Krisan lives in Reno and is married. Ruth and LaMar loved to travel and went to twenty-nine foreign countries. They both took graduate work at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. LaMar was drafted in the field artillery for WWII, and then in ROTC at UNR he was commissioned in the Air Force. He was in the Air Force Reserves for 27 years. Lamar was picked to be one of 50 in the Aerospace Congress and went to Cape Canaveral, Florida many times.




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