Caitlin Harper was one of several student writers from around the U.S. and world whose stories about their family history were chosen for an anthology.
“Echoes from World War II: Young Writers Sharing Family Stories” has been published by The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration in honor of its 10th anniversary.
A nonprofit corporation based in St. Louis, The Grannie Annie invites students in U.S. grades 4 through 8, and homeschooled and international students of comparable ages, to interview an older relative, write a story about something from their family’s history, share their story with their extended family and community, and submit their story to The Grannie Annie for possible publication in an annual volume.
“Echoes” is The Grannie Annie’s first themed collection. Its 46 stories — from student authors in 17 states plus India and Moldova — had previously been published in one of The Grannie Annie’s annual volumes.
Caitlin’s story, titled “Oranges on the Beach,” tells about the time when her grandmother was a child in Wales and oranges washed up on the beach after a cargo ship was torpedoed.
The story was first published in the electronic edition of “Grannie Annie, Vol. 6,” in 2011, when Caitlin was a seventh-grader at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Meridian. Today she is a senior at Mountain View High School, looking forward to pursuing a degree in physical therapy and athletic training.
Individually, the stories in “Echoes” are compelling and varied, taking place on battlefields, in prison camps, and in homes in 20 countries around the world, according to a press release from The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration. Collectively, the stories embody the war itself, beginning with Hitler’s rise to power and ending with the sentiments of a Japanese-American 25 years after the war’s end.
In his foreword to “Echoes,” Jody Sowell, director of exhibitions and research at the Missouri History Museum writes, “The stories included here offer personal and powerful perspectives on World War II and what it meant to the people who lived through this period in our history. ... These young authors — these young historians — are doing incredibly important and engaging work.”
Buy the book
“Echoes from World War II” is available as a paperback book ($14.95) and an eBook ($9.95). It can be purchased from Amazon.com, Left-Bank.com and TheGrannieAnnie.org.
“Oranges on the Beach” by Caitlin Harper
Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales, UK
Have you ever had so little going on in your life and then had something good come along? It’s surprising, really, to think that miracles actually can happen.
In 1943, when World War II was happening, people were extremely low on food. In Wales they had things called “rations” — people got a set amount of butter, milk, sugar, etc. a week. It’s easy to say that they barely ever got fruit or sweet things.
It was a normal summer day on the coast of Wales, except for the fact that the war was happening. Valerie woke up, did her morning chores and collected the rations. Her mom suddenly came bursting through the door and said, “Valerie! Go down to the beach and collect as many oranges as you can! The Germans torpedoed a cargo ship filled with oranges!” Valerie rushed down to the beach to find not only a few dozen oranges, as she had expected, but hundreds!
That evening Valerie and her mother sampled a few of the oranges to find that they were cooking oranges! Her mother said she would never get enough sugar to make marmalade, but she would put some aside every week to save for it.
Soon they had enough sugar. Then Valerie and her mom spent a big part of a day making marmalade. They made so many jars it lasted them a whole year!
“That marmalade was so good,” said Valerie. “It’s a shame it didn’t last longer; I suppose it was a break from all the negativity all the time.”
Valerie, my grandmother, found out that even in the toughest times, good things can come. Just try to stay positive, and things will be OK in the end.
(Original Copyright, 2016) “Echoes from World War II: Young Writers Sharing Family Stories” published by The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration.