Speaker shares memories of World War II era in library program

Published on Sunday, 4 March 2018 20:19
Written by Skyler Frazer


BRISTOL - Residents young and old were transported back in time Sunday afternoon during a presentation by Sheila Draper Orefice about life in the mid-1900s.

During her presentation at the Bristol Public Library, Orefice gave details about life growing up during World War II. She was born in 1933, the youngest of five children. She remembered being just eight years old when the United States entered the war.

“I lived through World War II so I know all about sacrifice and what we had to give up,” Orefice said. “It affected every single person.”

Orefice said her brother, George Draper, was drafted to fight in the war as a Marine at the age of 18. Locals leaving for war would depart from the Bristol Railroad Station, Orefice remembered.

“It was very sad. There were many young fathers that went off to war and left babies at home,” Orefice said. “Those men gave up the best years of their lives and all their dreams. … They left as boys and returned as men.”

During the war, essentially everything was rationed back at home. From food to shoes, families had to monitor what they used as many supplies were shipped overseas to help soldiers.

Orefice said that even in Bristol air raid tests could be heard regularly, preparing residents for the danger of potential attacks.

“When the war was over, we ran to town hugging and celebrating,” Orefice remembered. “Church bells had been silenced during the war, so they were all ringing and it was a very happy day.”

Orefice spoke about the thousands of people who did not return home, and those who returned were often changed forever.

“The ones that came home seldom complained,” Orefice said. “They knew they were the lucky ones. We knew the meaning of sacrifice and patriotism, that’s why we’re called ‘The Greatest Generation.’”

Orefice continued her presentation, explaining some of the common chores children would do in the mid-1990s, as well as displaying some of the common fashion during the time period.

The 84-year-old now has five children of her own, 15 grandchildren and soon will have 17 great-grandchildren.

While Orefice doesn’t always agree with clothing and purchasing decisions of the younger generations, she acknowledged the positives of growing up in a technology-filled world.

“They’re smart, they’re technology savvy any they have wonderful career opportunities, which not many of us did,” Orefice said.

Skyler frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at sfrazer@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Sunday, 4 March 2018 20:19. Updated: Sunday, 4 March 2018 20:21.