Our town had something to celebrate on August 15, 1945: coming back to life. Lead (pronounced Leed), South Dakota was the site of the nation's largest gold mine, which had been shut down by government order in 1942 so the miners would work in mines that produced much-needed metals for the war effort. It was the town's only industry, so the population dropped in half from about 7,000 people. Enrollment in the schools also fell about half. Like the rest of the nation, for four years we heard the phrases: "For the duration" and "When the war's over."
My father, in company management, had been asked to stay. I was 15 years old and had finished my sophomore year in high school when the war's end was announced on a fine summer day. Townspeople headed to the center of town, in front of the post office, to cheer and celebrate. There were my classmates and other students and there were a lot of oldtimers. Everyone knew everyone else. Someone started some music, and soon we were all dancing in the middle of Main Street. I remember a lot of hugging, cheering, laughter and some tears. Our town, full of boarded-up houses and some closed shops, could begin again.
The mine soon started up, and a great many of the miners returned during the next couple of years. Those of us who had held the town together "for the duration" felt vindicated.
Betty Noble Shor
La Jolla, CA
How well I remember August 15, 1945.