A Japanese Zero Over Ohio!

Peter Onksen   b. 1937

A very big memory for me during WWII was seeing a Japanese Zero fly overhead.  The US Army Air Force was flight testing the captured Zero from its airport, Wright-Patterson.

My dad, Joseph Onksen, worked for AeroProducts, a subsidiary of General Motors, at the Dayton Ohio airport during WWII.  They made propellers for military aircraft.   We lived in Tipp City Ohio.

I attended the first 3 grades in the Tippecanoe School system.  We lived on First Street with a levy behind the house that was to protect the town from flooding from the local river.  We kids played war games in tall weeds beside the house and “flew” paper airplanes from cereal boxes.

My sister, Susan, was born when I was  three years old and we were living in Anderson, Indiana (my home town).  By the time she as one we had lived in Louisville Kentucky, Morgantown West Virginia and had just moved to Tipp City.  My dad had been transferred to various General Motors subsidiary plants.

On December 7, 1941 we were over at my dad’s folks house in Anderson.   The men were in my grandfather’s “special room” playing pool and the women were cooking in the kitchen and I was playing with my cousins, after the women heard the announcement of the Pearl Harbor attack, they told me to go to the cellar and tell the men.

I also remember thinking that when the war was over that there would no longer be radio news programs and we could listen to my favorite radio mystery programs.  We lived an easy walk from the town center and I often walked to the movie theater on a Saturday afternoon where I could watch the movies, eat popcorn and drink a Coke for a quarter.

After the war my dad was transferred to the Framingham General Motors plant.  In fact he was the plant electrical engineer and he worked there during the plant’s construction.  We arrived in Framingham before the school year was over, as the mid west school year ended earlier so the kids could work on the family farms.  My first school year in Framingham was grade four.

My memories of moving to Framingham, Mass. include a surprise in how New Englanders  pronounce their words.   My name is Peter, but in New England it’s Peetah.

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