A Wartime Favor Brings a Special Gift As a young girl, Jean Thackeray met a German prisoner-of-war working on her father's Utah farm. The unlikely encounter led to a brief exchange that she remembers more than 60 years later.
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A Wartime Favor Brings a Special Gift

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A Wartime Favor Brings a Special Gift

A Wartime Favor Brings a Special Gift

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DEBORAH AMOS, host:

Time now for StoryCorps. This project has been traveling around the country recording everyday Americans talking about their lives.

Today, a story from World War II. During that conflict, the U.S. military ran prisoner-of-war camps across the country. One of them was in Tremonton, Utah. Jean Thackeray was growing up nearby. One day, she met one of the German prisoners when he came to work on her father's farm.

Ms. JEAN THACKERAY: During the war, most of the men were gone. And so there was a lot of need for people to come and thin the sugar beets and to cultivate the potatoes. So they brought the German soldiers in from Tremonton, Utah. And they had guards with them. And when they brought them in, why, I had a role that my dad gave me, I had to do - but it was way, away from the soldiers. And I would weed and they would weed.

And then one night, when they were all through, I was still out in the field, and one of the soldiers was crying. And I went up and - to the garden. I said, what's wrong? And he had said, he has a little bible that he'd brought from Germany and he had it with him all of his life. And he's lost it somewhere in that field. And he's heartbroken over it.

And I stayed until I found the soldier's bible in the field, because I knew which row he was working on. And I found it. Then when he came back the next day, I gave it to him. He was so thankful. And of course, he wanted to give me a hug but he couldn't. And so he asked the guard if he had a nickel. And the guard gave him a nickel and he went back and carved out of that nickel a special little necklace for me, and brought it back to me the next day.

He'd left the band of the nickel all the way around but he had carved a little hole in the top and that it looked like it was a half-moon. And then I put it on my necklace.

Ms. SUSAN THACKERAY (Jean's Daughter-in-Law): I've never heard that story before.

Ms. J. THACKERAY: Haven't you?

Ms. S. THACKERAY: You'll have to show that to me.

Ms. J. THACKERAY: Mm-hmm. I will.

AMOS: This interview will be archived with all the others at the Library of Congress. Subscribe to the StoryCorps Podcast at npr.org.

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