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Stories of Hope-Barbara Reynolds

1935-1951: The Housewife and the Bomb 


Barbara and Earle Reynolds as a young couple
 

After graduating from Wisconsin High School, Barbara attended the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University, where she studied English and education. While at the University of Wisconsin, she met fellow student Earle Reynolds, and in 1935 the couple married. Barbara would later describe herself during these years as the "typical uninvolved housewife." She gave birth to her three children during this time: Tim (1936), Ted (1938), and Jessica (1944). From 1941-1945 she worked in nursery schools, even directing one out of her home. Barbara turned to writing and raising her children after the family moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Earle had received a job teaching physical anthropology at Antioch College.

 

 


Unconcerned with political issues during this time, Barbara focused her attention on her family and writing career. While neither Barbara nor Earle were activists during this time, they were both intolerant of racism. When a local minister lost members of his congregation after accepting a black family into the church, the Reynolds joined that church to show their support.

Barbara and her family were not personally affected by World War II.
Earle worked for the military by performing research and teaching communications. After the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Barbara responded in the way that would be typical of many Americans: she was alarmed by the power of the atomic bomb but relieved that the war was finally over. Rather than dwelling on the horrors of the bomb, Barbara was thankful it was the Americans who had developed such an amazing new weapon and potential source of energy.


The devastion of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima


While some activist groups attempted to spread the message of the dangers of nuclear war during this period, Barbara and Earle would not become involved with this wave of peace activism. They returned to their lives as usual, and Barbara was not exposed to any discussion of the atomic bomb or the effects on its victims.

“Not only had we ended the war but this new weapon would make all future wars unthinkable. I remember feeling a kind of euphoria. . . What a marvelous discovery – and to think ‘we’ had done it! I felt proud to be an American.”

-Barbara Reynolds
 

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