Burt Wilson was born January 24, 1933 and grew up in a well to do neighborhood in Sacramento. His father was an engineer at the Luppen and Hawley Plumbing Company. Wilson’s mother and maternal grandparents were German and he had cousins and aunts and uncles in Germany and sent them care packages every few months.
He was in 2nd grade when Pearl Harbor was attacked and due to his age, the war often seemed to be an abstraction to him. But when a British schoolmate’s father was killed by a U-Boat, the conflict and its cost began to seem more concrete. Wilson followed the news of the war in the newsreels and by reading the headlines on the newspapers he delivered on his daily paper route. He saved his earnings to buy a toy gun that he used for hours of enjoyment, playing war in the backyard. Wilson participated in the war effort too – he helped with the family’s victory garden, collected scrap, fat, and tin cans, and once got his picture in the Sacramento Bee with his wagon full of cardboard. Every week Wilson and his friends went to the local Atlantic Ridgefield gas station to collect the newest color photo of a war plane and learned to draw each one as it came out. Planes from McClellan and Mather air force bases flew overhead every day, and Wilson loved going out to see the air bases on “open house day.”
The war began to come closer when a family in Wilson’s neighborhood, the Bakers, lost a son -- killed in Europe --and put a gold star in their window. From then on, people always spoke in hushed tones when passing that house.