"Setting the World on Fire”: The Wartime Story of Rudolph Bigda
This paper examines the World War II experiences of Rudolph Bigda, Bryant class of 1935. Bigda’s story sheds new light on the remarkable accomplishments of the Bryant Service Club, a student organization formed in March 1942 by Bryant students for Bryant alumni serving their country during World War II. The purpose of the club was to send letters, cigarettes, candy, cookies and hand-knitted articles to Bryant men and women serving in the U.S. military. By the end of the war, approximately 500 alumni serving both stateside and abroad had received letters and packages from the club. Between July 1942 and November 1944, Rudy Bigda wrote seven letters, V-Mails, or post cards to the Bryant Service Club, thanking the club for the gifts that he had received and informing the club of his whereabouts and military activities. This paper is based on these letters, a three-hour oral history interview and video recording with Bigda that took place in 2010, and numerous follow-up telephone conversations.