|August 14, 2007
|Ignoring Clint Eastwood's advice in "Dirty
Harry" that opinions, like certain body parts, are best
kept to yourself.
Day August 14, 1945
It was August 14th,
1945, I was not quite 2 years old, living with my Mom and
grandparents in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. If anyone thinks
a baby doesn't know what is going on, based on what happened
to me, I've got news for them. They can't communicate very
well, a kid that age doesn't talk much, but they understand
what you are saying, and take it all in.
I was in
my grandparent's living room, a photo of my dad in his army
uniform was on the end table by the lamp. My mother talked
about that photo often, telling me "that was daddy,
and someday he would come home from the war".
Exactly where my dad was, who he was, and what he was doing,
was a mystery to me, but what happened on August 14, 1945
was so spectacular that it burned into my long-term memory,
and thinking about it now, it seems like yesterday.
was the middle of the day, we'd had lunch, I'd had my nap,
and was doing what babies do, hanging-out. Suddenly, a siren
went-off, then another, and another, and church bells
started to chime. The phone rang, my grandmother rushed into
the room to answer it, and got all excited. All heck was
breaking loose. Gramma hung-up the phone, picked me up, and
said "The war is over, your daddy's coming home! "
I remember she was crying. It seemed like just a few minutes
later, my 16 year old twin aunts, who worked at the bakery
down the street, came home in their white uniforms, my
mother arrived about the same time, and there was a lot of
hugging, kissing, and crying, with me in the middle.
I was, listening to everything, understanding most every
word, not every meaning, but I did know something big was
happening. While I'm sorting all of this out, my grandfather
came home. More hugging, kissing, and crying. Grampa said,
"I'll be back in a little while", and left. He
came home later, maybe an hour in baby-time, carrying two
shopping bags. One was filled with fireworks ( Sioux Falls
had lots of fireworks ) and the other was full of booze. My
Grampa was 100% Irish, and even at my tender age, I'd
already learned to recognize booze when I saw it.
phone rang all afternoon into the evening, as friends and
relatives called to share the good news. All the time this
was going on, sirens and horns continued to sound. People
came and went from the house, and Grampa and his friends
toasted the occasion until, as I realized later in life,
they got completely smashed.
After dark, everyone
sat out on the front lawn and fired-off roman candles, sky
rockets and aerial bombs. The whole town must have gone with
Grampa to get fireworks, I remember every house on both
sides of the street had people outside doing what we were
doing. The sky was filled with explosions, noises, and
colorful lights, the horns and sirens never stopped, and no
fireworks display since has ever come close to what I saw
Air Aviation Referral Service
I welcome responses,
and will be glad to post them here. Email your remarks to
It seems to me that the earliest memories that your
brain selects for you to carry forward throughout your whole
life, are mostly the things that made an indelible
impression on your little unformed mind.
years of age I knew that my father owned a very neat gun. I
was later to learn it was a Colt 45 caliber automatic, circa
1913, that he had brought home from the Great War in 1918.
I was aware that this known but undiscussed, really, really
neat weapon resided in the under stair closet, far up in a
nook, at a much greater altitude than my 3 foot self could
ever hope to attain. I also knew that it never came out to
be admired, which I would have been happy to do, discussed,
or heaven forbid, to be used.
VJ day will forever
be identified in my mind with the image of my father,
standing in the front yard of our home, the green of a
summertime Tygart River sparkling in the background,
blasting the heavens with the seldom seen automatic Colt,
ripping through a magazine of 1920 ammunition as fast as he
could pull the trigger. I wasn't sure what was going on, but
I knew it had to be good and I liked it.
mother and dad explained to me that the War was over, and
that my brother could come home now. I thought that was a
good thing, because he would no doubt bring me a present.
Besides, they said, there was a parade in Clarksburg
tonight, and we would go. I wasn't sure what a parade was,
but just the way they announced it made it seem like
The three of us piled into our
1933 Chrysler, with the chrome headlights the size of
watermelon mounted on it's swooping fenders, and I was
allowed to blast the car's horn at every passing car and
every single person we saw along the way. This was
unprecedented and I wondered if this was a new travel policy
or just a one time thing.
In Clarksburg I watched a
parade of vehicles that included practically everything that
had escaped the wartime recyclers and could still roll. I
saw adults behaving like children and children, myself
included, watching open mouthed, as out minds recorded this
exceptional time that would never be repeated.
recall being very tired and being carried back to the
Chrysler for the trip home to Arden. There was the sensation
of the big car moving through the night, while I reclined on
the back seat. I felt I was in a fortress, where no harm
could ever come to me, or to the ones I loved. I wished we
could keep moving forever. I wished nothing would ever
Steve W. - West Virginia