In the first installment of this feature, Who Am I to have an About Page? http://mumbletymuse.com/so-who-am-I-to-have-an-About-Page-?/ I started out as a newcomer to the world on a Friday the 13th, and by the end of Part One I had been to California and back, eaten part of a persimmon and part of a gourd, and had finished Kindergarten. Which pretty much sets the stage for the second part of my life story.
Part Two: ME AND THE WAR
That would be the Second World War, WWII, The Big One– the catalyst for the rise to world dominance of the United States. I was eleven when the war ended in 1945, and I must say that I was one patriotic little girl. I was so proud of the accomplishments of my country, in which we had emerged mostly safe and sound (those of us who had not been killed during the war years, of course) and had the distinction of being THE leader of the Free World.
But let me skip the rhetoric and get on with MY part of the War, which began in 1941…along with the arrival of my baby sister when I was eight and a half years old; my brother was six. It was just us three until near the end of the war in 1945, when another sister joined our merry band.
One thing I recall about grade school is that there was a Congresswoman who regularly was permitted to leave fliers advertising her prowess in the U.S. Congress on our school desks. She would come in and talk to us about how important it was for our parents to vote for her. Despite having been told, on my very first day of first grade, by the teacher to “go home and never come back again,” as I explained to my parents when they picked me up walking home from school about an hour after classes began, I did indeed continue with my education. I remember well the adventures of Dick and Jane, Baby, and Spot, the stars of our first level readers.
The main thing going on everywhere was THE WAR. We went to the movie theaters, and were treated to black and white newsreels showing bombs dropping from airplanes, Hitler’s marching troops in huge showy choreographed formations, and in-coming shipments of USA- flag-covered coffins. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and read The Weekly Reader, a newspaper produced especially for school children at various levels. My grandfather taught me about television. He had a floor-model radio, which had a large window area for tuning various stations on the radio, and he said that some day, after the war, we would be able to look at windows like that and see actual movies and real people talking and singing and the like. I was properly impressed…this was undoubtedly the source of my great love of electronic stuff.
Then the newspapers, The Cleveland Press, The News, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer told us every day how many soldiers had been killed in battle, and kept us well informed about the terrible evil enemies of the United States on all areas of the world. Toward the end of the war there was news about Hitler’s atrocities, and the Japanese cities evaporated by TWO atomic bombs. The pictures were everywhere in magazines and newspapers. The newsreels at the movies were relentless in presenting the horrors of war, and these were incomprehensible to American kids, who had thankfully never had bombs dropped on them.
Movies themselves, presented on monster screens in huge movie theaters that always reminded me of palaces (not that I had ever been in a palace) also presented the great block-buster films of the 40s…complete with horror stories about the war. So this brings Me to the end of the Great War, and the beginning of the phenomenon known as THE COLD WAR.
The newspapers treated us to daily headlines screaming of annihilation and pending doom. A particularly horrible series presented by the newspapers contained in part a huge bulls-eye, with segments indicating the extent of the death shadow that marked Cleveland…with its four NIKE missile sites forming at once a horrible defense capability of retaliation. The center of the bulls-eye, of course, meant instant end to everything…out in the suburbs the threat lessened sequentially until by a distance of thirty miles out some percentage of life might survive.
BUT that survival would depend on bomb shelters, which might delay death by radiation by a couple of weeks. As children we were conversationally proficient about hydrogen bombs, pros and cons of including guns amongdbomb shelter supplies, and just how bad radiation poisoning was. So that was pretty much what one little girl knew about THE WAR… The next era of MY ABOUT PAGE will be coming up soon: THE 1950s
please stay tuned…