"Since flesh can't stay, we keep the breath aloft. Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along." --Erica Jong

Sunday, June 04, 2006

WW2, Three Musketeers

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii in a surprise attack, killing some 3,000 Americans. I actually remember people weeping, whispering those words, "Pearl Harbor!" Within days, young Americans flocked to enlist in the service, among them my dad's curley-headed brother, my Uncle Rulon. He spent most of the war years in (of all places), Iran. Daddy joined the Coast Guard. Tommy Dorsey recorded "Kiss the Boys Goodbye." The Andrew Sisters sang about the "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." In the years that followed, clocks were turned ahead one hour as "war time," now called Daylight Savings Time, went into effect. Gasoline, sugar, and butter were rationed. People carried little packets filled with "tokens," little round brown things that could be spent as money. Mama filled plastic trays with a white margerine and poured in little packages of yellow dye to make it look like real butter. Even the movie stars went to war. Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Gene Autry, Spencer Tracy, and Douglas Fairbanks joined up, while glamorous women stars asked us to buy war bonds. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" was number 1 on the Hit Parade. I stood on some piano bench, somewhere, and sang it to much applause. (The end of my singing in public, I might add!) Mama sang in the kitchen, while fixing dinner and doing dishes, she sang as she made the beds, and swept the floors. Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive, E-lim-i-nate the negative. Don't Get Around Much Anymore. I'll Never Smile Again. I'll Be Seeing You in All the Old Familiar Places. The Last Time I Saw Paris. She sang Sentimental Journey, and You'll Never Know Just How Much I Love You, You'll Never Know Just How Much I Care.... These songs became part of me, and I knew all the words. Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning. I dropped little rocks on ants, playing "Bombs Over Tokyo," and I knew how to draw a swastika with my finger in the dirt. Hitler's face, and Tokyo Joe's were everywhere. They're Either Too Young or Too Old, They're Either Too Gray or Too Grassy Green! The Pickin's is Poor, and The Crop Is Lean....

Then President Roosevelt, who so often spoke to us over the radio, died. Mama cried, and stopped singing. We dropped an Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki. We stormed the beaches at Normandy. The war was over.

They continued to perfect the Bomb. Even after we moved from the yellow house Daddy built in Red Mountain to the house with a bird's nest in the chandellier in Inyokern, they continued to test the Bomb in Nevada. We got out of our beds early in the morning on the day of the test, stood in our front yard, and watched as the red cloud rose over the east mountains. We could see it all the way in California. And we could hear, and feel, the rumble of the shock wave several moments after.

People began to worry about the "T-Zone" in their cigarettes, Taste and Throat, and they would "Walk a Mile for a Camel." There was "Never a Rough Puff in a Lucky," and the old 'ice-box' became a thing of the past when we bought a new refrigerator. Campbell's Soup was "Mmmm-Mmmm Good!"

There were "real" faces and "friendly" faces. "Real" faces belonged to Harry Truman, and Estes Kefauver, and Clement Attlee, to Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, to Dorothy Lamour and Betty Hutton. Although some of these faces were also "friendly," I paid more attention to other faces I loved: Sniffles and Mary Jane, Marmaduke Mouse, Little Henry, the Little King, and Little Lulu, with her black ringlets, her cheery smile, her red dress, and her olive-black eyes.

Now cigarettes are politically incorrect, they'll give you cancer and bad breath, and their secondhand smoke will kill you. And Sniffles and Mary Jane, along with all those other "friendly" faces have gone the way of the dinosaur and the dodo bird.

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About Me

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1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.