Monday, December 21, 2009

World War II

I remembered I was going to share what I remembered about WWII. (I wonder why this is in italics) anyhow here's what I started to write last night as kind of stream of consciousness. It wasn't in italics then!
My twin brothers were born in August of 1941 and I thought I remembered everything after that (I was 4) but I don't remember Pearl Harbor, I remember more after I was 6 and we moved to a house which made it a longer walk to school. We bought victory stamps in school which we pasted in a book until we had enough to buy a victory bond. We had blackout curtains on the windows and air raid drills. After all this was Brooklyn. We were right on the east coast and then there would be search lights in the sky during the drills. You could look out the window if all the lights were out. And we could hear antiaircraft shots from Floyd Bennett Field. I guess they were just for practice because I don't think any enemy airplane made it to New York. I remember asking my Mother why God didn't stop Hitler but I don't remember her answer. My father wasn't drafted because he was 4F. He couldn't pass the physical mainly because of his eye sight. My uncle was in the army but I don't think he saw any combat. We had ration books (I especially remember the extra ration book we got when my baby brother was born in April 1945 and my mother used it to by shoes for one of the twins) and it was almost impossible to get any fresh meat. I remember going with my Mother pushing the twins in the stroller to a store that was reported to have lamb patties. We didn't have any relatives in Europe but somehow I knew that Jews who were there had to get out. It's hard to know what I knew then and what I found out later. The Long Island railroad tracks were just a few blocks away and we would walk down the hill and wave at the soldiers in the trains going by. Gasoline was rationed and only people like doctors could get it. They came to your house when you were sick. Milk was delivered by a horsedrawn wagon. I remember when Roosevelt was elected for his fourth term and that he died before the war was over.
Everything (wow, no italics! wonder what that was all about) is kind of fuzzy after that, what I knew at the time and what I learned later. Do I remember VE day? Do I remember VJ? I remember Truman firing MacArthur but that was after the war when MacArthur was disobeying orders from Truman. Maybe that's when I really became aware of the dichotomy in the US between liberals and conservatives or probably I thought at the time between smart people like us (liberals) and ignorant people that sang "Old Soldiers Never Die" It wasn't just Democrats and Republicans because my maternal grandfather wouldn't vote for the corrupt local Democrats that were part of the machine that ran NY at that time but in general I guess I believed that Democrats were for the little people and Republicans were for the rich people. Times were so different then. My grandparents lived with us because they had lost everything in the depression. Songs I knew were like "the rich get richer and the poor get children" but I also knew anti-union songs (which I'm trying very hard now to remember) about the union leaders working for the bosses and not for the workers and I also knew some people who made it rich during the war. So as I might have mentioned somewhere along the line I was not a happy kid because most of the grown-ups I knew I didn't admire. My grandfather was the only man I thought well of. Although he had lost everything, he still had his dignity, his love (I thought especially for me), and his sense of humor. I spent a lot of time with him probably because my mother had her hands full with my older sister and my twin brothers and my father was never around except on Thursdays. He worked nights six days a week at the family "candy" store on the lower east side of Manhattan. It was a stand-up soda fountain which sold the orginal "eggcream" My father made the chocolate syrup every night in the basement of the store and used eggs and carnation evaporated milk. Austers claim on the internet that they invented the eggcream. Somehow I have to correct that. So a lot was going on besides WWII when I was a child. Now if I could write about it coherently...

1 comment:

  1. I think you were pretty coherent. I remember much of what you spoke of. I was a bit older than you though. My brother was in the Signal Corps. He went in as a corporal, since he had worked for Bell Telephone Co. He was in the Battle of the Bulge.