Saturday, December 8, 2012

VJ Day Memory - Nancy, 79

We were living in a second-floor apartment in State College, PA on August 14, 1945 when World War II ended. It was 3 weeks before my 12th birthday. My mother was in the hospital undergoing surgery at the time. Grandma was taking care of me and my two younger brothers.

 August 1945 marked the beginning of our second year living in State College, PA. The previous August Mom had moved our family of 4—herself, my two younger brothers and me—from Wilkinsburg, PA. I never did learn why she had wanted to make the move.

 I do remember some things about the house we moved into. It was a 2-story frame house with 3 bedrooms. We had an icebox in the kitchen—not an electric refrigerator. One of my jobs was to empty the drip pan. A screened-in porch opened off the kitchen. On hot summer nights, I slept there on a cot. One night, awakened by a pungent odor, I saw a family of skunks parading in the moonlight in our side yard. After that episode, I no longer wanted to sleep on the porch.

 Another night time awakening came when my dad stopped in State College on his way home on leave from the Merchant Marine. I know he was stationed originally in Brooklyn, NY, but I don’t know anything else about his time in the service. There was a lot of yelling, which I tried my best to ignore. Eventually I fell back to sleep. In the morning when I wanted to know where my dad was, Mom told me he had gone home to his mother. Sometime in the next few months, my parents became divorced.

Fast forward to August 14, 1945. Mom was in the hospital for surgery. Grandma Lose had come to State College to take care of us until Mom was recovered.  Gram and I were sitting on my mother’s bed listening to some of Mom’s record collection. Suddenly we were deluged with a cacophony of sound as sirens blared and car horns honked; people were out in the streets making noise in whatever way they could. At first I was frightened by all the uproar; then I heard people cheering and shouting “The war is over!” The neighbor downstairs told us the breaking news—Japan had just surrendered to end World War II.

Excited by this marvelous news, I began bouncing on the bed as I called out the window to our neighbors on the street below. Suddenly another noise reverberated in the room—not part of the celebration. Scrambling off the bed, I watched helplessly as some of Mom’s precious records fell to the floor. These were 78 rpm records and they were breakable! (The records were about 9” in diameter, made from a shellac-based compound. One song was recorded on each side of the record; an album was composed of eight records.)

Although probably only two or three records broke, I was devastated by the damage I had caused. One of the records was from her favorite Spike Jones and His City Slickers album.  When Mom heard how I broke them she was very understanding and forgiving. V-J Day was memorable for me for more than one reason. Mom said she was sorry to have missed all the excitement.

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