World War II Memories
I was reading, a while back, some writings of an author who apparently grew up during the same era as I; the era of World War II. She wrote of going to the movies and watching the old Gene Autry and Roy Rogers flicks, where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys and crooks wore black hats. In this politically correct world of today Hollywood couldn’t get away with that anymore. However, as I recall, there was one exception to the white hat vs. black hat rule; a character name Hopalong Cassidy. Hoppy was a good guy, and If my memory serves me correctly, he wore a completely black outfit. Maybe his hat was white; I really don’t remember, and I believe he did ride a white horse. Now that I think about it, his pistols might have had white pearl handles as well. Those things might have helped to offset the stereotyped bad guy black outfit.
This lady writer also mentioned in her writing, the weekly Saturday serials. I also remember those, and how my friends and I used to wait with baited breath for the next episode the following week to see if the hero or heroine would escape the clutches of the villain and his dastardly deeds. They always managed to end with some kind of cliffhanger, and to a kid, a whole week seemed like forever.
She wrote about watching the news reels with the latest happenings on the war. I, too, remember those. Whenever they would show aerial dogfights between U.S. fighters and Japanese Zero fighters or German fighters, we would always cheer when one of the enemy planes went down in smoke.
I recently I attended an air show at Davis-Monthan air base in Tucson where a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress bomber was on dis play. This aircraft brought back a multitude of childhood memories. The Army Air Corps was my favorite branch of the Armed Forces. I couldn’t wait to grow up and pilot a B-17 Flying Fortress or a P-51 Mustang fighter; not realizing, of course, the war would be over by then, and that vintage of planes would have been long obsolete. But, I, and my “air force comrades,” flew plenty of combat missions in those bombers and fighters we made out of orange crates and other assorted pieces of lumber we found lying around the yard (the childhood imagination is capable of amazing feats). I remember going to every war movie that came to town during those years. Kids have a way of romanticizing war, and they want to be a part of it.
More of this lady author’s writings included hearing the occasional siren blowing in the night and the shades being pulled during those “practice” air raids. Seems as how I remember those same air raid practices in Grace. We lived in the converted storefront of an old lumberyard having those typical big eight-foot windows. Mom had roller blinds on the windows, and when the siren blew, the blinds were pulled. I never have figured out how the volunteer fire brigade distinguished the difference between the siren screaming for a practice air raid and a real fire, however. Must have been some sort of distinction, because Mom seemed to know the difference as well.
This lady author wrote of going with her grandmother to visit a Japanese woman in the town where they lived; a Japanese family who had been displaced from their coastal home to an inland location to avoid the internment camps.
She wrote about how she, as a little girl, was afraid of “Japs” until she met this family and discovered they were nice people. I, too, had interactions with two Japanese families in Grace. One of Dad’s best friends was a Japanese man. He owned and operated Fred’s café in our little town of Grace, Idaho. Fred loved to fish the Black Canyon west of town, and would sometimes invite me to go with him. We also had a Japanese family move from California to live in Grace during the war years. They had a boy named Frankie who was in my same grade school class. I remember I wasn’t going have anything to do with that little “Jap” kid; after all, Japs were the enemy. But Dad warned me not to prejudge this boy, and in spite of my early apprehension, Frankie and I became good friends. When the war ended, he and his family moved back to California, and I lost touch with Frankie, never to see him again.
One of the adventures in my book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures, includes a story entitled “Fankie.” It’s a story about Fred taking Frankie and me fishing with him one day. You can read this story by clicking on the free download button at upper right of this page and receive your free copy of the book.