Remembrance Of War—George Davis
I remember the year I read about the end of the war in Japan: VJ Day. August 14, 1945.
Two of my aunts and I made a large, man-sized effigy of Hirohito, Japan’s emperor. It was six-feet tall, stuffed with old rags, and we painted a face with slanting eyes and a black mustache. We attached a cardboard sign to his rear that said: Kick me.
We dragged it uptown and watched as several highly excited locals kicked the cloth effigy. The last time I saw that rag dummy, it was draped over the telephone wires on Main Street in front of Thompson’s Drugstore.
The town square was filled with cheering and shouting citizens letting off long-awaited excitement.
A man in his fifties with a small American flag hollered across the street to his friend. “Hey, Tommy, ain’t this a lot of fun?”
“Yeah, Jake it is. Now your brother can come home from the war.”
“He could if he hadn’t been killed in the Philippines. The Japs got him. We got the telegram yesterday.”
“I’m sorry, Jake. I didn’t know.”
“Thank you. Mother is taking it very hard. My father is in the hospital for an appendectomy. I’m going over in a few minutes and break the news to him.” “I’ll be praying for you, Jake.”
The square was closed to traffic. The vehicles had to be rerouted around the village. Horns were honking, people shouting, and babies in carriages wailing.
It had been a long, drawn-out war from 1941 to 1945, and many men died on foreign fields. It was a bitter war, but we helped, with our allies, win that struggle for democracy.
Now, seventy-five years later, we are still not living in total peace in the world. There are wars and rumors of wars; kingdoms rising against kingdoms and men and women are still dying to preserve peace. Nothing seems to change over the years. Everything remains the same as it always was. I suppose chaos is present because man hasn’t changed in millennia.
“Well, Tommy, we’ve seen a lot in the last seventy-five years,” Jake said.
“Yep, we sure have, Jake. I remember VJ Day like it was yesterday.”
“I know, but this is a new century. A new time, Jake. We’re octogenarians now it’s time to rest, relax and enjoy whatever time we have left.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve booked a sky-diving experience with Buzz Hope.”
“Boy, you’re a daredevil, Tommy. I wouldn’t go up in an airplane let alone jump out of one.”
“It’s gotta be a real thrill, Jake. I can’t wait.” Tommy jumped out of Buzz’s Cessna and landed in Wilson’s Field with only a sprained ankle landing.
Jake took up coin collecting along with his old hobby of climbing family trees on the Internet. He thought it was safer than skydiving.
Tommy asked, “So do you have any descendants that were in the Civil War, Jake?”
“Yep, my uncle Amos Field. He was in the Maine 25th CoB a nine-month unit out of Yarmouth and North Yarmouth,”
“Was he at Gettysburg or Antietam?”
“Nope. His unit didn’t see any action. They built battlements around the White House.”
“How are you coming with your numismatic hobby?”
“I just started, but I got three rolls of pennies at the bank, and guess what?”
“In one of the rolls, I found a 1955 double-strike penny in very good condition. It is worth $1250.”
“Wow, I think I’ll go into the coin collecting business if it pays that well.”
Jake woke to a gray sky and misting rain. “Rain and gray skies always make me doleful,” he said to no one. Jake went over to the bank and purchased eight new rolls of pennies. It would take him a couple of days to go through those rolls. However, he was retired; an octogenarian widower with nothing but time on his hands.
Tommy drove over to the diner for lunch.
His skydiving bucket list accomplished, and a sprained ankle to boot. Pardon the pun he hobbled into the diner. Winnie the waitress said, “Well, Tommy, how’s the sore ankle?” “Better, Winnie, but still a little stiff.” “Why don’t you use a cane, Tommy?” “Because I’m not an old man who has given into lethargy. I’m still spry…well, except for that blamed ankle. I am not ready to sit in my recliner and vegetate.” “Good for you, Tommy, that’s the spirit.” Tommy had the meatloaf special. He loved Ken the chef’s meaty loaf with lots of thick-brown gravy poured over everything on his plate. Let’s, for a minute, go back to 1945. Tommy and Jake were in grammar school, but still, remember the goings-on at the end of WWII. “Say, Jake,” Tommy said. “Wasn’t that fun, going uptown, I mean. Those crazy acting people shouting and kicking my aunt’s rag doll?” “Yeah, and my father said, ‘the Japs surrendered, and the war is over.” “Yeah, no more lights out and those noisy sirens going off in the night. We won the war.” “I’ll beat ya down to the Beaver pond, Jake,” Tommy said, mounting his Schwinn bicycle and pedaling like the wind. “No fair, you got a head start,” Tommy retorted. Jake did beat Tommy to the pond that day, but going down the hill toward the pond. He couldn’t stop and pedaled right into the water, his bike sinking toward the bottom. Thank God, the pond was not that deep. There’d been no rain for a month and a half. “Hey, Jake, wanna play war?” “Sure, but I’m not gonna be a Nazi this time. I am gonna be an American.” “Okay, I’ll be a German Nazi this time.” The war was over as soon as Jake’s mother called him in for lunch at noon. “Those were the good old days, Jake,” Tommy said. “Well, except for the war, I mean. We had a lot of fun.” “Yeah, we sure did. I remember your mother calling you. She would go through all of your brothers before she got to you.” “That was my mom. She loved all five of us with undying devotion. And, we were so mean to her, hiding when she called you in for dinner. She was such a good sport; a lovely lady.” The two sat reminiscing remembering the past. “My forgetter is working just fine. It's my rememberer that’s on the fritz,” Tommy said. “I know what you mean. I sometimes go into the kitchen and then forget what I was after.” Jake said. The two remained friends until Tommy died on December 5, 2020. Jake lost his two best friends, his wife, and Tommy Blake. If there is a happy note to all this. It is Jake followed his friend in death on February 2, 2021. They are once again reunited in that blissful place we call Heaven. Thank God for those two friends.
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My forgetter works better than my rememberer sometimes, too!