love in time of war

WWII pilots

All day long, after posting the item below, "their flesh . . . revives," I’ve been thinking about WW2. I have to admit that it's not dead to me. I actually remember it.

No, not exactly as a combatant. Even though I was in love with my two dashing and much older flyboy cousins, in the end the hunks wouldn’t let a pre-schooler sign up and fly off to the Pacific with them. And then the war ended, and so did their uniform grace and their frequent visits. Those later war years and the immediate postwar years were to be the last time I was interested in military service – except eventually as the very special friend of other soldiers and sailors.

But I do remember the war. There was the threat from Germans (strange, I don’t remember “Nazis”) and Japs (sorry). There was rationing, car fan belts constantly needing mending (rubber, like our very pampered tires), white margarine. There were paper pennies, care packages from the farms in Wisconsin, certain big news stories. We loved spam (the old kind), and plane spotting (maybe less as a serious occupation than as a hobby) and dealing with the heavy blackout curtains was very exciting (blackout curtains were going to save us from Axis bombers – yes, in Detroit!), and finally VE and VJ days. I don’t remember any atom bombs until much later, but my parents were always pretty good at keeping other bad stuff from us – like prejudice - and bless them both.

Still, one of my strongest and earliest memories is of peeing in glee and excitement on the chest of my knockout-handsome cousin Dick, while he was upright bathing the infant me during one of his frequent visits from Selfridge Field. It was very exciting. I also recall he was as genuinely sweet as he was hot.

Mother had gone out and put the big guy in charge for the afternoon. I don’t remember the baths she gave me. I also can’t remember where Dad was that day, but I do remember he and these two nephews were very close so long as he lived. They all loved each other very much. They were certainly all charmers and they made everyone around them very happy - or so I remember it.