Just A Boy Of 10 Then (A World War II Note)
Memories of a summer day many years ago....
A lazy day of summer that made a world of difference....
The boy strolled down the dusty car track road, the summer ‘s fine dry dust puffing between his toes.
“Not much to do weekdays,” he thought, “everyone’s back in the city working. Nice crowds on the weekend, though!”
He knew when the tide would turn and the ocean water sweep in over the sun-heated mud flats. Right now it was low tide and the bay was empty. Perhaps a commercial clam digger would be down their forking over the mud flats looking for steamer clams.
With just a younger kid sister at home with his Mom, and no other kids on this side of the bay, the afternoon’s entertainment would have to involve some creative imagination.
The blackberry vines along the side of the road stil had a few unpicked blackberries, ripe ones covered with the same dust he was walking in. The wild blueberries were going by and he and his sister had picked the last of the nearby ones yesterday.
He saved his stamp collecting for rainy days, and besides, he had the latest which had come in the mail already mounted in his small album.
On top of that, he was out of BB’s for his air rifle until his Mom and sister took him along to the small general store that housed the post office. The store owner Mrs. Douglas was also the postmistress and cared for her handicapped adult son Phil who was strong as an ox, but good natured.
It had been a long summer. The war against Japan was still on, and his Dad was in Washington, DC trying to survive the summer heat and humidity.
Mom and Dad had decided that the Maine cottage was the place for the rest of the family to spend their summer, not only to be away from that notorious heat and humidity, but to be in Maine where the polio rate was so much lower. They were done having children, and their final effort which produced his sister after a series of miscarriages had resulted in her being born at only seven months.
He had had a postcard from his Dad the day before, but waiting for the school year to start meant that it would be some time before Dad drove to Maine to take them home on the family migration, there was even talk of staying longer and even attending the local two-room school that combined grades with each of the two teachers teaching what would normally have been four separate classes back in suburban Virginia.
His walk took him to a cooler place he liked to frequent for watching the tide turn and start filling the basin.
The area was dense with pines, growing so closely that the sun didn’t interfere with the mosses growing at their bases. The shade made it cooler, and walking on the mosses contrasted very favorably to the dusty stroll and occasional pebbles that even his summer-toughened feet had wanted him to swear at.
Had he walked further he could have come to the entrance to the bay through which the ocean’s seawater was even now rushing through to refill the bay.
This was close enough and he was cooling down, somewhat refreshed by the shade from the pines.
As the level of the water rose in the bay, the scum floating on top of the first of the water moved further into the bay and dissipated along the rim of the bay.
The mussels his uncle Lloyd liked to eat raw using his jackknife were now getting submerged as the clearing water gained in height.
The slate ledge at the edge of the pines and the water offered a diversion as he bent and retrieved several slices of slate and carefully flipped them into the rising water to watch them glide to the bottom submarine-like.
It was time to turn back and see whether or not there were plans for the rest of the afternoon, or if it was time to find the dry bathing suit and a towel for the afternoon swim. It had been sunny and the water in the bay, warmed over the mud flats would be warmer than usual and he could swim underwater as he liked to do.
Once home to the small three bedroom, one floor cottage, his Mom announced that she needed some things at the store and they would be going over to get them (and his BBs) as soon as he changed his shirt and shorts.
Fast costume change completed, the three of them set off in the 1941 Pontiac for the store and Mrs. Douglas’ warm welcome. Phil provided his muscular handshake and smile, and the two older women were soon in conversation with the radio playing in the background.
He went out to the front yard to look for 4-leaf clovers, and the clover patch he headed for had the best mutations around. It was not unusual for him to find clover with six leaves and more.
With a bunch of such prizes to take in to his Mom and Mrs. Douglas, he returned just as a special announcement of a war bulletin came on the radio. Life would never be the same. The Japanese had surrendered unconditionally. World War II was finally over!
[This is a true story of a summer afternoon in August 1945. The author was the boy in the story.]
Copyright 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
Another story of this boy's memories....
- Life On The Farm In The Good Old Days
What was life like on a Maine farm in the 1930's? Here is a quick sketch from that time.
- Being A Schoolboy In World War II - A Reminiscence
Had you been in grade school in America during World War II and living in a civilian family, what might your life have been like? Here is the tale of one such schoolboy.
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