The Second War and my Grandparents


I woke up late today; really late–a little before 11 AM. I guess I needed the sleep. Between moments of bad colds, and work, and euthanasia, I guess I was just worn out. I haven’t really been able to fall asleep recently until after 1AM.

Today’s soundtrack is brought to me by Spotify. I’m listening to a personally-compiled Greatest Hits of 1940. There’s some kind of an attraction that the music of the 1940s holds for me. This was a year before Pearl Harbor. Glenn Miller is all over the list. Bing Crosby a couple times. Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey, and the Andrews Sisters. The two surprises are Louisiana Gov. Jimmie Davis singing his hit song “You Are My Sunshine,” and Jiminy Cricket singing “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Today’s isn’t a music blog but if you would like to put me on a brain scan, you’d be surprised what you find in there.

In keeping with my US history theme, I’ve been watching Ken Burns’s 2007 documentary The War. He tells the story of World War II from the perspective of 4 different US cities and their citizens–Sacramento, Calif.; Mobile, Ala.; Luverne, Minn.; and Waterbury, Conn. Samuel L. Jackson, Adam Arkin, and Tom Hanks all provide their voices for dramatic readings of various passages. The music is great, when not punctuated by artillery and screams of dying men.

Both my grandfathers served in the war. Grandpa Spurgeon was in the navy, in the Pacific theater. His family was so sure he would not return, that in a moment of callousness they gave away his entire wardrobe to my Aunt Adelaide’s then-boyfriend. He returned, of course, or I would not be here. Grandpa Farmer never made talk about the war. I know once or twice he met up with buddies who served with him, but he never mentioned his years there. He had always led me to believe that his service in Italy was a relaxing walk down the Appian Way. I just finished watching the third installment of the documentary. I had always assumed that once Mussolini was deposed, the fighting in the Italian peninsula just went away. I was wrong of course. Ignorance is a painful thing. I wish now I’d known what sacrifices he made.

I was impressed recently by a TedTalk with Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps. In around 10 years ago, he put an inteview booth in Grand Central Terminal in New York City, where anyone could interview one-on-one family, friends, or people who otherwise had an impact on their lives. It became an immediate hit and now there are over 60,000 stories archived.

When I was growing up, my grandparents would sing snippets of songs they loved, probably from their teens and 20s. I’m listening to their music now. It’s my music today. And I’m wondering how much of their lives I missed. As I write these words, Jiminy Cricket began singing and I felt my eyes well up, just a bit, with tears.

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and pulls you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dream comes true

Wow. I’m becoming maudlin this week. Or maybe I’m being selfish. Maybe the past belongs in the past. Maybe there are things my grandparents didn’t want me to know because they wanted to spare me the hurt and the pain that the war caused for them.

*****

In completely other news, I just had an offer from a blog “follower” who said they can’t read this blog on the web browser “Skvllfvcked 86” and to click their link to figure out how to fix that. Riiiiiight. It’s the first time in over a month that WordPress’s spam filter has failed me. The follower (I think their name was “detmetel”) is gone and blocked. I don’t have time for advertisements or viruses posing as interested readers. Thanks to all of you readers who don’t sell me candles or wraps or Amway at the site, and particularly, thank you for not asking me to fvck their skvll web browser.

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