Paul Trudel Recalls 1945 Jamaica Plain
In the summer of 1945 I was six years old and my brother David had just turned five. Our house at 73 Sheridan St. Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts was a big two family grey clapboard set back 25 feet from the street, angled up and back with large rectangular shrubs towards the front and sides. In the rear of the house was a small victory garden with a wood pile and small chicken coop that contained some very sharp beaked chickens. World War Two had been raging on since just after I was born. My father Joe, was not in the war. He was exempt because of his age (39) and his having to support two small children and a wife. He was not home often as he worked operating a crane at the Boston Army base in South Boston and put in many hours of overtime in those last years of World War Two. My mother Betty was at home doing duty as a housewife.
I knew about the war as my father had let my brother and I go to our first movie down the hill at the Jamaica theater. We saw Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, We saw the movie one and a half times. Dad told us not to come home until the movie ended. In those days the movies were continuous and so we just sat there until my father appeared along with the usher and his blazing flash light.
My sister Marilyn was born early the next year. My mother had a brother, Larry Towler from Holbrook St. who was in the Navy and stationed at Corpus Christy Texas as an instructor for the past three years. My brother and I would always look forward to my mother receiving a letter from Uncle Larry. He had previously sent my brother and I a picture of two horses that he was riding in Texas and when the war was over he was going to bring them back to us and they were to be ours. One was a beautiful silver stallion and the other a brown and white. In every one of his letters he would tell us all about the riding he had done and the adventures he was having in far away Texas. “TEXAS” a name that would conjure up wild west images gleaned from a diet of the Lone Ranger and Tonto. I remember Gene and Roy and so many others riding the airwaves of our faithful Philco. David and I figured we could keep the horses in the back yard along with the chickens.
I remember the hot August day of 1945 that was to become known as VJ day. It’s been a long time now but I can still picture a sunny day with deep blue skies and high flying cumulus clouds, a tree lined street that led down the hill to the square. The fire station siren was wailing and all of the church bells were ringing. People were running from their houses and into the streets shaking hands and hugging each other My mother came running out with my brother in tow yelling with excitement that the war was finally over and the boys would soon be coming home.
I also knew that my uncle Larry would soon be home with those two beautiful Texas horses. It was a bitter truth when Uncle Larry came home without the horses. That was the point in my life that I became a skeptic. While he could never replace the fine stallions he did smooth things over with a large wooden model of a B-29 bomber for me and a fighter plane for my brother. His excuse was they would not let him bring the stallions home on the train. Years later while at a flea market I saw the very same picture of “my” stallions. Only this time a caption on the bottom read Silver and Scout. They are all gone now with the exception of me, and 66 years later It still brings a smile when I think of those wonderful people and those times.
Paul Trudel may be reached at: rptrudel [at] comcast.net