In August of 1945, I was 12 years old, enjoying the last month of vacation before entering the 8th grade at old Highland School in the East End neighborhood of Cincinnati.
I was obsessed with the Cincinnati Reds who were just terrible that year, but I followed them on the radio, listening to Waite Hoyt’s expert calls interspersed with his stories about the 1927 Yankees where he had been a star pitcher and teammate of Babe Ruth.
V-E Day (the end of the war in Europe) had occurred in May and everyone was hoping and praying for the end of the war in Japan. I remember seeing pictures in magazines of how things would be once the war was over. I was particularly impressed with a picture of a candy store display that actually had chocolate bars along with the Chuckles gum drops, taffy and hard candy we were used to seeing throughout the war.
My father showed me a picture of an early television set in one of his radio magazines and promised that soon we would have one of those contraptions in our house where we could watch all kinds of shows, movies and sporting events. It seemed like all the good things would never happen, but then on August 14, 1945, we got the radio announcement and the headlines in the Cincinnati Post – the war was over!
After supper, it seemed like we ought to do something to celebrate. My parents weren’t big on celebrations or crowds, but my father thought it would be appropriate to ride into downtown Cincinnati and see what was going on.
My father had a succession of cars throughout the war, patching them up and trying to get them to last the duration. The one we had in August of 1945 was a coupe with a rumble seat, rare even in those wartime days.
My parents got into the coupe and my sister and I got into the rumble seat. We drove to downtown Cincinnati and the hub of the city around Fountain Square. The night of V-J Day was absolute bedlam with people crowding the streets, hanging out of windows, cruising around in their cars wasting valuable rationed gasoline, and screaming at the top of their lungs. This seemed to be a purely spontaneous celebration – no speeches, no politicians, no music – and when we came rolling down the street in our aged car with the rumble seat, we immediately got everybody’s attention. At least, here was something to watch – not a parade or band – but something different to see. Even with all the old automobiles in use during the war, rumble seats were a novelty. My sister and I smiled, waved and enjoyed the attention.
My sister and I – 1945
Then we made our way out of town and back home to hopes of a bright tomorrow with the return of three uncles who had been on various battlefronts for almost 4 years.
Soon, chocolate bars began appearing in the display case of Schreck’s delicatessen on the corner of our street, and the uncles were all back with their families.
In a few years my father built one of the first television sets in the city (extremely primitive with a tiny postcard sized picture). The war was finally over.