Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15, 1945

V-J Day in Times Square

My dad came across a film from VJ Day celebrations in Honolulu on August 15, 1945* a few months ago. The footage came from a colleague of my dad's at the university where he works. This colleague's father took the film when he was stationed in Hawaii when WWII ended. The reel wasn't discovered until the father passed away a few years ago. It was filmed with Kodachrome film and is pretty amazing.

VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 15, 1945 from Richard Sullivan on Vimeo.

My dad also shared some of his own recollections from that day and I loved reading them so much that I thought I'd share them here with his permission.

David Cassidy is an Associate Professor of Business at Utah State University, Eastern (and my dad). He enjoys history, archeology, and vintage car restoration (and he's darn good at it) in his spare time. He makes killer French toast. There's a nice interview with him HERE if you'd like to know more about him. With that brief introduction, please welcome my guest blogger, David Cassidy.

My cousin Lonny and I were on the beach at Cannon Beach, Oregon on V-J Day 1945. We were four years old. It was a weekday and we were pretty much the only ones on the beach excepting our moms (gas rationing being what is was). We saw a Coast Guard dirigible flying parallel to the beach very low just over the breakers, maybe a hundred yards away from us. I remember it was so low that the mooring line was dragging in the surf. The sailors were leaning out the windows and waving and yelling madly, probably at our cute moms. It wasn’t until later that day our moms found out what all the fuss was about.

My dad would trade cigarette stamps (also rationed) for gas stamps and drive us all down to the beach on a Friday, return to work on Monday, leave us there for the week and then come down and pick us up the next weekend. We would do this as often during the summer as gas stamps would allow. We always stayed in the same place: “Nishe’s Shacks” on a bluff right above the beach. There was the iconic Haystack Rock where we would hunt tiny crabs and other small sea creatures and of course play endlessly in the sand.

My aunt got upset that she wasn’t back in Vancouver [Washington] to enjoy the festivities. She loved dancing and would go to the USO dances at Barnes Veterans Hospital there in Vancouver regularly. There was a group of Italian POWs in a prison compound there that would occasionally be allowed to go these dances. I think my aunt scandalized everyone when she would dance with one of them. 

My uncle was a Vancouver policeman and was on duty on V-J Day. He spotted a group of soldiers approaching a Rose City Pie truck. He thought there might be trouble and started toward the truck. Instead the soldiers pooled their money, purchased all the pies on the truck and had a pie fight right there in the street.

Years later another uncle (any older male relative no matter how far distantly related was an uncle) drove for Rose City and heard the story. It had become part of company lore.
Obviously at four I didn’t know all these details but put my own memories together with family stories as I grew older.
Thank you for sharing, Dad. I loved reading these recollections and feel like it's important for all generations to embrace history and learn what it was  like to be alive during these events. I thought it would be especially nice to share it today.

If you haven't watched the video, do it. It's worth the few short minutes it takes to view it.

* The official US commemoration is September 2.


Danielle said...

That was awesome. While there are many reasons I am grateful to live in modern-day America, I do wish we had been able to hold on to the camaraderie that was so much a part of that generation.

Tanya H said...

What an absolute treasure!! The memories from your dad are wonderful too! Thank you for sharing!!

Predilections said...

I agree. That type of camaraderie is rare these days. I felt like we saw a little of it after the September 11 attacks but it faded far too quickly.