In ’41, my brother’s wagon rolled along from block to block, collecting flattened cans made
of tin, and newspapers tied securely with a Boy Scout knot; our “raw-material” gathering.
The movies changed each week, and we could hardly wait. We took our seats; lunch bags on
our laps. We’d cheer the Allied wins, and boo the Axis fate; we scorned the “Krauts” and Japs.”
In ’42, the Bookster boy, who lived on Hudson Place, was killed in an air-drop over France.
But Evelyn’s missing husband seemed a sadder case; his return left to chance. Their little baby,
almost an Orphan, or at least in part; if he’s never found it meant, “Declared Dead!”
When Evie passed me on the path I’d give a start, and drop my head. With renewed zeal
in ’43, we bought our Friday stamps, and filled our War-Bond Books the next few days.
At night, black-out sirens wailed; then the turning off of lamps and pulling down of shades.
In ’44, when nine, I danced a Javanese Bayaderes at the Kermis in the fall; thumbs to circled
fingers high in the air, I moved by gongs before a painted wooden Buddha eight feet tall, poised
in Lotus prayer. In ’45, surrender was announced, and my Buddha known by all dragged along
the street; hung from a pole on Frankstown Avenue amid drunken cries; pelted wildly with ugly
rotten things; it hung a week. Peace lives! Peace dies! In the mournful purple twilight someone
dragged my beat-up Buddha to a field; and with its eyes still sweetly closed set it all ablaze.
Next day, kids came to see what mysteries it might yield,
while tramping down black ashes in the acrid morning haze.
— Marilyn Miller Brusca
Marilyn Miller Brusca is a retired nurse living in McCandless. She has been published in America, New People and elsewhere and belongs to a small group of writers, Bards and no Bull.