“All The Beautiful Young Men”

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June 6, 1944 Landing craft at Omaha Beach.

“All the Beautiful, Young Men”

I see the beauty in their brave-lit eyes.

At Omaha, it is their shining hour.

The camera’s caught the gray of early dawn.

Men stand; committed to a greater power.

The ramp now opens; there’s the glint of morn.

No turning back ; this is no time for pause.

Momentum made and like the muscle torn

from out its place , it is for raging cause.

“Oh, captain! I have done my duty now.

I’ve given you my soul and this bold heart.

I’ve nothing more to offer or endow.

As water takes my body, I depart.”

War, then, would strip bravado from their smile;

our young men gone in such a little while.

(copyright, Jacqueline Casey 2013)

“Dark Memories”

Halloween 1942-1It is the end of an idyllic summer on Tanglewood Street in Daytona Beach, Florida. My sister, age 6, is excited and practices her Frankenstein walk all afternoon and I, age 8, can’t stop looking at myself in the mirror. A magical transformation has taken place. I am a black and terrifying spider. It does excite me to pretend to be what I am not. It is fun to feel strong and confident behind that mask against a scary world.

It is 1942. The Second World War is on everyone’s mind; a different sort of scary.
There are newspaper collection drives. We gather old rubber bicycle tires as a basis for raw material that eventually become a part of the Armed Services equipment sent to England. Some people hoe Victory Gardens behind their homes as a way to help the war effort. Some grow lettuce patches for a salad or two, but I only remember failing as a farmer who mulched a strawberry patch but nothing came of it before the bugs took over. Air Raid Wardens in hardhats knock on your door if you forget and leave a porch light on during a practice for an Air Raid “blackout”. As a child of eight, I am aware of war and what it means to be “male” and how lucky I am to be a girl; never forced to go to a place from which I may never return. I feel this is unfair. How is it that courage is demanded of some and not of others? It leaves me confused. I try to make sense of my world, but fail.

Halloween has been, traditionally, a time when people ‘celebrate’ and laugh at the fearful, the future or the scary. It becomes an outlet for facing superstition, magic and things that go bump in the night that cannot be explained and so the farce continues. Each generation tries by wearing a mask of their own and challenging the fearful.

My sister and I walk the darkened streets of downtown Daytona Beach that night with our mother between us, holding our hands. It is a grand, candlelit fantasy; the singing, the dancing, the costumes, the candy…before the truth of war descends and I feel small again.

(re: photo is pic of my sister (she’s Red Riding Hood) and myself (far right) dressed as some kind of Spanish male dancer for Halloween in the 1940’s. Observe my face. I was a very serious little girl, even then.)

Day 10, NaPoWriMo


Afflicted By Censure Divides
Each Family.
Germany’s Hitler Incensed Jews,
Killing Liberty.
Murderous Nazi’s Open
Poisonous Quaffs,
Remarking: “Strange Tremors,
United Vitriolic,
Writhing Xenophobia.

Yiddish Zealots!”

Write an abecedarian poem of 26 words, in which each word begins with a successive letter of the alphabet.

Chimera 66

June 6, 1944
June 6, 1944

Cold shudders, early angst this warm, June day.
For many, it will be our hero’s last.
The heart that wildly beats foresees the fray;
a holding of each breath before
the roar of bullets sting the air.

Among the still-born, glassy eyes of men
who now lie limp upon this beach’s shore,
I see the halted grin; the sigh of children
seeking only love; wanting more.

(write about “angst”: a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish in exactly 66 words)

4,414 (#confirmed) young men lost their lives in the Normandy Invasion June 6, 1944.

“Things That Go Bump in the Night”

Jeanie and I sit in our upstairs bedroom and wait for the eerie sound of a rusty-hinged door creaking shut and the hollow, sinister laugh of  “The Shadow” on our radio.  It is 1942 and 7:30 in the evening.

“Aheeheehee, the Shadow knows!”

Our modest stucco bungalow, set close to a paved, busy street is minutes from downtown Daytona Beach, Florida.  The street is quiet after 8 and a Lights Out situation becomes part of the current Civil Defense.  The 2nd World War has created Captains in hard-hats; flashlight weapon in hand, they patrol the neighborhood.  If you forget and leave your front porch light on,  Mr. Barnett, our hard-hat neighbor, comes calling.

Jeanie and I often play jacks on the front porch and wait for Mom to come home from her Civil Defense  job.  She serves food to workers in an airplane parts factory on the second, ‘supper’ shift.  We romp with the neighborhood kids in the cool of the evening, playing hide-and-seek, but tonight anticipation is high as our favorite radio program is about to begin.

Glued to the sounds in the safety of our upstairs bedroom,  we are frightened out of our skin by that swashbuckler, Lamont Cranston and his faithful sidekick, Margo, as they set out on another startling adventure.  Tonight  they promise to take us into the “Land of the Living Dead” complete with nefarious zombies lurking about.  During the broadcast, I know it is not safe to look over my shoulder or behind me for you never know what might be lurking there!

It is a quaint little house.  Our bedroom sits in a tiny attic, nestled  in the center of what was once a storage area, accessed by a narrow staircase along one side of the living-room wall.  One small, screened window to keep the birds out faces the street below.  In bad weather,  an old, oilcloth tablecloth is rolled down to keep the rain out.

Close in age, Jeanie and I are close for other reasons I will not discuss except to say Daddy is an alcoholic and sometimes he is home and sometimes he is not.  Jeanie and I adore him.  He always has a ready hug and smile for us.  He is a happy drunk.  Mother  is the “warden”, chief cook and bottle-washer and lawmaker on the premises and lays down the rules for girls with lively imaginations.

“Heeheehee!  What evil lurks in the hearts of men…?  The Shadow knows!  Good evening, friends and welcome once again to our program, sponsored by ‘Super Suds'”.

It is here three Wizard-of-Oz  midgets sing the jingle:  “Supersuds, Supersuds, lots more suds with Supersuds!”

My plan forms as I gather up Dad’s old, black overcoat and hat from beneath my bed.  Weaned on the “The Shadow” and “The Inner Sanctum”  radio programs and old Bette Davis histrionics at our local movie theater,  I am the actress reborn!   I love anything overly dramatic, ridiculously soapy-romantic or terrifying.   The script and sound effects on radio make my hair stand on end.  Imagination allows me to go “into the scene”, and I become Bette Davis!

Saturdays are the highlight of life.  Mother gives each of us a quarter; eight cents for the movie ticket and five cents each for the popcorn and Orange Crush.   Our life is one of excitement and wealth!

I may become Boris Karloff or Bella Lugosi.  If I sneak up on my little sister dressed in Dad’s old, black overcoat,  hold it up just below my eyes and make a guttural,  evil, laughing noise,  she will respond with a big screech and run to tell mother I have frightened her.  As mother is not home yet, my plan takes shape.

But almost there, my plans begin to stray.  Just as Lamont Cranston and Margo are about to get to the most bone-chilling, dangerous part of their mission, we  hear heavy feet moving up our staircase…

“Mom…?  Dad…?”

No answer.  We both cower beneath Dad’s overcoat and wait to see what monster emerges into our little room.  Whoever it is has a flashlight,  waving intently,  back and forth…back and forth.  The light is blinding us but we recognize the voice:

“Girls!  Your mom called to say she will be late tonight!  Jackie, you are to make peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.  There is milk in the fridge.”

Oh, my gosh… Mr. Barnett with his hard-hat and flashlight from next door!

“Stay put, girls, and behave yourselves!”

My stomach does not  feel so good.  I decide not to scare Jeanie,  after all.   In retrospect,  I am learning things don’t always go as planned as we huddle  a little closer to each other and wait for Mom to come home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“All the Beautiful, Young Men”(2)

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“All the Beautiful, Young Men”

I see the beauty of his sober eyes.

At Omaha, it is his shining hour.

The camera has caught the scene at sunrise.

He’s standing in that moment of great power.

The ramp now opens; there’s the glint of dawn.

There is no turning back; no time to pause.

His choice is made and like a muscle torn

from out his heart , it is for raging cause.

“Oh, captain! I have done my duty now.

I’ve given you my soul and all my heart.

I’ve nothing more to offer or endow

as water takes my body, I depart.”

War cannot strip their beauty or that smile.

Our young men gone in such a little while.