War and Blood
I was anticipating starting third grade in Alexandria, MN, when World War Two ended on Wednesday, August 15, 1945. Nearly every kid ran on Broadway with American flags given out by the American Legion.
My vision of the war came from comic books and movie theater newsreels on Saturday afternoons at the State Theater. Kids lined up to see cowboy or war movies where the good guys always won by doing right. Newsreels got us caught up on how the good guys were making significant advances even when outnumbered by Japanese or Germans soldiers.
The most convincing comic book cover I remember depicted green faced German soldiers being beaten back by a single American GI atop a tank firing a machine gun with one hand and preparing to pitch a hand grenade with the other. Another cover showed Japanese soldiers hiding in the jungle with gull winged American fighter planes strafing and marines throwing grenades into pill boxes.
A bunch of us, tired of celebrating something we did not fully understand, decided to play war in the open space between a gas station and our trailer house. I’m not sure if I had shoes, if they were too small for me and hurt my feet, or if I just preferred running barefoot.
I ran to attack an unseen enemy. My unseen enemy became the base of a broken soda bottle. I stepped on it and it stuck in my heel. It wasn’t bleeding much but it hurt enough to make me scream.
A man from the gas station came outside, pulled the glass out of my foot, and blood squirted onto the driveway. I thought I was going to bleed to death. He sprayed my foot with water from the hose used for filling car radiators and wrapped it with a dipstick rag (clean I’m sure). Someone went to get my mother. The man had my wound packed with another rag and ice from the soda machine by the time she got there.
We moved to Texas so I didn’t start school in Alexandria.
I still don’t like walking barefoot outside.