One thing about getting old, particularly when you move in to your nineties is that you become a pathway of knowledge about the past years of our country.

You become an artist with the capability of painting a picture of the life and times that will be lost as will be the ability to let your decedents understand that period of time in America.

There is a saying "It was the best of times and the worst of times". Growing up in the "thirties" for me it was the best of times; I didn't know we were one step from poverty if my father lost his job. Even though I saw WWI veterans on the street selling pencils and apples for a penny or a nickel and three musicians walking down our street playing and than knocking on doors for coins I didn't appreciate the seriousness of what I saw.

Every Memorial Day (which always fell on May 30 regardless of the day of the week), there was a parade on Rockaway Blvd. though I didn't realize it at the time, I had the privilege of seeing Veterans of WWI, the Spanish American War and, one time, five Civil War Veterans, three Blue and two Gray.

It seemed life was good; we were really not aware of the hard times our country was experiencing. We knew our parents didn't have a lot of money but there was always twenty-five cents available for candy and the double feature movies on Saturday and Sunday. In the summer we could always spend several hours in the movies because the theaters were "air cooled" provided we didn't upset the matron and get thrown out.

We had our own team and played whatever seasonal sport was in vogue.

When our baseball lost its cover we taped it with friction tape or we nailed our bats together when they cracked.

Bats and balls cost at least a dollar each (Louisville Slugger bats cost at least two dollars).

Our parents worried about us during the summer months because of the threat of Polio; there was no vaccine at the time. But than everything changed on December 7, 1941 and the dark days came upon us.

Through May of 1942, we were retreating everywhere. There was a ray of hope in April 1942 when we bombed Tokyo and then came May and June 1942 when our Navy defeated the Japanese in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle at Midway turning the enemy back in its attempt to capture Midway Island and than move on to take Hawaii That action involved what became known as the Great Mariannas Turkey Shoot when we shot down more than 300 enemy fliers most of whom had attacked Hawaii on Dec. 7.

Then, one day in the middle of Aug. 1945, I woke up before 6 a.m. to the sound of church bells everywhere and I heard train whistles from the coal yards.

I dressed and went outside; people were everywhere in the streets singing, dancing and crying. The war was over - our troops were coming home.

I'm sure that those of you, like me, who are in your nineties, remember all too well that period of your life and want your children and grandchildren to understand them as well.

Those are the years and tears that helped make our nation what it is today, the best place to live in all this world of ours!

R. S. Bibbo, Banning


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