77 years ago...
…a sailor was on leave in Portchester, New York, far from his home in Cisco, Texas. He and his young fiancée tried to get a marriage license.
They were turned down, because—while she was almost 19—he was 20, and being an male minor, he needed his parents’ written permission. There was no way to get that in time—and the church was already booked.
The clerk told them, “go to the next town, Rye, and don’t say anything about your age.”
They did as they were told, got their license, got married (on this date, July 8th, 1945). Their one-night honeymoon was spent in the old Biltmore, right next to Grand Central Terminal. They went out to a show—that featured the famous dancer, Peg Leg Bates—then hopped on a train to Texas, so she could meet her new in-laws.
While they were in Texas, a telegram came, telling him his leave had been cut short and that he had to report to San Francisco, immediately. On the night of July 15th, they boarded another train, headed further west. At the New Mexico border, their train was stopped and held up for several hours. No explanation was given, at the time, but the first atomic bomb was about to be tested at Alamagordo, at 5:30 that morning.
No one knew how drastic effects might have. One scientist even wondered if its heat would be great enough to ignite the atmosphere.
They managed to get to California without being marked AWOL. As a married couple.they were given housing in a quonset hut in Vallejo’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard. They spent a few weeks there, while they waited for his ship to arrive. In their first home, made of arched galvanized steel, at the dawn of the Atomic Age, Texan and Yankee genes combined to create an aptly-termed “baby boomer”… me.
I was conceived
in the cool San Franciscan night,
(distant whistle of fire-storms,
as sea-birds keen
in the approaching fog)
In the morning,
onshore breezes float a headline over the windowsill,
and across my mother's breakfast table
(isn’t it queer, she thinks,
the papers making such a fuss,
over just one bomb,
a single bomb,
dropped on an unknown Japanese city)
“Do you want some more coffee, Jack?”
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