Music was a huge influence in my parents’ lives. They danced; they sang. My mother and her brother participated in Dancethons in California, when they both lived there, he in the military in Wilmington and she building stealth gliders.
Jo Stafford’s I’ll Be Seeing You, along with every other young American in love during the war, was my parents’ song. My dad was too old for the service (b 1905) but he made good money tending bar and that’s how he met my mother. When she left California with a broken heart, she never intended to be swept off her feet by a handsome bartender in Seattle, sixteen years her senior. They were married three weeks after meeting; a marriage that lasted 42 years.
They loved to dance and I have fond memories of singing hits of the 40’s with extended family, gathered around the piano while mom tickled the ivories. I think a lot of people left a hunk of their heart in that decade. They lost so much.
Soldiers and sailors were everywhere. Seattle was a port and young men, some who lied about their age to enlist, were shipping out at Bremerton.
There were many restaurants and clubs in Seattle, including the Black and Tan (12th and Jackson), where my mom told me the jazz was incredible, the crowd very dark-skinned and the atmosphere never boring. She said famous people, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Lionel Hampton played there and toured up and down the coast. The Town Ranch (at 8th and Pine) was one of their favorite spots and they frequented John Q Public, which is where this photo was taken in the spring of 1944. Pictured with my parents are three young boys who were shipping out the following day. The child on the left called himself Johnny Angel. My mom said he couldn’t have been over 16, maybe younger.
When I think of D-Day, I always picture these three sailors, getting pickled with my parents the night before they boarded ship to go win a war. Normandy was a slaughter, as we know. There was an estimate of 4,500 allied soldiers who died that day; 10,000 more casualties.
Give a listen to Jo Stafford to take you back to a different time.
May all our sweet young boys rest in peace. Thank you to all who have served.