It's Over- page 8 | History | Smithsonian
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It's Over

We asked readers to tell us where they were and how they reacted to the news that World War II had ended. And what a response we got!

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My parents had taken us from Queens, New York, for the second consecutive year, to Bain's, a small boardinghouse in the Middletown area of the Catskills. We spent my father's vacation there relaxing, reading, swimming and eating country cooking. I would be 10 in two months. I remember Mr. Bain decapitating the chickens we would eat for supper and singing the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway hit "If I Loved You" in a pleasant, unassuming baritone.

It was a quiet time, when I learned you could drink goat's milk right out of the goat. But one afternoon, as I was swinging in the old tire hung from the very tall tree on the sloped front lawn, some cars, maybe four or five in ten minutes, went by blowing their horns on the state highway before us. A couple of the drivers waved flags. And the afternoon quietly sank toward dinnertime.

Later, I told my parents about the cars and the flag-waving. They told me the war was over. At dinner, some of the guests mentioned it to each other, but there were no conversations about it. I think the adults I was with had been expecting the war to end soon. There was no celebration, only, it seems, quiet relief, and a willingness to put those fears into the past.

Francis Henninger
Chesapeake, Virginia


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