Story Walk: tennis

Story Walk: "tennis"


In 1944 while my father played tennis or softball at Cobbs Hill my mother spread a blanket on grass. My friends and I played on the swings, see-saws and sandboxes nearby.

A bit up the road was a prisoner of war camp which held German soldiers.

I remember standing on one side of the barbed wire fence with parents and children and seeing men my father’s age on the other side.

They were german prisoners of war. Some of the smiling men reached out to tousle our hair while others stood with tears in their eyes. I was not afraid. I remember bringing cookies and other things to them.

The next year we moved to the Cromwell Drive house. The New York Central Railroad tracks were high up a hill in back of the houses across the street.

My dad was an air raid warden and would leave the house on nights when the sirens started wailing. Lights were out, shades were drawn, and all became quiet in the neighborhood.

Often a train would come by chug chugging up on the hill behind the houses across the street from us.. For some reason this frightened me. I imagined prisoners of war being transported to Rochester jumping from the train cars, coming down the hill and invading our home. I’d pull the blankets up around my head and be frightened until I heard dad open the front door and call out to my mother.

My Uncle Ralph was on a mine sweeper in the Pacific fighting the Japanese. Late in the war when he came home my cousins and I were told not to bother Uncle Ralph as he was very, very sad. I remember him getting angry and overhearing aunts and uncles saying how horrible it was for him to have seen ships hit by mines sink, sailors dying and more.

This only increased my nightmares. The Germans on the trains at night became Japanese prisoners of war in my mind.

One day, in 1945 as we were on our way home from visiting relatives in New Jersey. My parents were listening to the car radio as we drove into a small town in upper New York state. Traffic stopped as people left their cars and danced in the streets. I remember hearing the announcement that the war was over. Our family joined the others in celebration of the news.