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Archive for the ‘“We’d won the war! It was over.”’ Category

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Harold Crowley was eight years old when World War 2 ended. On August 14th, 1945, three months after the surrender of Nazi Germany and just days after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese government bowed to defeat. Across America, and here in Quincy Massachusetts, people took to the streets—and celebrated.

“We had a parade, and everybody had something to make noise. I had a cow bell. So we paraded around the street with the cowbell.”

Given the fall of Hitler’s third Reich a few months earlier, and the utter destruction of Japan’s two major cities, Victory over Japan day–known as VJ Day–was not a complete surprise. But for Harold and every other American whose life had been affected by the war, the announcement was electrifying. It also meant the end of an era that reached back to the great Depression; and the beginning of a post war economy and US rise to political power that would usher in dramatic changes in everything from industry to fashion. At the time though, what would be seen through the lens of history as a seismic cultural shift, revealed itself in practical and even mundane ways. And in economic dislocation. America had placed its complete economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort. When the war ended, it marked the end of the boom in shipbuilding that had kept Harold’s father working 7 days a week.

“We’d won the war. It was over and of course everything was going to change after that and we knew it. Well we didn’t really know but everything did change after the war. Styles changed. Everything changed. My father was laid off. Shipbuilding went down the tubes..right after the war it took a while to transition to something else…..”

Listen to Harold’s story

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