In the Time of Hitler

I fell in love in the time of Hitler. Turmoil escalated the terror of what we-those of us who lived on the coast of the long, skinny state – when German submarines scaled our borders. The waves no longer reflected silver-blue of the moon. They shook in fear of what lay below their waters.

Two different sirens would sound from a watch tower. One alerted my hometown in Florida that planes flew above, or word reached us that German submarines waited like a shark drawn to blood. The first siren let my parents and I know it was time for a blackout.

A picture from Google images of a World War II watch tower in Florida.

Town officials rang the second siren, a fire alarm, one night. Townspeople gathered to learn where flames burned and smoke smothered. No one had a cell phone to call and tell everyone the officials had pulled the wrong siren.

Planes flew overhead. I could not tell if they were American or German planes, but a sky – once full of stars – was devoured by metal. Officials ordered a blackout. My parents closed every curtain in our small house and off went the lights.

I could not be with my love. Even when the lights came on, my great passion did not exist at home. All my parents had to read was the Bible and the Sears and Roebuck catalogue.

Many days in the summer I walked down dust roads to the town librarian’s house. She looked like a disciplined English governess, who would dab my cheek with a cloth if I cried. The librarian introduced me to my great love the day I opened Life magazine. I sat on her floor as the rain tip-tapped on her roof. The reporter’s words gripped me. Letter after letter wrapped around my heart, and circulated through my mind.

This was it; the beginning of life. A part of me would be reborn in the nineteen eighties. Even in my second form, I would not read all the words I desired in a lifetime.

My maternal grandmother grew up with little in Florida. She told me she often felt like an outcast. While she wanted to discover the world beyond Florida through books, her mother never stepped out of the house without wearing a dress, stockings, and a hat. Her father knew nothing of words except the ones he spoke.

Mimi’s curiosity about the world is reborn through me. Her need to know attitude defines a different mindset, which many still do not understand. The only person in my life to reach through my layers and grip the heart of who I am is her. Mimi knows beneath my wedding band words are wrapped around my finger. They cannot be seen except by those who look close enough.


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