Re: Remembering Aug. 6, 1945

Aug. 6, 1945, was like a day in infamy for people in Hiroshima, much like Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was for us. On that day, as a young teenager I was making milkshakes at the soda fountain in the Owl Drug Store on South First Street in downtown San Jose. While the men served in the military, and the women packed fruit in the canneries to feed the country, the kids worked everywhere during the war years. This was my favorite job.  

We kids vied to make the thickest shakes and the most chocolate on hot fudge sundaes. It didn’t matter that the watered down ice cream was made with skim milk because the rationed cream and butter went to the armed services. Pure fun and taste was this job.

On this fateful day, my high school sweetheart was a Bellarmine High School student going into his third year—a year older than me—who I thought was very smart especially since he was taking Greek and Latin. He with purpose strolled up to the soda fountain counter, sat on a stool while spreading the front page of the San Jose Mercury face up on the counter.  

As I greeted him he astonishly pointed at the bold printing, the headlines announced, “Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japan.” I felt confused because we were frequently reading headlines of bombing cities. Trying to understand him, I asked, “What is a yatomic bomb?” I was repeating what his words sounded like to me. That bright young man did not know how to fully explain the bomb.

Sometime later, I recall attending a conference of Bay Area Catholic high schools while waiting in line to voice an opinion on the question of whether or not to drop an atomic bomb. I changed lines back and forth, pro and con, on the question. I really did not have the information to decide.  

Photos of the Hiroshima devastation and of massive burn victims and mysterious radiation illnesses were not allowed in newspapers. Information came much later, if at all.

Now, it seems utterly disgraceful for countries to threaten the use of nuclear bombs. Rationally and sensibly, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, should be signed, plus the International Campaign Against Nuclear weapons, ICAN. Both treaties are promoted by the majority of countries and the majority of people in them.  

Our leaders need to practice diplomacy and not play “chicken” like teenagers, upping the ante, because power wants the cream and butter.  

Mary Zanger


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