The War Is Over
Movies have always been my passion, and one afternoon I was enjoying a matinee at the local theater, in my one-horse Nebraska town. During the middle of the show there seemed to be a sound of voices, first soft and then louder. I thought that some rude people were having a private conversation, when the sound increased and seemed to be coming from outside. Folks began to leave the theater when the actors became inaudible, but since it was my custom to stay until the bitter end, no matter how weak the performance. I stayed, but when the screen went black I no longer remained seated.
Once out in the street, I was swamped by the feverish activity around me. People were crowding the sidewalks. I came face to face with the little shoemaker, in his leather apron, still holding a tool and sort of jumping about. The town’s librarian was waving a hankie from some steps across the way, and two girls usually behind the counter of the dime store were in front of the bank with two men who had left their barber chairs.
Our town had a noon whistle that blew at high noon every day, except Sunday, and it was wailing away at three o’clock. The fire department’s big booming blast, heard only when a disaster strikes was not wailing as usual, but was giving out a series of short toots. The little steam whistle on the back of Neiman’s Cleaners was blowing too, not loud, but insistent. Two churches that had bells added to the din with their clangings.
The traffic in that small town was buzzing away – up and down, to and fro, down the sixteen blocks of Main Street. To my utter amazement the town’s most distinguished lady, a real dowager drove the final car. The driver’s side window was down and streaming out in the breeze behind her, in her bejeweled hand, was fluttering a roll of toilet paper.
I buttonholed a passerby, who was jumping on and off the curb.
“What happened?” I yelled in his moving car.
“Germany surrendered!” He screamed. “The war is over.”
Mary Elizabeth Mruzik