by Peter C. Conrad
I liked going to the baby sitters which was a family of two older sisters and one of the sister’s husband; I never really knew who was the married sister, and could remember their names, I just called them the Luftwaffe family, because the husband, a quiet and kind man had been with the German air force during the Second World War. This made perfect sense as they ha always said that they were in the Old Country fighting and were they were done they came to live in Canada. They had retired from the war, which continued as my friends and I knew that the Second World War was still continuing at the time, in the mid-1960s. Every time you turned on the radio there was only big band music. There was Verra Lynn singing about how we all meet when the light back on all around the world. You could see the black and white newscast of the War on the new televisions we were all getting at the time, and there were daily tests of the air raid sirens at noon in town, with one situated just outside Mountain View School.
The siren sounded at night to let the volunteers of the town’s fire department know they had to hurry to the station for a fire. Perhaps the fire was because a bomb had been dropped. No one had told any of us about the DEW Line, the Distant Early Warning Line in the far north to monitor the movement of Russian bombers over Canada and into the United States, an institution of the Cold War, not the Second World War. When we had a Second Grade discussion about what we wanted to be when we grew up, almost every boy and girl answered that we wanted to be one of the services. The girls were going to enter the Women’s Division of the RCAF, or the Naval Auxiliary. The boys were scattered through all of the various services, as I was going to be in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The teacher’s expression was amused at first and then it turned to confusion and concern: there was no major military facility attached to the town. There were survival-training facilities at Blue Lake, but nothing to suggest that we were all related to military families.
She shook her head and looked at me, and asked, “Why do you all want to join the military?”
“To fight in the Second World War,” I said.
“The Second World War,” she said, confused.
“We want to help win it,” said Greg, a classmate.
“Win it?” questioned the teacher. We all smiled and nodded. “But, it’s over,” she said. “It has been over for nearly twenty years.”
We stared in disbelief until someone asked, “Who won?”
“We did,” she said without hesitation.
The class roared with excitement. She quickly made her way back to her desk, disoriented and speechless.