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Celebrating the end of World War II

Slick and Ed
Slick and Ed

It’s hard to believe the swimming pools are closing and the school doors are opening. Must be time for the heat index to soar.

How well I remember the “good old days,” when school began after Labor Day. Summer was officially over and it was time to get back to studying.

That brings to mind my first venture into the academic world. It was September 1945. Sure, one’s first year attending school is a memorable event, but mine was especially momentous. It happened about the time the Japanese surrendered – ending World War II.

By this time in my life, Slick and I were already thicker than thieves. His grandmother lived right across the street from our house. Slick would make the three-block tricycle ride each day from his house, located on the far west side of town. (Quite a journey when you consider Slater was only seven blocks wide.)

Back then, as today, Slick’s most valuable asset would have had to be his creativity. He has always been able to give birth to an idea that is above and beyond what most mere mortals can conjure up.

Anyway, we were sitting on the cement steps leading up to our front porch when Slick asked if we had any old tin cans. We did. My father’s hobby was raising chickens in the makeshift barn that occupied a majority of the space between our back door and the alley. Dad used old tin cans to hold the water and feed he would place on the doors to his chickens’ individual pens.

Soon we had ventured into the depths of the old building in search of his spare cans. It was an area we had seldom seen because of its “off-limits” designation.

After latching on to a dozen or so cans, we headed for my mother’s kitchen junk drawer and the ball of twine we knew was kept there.

We attached the twine and tied to cans to the backs of our tricycles. We also taped colorful ribbons we “borrowed” from his grandmother’s sewing cabinet on to the handlebars. We confiscated the front page of Dad’s Des Moines Register proclaiming VICTORY! and taped it to the front of Slick’s handlebars.

Slick and I peddled our tricycles up to Main Street and started down one side of the business district and then proceed up the other side.

Before long, others had joined the celebration. The city fire truck’s siren could be heard as it cruised around and around town. Patrons and workers exited the stores and poured out onto the streets. World War II was now officially an event of the past.

That was 69 years ago. Time has a way of dimming one’s memory. Maybe Slick and I weren’t the first to start the town’s celebration. Then again, maybe we were.

(Ed Rood is former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife Sharon live near Cambridge.)

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