C's bookshelf: read

The Peculiar
Maggot Moon
The City and the City
The Road
A Certain Slant of Light
The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Brown Girl in the Ring
Well Wished
The Innkeeper's Song
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
American Indian Myths and Legends
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers

C S Peterson's favorite books »

Monday, January 2, 2012

WW II was how long ago !?!

In terms of the dimension of time, says physicist Brian Cox, we are traveling at the speed of light.  I recently had a moment where time suddenly shifted for me, from present to far past.  Over the holidays we saw three movies that were set in the time of WWII: Dr. Who’s Christmas special, The King’s Speech and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  After watching the King’s Speech the kids and I went to the internet and listened to a recording of England’s King George giving the real speech that told the British people they were at war with Hitler.  Then, of course we listened to Churchill’s speech “...we will fight them on the beaches...” and a few more as they popped up on the YouTube list.  

Besides my wonder at the technology that gives my family instant access to history  I was struck by how different my children’s experiences of these speeches and stories were from mine. My experience is tied up with my parent’s stories. My dad told of leaving school and learning to fly, and how he hated the war and military life.  My mom told of waving good-bye to my grandfather as he boarded a train wearing a uniform.  She, her cousin and mother moved in with my great and great-great grandmothers in Oakland CA for the duration.  My children looked through photos of their grandmother as a child, wearing hand knit sweaters and caps, collecting scrap metal for the war effort.  No plastic was in the wagon.  The women canned everything they grew in the garden.  Organic was normal and all the apples had spots.  I still remember my great-grandmother’s wood cook stove in the kitchen and the coo-coo clock that had to be wound each night before bedtime.  No YouTube or iPods.  In my childhood WWII was an ever-present backdrop to the good life we were living “now”.  But to my children it has moved into the realm of a fairy tale.  Long, long ago and far, far away there was good and evil.  It was close, but good eventually won, and the fathers came home.  Their most visceral experience of the time is when Winston Churchill and Hitler appear in episodes of Dr. Who.  The backdrop in our house is the Vietnam War and Woodstock.  Now the Beatles hover just on the edge of reality, drifting away from humanity and into myth as they too are pulled each day into the relative time of fairyland.


  1. The past is real as long as someone still remembers. This was an unexpected thought provoking slice at the beginning of the year. Thank you.

  2. I'm glad you do this with the kids, Katie, and still make it as real as it can be. You are so right, it is like a fairy tale, and now I'm the one that carries on the stories to my children and grandchildren. There is no one left to tell those stories that I remember. Great connections, but really, the beatles too?

  3. This entry seems related to the one I did last week about the snippets of stories I heard over the holiday. The sharing of stories from long ago and far away and discussing how they are represented in the present is a favorite activity for our family - and the resources available now for fact checking or visuals (or sounds) are wonderful.

  4. Noooo! Not the Beatles!
    I think it is nice that we can keep these stories alive in today's media. I love hearing my kids making references to Beatles movies ("He's very clean" comes up a lot) and I'm happy they enjoy films and shows that mention historic moments. Stories give us lessons for living our in our own time, especially the real stories. To know that someone had similar experiences, dreams, fears, connects us to our past and gives us some hope for our future.

    Peace and Laughter!