« Somali Kiss - A Novel Worth Reading | Main | The Esmé Years - 8 »

Over Here: 40 - Hotel Berlin

Ron Pataky tells of a time when it was both safe and unsafe to be young.

I can't imagine whose wild ideas it was, but several area parents there in Parkfairfax had decided that five of us young chums would be permitted to take a bus into downtown Washington, D. C, to a movie theater, where film stars Helmut Dantine and Andrea King were making an onstage personal appearance to promote their new film, "Hotel Berlin." (Unless a kid went looking for trouble, things were really quite safe during the war years. No stranger would have dared molest or otherwise harm a child in those days, with soldiers and sailors flooding the city. It was like having a couple hundred cops on every single block - or a dozen or so on every single bus! The first sign of any trouble involving a kid would have required the actual cops to begin a search for the hapless, would-have-been perpetrators next-of-kin!).

We had a memorable time that day. Washington D.C., as one might imagine, was alive and bustling with wartime activity, and it's probably accurate to say that the soldiers, sailors, and marines who packed the city's broad streets averaged perhaps 18-19 years of age, or ever so slightly older. Most of them were fresh from the farms, hamlets, and small towns of America. What we saw that day amounted to great throngs of very young, neatly uniformed tourists, each nervously awaiting his orders to ship out to what they all knew was a frightening, altogether nasty war. They were for a day or three tourists all right; but at the moment, I think, very apprehensive tourists! Absolutely no one other than a very scared 18-year-old could have conceivably evinced such bravado! The whole thing would be an experience I've re-lived numerous times throughout my life, mostly on those occasions when, for whatever reason, I once again came across those magical words, "Hotel Berlin."


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.