Heavy snow was falling, so heavy they could hardly see the houses across the street. They shouldn’t have come. Would the streetcars stop running and would the street lights go out? Would they, Shirley and Tom, get stranded in some dark Omaha alley?
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This was frightening, almost as frightening as that first summer evening Shirley spent on the fog-laden beach. If anyone came toward her, she’d not be able to see them. The fog was too thick.
This was 1942 and the country was at war. Enemy subs were a stark reality. Last year, on December 7, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the country was plunged into war. Eighteen warships, 188 aircraft and 2,403 servicemen were lost within two hours. Pearl Harbor had changed everything. President Roosevelt called it “a day to live in infamy.”
As she was making her way down the fog-shrouded beach, Shirley saw a dark shadow approaching. It was coming fast. Rumor had it that the Japanese had already invaded the Oregon coast. Could this be one of them? Should she return to the house?
But it was too late to run. Then she saw his rifle. And his uniform. He was an American soldier. Shirley felt safe.
But when he reached her, he wasn’t friendly. He let her know in no uncertain terms that she shouldn’t be alone on the fog-shrouded beach. True, he was patrolling the beach but not to protect silly girls. He was protecting the country from the enemy.
But then his manner softened. And to Shirley’s surprise, he asked her to walk part of his patrol with him. She did and then he asked her to meet him again the next evening. That was the start of a wonderful summer.
But then Tom’s V-mail arrived informing Shirley he would no longer write to her, that he was marrying Helen, his high school sweetheart. Shirley was heartbroken. So why did he stop in tonight? And bearing gifts? Why had he come?