Thursday, November 1, 2012

Excerpt from Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True (page 15): 

In the second newspaper photo, taken on January 24, 1954, my brother and I have become Thomas and Dominick Birdsey. We wear matching sailor hats and woolen pea jackets and salute the readers of the Daily Record. Mamie Eisenhower squats between us, one mink-coated arm wrapped around each of our waists. Mrs. Eisenhower, in her short bangs and flowered hat, beams directly at the camera. Thomas and I, age four, wear twin looks of bewildered obedience. This picture is captioned first lady gets a two-gun salute.

The President’s wife was in Groton, Connecticut, that winter day to break champagne against the USS Nautilus, America’s first nuclear-powered submarine. Our family stood in the crowd below the dignitaries’ platform, ticket-holding guests by virtue of our new stepfather’s job as a pipe fitter for Electric Boat. EB and the Navy were partners in the building of the Nautilus, America’s best hope for containing Communism.

According to my mother, it had been cold and foggy the morning of the launch and then, just before the submarine’s christening, the sun had burned through and lit up the celebration. Ma had prayed to Saint Anne for good weather and saw this sudden clearing as a small miracle, a further sign of what everybody knew already: that Heaven was on our side, was against the godless Communists who wanted to conquer the world and blow America to smithereens.

Note: We can see above America's obsession with containing Communism, a half year after the Korean War had ended. (Communism is a passing remark in  I Know This Much Is True, published in 1999.)  

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