War Photo on Remembrance Day

by Steven McCabe

dad

My father wrote a poem about a child’s drawing of a rose. It’s both empathetic and melancholy. Am I writing about this poem now? I don’t think so. More of a memory. A young man swept up in a historical storm beyond his control. I remember finding a couple of folded Morse Code flags and his Signalman’s shuttered metal lantern stashed in a box in the basement along with his high school yearbook. He left for war a small town boy and came back a heavy drinker. With typhoons, raging battles, kamikaze attacks and wild shore leaves in foreign cities under his belt. He tossed and turned in his sleep the rest of his life.

after basic training

He was a boxer. Delivered ice from a wagon. After the war he went to the University of Missouri on the G.I. Bill. Told me about an afternoon conversing with the great muralist Thomas Hart Benton under some trees. About Thomas Hart Benton’s kindness. His part time job as a student was shooting rats with a .22 calibre rifle in a Kansas City slaughterhouse. He never forgot the Morse Code hand signals. He quoted Shakespeare. He never became the writer he wanted to be but he was a good storyteller. He said something to me once that opened my imagination into other dimensions. Something about a leaf. 

Morse Code

Floyd McCabe, Signal Corps, U.S.S. San Jacinto, Pacific Theatre.

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