No landscapes today. It has been a day of memories and nostalgia. My father, LeRoy, served in France during World War I and I have been thinking about him. Here he is with some of his buddies:
He didn’t waste much time after the November 1918 Armistice as he married my mother-to-be on May 30, 1919. The next day, Memorial Day, ninety-one years ago today, they enjoyed a picnic at Lenape Park at Mays Landing, NJ where the above picture on the right was taken. I’ve always thought he had a cat-swallowed-the-canary smile.
Partly because of that first visit, Lenape Park became a family destination on Memorial Day for a picnic for many years. In my grammer school years the day began with a parade from the Granville Avenue School in Margate to the War Memorial on Ventnor Avenue at Mansfield. Yep, that’s Bergie carrying the flag, all serious, and giving his best side to the photographer.
Then, if the weather were decent and it wasn’t always, off to Lake Lenape for a picnic, swimming, canoeing, and merry-go-round rides. In later years we tried it again, maybe twice after marriage. The scene below was taken at Lenape Park, probably pre-1959 (no kids visible), with Marty Lou, me, my parents and the dog, Snippie. It wasn’t a nice day as I recall and it certainly doesn’t look like anyone else was there, either. I almost drove down there today to try and reconnect with the past but I didn’t.
On Memorial Day I also think about my brother, Bill, who, as a marine artillery forward observer, was part of the first waves of most amphibious landings from Guadacanal to Kwajalein. He had become an atheist in college but during and after the war he said, as did others, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I spoke with him once, expressing my awe at what he and thousands of others endured, wondering whether or not I could have done it. I think the answer is that one does what one has to and we’ll think about it later. In any event he unpredictably wound up as the Reverend Berglund. He left us in 2005 and I miss him. My memorial for him is here.