August 6, Plus 1

The survivors of the Hiroshima attack woke on August 7 to the horrific aftermath of an A-Bomb explosion.’ According the military records published by Wikipedia some 70,000–80,000 people or almost 30% of the population of Hiroshima at the time, were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm and another 70,000 were injured. U.S. surveys further estimated that 4.7 square miles of the city were destroyed with few standing buildings left in the impact zone.

Most of the dead were civilians, who had ignored the warning leaflets.

The USA has always claimed that the attack saved the lives of our troops, since the Imperial troops had been defending Okinawa and Iwo Jima with suicidal ferocity and the Empire still held onto vast territories throughout Asia.

Nothing had prepared the world for Hiroshima, but on August 7 Dr. Yoshio Nishina and other atomic physicists came to the conclusion that the USA had no more than two more bombs and that the Empire should sustain the losses and continue the war.

Two days later Nagasaki changed the mind of the Emperor and Hirohito announced the war was lost.

Forever, especially for the dead.

What Will Be Tomorrow – Kilimanjaro

The 2020 Kili Initiative team left Kibo Hut at midnight. I wished them well on the final stage of the climb. The falling snow turned to sleet. My brother Ma’we said, “You should come, my brother.”

“I know.” I had failed to summit in 2019. My right ankle was weak and my thin gloves guaranteed little protection from the cold. “Maybe next year. See you tomorrow.”

I returned to my bunk bed and snaked into my sleeping bag.

Warmth.

Darkness.

Quiet.

Dawn arrived early and I tramped across the ice-encrusted dirt to the WC.

The sun nimbused the eastern horizon and I turned my head to Kilimanjaro. The team had to close to the summit. I squinted, but failed to spot them on the trail. I blew on my bare hands and returned to bed. My old body took its time getting warm. I reached over to my cell phone and called my family in Thailand. Despite the weak connection I was able to say I love you and hear my son Fenway shouted, “Lak Pah.”

My phone still showed bars and I tapped in www.theguardian.com

Joe Biden had beaten Bernie Sanders in Iowa, Britain was leaving the EEU, China’s pollution levels had dropped during the spread of Coruna Virus, and the headline was UK FEARS OF UNDETECTED CASES GROW AS 13 MORE TEST POSITIVE.

The park ranger approached with a glance at the rim. We knew each other for two years. He was a LA Lakers fan. He pointed to my phone and then the Maasai Plains.

“What do you think will happen?”

“I don’t know, but it will not be good.”

The guard pointed to a line of climbers.

“Your friends are at the top.”

“I’ll be in Marangu this evening.”

“We’ll drink beer together at the Big Tree.”

The two of us exchanged a knowing smile, for whatever awaited on the plains coming today or tomorrow was the future and we were happy enough to know a cold beer might save not so much our lives, especially if tomorrow was not today.

Bahati njema.

Nagasaki Plus One Month 1945

This rare photo of the Hiroshima mushroom cloud was taken on August 6, 1945. The Hiroshima bombing claimed approximately 120,000 lives and the subsequent leveling of Nagasaki annihilated 80,000. The US military strategists have long held that these two attacks saved over a million US troops by forcing the Japanese Empire to surrender to the Allies.

Over the years the various atomic powers have conducted nearly 2000 explosions.

Only two were on populated targets; Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

During my youth Uncle Russ told his nieces and nephews that he had been ready to parachute into Japan, when a flash appeared over the enemy’s home island. The airborne troops watched the mushroom cloud consume Hiroshima. The pilot returned to base.

That how the story stood for years.

My brothers and sisters knew it wasn’t true, but we loved our affable uncle’s story and the idea of his being poised to invade Japan by air. I thought he was a hero.

The truth took its time coming and last year on Watchic Pond my uncle explained that after the Armistice he had been stationed to Nagasaki. It had been bombed three days after Hiroshima with the same result.

“One day a B-29 bomber caught fire in flight. Nine parachutes appeared in the sky. The bomber lose altitude and crashed into a nearby mountain. We searched for the four officers left on the plane. The aluminum fuselage had been melted by the fire. The only human remains we found was a half a skull. One of the sergeants said that the B-29 normally carried a crew of 11. Two more survivors should have floated to safety. No one ever heard any more of that story.”

Uncle Russ paused for a long moment.

“We headed into the city. “Everything was gone. Sometimes you’d see someone wandering in the streets, but there was nothing there and I saw shadows on the walls. They used to be people. I was 19 years old.”

Uncle Russ never said more about those wasted cities.

People from wars rarely tell stories.

At least ones that are true.

THE EYE OF THE STORM by Peter Nolan Smith

In early September of 1960 Hurricane Donna struck New England as a category 2/3 storm. The radio station WBZ announced numerous school closing led by Beaver County Day School and closely followed by my primary school on the South Shore, Our Lady of the Foothills. My older brother and I were happy to stay home. We were new kids in town.

That morning a raging gale whipped through the woods of the Blue Hills. Telephone wires moaned with each gust and the windows ofour split-level ranch house windows vibrated in their sashes. The electricity died at noon and my father lit a kerosene lamp, which he placed on the kitchen table.

Our family of seven huddled around the flame like Neanderthals sheltering in a cave.

Several hours later the howling hurricane abated to a whisper.

“Where are you going?” my mother demanded with hands on her hips, her voice ringing with the authority of a woman, who had carried five babies in her womb.

“Outside to show them the eye.” My father loved a good storm.

“Hurricanes are not a joke.” My mother had experienced the 1938 hurricane. That tempest didn’t have a name, yet hundreds of New Englanders had died in its path.

“I know.” My father shrugged in weak surrender to the truth.

“You act, as if you don’t.”

Hurricane Edna in 1954 had destroyed his sailboat on Watchic Pond. The hull lay in our backyard.

Six years later he had yet to repair the damage to the mast.

He never had much free time and five kids under the age of ten were a lot of work.

“The skies have cleared.” My father looked out the window and then back to my mother.

“We’ll only be a few minutes.”

“I wanna go too.” My two-year old brother bounced off his high chair.

“Not a chance.” My mother grabbed his wrist. Padraic had almost died at birth from pneumonia. She wasn’t giving Nature any second chances and sternly regarded my father. “Only a few minutes.”

“Maybe even less.”

“Then go.” My mother trusted my father to obey his promise, since he loved her enough to convert to Catholicism.

“I’ll keep them safe.” My father led us outside.

We lived in the shadow of Chickatawbut Hill.

Branches were scattered across the yard.

Overhead a counter-clockwise swirl of the cloud funnel opened to the blue heavens.

“That is the eye of the storm.”

The three of us 360ed on the lawn to gawk at the storm’s awesome power and glory.

Lightning pulsed within the cloud wall like the Aurora Borealis. If my best friend hadn’t drowned a month ago, the cyclonic display would have reinforced my faith in the Almighty. Instead I said, “Wow.”

Rain dotted the walkway. The wind was soon once more a gale. The raindrops stung our skin.

My mother yelled for us to get inside.

My father lifted his finger to indicate we wanted a few more seconds.

He had fought the Maine’s Great Fire of 1949. I never had seen him scared of anything other than my mother’s wrath. He quickly explained to us how hurricanes formed in the tropics. We were 9 and 8. His meteorological lesson was lost on his sons and the oppressive pressure of the powerful storm weighed heavily on our flesh.

“Remember this for the rest of your life. Few people see this.”

My mother’s next demand was an ultimatum.

“If you don’t come in, I’m locking the doors.” She was serious.

“We better do as she says.” My father guided us inside the house. He gave my mother a hug. She was relieved to have us back inside.

The second half of the hurricane stuck within minutes and lasted into the evening.

The weatherman on WBZ radio announced the all-clear message wagon, as we were going to sleep. School had been cancelled throughout New England. My father was excited as a child on Christmas Eve and he whispered, “Tomorrow Revere Beach.”

The beach there was ideal for watching the storm die against land. Giant waves would slap the concrete flood walls with a force strong enough to make the streets shudder with fear.

The boyish joy in his voice kept us awake for another three minutes, for tomorrow promised to be a day of big waves and wild sea spray.

We could hardly wait.

Meeting Condo Karen in Red Hook

My young friend Haley and I met in Fort Greene after the passage of the season’s first tropical storm. We had originally planned on cruising down Kent Street into Williamsburg, however the evening sky blaze blue and we opted for a voyage to Red Hook. Larry, a fellow African traveler lived in the low projects and was happy to hear I was coming his way. I missed a turning and we ended up at the end of Van Brunt Street at sunset. It was hard to believe a storm had rampaged up the Atlantic Seaboard and the Statue of Liberty marked the beginning of America.

I excused myself from Haley.

I had to relieve myself.

I hadn’t seen the approach of a middle-aged women with two dogs, but she entered the open space before her luxury condo building and said, “People live here.”

I apologized and she mumbled something about low-lifes and I refrained from a nasty comment, since her second dog’s rear legs were strapped to a coaster. I felt more for this dog than this woman. No one white had lived along the harbor in the last century. My cop friends had worked the project’s slave patrol.

Thieves and murderers of the 76th Precinct.

Now Red Hook is the 37th safest area in New York.

Larry met us at the Red Hook Lobster Pound.

Lobster rolls were $15.

Good, but not Maine good.

We walked over to Coffey Park and I told him about my encounter. The young man shrugged, saying, “Nothing stays the same.”

“You’re right.”

“But I had a friend killed in plain daylight the other week. Why? Who knows.”

Larry, Haley, and I ate our lobster rolls in peace.

Happy to be safe from Karens and especially guns.