The Good Old Days

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  George Santayana, philosopher  1853-1952
The burning of Shanghai in 1937 led to the Rape of Nanking and the eventual merger of the Sino-Japanese War into WWII.Here’s some background from The History Place: In December of 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army marched into China’s capital city of Nanking and proceeded to murder 300,000 out of 600,000 civilians and soldiers in the city. The six weeks of carnage would become known as the Rape of Nanking and represented the single worst atrocity during the World War II era in either the European or Pacific theaters of war. If you appreciate history and have a couple minuted to spare, read onAnd here’s a favorite poem of mine, recommended long ago by my friend Sylvia who lived through WWII and inspired Cynthia of my novels The Venus Deal,The Angel Gang, and For America.  
Robert D. Abrahams, 1938The night they burned Shanghai we had a date,
Bridge with the Watermans in Germantown.
“Now, John, be careful of the game you play;
Don’t overbid. Play safe.”
      “I will, Louise.
Let’s not discuss it. I’m not good at cards.
Lord, it’s a long way in to Waterman’s –
Half Philadelphia’s length, if it’s an inch.
Why do we have to live near Valley Forge,
If all our dates must be in Germantown?”
      (Tonight Shanghai is burning,
      Bright Shanghai of the Bund;
      The rickshas all are overturned,
      The China-hands are stunned.
      The curio shops are looted,
      The fan-tan games are gone;
      The shrieks of haunted children rise,
      The bombing planes drone on.)
Read on . . . please 


My mom was teacher of English, History, and Politics. My dad was an owner of small businesses. They both enjoyed bridge and often hosted friends, usually teachers or school administrators, in bridge games, which is what they were doing when a short film came on the television. We had only recently gotten a television, and the film must have been in black and white.

My parents and their friends were quite smart and aware of the state of the world. I suspect they believed that with the end of WWII, wars were nothing but history. My mom had a crush on President Eisenhower.

Yet, at eleven years old, I found myself in dismay bordering on horror when I noticed they only glimpsed at this film and seemed far more interested in the bridge game than in the film or in my reaction to it, even when I locked myself in my room and either wept or wanted to.

For the most part, I loved and still love my parents deeply, but that night I lost some respect for them.

Here’s the film:

Please keep it in mind when anyone condones war for any damned reason.