A friend sent me this footage of Honolulu, August 14, 1945. Although news of the surrender of Japan had not been fully verified, Honolulu, full of soldiers, sailors, pilots, spies, military nurses and doctors, as well as a citizenry of relieved Japanese (some of whom had relatives shamefully held in prison camps on the mainland), Filipino, Chinese, Hawaiian, and Caucasian residents, did not hesitate to celebrate.
The streets of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki during my childhood in the Fifties looked almost the same as in these images, except for the cars, of course — even the clothes are not that different from those later worn by my aunts and mother. Honolulu had glamor and romance, especially during the War, and despite its isolation in the middle of the north Pacific, this romance lasted through the Fifties, when I was still a young girl. The footage made me want to read James Jones’ novel, From Here to Eternity again (who can ever forget the film of the book in which Burt Lancaster and an adulterous Deborah Kerr make love on the beach as white water from the rising tide washes over them), or even The Revolt of Mamie Stover, one of my first adolescent experiences of sexual arousal occasioned by a book (just the word ‘prostitute’ was sufficient to make me feel flushed, as were the words, and I’m paraphrasing, “…she heard the sound of his zipper opening in the dark…” from Peyton Place. A seemingly anomalous association re the surrender of Japan, but victory is always erotic.