it’s all about perspective

today, i met a friend of my mother’s who grew up in germany during world war II. unfortunately, because of the sea of children present, i couldn’t ask her more about her life. but she told a story which i found fascinating.

she and her family had been living in their cellar for two weeks when germany surrendered to the allies. she must have been about 8 or 9 years old at the time. they hung a white sheet out so that the troops would know that they had surrendered. when she and her sibling came out of the house, they met american troops for the first time.

she watched these young men, who were chewing and chewing but never putting additional food in their mouths. she was completely puzzled; are they like cows, she wondered, chewing on cud? but no. she finally learned – they were chewing on bubble gum. she had never seen or heard of bubble gum before.

my mother chimed in at this point. “ah,” she said. “bubble gum was scarce then. i remember lining up the first day that they had bubble gum at the candy store near my home in brooklyn. i ran out of school and waited my entire lunch hour for a piece of bubble gum, so long that i missed my lunch at home and my mother, worried out of her mind, was about to call the police about me.”

she added, laughing, “so, the GIs had all the gum, huh ;-)”


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