On a mild winter afternoon in December 1941, Arthur rode his bicycle through the twisting streets of downtown Everett. He didn't see many people outside. That Sunday, most everyone was huddled around the radio listening to the football game between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
He took advantage of the mild day and figured he'd catch the end of the game once home. He was fifteen and more important things than football were on his mind. His thoughts turned to all the pretty girls at school. The transition from parochial school to Everett high school had stunned him at first. He suddenly found himself surrounded by girls that had been denied him in Catholic school.
He dreamed of dating and marrying down the road. Just dreams, he thought. Right now, he felt his shyness would keep him single forever. When he wasn't thinking about girls, he thought about radios. He opened them up and explored their inner workings, the wires winding through tubes like roadways. He thought that maybe one day he'd be an inventor. Sometimes, late at night, he'd look up at the moon and dream of the future and possibilities.
A thousand thoughts buzzed in his head as it does with teenage boys. At first, he didn't notice the people swarming in the streets until he heard shouting. He pulled up near a group of men. Their voices raged and the anger in the air was palpable.
"The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor"
"They sank all our ships."
"Goddamn sneaky bastards."
"There's going to be hell to pay mister- you mark my words."
The news filled Arthur with fear and excitement. War, he thought, a real live war. His mother worried that this day was coming. He turned his bike around and sped off for home as fast as his legs could pump. He took corners with such speed that his back tire kicked out sideways. Once home he jumped off the bike and let it crash to the ground. He bounded into the house.
"Did you hear the news?' he shouted as he ran toward the living room. He found his mother and sister Ruth listening to the radio. The newsman reported waves of planes dropping bombs, ships sinking in flames and thousands dead. With each new flash, his voice rose in a crescendo of breathless horror. Arthur saw his mother staring at him with a sad anxious look in her eyes.
Katherine dreaded this day but knew it would come. Men always find a way to go to war. Her youngest son stood there panting with excitement. She tried to picture a military uniform hanging off his rail thin body but couldn't. Katherine knew the war machine would take away all her boys. She shook her head. How many wars must she endure?
As the afternoon wore on the house filled up. Charles Jr. arrived with his wife Mary. Joseph and James wandered in with their sons and then Maggie with hers. Rich came home and was spitting mad with anger. Katherine saw his clenched fists and knew that he'd be the first to go. She expected that Charles Jr. would go next. At least, Arthur was too young so she could protect...