My father leaned against the front fender of the family wagon, while I did an eleven-year-old’s imitation on the opposite side. We were watching small planes land and take off at our small-town airfield.
“These planes are pretty loud” I said.
“Not as loud as those B-24s you flew, I’ll bet.”
He nodded again, took out a Lucky Strike, lit it.
We watched another plane touch down and take off.
“So, what was it like, Dad, flying those bombers?”
He looked over at me. It was a curious glance. Maybe he was surprised.
He said “Sometimes good, Usually bad. Long missions. Dirty. No bathrooms. Loud noise.”
That was the most I’d ever heard him talk about his war.
“Let’s go get some ice cream” he said.
In ten days I’d be heading off for basic training. Dad and I were leaning on the front of his new ’64 Chrysler watching big planes take off and land at the Rochester airport. Four engine turbo-props and some new jets roared off and landed on the main runway. We were directly under them as they approached or headed out on their journeys.
“Those planes are noisy” I said during a quiet moment.
He nodded, took out a Lucky and lit it.
“Are they as noisy as the B-24’s you flew in the South Pacific?”
He took a long drag on his smoke, looked over at me as if he was sizing me up.