The Second World War has always been a central theme of my life. My father served in the United States Army. He was stationed in India—a long way for a kid from the Bronx. My father was a master sergeant. My uncles served too. Uncle Charlie and my Uncle Morris were in the Navy. Charlie was a frogman. Morris was a CB. Every time I was with my father or one of my uncles, I felt 10 feet tall.
Over the years, I have found photographs of my father taken during the war, some when I was kid myself and others at various times.
My father loved animals but it took a trip from the Bronx to India for him to discover what his gifts were. While on patrol, my father’s unit came upon a black bear whose mother had been shot. He took the black bear back with him to his base of operations where it lived with my father like a pet dog.
My father was stationed with the Mahouts, the caste of Indians who lived, slept, ate with as well as trained the elephants. They spoke in a special dialect that the animals understood. My father was able to speak that language which engendered no small sense of wonder to me as a child.