AUDIO: VICTORY IN JAPAN (VJ) DAY IN GRAND BEND
Could you tell us a bit about this picture? It shows you with your uncle, I believe?
Yes, this is my uncle Gordon MacKay who I was named after. The photo is of him in his dress blue United States Navy Uniform. He was a Canadian who served in the Pacific theatre during World War Two. Just as a little background: my father, Uncle Gordon and an Aunt Lena moved from Victoria BC during the Depression to find work and picked Detroit. They settled there and this is one of the reasons I guess Gordon signed up with the US Navy. My father was transferred (with Household Finance at the time) back to Canada to help open up the market during the war years when they bought, I believe it was, General Finance. Anyways he was a great guy. In the photo I'm probably four years of age so that would be 1945. And the photo, I believe, was taken at our home in Toronto where our main home was. And of course, we vacationed pretty well all my life in Grand Bend. That was a happy young lad with his favorite uncle at the time.
What about your memories of VJ Day?
VJ Day was a very, very special day. Remember I was four years old at the time, believe it or not, and I recall my parents saying that the war was over, the war was over. They were very excited. You know, what did I know about a war? Anyways it was going to be a big celebration down on Main Street. So we were all to go down there. So we rushed down to Main Street together with a lot of neighbours and friends and gathered at MacLaren's wall which is beside MacLaren's Drug Store at Huron and Main Street. So we're sitting there and the noise was just unbelievable. There were car horns blowing, people were blowing whistles, just the whole joyous, they were shouting and laughing. I remember sitting on the wall and this impromptu parade had started down Main Street and there were three young people that now remind me of the spirit of '76 and they were dressed, believe it or not, in rolls of toilet paper. They were festooned with rolls of toilet paper and they were beating on a drum and the crowd was just hilarious. The joy was just unbelievable. And, lo and behold, when we were sitting there our dog Skippy, an Airedale, showed up beside us. We were flabbergasted because Skippy never, was not allowed to come with us. We found out she had broken through the screen door at the front of the cottage. I guess she was concerned with all the noise and the ruckus and everything and came looking for us and typical Skippy, she found us. So, a very memorable day. I've never forgotten it.