Good morning. Wake up, wake up, it’s snowing.

First, some history:

Two days after Pearl Harbor was attacked, confirmation came that my brother Matt, who had been stationed at Pearl Harbor since 1938, was safe.

My mother — a newly widowed woman, 47 years young and surely in the grip of menopause — inhaled and then disappeared into a cloud of denial. Imagine.

She fell to the bottom of her cone of silence when the war began to look like we were losing it. Yeah, kids, we almost did.

And when her twin sons, Kermit and Kenneth, enlisted, and her favorite son, Jim, left the police department and enlisted Christmas week, her cloud took on a violet tint as I watched.


Momma absolutely refused to read the papers or listen to the news. Talk at the kitchen table from breakfast to supper was limited to complaints about rationing and the weather. I was 10 years old at the time and hungry for war news.

My sisters Eileen and Rita were married and only dropped by now and then to check on us. Both of their husbands were well employed 4-Fs. (You can Google that.) Their pictures were not on the piano.

J.P. Devine’s mother, Veronica, is seen in an undated newspaper photo with her twin sons, Kenneth and Kermit, who were brought home from U.S. Navy boot camp on special leave for a night. Veronica was given an award (a golden edge with four small diamonds) for being one of the first mothers at the start of World War II to have four sons in the Navy at the same time. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

In the first two years of the war, with bad news coming faster than good, Mom started reading movie magazines, Saturday Evening Post and the Bible, and listening only to soap operas and Jack Benny on our big Zenith radio in the living room.

When war news broke, she took to pulling the plug out of the wall.

Mom’s escape route in those early days included taking baby sister and me to the movies almost every night. The menu included gangster flicks and westerns, during which, exhausted from worry, she fell asleep.

Today, when I watch those Turner Classics movies of the ’40s, I can finish all of the actors’ lines from memory, and I can still do a pretty good imitation of Bill Powell’s delivery. An actor was born.


When the Vmail in the distinctive envelopes came to the box, Mom would have me read them to her. Of course the boys couldn’t say much, but reading those letters and her magazines greatly improved my skills. A writer was born.

February 2021. After the political cataclysm of the last four years, the revolutionary spasm of Jan. 6 and a brand new virus, She and I are still alive and healthy.

She has her Tylenol and I, my Stella Artois and popcorn. We sit with our masks on our laps, streaming comedies and the entire seven seasons of “West Wing,” when the president was a good guy who had MS.

J.P. and Kay Devine are seen recently at home, with Stella Artois and Tylenol. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

Bedtime is early.

Now, outside the door of our enchanted cottage, World War III is being fought with life and death battles — not in Europe nor on the beaches of the South Pacific, but down the street, around the corner, in every home and hospital, and just outside the doors of our two daughters’ Los Angeles County homes.

That’s the bad news.

The good news? It’s stopped snowing.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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