The hail of the conquering hero fame is fame of a kind in an infamous sort of way. Nobody ever talked to me on the street when I was a civilian. I was much too ordinary. We all were. Now we have become public property like a sidewalk or a park. We have become public domain like a patent after seventeen years. We are like statues to be looked over, our defects to be pitied, our fine points to be noted. It seems there are signs hung around our knecks without our consent that say “Fragile: Do Not Touch.”
We are not fragile. We are about as tough as they come, and we have a lot of resilience. We bounced back, didn’t we? For the love of Mike, don’t bounce us some more.
My wife [Eve Arnold] and I were walking down Tenth Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues one evening around 8 o’clock. Underneath a lamp, two women were talking at the edge of the curb, and one of them held a black Cocker Spaniel on a leash.
The women and the dog looked much pedigreed or a damned good facsimile thereof. While the ladies were probably tearing some good friend’s reputation to blazes, they pursed their lips and made cultured gestures with their hands as if posing for an improbably Vogue advertisement.
Tenth Street is a kind of patriarchal part of town (NYC), and some of it had come off on the ladies, who had hidden it behind a facade of young clothes, loud makeup and girliness.
I have time to see how much as I walk past people in the street. I have a chance to walk slowly. The antics of free people, a cheerful and unworried people, give me a big kick after the slinking shabbiness of a war-worn Europe.
The woman with the dog gave me a broad, artificial smile, letting her lips snap wide like a rubber band.
I nodded solemnly, a little embarrassed, I suppose.
The Cocker Spaniel, however, put up his ears at the unaccustomed crutches and jumped.
He leapt and barked, and strained on his leash. He fussed and darted at me, forgetting all his breeding and his pedigree.
The lady yanked at him at first daintily, and then with determination.
I was past them already when the other lady said to the dog reproachfully, “Is that a nice way to speak to a veteran?”
- So I Am A Sissy: Arnold F. Arnold in Memorium (greentaxisnow.com)
- Homecoming: The Girl In The Plain Brown Dress, Excerpts from A WWII Era Memoir of a Holocaust Era Victim and Wounded American GI (greentaxisnow.com)
- Photographer Eve Arnold dies aged 99 (telegraph.co.uk)
- Marilyn Monroe photographer Eve Arnold dies at 99 (thejc.com)
- In Memorium: Arnold F. Arnold (born Schmitz), 1921 – 2012 (greentaxisnow.com)
- WWII Vet Shares First-Hand Accounts of Battles in Memoir (prweb.com)
- Photographer Eve Arnold dies aged 99 (manonmona.wordpress.com)
- Eve Arnold – obituary (guardian.co.uk)
- The Veteran (2011) (atthemovieswithsilver.wordpress.com)
- Film: Secret Cinema: The Story Of G.I. Joe (1945) (avclub.com)