Auburn man remembers V-E Day


AUBURN — Sometimes it feels like just yesterday. Sometimes it feels like another lifetime.

V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day, 1945. The allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to mark the end of Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich.

World War II was coming to an end. Soon the constant fear would be gone. Soon, the air raid warnings would not wail at all hours.

“I remember hearing those horns and being petrified,” said Robert  Fowles, who was a kid living in Auburn at the time. “We all had to stay inside when those horns blew. It was very scary for the children,” said the 73-year-old who still lives in the city.

But on May 8, 1945, all of that was done. Fowles knew it was an important time. It seemed like the whole world was coming out to celebrate.

“We got all dressed up,” he said. “We held flags and we had pan covers to use as cymbals.”

As he does each year, Fowles dug out the old photographs of himself and some neighborhood friends gathered in celebration near their homes on Haskell Street. In one photo, Fowles stands clutching an American flag in one hand, and the hand of neighbor Roberta Folkz with his other.

Next to him is his sister Barbara and neighbor Marcia Roak, now Marcia Fitzgerald. Each of them is young in the photograph. Fowles was 8 years old.

“We’re all still alive,” Fowles said. “We stay in constant contact.”

Fowles remembers that V-E Day was celebrated with passion in the years following the war. Five years, 10 years, even 25 years later there would be parades just about everywhere.

Today, not so much. Fowles said he doesn’t even expect much mention of it in the newspapers, let alone parades.

Too bad. It’s one of those occasions Fowles believes we should never forget.

“It was a very big day,” he said.