Having just come free of the Japanese army occupation, Shanghai felt the exuberance of the Americans like a power wash. They strutted down Nanking Road, their fore-and-aft covers tilted at rakish angles on their heads while Jeeps rode the streets reinforcing the change in perspective. Not to be outdone, the sailors wore their covers precariously poised over their eyes and did their strutting like roosters in the barnyard.
They made us laugh and then they made us think Americans were like children let out to play. They organized a Rickshaw Derby, with the coolies wearing numbers on their chests as they ran with a pretty Chinese girl seated behind. My parents, sister and I watched from the second-floor window of a restaurant as the rickshaws passed, and we laughed when the winner was draped with a wreath much like a horse.
We did not know, at the time, that these men had come from heroic battles in the Pacific, Iwojima, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, and Tobruk, and they as well as us, were flinging off the fevers of war.