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Wednesday
Jul252012

On the train, two girls.

On the train, two girls. They carried a small Victrola and as soon as they got on the train began playing innumerable records. The object was obvious but they had hard luck for no soldier or sailor got on until we were at Huntington when the two GIs got on and were astonished to find themselves so attractive they were able to crash a conversation with the two girls.

Behind them sat a desperate looking little dark girl who had watched with desolate yearning — longing to be gay like that, have such a good time, as if the little Victrola was a badge of permanent beaux, dances, bars, nightclubs, mailbox full of letters. Presently she gave her seat to the two soldiers who were very foxy, they thought, in requesting numbers from the girls. The girls proudly played, never letting a moment elapse between numbers, looking gravely responsible as if they were the modest but nevertheless admirable custodians of a gifted animal and as if the needle and record's collaboration was every bit as worthy as their own genius in winding the machine, selecting the records and humming the words sometimes.

Then two other hearty, earthy young women butted in, asking for numbers, trying for the GIs and a tired, amusing-faced little Red Cross nurse or maybe marine stood modestly in the doorway. One soldier — tired, handsome, unhappy-looking — asked for "Always" and you saw that they were asking for their own distant girlfriends' favorites. By Jamaica, where the men got off, the two girls had made no progress beyond having their music accepted.

(Dawn Powell in her diaries, July 30, 1945. Read more about Dawn Powell, her diaries, and the man who tried to save them here.)

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