By Val Valentine
Special to The SUN
I have a vivid memory of my youth. It’s black and white, musty brown and gray with a single yellow-to-blue spark of the Trackless Trolley. My world, at age 6, was black and white, the urban streets and television.
My mother, father and I are waiting for our crosstown bus. To our right and behind us, on a blue and gray, wide-striped, wool, Army-like blanket, sits a man. He is only a little younger than my father. In front of him he’s neatly displayed pencils and cheap, thin, black plastic combs and a tin cup.
At first I think his leg is bent under him, then I see it is gone just above the knee.
My father reaches into his work-stained, green trousers, retrieves a few quarters and with a quiet word leans over and drops them in the cup. The clank of the coins mutes the sound of the man’s, “Thank you.”
Other times I saw several men like him. In the downtown public square of my boyhood home, my mother and I shopping in large, pre-mall department stores, we would pass several like men, some in wheel chairs and others on blankets, all with the same combs, pencils and tin cup.
Today, I realize these men were my father’s World War II comrades-in-arms, wounded warriors, circa 1953.