Sixty years ago today, the Inland Northwest went loudly and deliriously nuts.
People had dreamed of that day ever since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor nearly four years earlier. Yet, in some ways, the wait was hardest during the final, excruciating week beginning with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
Newspapers had predicted Japanese surrender each day until finally, on Aug. 14, 1945, at 4 p.m., scores of newsboys raced into the streets shouting, “It’s all over! The war’s over!”
By 5 p.m., downtown streets were jammed, and The Spokesman-Review reported “noise was reaching bedlam proportions” (although the official V-J Day would not be decreed until the next day, Aug. 15).
Some of the highlights:
• An impromptu parade caused a massive traffic jam downtown, with “the cars packed so closely together even the paper streamers couldn’t get between them,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
• A soldier on Sprague Avenue leaped into the middle of the parade, “hopping over radiators, hurdling fenders and sliding down rumble seats,” while hollering, “Call a doctor! I think I am a mental case. I even think the war is over!”
•An Army sergeant demonstrated his joy in what the newspaper called “the most expressive way he knew”: waving his pants wildly out the car window.
The celebration was just as emotional at the region’s military installations: Geiger Field, Galena Air Depot (the precursor to Fairchild Air Force Base), Velox Naval Supply Depot in the Spokane Valley, Ft. George Wright in Spokane and Farragut Naval Training Station on Lake Pend Oreille.
Meet some of the men and women who lived through it in today’s special section, Voices of War.