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Phone the Friends and Break Out the Bubbly,
There’s a Party Going On

August 15, 2001

Historian's Notes

Victory in Japan day was cause for celebration not only in Oklahoma but also across the world. It was the culmination of over eight years of global conflict, four of which involved the United States. I thought that it would be interesting to look at newspapers from around the state and see how Oklahomans celebrated the day.

Resources

Various local newspapers held in the OSU Library.

Almanac Transcript

Phone the friends and break out the bubbly, there’s a party going on this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, I’m Steven Kite.

World War Two officially began for the United States with the declaration of war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. It was in this week of 1945, almost five years after it began, that World War Two was officially over. On Tuesday August 14, 1945 residents of Stillwater as well as the rest of the world listened intently as President Truman read the news that Japan had surrendered and the war was over.

A statewide holiday was declared for Wednesday, and the celebration began in earnest. In Stillwater, impromptu parades sprang up all over the city as residents mobbed the streets to cheer. Long lines of cars motored about the city with horns blaring while children marched along banging pots and pans. Businesses still open on Thursday closed immediately and on Wednesday almost the entire town was shut down as citizens reveled in the joy of peace. Signs placed in windows along main street read, “Closed all day for VJ Day,” and “It’s all over now.” In a move that was called “unprecedented” by the local papers, all of Stillwater’s theaters were closed for business for most of Wednesday and Thursday.

In addition to parades, citizens across the city crowded local places of worship giving thanks for the peace. Sensing a possibility for trouble state officials ordered beer taverns to be closed for 48 hours. The ban on beer was an apparent success as Stillwater officials reported that not one single person spent a night in jail for “over” celebrating.

While Stillwater’s VJ celebrations were deemed “safe but sane” other cities were not able to make the same claim. In Barnsdall, Oklahoma an overzealous resident lost his right hand during an attempt to make a “celebration bomb,” and in Kansas City people staying in downtown hotels destroyed dozens of feather pillows in their attempt at creating a ticker-tape parade. Joyous celebrations, thoughts of loved ones coming home and a hopeful return to some sort of normal life crowd the minds of Stillwater residents this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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