|The Hot War |
POD: November, 1950
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||1901|
|Occupation:||Delivery driver, technician|
|Relatives:||Sam, Marvin (brothers)|
|Political Party:||Democratic Party|
|Military Branch:||US Merchant Marine (World War II)|
|Professional Affiliations:||Blue Front|
Aaron Finch (b. December 1901) was deliveryman who lived in Glendale, California. When his father Mendel arrived in the United States, he changed his surname from "Fink" to "Finch". Aaron was Jewish but didn't keep kosher, his father being a freethinker. Aaron had attempted to enlist during World War II, but his poor vision and age prevented that. Instead, he entered the merchant marine, and did a great deal of dangerous work, nonetheless. After the war, Finch moved to Glendale to live with his brother Marvin. He was introduced to his future wife, Ruth, by her cousin Roxane. They married in early 1948. Their son, Leon was born in mid-1949 (Ruth had miscarried before Leon was born, and Ruth's health was such that they didn't risk another pregnancy).
In January 1951, on the eve of the outbreak of World War III, Finch was a deliveryman working for Blue Front, an appliance company owned by Herschel Weissman that served the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Like most of the rest of the country, Finch and his family watched with increasing horror as the U.S. and the Soviet Union exchanged atomic bombs, until the ground war in Europe began on February 17.
In the early morning of March 2, Ruth woke Finch to tell him that the Soviets had successfully atom bombed Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. By his count, Finch concluded that San Francisco would be hit next, followed by Los Angeles. With nothing to do but wait, Finch ate breakfast, showered, and got ready for work. When Ruth expressed objections, Finch pointed out that if a bomb didn't reach them, he might be out of a job. The radio announced that San Francisco had been attacked. Again Ruth protested, but Finch argued that downtown Los Angeles would be the target, and that the hills would keep Glendale safe.
Not long after he arrived at work, Finch and Herschel Weissman heard the sounds of jets. The bomb was detonated shortly after. Finch rushed home. Not far from his house, Finch saw a Soviet airman parachuting to the ground. Armed only with a pocket knife, Finch captured the Russian and took him to the Glendale police department, fighting down the urge to harm him.
Finch became something of a local hero by capturing the Russian. Other Soviet pilots had gone missing or met with vigilante justice. Moreover, while downtown Los Angeles was gone, Glendale proper was essentially unharmed, and able to plug along.
A few days after the bombing, Finch was summoned to the Glendale police station. Despite trepidation, he went and had a meeting with Lt. Colonel Del Shanahan of United States Air Force Intelligence. Shanahan clarified a few points about Finch's capture of Lt. Yuri Svechin, including how they communicated (Finch's Yiddish was close enough to German, which Svechin spoke), and that Svechin was willing to surrender when he saw Finch wasn't going to hurt him. The two discussed the fact that other Soviets who had parachuted into the L.A. area had been killed by angry mobs, and some of the international legal issues those deaths had raised. Once Shanahan was convinced Finch was merely a "chance passerby" rather than a spy, he sent Finch home.
Even with Glendale being more or less intact, Finch and his family were impacted in measurable ways by the bombing. Fuel prices were up, and people wanting to buy appliances were down, and Finch's hours were cut to part time accordingly. He was also somewhat more dependent on his Armenian neighbors, Elizabeth and Krikor Kasparian, who sold the Finches chickens and eggs. Their prices for livestock were going up as their own supplies increased in price.
In April, when an order for a refrigerator came by letter from one Mrs. O'Byrnne in Torrance, Weissman happily sent Finch and Jim Summers to deliver it, despite the fact that the rubble of downtown L.A. lay between the Blue Front warehouse in Glendale and the residence in Torrance. While initially horrified, Finch soon realized that he might be able to see remains of downtown up close. He and Summers did: their trip, which was circuitous by necessity, brought them close to a refugee camp, a sign that promised that looters would be shot, the rubble of several city landmarks, and the corpse hanging from a lamppost with a placard with the word THIEF around his neck. They arrived at Mrs. O'Byrne's residence and successfully made their delivery. On their way back, Summers asked that Finch avoid the rubble. Finch agreed.
Life carried on for the Finches throughout the end of winter and into spring. In May, his brother invited the family to his home for a small gathering. At this party, Finch was needled about his capture of Yuri Svechin by Ruth's first cousin, Roxane Bauman, who sympathized with the Soviets. After some back and forth, Ruth convinced them to stop arguing.
In June, Finch received a letter from President Harry Truman himself, thanking him for capturing the Soviet flyer. While Finch realized that his boss, who regularly donated to the Democrats, probably arranged this, he didn't care, and planed to frame the letter.
As summer progressed, Finch carried on. Blue Front continued to get orders every so often, and Finch and Summers delivered, even to locations near ground zero. During one such delivery, Finch and Summers noticed that a colored family down the block from their customer. Summers was disappointed that the bomb hadn't removed most of the "n-ggers". Their customer was equally horrified. For his part, Finch didn't really agree with them, but was not in a position to argue with them, either. Even with family, Finch tried not to be confrontational, although his brother, Marvin, was especially good at raising his hackles.
Business began picking up again for Blue Front. Unfortunately for Finch, someone stole his car one day in August. Finch suspected that a refugee from Los Angeles proper was responsible; while Glendale did not have any refugee camps yet, displaced people had filtered in nonetheless. He was able to replace the car, which was difficult given the economic conditions. 
By September 1951, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy had made his clear his intention to pursue the Republican nomination for President. Finch detested McCarthy, but Jim Summers was a supporter. One day, when Summers made anti-Semitic remarks about Herschel Weissman, and suggested McCarthy would probably do something about the Jews, Finch finally admitted his own ethnicity. Summers was somewhat chastened, and kept his distance from Finch for a time.
Finch and his family continued to maintain their new status quo. Ruth arranged a surprise party to celebrate Aaron's 50th birthday for him. Despite the presence of Marvin Finch and Roxane Bauman, things remained civil. Everyone present was a Democrat, although each favored a different candidate in the newly wide-open field. All also agreed that they did not like Joseph McCarthy.
However, as 1952 moved towards the party conventions in the summer, the Finches were starting to see the real possibility that McCarthy was going to become the Republican nominee. Closer to home, the Finch family continued to carry on as normally as the world would let them. That wasn't always possible: a young refugee, likely from Chavez Ravine, tried to steal groceries from Finch. Finch caught him, took back the groceries, then gave the kid $5.00 anyway. In May, 1952, Finch and his family could do nothing more but watch the aftermath of the Soviet attack on the East Coast on television. However, things did look up Finch on a personal level when the Hollywood and Pasadena Freeways were restored, allowing Blue Front to deliver more efficiently. Finch's hours increased as a result.
Shortly after the general ceasefire took hold in Europe, Weissman told Finch that the company would be hiring a new man and that Finch would be his mentor. Finch also received a raise. While the new man's arrival was delayed, Finch and his family were pleased that the war in Europe had ended. A few weeks later, Istvan Szolovits, the Hungarian POW/defector finally began working at Blue Front under Finch's supervision.
Finch continued on with Szolovits as his partner. By the end of 1952, he'd saved enough money to make a down payment on his own house, and looked forward to the new year with trepidation.
- Bombs Away,pg. 35, ebook.
- Ibid., pg. 155.
- Ibid, pg. 34-35.
- Ibid., pg. 362, ebook.
- Ibid., pg. 262.
- Ibid., pg. 34.
- Ibid., pgs. 88-93.
- Ibid., pgs. 151-152.
- Ibid., pg. 153-154.
- Ibid., pgs. 153-155.
- Ibid., pg. 167-168.
- Ibid. pg. 170.
- Ibid., pgs. 171-172.
- Ibid., pgs. 207-209.
- Ibid., pg. 259-260.
- Ibid., pgs. 261-263.
- Ibid, pgs. 263-264.
- Ibid., pgs. 263-265.
- Ibid., pg. 360.
- Ibid., pgs. 360-364.
- Ibid., pgs. 423-426.
- Fallout, loc. 662, e-book.
- Ibid., loc. 708-723
- Ibid., loc. 1415-1476.
- See, e.g., Ibid., loc. 3778-3852.
- Ibid., loc. 2348-2428.
- Ibid., loc. 2898.
- Ibid., loc. 2922-2959.
- Ibid., loc. 4135-4194.
- Ibid., loc. 6063-6125.
- Ibid., loc. 6762-6821.
- Armistice, pgs. 23-26, ebook.
- Ibid., pg. 141.
- Ibid., pgs. 158-162.
- Ibid., pgs. 215-219.
- Ibid., pgs. 425-428.