Locking lips with your loved ones is always special and more so when you get to do in open view, mocking the public with your daring display of love and passion. However, when the government gives you the green signal to go ahead and kiss your boyfriend/girlfriend to your heart’s content, you have to grab the opportunity by the tail, hang on for dear life, and make the most of it
And that’s why hundreds of New Yorkers and tourists spilled out on to the streets on Aug 14 and huddled together at the Times Square for one big “Kiss-in” which was to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Of course there’s a story behind this strange celebration where guys turned up in sailor hats and girls sported cute little nurse’s caps and smooched each other with absolute abandon. This is actually a re-enactment of a kiss between two strangers that was made popular, even iconic, by the picture taken by photographer Alfred Eisentaedt, a German immigrant, on Aug 14, 1945.
More than 50 years ago, when Mayor LaGuardia announced the surrender of the Japanese army, the Times Square burst into lights and New Yorkers, dizzy with joy and exhilaration, took to the Square to celebrate the end of the war that had caused so much misery.
As the photographer recalls, there was this one particular Navy man who was kissing everybody in sheer enthusiasm. “Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make any difference….” And then he grabbed a nurse dressed in white, bent her backwards almost dramatically and kissed her with fervor. Eisentaedt’s picture went on to make history and it was also published in the Life Magazine, taking the story of these two complete strangers to the whole world.
While the soldier never came forward with his identity, the nurse was identified as Edith Shain, who died in June, this year, at age 91. As she recalled before she died, “I went from hospital to Times Square that day because the war was over, and where else does a New Yorker go? And this guy grabbed me and we kissed, and then I turned one way and he turned the other.”