Thursday, February 14, 2013

Farewell to Departing Troops at New York's Penn Station, April 1943

The photos here, made by LIFE’s Alfred Eisenstaedt in April 1943 at the height of the Second World War, capture true romance — its agonies, its resilience — in ways that pictures filled with sweetness and light never could. Yes, of course, the emotions on display are clearly heightened by the fact that some of these young men, bidding their sweethearts farewell, might never return from the war.

In its February 14, 1944 issue (yep, February 14 — Valentine’s Day), in which many of these pictures appeared, LIFE magazine put it to its readers thus:
"The look of New York’s Pennsylvania Station has changed since Alfred Eisenstaedt took pictures there last spring. Then first goodbyes were being said. Today they are a different kind — those of boys and girls who have said goodbye many times by now. They stand in front of the gates leading to the trains, deep in each other’s arms, not caring who sees or what they think.
Each goodbye is a drama complete in itself, which Eisenstaedt’s pictures movingly tell. Sometimes the girl stands with arms around the boys’ waist, hands tightly clasped behind. Another fits her head into the curve of his cheek while tears fall onto his coat. Now and then the boy will take her face between his hands and speak reassuringly. Or if the wait is long they may just stand quietly, not saying anything. The common denominator of all these goodbyes is sadness and tenderness, and complete oblivion for the moment to anything but their own individual heartaches."
Here, on St. Valentine’s Day 2013, we present a series of LIFE pictures that focus on a central aspect of romance taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

© Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, via LIFE

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