One Last Confusing Thing About the Nurse Kissing the Sailor on V-J Day

One Last Confusing Thing About the Nurse Kissing the Sailor on V-J Day

One Last Confusing Thing About the Nurse Kissing the Sailor on V-J Day

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June 23 2010 10:03 AM

One Last Confusing Thing About the Nurse Kissing the Sailor on V-J Day

Edith Shain—widely if not conclusively identified as the nurse being kissed by a sailor in Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous photo of V-J Day in Times Square—died on Sunday at the age of 91. The photo was both self-explanatory and an Errol Morris -worthy photojournalistic conundrum: the sailor and the nurse were strangers to each other, and Eisenstaedt didn't get their names or a clear image of their faces, so through the years there were rival nurses and even more rival sailors claiming that they were the real subjects of the picture.

And what exactly did Edith Shain say about the events of that day? The BBC quotes her :

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"I went from hospital to Times Square that day because the war was over, and where else does a New Yorker go?"

But clearly that quote has been modified by a British copy editor; no American nurse would have said "I went from hospital." A Google search turns up a batch of identically lime-flavored quotes in British and Hong Kong media, along with a bunch of American quotes saying:

"I went from Doctors Hospital to Times Square that day because the war was over, and where does a New Yorker go?"

Yet a lone alternate version, apparently cribbed from elsewhere, renders it as:

"I went from [Doctors Hospital] to Times Square that day because the war was over, and where does a New Yorker go?"

A Nexis search puts the origin of the quote in November 2010, when Shain came to New York to be the grand marshal of the Veterans Day parade. The original AP story does not put the name of the hospital in brackets. How did the quote become less authoritative over time?