These photos were taken by LIFE’s Alfred Eisenstaedt in April 1943, the height of World War II, in New York’s Penn Station. In the February 14, 1944 issue of the magazine in which many of them were published, they were described as follows:
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.
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