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Archive for the ‘Holland’ Category

These two letters show a side of my father that I’ve only really learned through reading his letters – despite the most intense adversity, he does his best to create a comfortable “nest” for himself! In the first letter he describes taking over a “room upstairs” that was a wreck and with the help of a buddy, they turn it into a “cozy little nest”! I’m remembering back to his various fox holes in France and his similar efforts. What a guy! In the second letter, he mentions that he can’t stand the smell of himself after not having taken a shower for two weeks! Many of us suffered power outages after Hurricane Irene blew through the Hudson Valley, and I know how I felt after three days of no showering – hard to imagine working under the conditions he describes and going that long without a shower!

14 MARCH 1945 V-MAIL

HELLO, SWEETIE YOU ARE BEING WRITTEN TO BY ONE BEAT CHARACTER! AH’M REALLY POOPED! THIS WORKING ALL HOURS IS CATCHING UP WITH ME AND I’M GETTING SO THAT I FEEL, AND MUST LOOK LIKE A TIRED TURNIP. I’VE MADE A DARN GOOD BUDDY OF MY FILE CLERK AND WE HAVE MOVED INTO A ROOM UPSTAIRS HERE IN THE OFFICE BLDG. IT WAS A MESS — FULL OF BROKEN GLASS, STALE BED CLOTHES, NUMEROUS CRUCIFIXES AND CATHOLIC PICTURES AND AN OLD FASHIONED UNDER-THE-BED TYPE POT!! AFTER A COUPLE OF HOURS WORK WE HAVE MADE A VERY COZY LITTLE NEST OUT OF IT WITH A COUPLE OF EASY CHAIRS, A DESK LAMP, DRESSER AND HAD REAL GLASS PUT BACK IN THE WINDOWS (BOY, A GLAZIER WILL MAKE A FORTUNE OVER HERE IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS!) WE MADE SUCH A GOOD DEAL OUT OF IT, IN FACT, THAT FIVE OTHER FELLOWS HAVE NOW MOVED OVER HERE, AND MORE ARE WISHING THAT THEY HAD KNOWN OF IT SOONER. THE FILE CLERK (SPALDING) IS A VERY WITTY GUY AND WE HAVE ALOT OF LAUGHS. HE’S ABOUT THIRTY, FROM CHICAGO, AND IS PRETTY WELL INFORMED ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS. BY THE WAY, DID I TELL YOU THAT THE LITTLE “GOOFY” PENCIL SHARPENER THAT YOU SENT ME FOR XMAS HAS BEEN A GODSEND TO THIS HQ? IT’S THE ONLY P S IN THE OUTFIT, AND DOES IT GET YEOMAN DUTY? WE’RE A PENCIL PUSHING OUTFIT (WE’LL GET THE BRONZE TYPEWRITER RIBBON WITH THE OAK LEAF CLUSTER WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER) AND A DOZEN GUYS A DAY COME UP TO BORROW LITTLE “GOOFY”! I’M A LITTLE GOOFY MYSELF ABOUT NOW. AND I’M GETTING GOOFIER ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY IN EVERY WAY! GOLLY, BUT THE BIG TRUCKS REALLY GO A-ROARING PAST HERE ON THE WAY UP FRONT WITH BRIDGES, AMMO, GAS – EVERYTHING — ROLLING AND A RUMBLING, AND I THINK I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, MARY DEAR
ROLLIE

17 MARCH 1945

OH, ME, HERE I AM AT ELEVEN PM JUST GETTING AROUND TO WRITING TO YOU, & I STILL HAVE TO SHAVE YET!! HOWEVER, I CAN’T COMPLAIN BECAUSE I TOOK THE EARLY PART OF THE EVENING OFF TO GO AND SEE THE BEST PICTURE I’VE SEEN IN THESE PARTS “GOING MY WAY”. THE FIRST TIME I’VE LEFT SINCE WE MOVED UP HERE, BUT I’VE BEEN WAITING TO SEE IT FOR A LONG TIME, SO I JUST TOOK UP AND LEFT A STACK OF PAPERS ON MY DESK (AND THEY WERE WAITING FOR ME WHEN I GOT BACK). HAVE YOU SEEN IT YET? YOU MUST IF YOU HAVEN’T SWEETHEART, IT IS REALLY VERY GOOD, AND WHAT A JOB OLD BARRY FITYGERALD DOES — WONDERFUL!!! I GOT YOUR MAR FIRST LETTER YESTERDAY AND BIG STOOP MARY NOTICED THAT I HAD MOVED BACK TO HOLLAND BUT NOT THAT I WAS IN A NEW ORGANIYATION!! BUT IT WAS A VERY NICE LONG NEWSY LETTER SO I FORGIVE YOU. MAIL WAS PERHAPS SNAFUED AND YOU GOT ONE OF THE LETTERS AHEAD OF TIME. IF I DON’T SEEM TO MAKE MUCH SENSE TO YOU IT’S BECAUSE I’VE BEEN SHUFFLING PAPERS AROUND UNTIL I’M SEEING SPOTS, AND I CAN ALSO HARDLY STAND THE SMELL OF MYSELF!! HAVEN’T HAD A BATH IN TWO WEEKS (TODAY) BUT EXPECT TO TRAVEL ABOUT FIFTY MILES TO GET ONE TOMORROW!! SHAVE IN COLD WATER EVERY NIGHT (COULD GET A CUP FULL OF OF HOT IF I WANTED TO BOTHER TO HEAT IT OVER A LITTLE STOVE, BUT WOULD RATHER HAVE MORE COLD WATER AND CLEAN THAN A DAB OF HOT AND DIRTY! DOGGONE, I STILL HAVE TO LAUGH EVERY TIME I LOOK AT THE PICTURE OF OL KAREN! AND AT NIGHT WHEN I CRAWL INTO MY SLEEPING BAG I THINK ABOUT HER SAYING HER PRAYERS FOR ME. MAKES ME FEEL DAMN GOOD. GOSH!!! BUT I LOVE YOU GUYS **** MORE & MORE & MORE!!
PAPPY

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This letter is so easy to read, I’ve decided to post it as is and not transcribe it. To me, the most powerful message in the letter are these words: “Boy, those guys up front are really going again and our hopes are dreaming up ideas. We’re torn between two instinctive feelings of not being able to comprehend the day when this damn thing is really all over (you get to the point where you simply forget to think of yourself as anything but a cog that just goes on grinding in the ‘Ahmy’ until eternity) and vague fancies of getting on the boat over here —seeing the Statue of Liberty — walking in the front door — etc —“.

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Dad got a raise – $16 a week! and in his first letter he describes a dance club down the street where about 20 girls get together and invite small units of soldiers for a mass date! chaperoned by their mothers – hmmm? But he as one of the “old men” went to the movies instead. His second letter is probably one of the most playful I’ve read since he’s been in the war – describing the joys of using a German-made typewriter. I’ve posted this one for you to read, as I wasn’t able to recreate many of the symbols on my Apple keyboard!

3 MARCH 1945 V=MAIL
HOLLAND

GOOD EVENING, BABY. ON THE LETTERHEAD YOU WILL NOTICE THAT I HAVE GONE UP ONE NOTCH, ANYWAY. NOT TOO PROUD OF IT, BUT IT’S SIXTEEN BUCKS A MONTH MORE MONEY. I’LL BE SENDING  YOU A MONEY ORDER IN A FEW DAYS AND WHEN I DO I’LL ENCLOSE A COPY OF THE SPECIAL ORDERS. I’VE ALSO JUST GOT OFF A LETTER TO YANK MAGAZINE IN N.Y.C. SENDING YOU A YEARS SUBSCRIPTION TO SAME. THEN YOU’LL SEE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT “SAD SACK”. OH YES, I’LL BE SENDING YOU SOME CARTOONS I’VE BEEN CLIPPING FOR YOU TOO.   YOUR FEB 15TH LETTER ARRIVED TODAY AND YOU SEEM TO BE GETTING BUSIER ALL THE TIME INSTEAD OF TAKING IT EASIER.     LAST NIGHT THE EM OF THE OUTFIT HAD A PARTY AT A LITTLE TAP-ROOM UP THE STREET AND HAD ABOUT TWENTY FAIRLY NICE GIRLS. SEEMS THE GIRLS HAVE A DANCING CLUB AND ACCEPT MASS DATES FROM SMALL OUTFITS SUCH AS OURS FOR DANCING PARTIES. OF COURSE, THEY WERE CHAPERONED BY A FEW OF THEIR MOTHERS. FIVE US US “OLD MEN” WENT TO THE WORLD PREMIER OF “MY REPUTATION” WITH BARBARA STANWYCK AND FATTISH GEO. BRENT. IT WAS A PRETTY GOOD SHOW, AND AFTERWARDS WE DROPPED INTO THE PARTY FOR A FEW BEERS AND HOME ABOUT TEN. THE BOYS, NATURALLY, CAME DRAGGING IN UNTIL ABOUT TWO, WAKING EVERYBODY UP EACH TIME TO TELL WHAT A PARTY!! A LOT OF GOOD IT DID ME TO HIT THE SACK EARLY. THIS HAS BEEN A FREAKY WEATHER DAY. BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE THIS MORNING *** CLEAR, WITH THE MOON LIKE A SILVER DOLLAR. AND INTERMITTENTLY THROUGH THE DAY, IT RAINED, HAILED AND SNOWED! AND ENDED UP WITH BRIGHT SKIES AGAIN, AND THE FIGHTER PLANES OUT ZOOMING AROUND — ALMOST AS FAST AS MY LOVE GOES SWOOPING OVER TO YOU & MISS K
PAPPY

6 MAR 1945 V-MAIL
HOLLAND

GOOD EVENING? SWEETIE, (PARM THE TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR? SUCH AS I’VE JUST MADE, TWICE, — I MEAN THE QUESTION MARKS AFER “EVENING” AND “ERRORS”. THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN COMMAS, AND THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN COMMAS ON AN AMERICAN MACHINE, BUT THIS — MY MSG CEN TYPEWRITER NOW — IS A GERMAN MACHINE, HENCE, THE DIFFERENCES)     NICE TYPE? 6 (DAMN IT, I’M ALL CONFUSED’ 4 & # SH? WELL) HERE’S AN IDEA OF WHAT I’M UP AGAINST. IF I PUNCH UP HERE WHERE THE “Y” IS SUPPOSED TO BE? I GET “Z”.— AND VICE VERSA. FOR THE FIGURE ONE (1), I GOT ONE, UP TOP LEFT (AND VERZ NICE IT IS? DON’T ZOU THINK, (ONE OF THESE DAYS I’M GOING TO GET THAT DAMN COMMA, WITH THE QUESTION MARK ON TOP WHEN YOU’RE WRITING IN CAPS AS I AM) STRAIGHT!!!) ALL OF THE OTHER KEYS ARE THE SAME, BUT THE EXTRA LITTLE SIGNS THAT WE USE ARE FOULED UP. ABOVE THE “3” I GOT A VERZ FANCZ 6 – I MEAN (HAVING JUST A BIT OF TROUBLE WITH THE “Y”? AIN’T I< HEH? HEH, //) & THAT’S A “M”, BUT WHY? THEN I GOT NO FANCY LITTLE GADGET TO MEAN “NUMBER”, SO I USE THIS TRICK THING ABOVE THE 9, TO WIT (a symbol not on my (MA’s) keyboard) TOP TWO KEYS ON RIGHT ARE NICE, ON LOWER CASE WE GOT “B” AND IN UPPER CASE “:”. HERE ARE SOME OTHER THINGS SCATTERED OVER HERE ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE. (keys not on my keyboard) THEM IS UMLATS. YZOU KNOW WHAT AN UMLAT IS? SOMETHING YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST, AND WHEN SOMEONE ASKS ME “DO ZOU LOVE ZOUR WIFE?” AND I SAY “UMLATS!!!!” 1 + = ‘how’m I doing, ? = OH, THE HELL WITH IT. NO WONDER THE GERMANS DO THE THINGS THEY DO! THEIR TYPEWRITER DROVE ‘EM CRAYZ!!!! BUT I LOVE ZOU ON ANY AND EVERY MACHINE
PAPPY

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Sounds like they’re working him pretty hard from these two letters. Not sure exactly what he’s doing, but it sounds like he’s probably still helping get all the papers organized as he mentioned in his last few letters. I was amazed by his comment in the first letter that his mom (my grandma Zoe) was given a rating of “A” as a welder – then he mentions that she’s close to 60!! My memories of my grandma were certainly of a feisty little old lady who loved to bowl, but hard to imagine her as a welder! This conjures up those images I remember of the women working in the factories during the war!

26 FEB 1945 V=MAIL
HOLLAND

GOOD EVENING, MY DARLING, I HAVE A LETTER OF YOURS OF FEB 8TH KICKING AROUND SOMEWHERE, BUT I’M TOO DARN TIRED TO GET IT OUT TO ANSWER. WILL DO IT THE NEXT TIME. IT IS NOW 10:30 PM AND I’VE JUST FINISHED CLEANING STUFF UP SO THAT THE MESSENGERS WILL HAVE IT ALL READY TO TAKE OUT THE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING, AND I’M MORE THAN READY TO HIT THAT OL’ SACK, BUT I FIGURE FIRST, I MUST WRITE MY HONEY…RECEIVED MOM’S BOX OF FUDGE YESTERDAY WITH THE BLACK WALNUT FILLING, AND MY GOSH IT’S GOOD!! SHE GOT YOUR LETTER ABOUT SENDING THE BRACELET AND AWAITS IT ANXIOUSLY. SHE’S BEEN GIVEN AN “A” RATING AS A WELDER, BUT THINKS THAT SHE IS GOING TO QUIT WORK IN MARCH ANYWAY. AFTER ALL, SHE IS GETTING ON AROUND SIXTY.

DIDN’T GET OUT TO GET MY BEER LAST NIGHT AFTER ALL. AS USUAL, A DOZEN LITTLE THINGS CAME UP THAT NEEDED TENDING (AS DON’T THEY ALWAYS). THE FIREMAN’S (OF THE BLDG HERE) WIFE IS DOING OUR LAUNDRY (FOR CANDY, CIGARETTES, GUM, SOAP, ETC) AND IT IS A GREAT TREAT TO GET STUFF BACK REALLY CLEAN AND PRESSED FOR A CHANGE. THE QM LAUNDRY WAS BETTER THAN NOTHING (OR DOING IT YOURSELF) BUT OUR STUFF HAD TAKEN ON A DECIDED TATTLE TALE GREY, OR WORSE.

DOGGONE IT, SWEETHEART, THIS IS A DULL LETTER, BUT I’M A PRETTY DULL CHARACTER MYSELF ABOUT NOW. AND YOU SHOULD SEE ME WHEN I GET UP COME 6:15 AM!! OH, ME, WHAT A THOUGHT. SO, I GO. BUT NOT BEFORE I ATTEMPT TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH I MISS, AND LOVE YOU AND KAREN,
YOUR POOPED PAPPY

28 FEB 1945 V-MAIL
HOLLAND

GOOD EVENING, MY DARLING, GOT FIVE SWELL LETTERS TODAY, INCLUDING THE ONE FROM YOUR MOTHER IN BASTON, AND YOUR V-MAIL OF FEB 10TH AND AIR MAIL OF FEB 13TH. WHICH WOULD MAKE IT SEEM THAT AIRMAIL IS NOW COMING THRU FASTER. BUT I LOVE ‘EM NO MATTR HOW THEY COME. PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY’RE LIKE THE ONE TELLING ABOUT KAREN’S SENSE OF HUMOR. I WAS PRACTICALLY ROLLING ON THE FLOOR ABOUT HER “MISS MARY” EPISODE, AND GOLLY HOW I’D LOVE TO HEAR HER SAY HER PRAYERS. SHE SOUNDS AS THOUGH SHE’LL NEED A BIT OF WATCHING OR SHE’LL TURN INTO ONE OF THESE PRECOCIOUS PRODIGIES, BUT, GOSH, WHAT A GAL!!

HAD A LETTER FROM FREDDIE AND HE WAS ONE WEEK INTO DIRECTING (FULL TIME) HIS FIRST PICTURE. SURE WOULD LIKE TO SEE HIM MAKE A BIG SUCCESS OUT OF THE DEAL, FOR BOTH OUR SAKES. YOUR MOTHER INFORMS ME (AND ON YOU) THAT YOU GUYS AIN’T AS FAT AS YOU MIGHT BE. NOW, LIKE I TOL’ YA’ – – – –

WENT TO SEE A GI SHOW (THAT WAS QUITE GOOD) WITH “MANHATTAN MELODY” (A PICTURE) THROWN IN. VERY GOOD EVENINGS ENTERTAINMENT, EXCEPT THAT WE DIDN’T GET BACK UNTIL TEN, AND THEN HAD A STACK OF PAPERS TO SHUFFLE AROUND, SO IT IS NOW 11:30 AND, OH, ME 6:15 AM COMES AWFULLY EARLY!!!

I’M MOST ANXIOUS TO GET THE NEW PICTURES OF YOU GUYS. I JUST SIT AND GAZE AT THE ONES I HAVE ON MY DESK A HUNDRED TIMES A DAY AND WISH THAT I COULD PICK YOU BOTH UP AND CARRY YOU AROUND WITH ME. WEATHER HAS BEEN FINE. WAR NEWS IS FINE. JOB IS FINE. I’M FINE. BUT, SOMEHOW, I JUST KEEP WISHING I WAS HOME **** WITH YOU AND LITTLE CUTIE PANTS, ALL MY LOVE, “IN THE ARMY” ROLLIE

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In his second letter, Dad outlines more of what’s going on in the war, with the continued hope, of course, that’s it’s coming near the end! “OUR BOYS ARE FINALLY ACROSS THE ROER AND ON THE WAY.” I did some research on the net and found several links to what was going on during this time period in Holland http://51hd.co.uk/history/reichswald and Germany http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blackcock. I am continually struck by the complexity and the number of men and operations that were going on simultaneously during the war. My Father’s story is one person’s account, one window on the war.

Area of Operations - Reichswald

21 Feb 1945 V-Mail
Holland

Good Evening, Baby – Ah’m still at it! Had my first break last night when the Adjutant (Capt. actually in charge of us men in the Hq. Detachment) insisted we break off and take in a movie – “Saratoga Trunk” – which we did & enjoyed very much. Oh, that Ingrid Bergman! But paid for it by working until 11 PM. We rise at 6:15 AM, and have been scrubbing floors & cleaning the place from top to bottom every morning before eight – but today a Dutchman was hired to do same, so now we’ll only have to clean around our own bunks! ‘S wonderful! We’ve been issued an extra set of D.D’s (which we wear exclusively now) and we shave each day – our DD’s are pressed – regular garrison soldiers! It’s really swell.    I have a glass top on my desk & have put the best of your & Karen’s pictures under it where I see them hundreds of times a day. Everyone says what a swell looking family, but the favorite, of course, is my favorite “pin-up” of Karen! Gosh – but I miss you guys – you know I love you sump’ in terrible – no? YES! Pappy

24 FEB 1945 V-MAIL
HOLLAND (TYPED)

GOOD EVENING, MY VERY DARLING. YOU CAN SEE THAT I’M BACK IN A BIG HEADQUARTERS AGAIN ***TYPEWRITER, SILLY. HAVEN’T HAD ANY MAIL FOR TWO OR THREE DAYS, BUT NEITHER HAS ANYONE ELSE, SO GUESS THAT THE BOYS ARE GETTING AMMO AND SUPPLIES, WHICH, IF SO, IS ALL RIGHT BY ME. IN LOOKING THRU MY UNANSWERED CORRESPONDENCE TONIGHT I DISCOVERED A COUPLE OF LETTERS FROM MOM THAT I HADN’T EVEN OPENED YET!!! WE ARE FAIRLY WELL SETTLED DOWN NOW. WE MAY EVEN TAKE AN EVENING OFF TOMORROW AND GO OUT AND HAVE A FEW BEERS (OR WHAT WE LAUGHINGLY REFER TO AS BEER OVER HERE ***GOLLY, BUT IT IS GOING TO BE WONDERFUL TO SIT AROUND AT HOME AND DRINK SOME GOOD OL’ PABST OR BALLANTINES, ETC. AGAIN!) WELL, THE PAPERS SAY THAT OUR BOYS ARE FINALLY ACROSS THE ROER AND ON THE WAY. WE KNEW IT WAS COMING, OF COURSE, BY THE WAY THE STUFF WAS ROLLING ON THE ROADS. I WENT UP TO MY OLD BN A FEW DAYS AGO TO COPY AN INDEX CARD SYSTEM ON MEMOS, CIRCULARS, BULLETINS AND SO ON, AND DARN NEAR CHOAKED ON THE DUST ON THE ROADS. HUGE TRUCK AND TRAILERS WITH BRIDGE BUILDING EQUIPMENT, TANKS, EVERYTHING IMAGINABLE. QUITE A SIGHT. WE COULD HEAR THE ARTILLERY BARRAGE CLEAR BACK HERE, AND THE PLANES CAME OVER BY THE HOUR. STILL NOT LIKE BEFORE ST. LO, THOUGH, AT LEAST AS FAR AS WE WERE CONCERNED.   HAD A LETTER FROM MOM SAYING THAT SHE HAD HEARD FROM YOU. SHE WAS VERY PLEASED TO HEAR FROM YOU, AND SUGGESTED THAT SHE WISHED YOU COULD TAKE A PICTURE OF KAREN IN THE SUIT THAT SHE SENT KAREN AND SEND IT ON TO ME. S’POSE YOU COULD DO? DAD IS HOME AGAIN NOW, AND ANXIOUS TO GET TO WORK, BUT RENE IS HOLDING HIM DOWN AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.

I’M STILL PLENTY POOPED FROM LACK OF SLEEP AND THE GRINDING DAYS, BUT VERY PLEASED WITH THE JOB I’VE DONE IN GETTING THIS THING GOING. I ACTUALLY HAD TIME TONIGHT TO GO OVER AND TAKE A LENGTHY SHOWER, SO FEEL MUCH BETTER. WE HOPE TO GET THINGS WELL ENOUGH ORGANIZED SOON SO THAT WE CAN AT LEAST PLAN WHEN THINGS ARE GOING TO BE DUE IN SO THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO BE TIED DOWN HERE ALL THE TIME.

I HAVE SO DARN MANY LETTERS TO WRITE TO TELL PEOPLE WHERE I AM THAT I HATE TO THINK ABOUT IT. I OWE LETTERS TO PRACTICALLY EVERYBODY, INCLUDING YOUR MOTHER AND AD, WHOM I’LL GET AROUND TO AS SOON AS I CAN. OH, YES, ALSO ELLEN.

NO NEWS AGAIN, MY DARLING, EXCEPT THAT I LOVE YOU TO BEAT ALL GET OUT, AND GET MORE IMPATIENT TO GET HOME EVERY DAY. SAY HELLO TO MERCEDES AND DOLORES FOR ME. BIG HUGS AND KISSES TO YOU AND O’ MIZZ K…. YOU KNOW WHO  PAPPY

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