Dec 18, 2014

Mon, Dec 18, 1944: Christmas card

"Dear DeVere:- So glad to get a Christmas card from you and know where you are stationed.  Joseph is in New Guinea and Henry in the Rhine Valley so we are scattered far.  Sure hope Joseph & Joyce can get together he doesn't think they are very close.  And suppose it will be just luck if Henry & Dale & Wayne should run across each other but don't suppose they might."

-- Letter from Lillian Burge, Argenta, Ill., to my father, Boulder, Colo., December 18[?], 1944.  Henry and Joseph were her sons.  The other men mentioned were their cousins.

Dec 16, 2014

Sat, Dec 16, 1944: ethusiastic patriot

[language warning] "Incidentally we sang the Japanese Dept. song [at a graduation ceremony] -- words by Henry Tatsumi.  He's the fellow, whom I mentioned previously -- the one who keeps his World War I service button and his Navy key prominently displayed. Tatsumi, though of Jap descent, is one of the most enthusiastic patriots, I've ever seen.  Most of the naval officers distinguished guests, and teachers on the stage apparently mumbled the words to 'The Star Spangled Banner', but Tatsumi sang it lustily -- I noticed."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to my uncle, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, December 16, 1944.  On this day, December 16, the Battle of the Bulge began as Germans launched a counteroffensive along the German border.

Dec 9, 2014

Sat, Dec 9, 1944: instructors

[language warning] "Most of the instructors are very prominent Japs.  Hayashi worked for an export company in Mexico City before coming here to work for his master's degree in economics in addition to teaching.  He's a very conscientious man and yesterday made two trips up to my room to make sure that I was all prepared for the test….
“Ozamoto had some interesting jobs before being deported from the West Coast.  He worked for the Hollywood NBC studios catching Far Eastern news broadcasts, and was in charge of a Reader's Digest broadcast beamed at Japan, when that magazine was planning to start a Japanese edition -- among other things."

--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., December 9, 1944.  

Dec 2, 2014

Sat, Dec 2, 1944: ironical quotation

“A rather ironical quotation from the Christian Science Monitor appeared in the Denver Post last Sunday.  At least it was ironical to us.  Perhaps you also, have read it.  Anyway it went something like this: ‘Don't gripe about gasoline rationing. It would be much worse to be learning Japanese.’…
“Our radio broadcasts in Japanese still are given every day at noon, and it's encouraging to note that I can pick up a stray word now and then.  Early this week we heard a transcribed rebroadcast of the Tokyo radio's account of the second B-29 raid on that city.  Following the meaningless (to me) jumble of sounds, the instructor next to me at the table translated it as being a claim that that 150 superforts had come over and 99 shot down.  Apparently, he and the other instructor at our table are not firm believers in the veracity of Tokyo reports; for I noticed that they had been chuckling together all through the broadcast.”
-- Letter from my father, in Naval Japanese language school, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, December 2, 1944.

Nov 30, 2014

Nov 31 [sic], 1944: howl and bark

"Are you learning a lot of Japanese.
"Dad was elected with 92 votes and his opponent got 65 voats.  I think Tom Tuner was elected for sheriff.
"The puppies howl and bark all of the time they are awake."
-- Letter from my uncle, Stanely Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., November 31 [sic], 1944. My grandfather was running for township trustee.

Nov 25, 2014

Sat, Nov 25, 1944: Thanksgiving

[language warning] "We have just completed our weekly three hour exam, which gives the Navy a check on our progress.  We had three hours whereas 45 minutes would have sufficed for translating 25 English sentences into Japanese and 10 Jap sentences into English; so I had a chance to check and double-check.  Tests so far have been relatively simple; but next month we start taking oral exams....
"Thanksgiving was a partial holiday for us.  I couldn't see that it was much of a vacation since we had four classes Thursday morning as usual; but we were excused from attending our physical education class in the afternoon and the required noon language table.... Wednesday evening we had out traditional Thanksgiving dinner -- with turkey, cranberry sauce, etc and such trimmings as nuts, chocolate, and fruit.  It by far outclassed any meal they've served us so far."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to my aunt, Bloomington, Kans., November 25, 1944.

Nov 24, 2014

Fri, Nov 24, 1944: Jack’s death

"Ruby and Homer showed us the letter you wrote to them.  They were very pleased to think you wrote to them and I am sure they appreciate it so very much.  They lamented the fact that it would be almost impossible to answer all of their letters immediately, at least, because they had received one-hundred fifty letters since Jack's death."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colorado, November 24, 1944.  My father's boyhood friend, Jack Seal, had been killed in action near Bologna, Italy, on October 16.  Ruby and Homer were his parents.  He was part of the gang of four boys, all born in 1925, that were best friends growing up in Bloomington.  All four served in the military in World War II.  All but Jack survived the war and lived to be old men.  In my father’s memoir, he wrote “Jack had the best personality of any of us.  He was handsome, friendly, and buoyant.  Life was just beginning when it was cut short at nineteen.”
            In a 2007 letter, my father wrote about how Jack’s mother learned of her son’s death:  “Homer and Ruby Seal ran the Bloomington Store across from the schoolhouse.  Ruby spotted the postman, probably Arnie Kistler (Beryl Folk’s father-in-law), approaching the school at an unusual hour in the afternoon.  She breathed a sigh of relief thinking that his delivery of a telegram was for someone else.  The postman, however, had merely gone to the school to recruit a delegation of women (who were meeting there) to accompany him as he entered the store.  ‘Is it Jack?,’ Ruby asked.  ‘Yes, it is,’ replied Sally Davenport.  Scenes in Ken Burn’s ‘War,’ now on PBS, are reminiscent of that event.
            “Edward King and I were both home on leave when memorial services were held for Jack at Dunsford Funeral Home.  Jack’s Dad whose heart was surely breaking at the loss of his only son, told us in a friendly voice, ‘Jack isn’t here, but I am sure glad his buddy’s could come.’  Later, my folks brought Homer and Ruby to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where we were living, for a family visit.  We had four children growing up.  Later, Ruby wrote to say, ‘I saw how it might have been if Jack had lived.’”   

Nov 19, 2014

Sun, Nov 19, 1944: too much competition

"Friday night was the party given by the GR for the Hi-Y.  I was chairman of the committee in charge of games and program. (I am just now hearing Louis Jordan singing "Is you Is, Or Is You Ain't" accompanied by his "Tympany Five" on the Philco Radio Hall of Fame.) I had counted on the swing band playing, Willis Beavers playing "Three Moods" - a Tommy Dorsey solo, and Donald Hutchinson playing a cornet solo, and perhaps a few other special numbers.  But the North-East football game offered too much competition.  Some of the swing band members wanted to go to the game and they wanted Willis to take his pickup.  Donald wouldn't play unless Willis would.  After planning several numbers we ended up with Eugenia and Ine playing a Count Basie piece; Donna Kneipp and Nita Mae Harvey playing "Begin the Beguine" on the piano [etc.]"

--Letter from my aunt, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., November 19, 1944.

Nov 14, 2014

Tue, Nov 14, 1944: so much noise

"Last Thurs. was school night and we went in with Lenz's owing to the tire situation.  They had a fine program planned.  The band class was first followed by two fifteen minute periods of classes, a program in the auditorium, then refreshments at the Junior High gym.  Really we got to hear the swing band play at the gym.  There was so much noise it would be unfair to judge just how the band did play."

--Letter from my grandmother, Jessie Maybelle (Berger) Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Boulder, Colo., November 14, 1944.

Oct 22, 2014

Sun, Oct 22, 1944: transportation being like it is

"We are eagerly looking forward to your coming home.  I would give my bottom dollar to be at your graduation exercises but transportation being like it is I might not get there.  I have heard of several cases where people had to be put off at out of the way places and wait for a few days before the train could take them on again.  Anyhow I want you to accept our congratulations and I am enclosing a $10 bill as a graduation gift."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind.,October 22, 1944.  My father was set to graduate from midshipmen's school and to be commissioned as an officer.

Oct 15, 2014

Sat, Oct 15, 1944: Uncle Sams' plans

[language warning] "I believe it was Thursday your letter came, according to ‘Uncle Sams’ plans you are to go to school for awhile longer, it surely is a chance for some more schooling, Do you suppose you can ever master those Jap signs or letters.
"The past week I got about forty acres of Kaffir cut, got the new binder in operation on Wed. late and Brown & I run it Thurs & Friday and on Sat morning Stanley rode the Binder and I shocked Kaffir..."

-- Letter from my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Notre Dame, Ind., October 15, 1944.

Oct 14, 2014

Sat, Oct 14, 1944: interesting work

"As for the duties [of Japanese translators], the bulletin lists such things as interviewing prisoners, front-line duty in interpreting Japanese, reading leaflets, letters and documents, and listening to broadcasts in Japanese.  It should be interesting work."

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, October 14, 1944.

Oct 8, 2014

Sun, Oct 8, 1944: How would you like to study Japanese, Brown?

"My chances of getting a commission look very rosy right now -- 19 days before graduation.  For one thing I've passed the physical.  Instead of giving us a complete, rigid going over, one physician briefly inspected our throats, hearts, and bodies.  Not a word about another eye examination was said.
"In the second place I think I have a definite assignment.  Several weeks ago I put in an application for the Oriental Language School.  With my limited background (2 yrs. of Latin and one of German) I thought my chances for getting it so slim that I neglected to mention the request to you.  Last week a Commander was here from the Bureau of Naval Personnel interviewing applicants.  Instead of the long 15 or 20 minute cross examination that I had expected, I spent less than 5 minutes in his office.  After he told me to be seated there was a two minute period of silence, while he looked over my records.  Then he snapped ‘How would you like to study Japanese, Brown?’ I told him that Russian was my preference, but he explained that the need for Russian interpreters wasn't great. After a few more questions he said, "All right we'll put you down for Japanese.’”

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., October 8, 1944.  That five-minute interview set the course of the rest of my father's life.  He went on to learn Japanese at the Naval language program at Boulder, Colorado, to get a Ph.D. in Japanese history, and to become a Japanese historian.

Sep 30, 2014

September 1944: no place for a woman

“I arrived [at Southwestern College] in the spring of 1944, to find a student body of about 150, including 13 men.  They were either deferred as ministerial students, as farmers, or 4-F.  They included one retarded student, Bob Hill, who had been my classmate all through grade school in Winfield.
“I do not recall enrolling in forensics [debate] in my first year.  Actually, I had been enamored of chemistry in high school and thought of a career in physical chemistry.  Because of the war, most of the professors had gone into service, and Professor Oncley, near retirement, was teaching Physics, although that was not his major field.  Prof. Oncley made it clear to me that the field of physical chemistry was no place for a woman.  The physical conditions in the labs were pitiful as well, and the combination of those factors discouraged me.”

--From brief memoir written by my mother about her college years, written around 2001.  She graduated college in January 1948.  (According to my mother's transcripts from Southwestern College, she matriculated into the college on September 5, 1944 and not the spring, although she may have visited earlier.)

Sep 24, 2014

Sun, Sep 24, 1944: Chicago Harbor

"I promised to say some more about the Wilmette Cruise; so here goes.  We went on the trip mainly to fire the ship's guns. The .30 caliber and the 22 mm. machine guns made enough noise, even with our cotton-stuffed ears; but these were only toys in comparison to the 3'50 caliber.  Its bark was the loudest most penetrating noise I ever heard.  The ordnance instructors say that it's harder on ears than even the rumble of a 16" file; and I believe them....
"For three nights we watched the bright lights of Chicago while anchored in Chicago Harbor; but liberty on the beach was reserved for officer's and ship's crew."

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, September 24, 1944.

Sun, Sep 24, 1944: Roosevelt

"We listened to Roosevelt Sat. night and as Dewey just said his (Roosevelt's) speech consisted of mud-slinging and wise-cracks. Well it won't be long now until we'll know whether we'll have Dewey or another four years with Roosevelt.
"Warren B. was here last summer during the Democratic Convention.  We were talking about the certainty of Roosevelt being nominated.  Warren said, 'Yes and if he is nominated I suppose he will be re-elected.  I just look for that old duffer to stay in there until he kicks the bucket.'...

"P.S. Jack Seal's mess segeant came back to the U.S. on furlough and Jack sent an uncensored letter to his folks by the sergeant. They found out the details how he was wounded.  The piece or shoulder bar off the German's uniform was the one who shot Jack.  The German operated a machine gun.  Jack's squad officer shot the German and got the shoulder board for Jack.  Jack said he was wounded 20 hrs. before he got to a hospital.  He dragged himself over three hundred yards."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., September 24, 1944.  My father's friend, Jack Seal, had been wounded in Anzio Beach, Italy.  Warren is my father's cousin.

Sep 21, 2014

Sun, Sep 18, 1944: questions

"Lieut Commander Maxwell, captain, had the bad habit of asking midshipmen some of the most unexpected questions about the ship [during a training cruise on Lake Michigan].  'How many loaves of bread does the crew eat per day?' 'Where is it stored?', "What is a mil?' are examples.  This gruff old mustached fugitive from a Walt Disney comic strip scared more than one middie; so I took the precaution of checking up on answers to his most frequently asked questions.  And apparently for good reason.  One boy, acting in the capacity of navigator, couldn't give 'the old man' (as all Captains are referred to by their men) the expected time of arrival in the target area; consequently he drew the assignment of finding the rate of each of the 70 crew members aboard...."

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., September 18, 1944.

Sun, Sep 10, 1944: a variety of occupations

Sun, Sep 10, 1944: a variety of occupations
[language warning] "While on the subject of fathers, I might mention that the boys here in Section 5 are sons of men representing quite a variety of occupations.  Ed Burke's dad makes stationary and Ed's grandfather recently came back from China where he had been interned by the Japs while a missionary.  Burt Brody's Dad, a Russian immigrant, must be a very successful accountant; for somewhere he accumulated enough to send Burt to Europe, to a fancy 'finishing' school, and to Yale.  Then there's Harry Brown, who makes it clear that he hails from Queen, although his Brooklyn accent and the fact that his father is a Lieutenant in the Brooklyn Fire Dept. had us confused for a time.  Of course, one will find a scattering of farmer's sons around; but the occupations of the other 20 odd men here are not known to me.  It would make an interesting subject for investigation....
"Hank Brown, a very careful, meticulous housekeeper, hit the ceiling upon walking into the room Friday and finding a mimeographed room inspection sheet, stamped with our company officer's name and with red marks opposite six listed officers plus the line ROOM IN GROSS DISORDER.  Buel happened to have a stray appropriately signed slip; so we conceived the idea of planting it on Hank's desk.  The result was well worth the effort involved; and when Hank indicated that he was ready to take the grip to the Captain, if necessary, we informed him concerning the true state of affairs. Hank, being a good guy, sheepishly, grinned."
-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, September 10, 1944. 

Tue, Sep 5, 1944: propaganda movie

[warning: derogatory language] "I was a busy man over this week-end.  Friday evening we saw 'The Battle of China', a film in the 'why-we-fight' series.  It was the kind of thing which would certainly get us worked up about the war.  Pictures of Jap atrocities -- executions, persons with mutilated limbs, etc. - featured this propaganda movie.  Most horrible sight was a living man with half his neck hacked away.  The thing they tried to impress upon us is the fact that Japan by doing such has united China.  As has been the case with most countries, China has evolved from a geographic expression into a nation, because of a foreign war."
-- Letter from my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., September 5, 1944. The word "Jap" appears regularly in my fathers' letters, in reference both to Japanese nationals and to Japanese-Americans.  I know in his later life, as a professor of Japanese history, my father was chagrined by his frequent use of the word in these letters.  In fact, when he transcribed some of these letters for publication, he always changed that word to "Japanese."  My father's liberal usage of the term reflects its common usage among non-Japanese Americans during World War II and before.  In fact, only a few U.S. newspapers chose to avoid the common slur.  Nowhere in my father's letters does he question the use of the term, even when he sympathizes with his Japanese American teachers unable to get housing because of racial prejudice.  To most Japanese Americans, the term was a biting insult.  As one Japanese American, Shosuke Sakai who immigrated to the United States as a seven-year-old around 1919, remembered: "They [white boys] used to call me a 'Jap.'  I remember, I used to get furious and start fighting back."  (Frank Chin, ed., Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America, 1889-1947, 51; Daily Tulean Dispatch, November 6, 1942).

Sep 4, 2014

Mon, Sep 4, 1944: the team and wagon

"No mail today and Mother said it would be a good time for me to write you, so here goes....
"Mother and Stanley started to school today, they just went till noon as it was labor day, Mother just has eleven in her room, that will be some different from Waverley where they have 26 pupils this year  I imagine Ella Myres will have her hands full, you know she is teaching this year there.
"Mother and Barbara washed this afternoon and Stanley and I sowed Rye, Stanley drove the team and wagon to the field, thats the way we had of taking rye seed to the field. It looked for awhile like it was going to rain us out, but outside of a few sprinkles it has'ent rained yet."
-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., September 4, 1944.  My grandparents were still using horses on the farm in 1944.  The transition from horses to tractors for farmwork was very gradual on my grandparents’ farm as in the country at large.  The number of farm horses in Butler County, Kansas, peaked around 1910 at 22,752, roughly the number of people in the county (23,059).  If you add in the town horses, there were likely more horses than people in the county then.  The number of farm horses gradually declined to 8,479 in 1940 and to 4,666 by 1950, while the human population grew slightly and the acres of farmland stayed about the same.  My grandfather gave up horses in fits and starts.  He acquired a Fordson tractor, probably during the 1920s, but tired of its gas consumption and unreliability and returned to using horses in the early 1930s.  He got a new Farmall F-20 tractor in 1937, yet continued to use horses for some tasks.  (Sources: U.S. Census, 1900-1950; Sidney DeVere Brown, Kansas Farmboy: A Memoir of Boyhood and Youth [2008], 103, 105)


Aug 24, 2014

Thu, Aug 24, 1944: flowers are tossed

"The people of France are very joyful on being liberated from German control.  When we go through towns flowers are tossed on the jeep.  Bottles are brought out from hiding and everyone is happy.  Little kids and old men want to shake hands.  Cigaretts are in demand about the only English we hear is from children who say ‘Cigarette for Paw Paw.’
"Foot soldiers have quite a time. I saw a beautiful girl push her way into the colum and plant a juicy kiss on a pleased G.I.'s cheek.  He's been in a dazed condition since."

-- Letter from Dale Sooter, France, to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., August 24, 1944.  Allied forces landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944.   Dale was my father's cousin.  This letter was written one day before Paris was liberated by allied forces, aided by Resistance fighters who had already begun an uprising.  The French Free forces of General Philippe Leclerc were the first to enter the city.

Aug 16, 2014

Wed, Aug 16, 1944: haymaking

"Monday, Bato got here to help put up the prairie hay.  The haymaking is progressing slowly.  Last night we had a shower accompanied by lots of wind so the hay was too damp to work with until after noon.  Now to-night it is showering again.  We really need the rain badly though and the cooler weather that follows the showers is very refreshing...
"Jack Seal writes that he is back with his company again and is O.K."

--Letter from my grandmother to my father, Wednesday, August 16, 1944

Wed, Aug 16, 1944: Normandy invasion

"Yesterday a Lieutenant Commander, who had just returned from the Normandy invasion, in which he participated aboard an LST, attempted to get us all enthused about the amphibs.  He made a good speech, but I was amused at certain statements.  'Study hard while you're here.  If you can't pass the test, which we give at Solomons (an amphib training base) we'll send you back to school.  If that happens, you may never see any action in this war.' The foregoing words approximately sum up a portion of his speech.  He also went on to say that a high grade average here is necessary for that duty.  Heretofore 90% of the men from this school have gone to the amphibious forces.  However, after that speech the boys are contemplating discarding their books for the rest of the term and getting by with a 2.501 average to avoid this assignment, which necessitates top grades."

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, August 16, 1944.

Aug 11, 2014

Fri, Aug 11, 1944: glad to go home

“Daddy probably told you about hiring some German prisoners to help with the hay.  Just to see them without P.W. all over their clothing they would easily pass for American boys.  They were very mannerly and polite around the house (probably had a lot of instruction along that line).  One carried his German-English dictionary with him and if he couldn't think of the word out came his dictionary.  They really worked fine.  One was thirty-four one was twenty-four and one twenty-one.  The youngest was the best looking with brown eyes and wavy hair.  He couldn't speak English and was rather sad and dejected acting.  All of them said they would be glad to go home.”

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Friday, August 11, 1944.

Aug 8, 2014

Sun, Aug 6, 1944: the Chaplain

"Have you been writing that gal in Cape -- if you can't tell it to the Chaplain write and tell it to me.
"Your Pal
"Rip"

-- Letter from Rip Tallent, Asbury Park, N.J., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Sunday, August 6, 1944.  Rip Tallent was a fellow classmate of my father from his Navy V-12 program in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Sun, Aug 6, 1944: German prisoners

"cut the alfalfa for the third time this year last Thursday and put it in the north barn on Friday, to help put it in the barn I got three German prisoner's from El Dorado, they have a camp of about 80 prisoners in it you can get them for forty five cents an hour for eight hours and you are allowed 50¢ per prisoner for going after them and taking them back you have to have them back in camp by 7 oclock, they were good workers, one could talk pretty good English, so we got along pretty good.  They were captured in Africa last Sept.  I ask one of them if he would rather be in Africa or in this country, he said in Africa, in Africa we are free men, in this country we a prisoners, he said. I went after them and took them back, there was no guard with them."
-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Sunday, August 6, 1944.  

Thu, Aug 3, 1944: a little peeved

"I think the girls are a little peeved at me because they wanted to go fishing with a bunch of kids the other evening after the 4-H meeting.  It was 10:30 P.M. when they were asked to go along and I thought it was too late since Barbara had to plow the next day. I think the other kids aimed to fish until daylight.  So consequently they think I've abused them although they have been to the picture show, horse back riding, swimming two or three times, Sunday school, to Augusta all day and intend to go swimming to-day."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Thursday, August 3, 1944.  Barbara Jean O’Neil was visiting my aunt Barbara that week. 

Jul 31, 2014

Mon, Jul 31, 1944: no good

"Weel kid I see you got the war made almost.  Boy stay in school as long as you can It no good over here.  I am in Hospital Convelesant now getting ready to go back to my outfit. and I am not to willing this time.  I guess I am to only one of us guys over here....
"I have been around quite bit over here.  Casablanca Algeres Osan Pompei, Napels, Caprie so have seen lots of Interesting things.”
-- Letter from Jack Seal, Italy, to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Monday, July 31, 1944.  Jack Seal was one of a gang of four boyhood friends, who grew up in Bloomington, Kansas.  The other three had gotten into officer training programs that kept them out of combat.  Jack did not.

Jul 29, 2014

Sat, Jul 29, 1944: forced down

"Stanley went over to Wichita last Thursday to visit at Aunt Edith's while Warren is there.  Seems like we surely miss him around here.  He is pretty handy about some things.  I have been helping milk at nights.  We milk seven in the evening and three in the morning....
"Do you get your Gazette?  If you do you probably saw about Buel Robinson and Lucille Sage's husband being ‘missing in action.’ Edward King was in to see Robinson's and they had received a phone call from some folks in Texas who said their son was on the same mission in a different plane and he was almost certain the plane Buel was in was forced down in Switzerland and that the crew was safe.  I surely hope it is true.  He will probably be interned but it would not be quite so bad as being in a German prison camp."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Saturday, July 29, 1944.

Jul 28, 2014

Fri, Jul 28, 1944: training cruise

"Yesterday 50 of us took a training cruise in two army crash boats on Lake Michigan.  We went by bus and train to Michigan City- our point of embarkation.  By 9 A.M. we were ready to shove off.  And then things began to happen.  The Lake was very rough, so our little ship with 104 ft. overall length bounced around considerably.  By 11 A.M. I was all set to ask for permanent shore duty -- and wishing I had joined the army where there is solid ground underfoot at least.  However, my condition wasn't as bad as that of quite a few of the boys, since I was able to eat a hearty dinner, and in the afternoon, when the Lake calmed down I really enjoyed myself."
-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Friday, July 28, 1944.

 

Jul 23, 2014

Sun, Jul 23, 1944: threshing

"Uncle Orrin started threshing yesterday afternoon.  They will probably be there until noon to-morrow and start on ours in the afternoon.  We will just have a few oats to thresh which shouldn't take such a very long time.  Aunt Ina and Irma are planning on having the threshers for dinner."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Sunday, July 23, 1944.

Jul 19, 2014

Wed, Jul 19, 1944: dandy workout


"I had a dandy workout physically today.  I was under the delusion that the days of self torture had ended, until our 2 hrs. session in athletics this morning.  Tumbling was most distasteful of the many body weakening exercises.  Starting with the simple forward roll we rapidly progressed through the football roll, and climaxed that portion of the period with diving over men who were on hands and knees.  The grass didn't prove to be the cushion needed, for one boy emerged with a dislocated shoulder and quite a few sported around skinned knees, elbows, chins, and legs...
"I just found out in a letter from Bill Monypenny that Ensign Adrian Richardson, our old Kappa Rho president, was killed on the first day of the Normandy invasion.  He graduated from this midshipmen's school with Kenneth Hiebsch last September and out of Notre Dame's 6000 graduates, he is one of the 16 who have been killed so far."
-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, July 19, 1944.  Kappa Rho was the pep club that my father was a member of at Southwestern College.

Wed, Jul 19, 1944: Franklin D. Roosevelt

"To-day opens the Democratic Convention and as it looks no other than Franklin D. Roosevelt.  It seems rather funny that they have only one man who is capable of the big job....
"Barbara has been helping Daddy quite a bit in the field.  She likes to drive the tractor so she helped plow a field then Monday they cultivated some kaffir.  But it rained yesterday morning so the rest of the kaffir will have to wait a few days.  We needed the rain which was only a local affair as Daddy went to El Dorado and Augusta yesterday and no rain was reported there.  Barbara's face was so sunburned it was almost the color of red flannel."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Wednesday, July 19, 1944.

Jul 15, 2014

Sat, Jul 15, 1944: book work

"Sounds like you may stay at South Bend a while longer, it may be the best for you or at least you just as well make the Best of it.  You'll have to learn to get by and not study so hard, you dont want to ruin your health with to much book work, but all this college work is a chance in a life time."
-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Saturday, July 15, 1944.

Jul 13, 2014

Thu, Jul 13, 1944: eyes

"My old roommate, Clarence Brewster, lives around the corner from me in Lyons Hall, but he's afraid of leaving soon, because of failing the ear test.  It seems that two years in the noisy Boeing factory didn't do his hearing any good.  Since last writing, I've gone through another physical - a check up on the eyes - and passed easily.  Of course, if the Navy ever prints up another set of eye charts, I might not do so well with the left eye, but after seven or eight physicals I know the seven lines of that old AELTYPHEALT chart backward and forward.  Be sure to take good care of your eyes, Stanley, because unless one has normal vision, he's not good for much but deck scrubbing, in this Navy.  Maybe you'll be lucky and never be a soldier or sailor, though probably a tough Marine."
-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his younger brother, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, July 13, 1944.

Jul 7, 2014

Fri, Jul 7, 1944: very proud

"So you're a midshipman now.  Of course we are very proud of you and I would surely love to see you in that new uniform.  I'll bet you look 'spiffy.'"
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Friday, July 7, 1944.

Jun 25, 2014

Sun, Jun 25, 1944

"Stanley & I have been doing the chores the past week, I let Stanley do most of the water and milk carring, I pump most of the water and milk 3 cows to his 2, he sure is a lot of help.  I imagine we will have some combining to do this week  I think the rye will do soon and the wheat the last week or first of next week....
"Stanley and I went to the pastures and I counted the cattle and left salt in each one, Stanley picked out his and yours, he got to see his calf at least we supposed it was his as it was sucking his cow."
-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Sunday, June 25, 1944.

Jun 22, 2014

Thu, Jun 22, 1944: operation

"Stanley intended to write to you last night but when he got around to it he decided he was too tired. He has had quite a bit of responsibility since Daddy had his operation.  He and Kenneth managed everything pretty well for boys their size.  Although Daddy has been home a week he has not been able to do much of anything.  Last night he decided he could help a little with the milking so Kenneth didn't come."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Jessie Maybelle (Berger) Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Notre Dame, Ind., Thursday, June 22, 1944.

Jun 19, 2014

Mon, Jun 19, 1944: personable

“Personable friendly man with a good smile.  Would be anxious for sea duty if his eyes are found to be satisfactory.  (Listed 17/20 here when he reported)  Has done extensive work in extra curricular activities.  Socially well adjusted.  Good supply corps candidate although not a business administration major.  Good test scores.”

--Endorsement summary of my father by E. N. Brains, Lieutenant, U. S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 1944.

Jun 14, 2014

Wed, Jun 14, 1944

"One doesn't have a chance to forget that this is a Catholic institution, as we encounter black robed professors scurrying to and from classes at all times....
"Jack certainly must have had a close call in Italy.  I hope he recovers quickly, but not to get back into action, for he has certainly had his share after two months on that Anzio Beachhead."

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, June 14, 1944.

Jun 13, 2014

Tue, Jun 13, 1944: the hospital

"There is a colored lad, 23 yrs old, working here at the hospital, he came from Lyberia and has just been in this country about 9 or 10 days, he comes in the room and I visit and ask him questions about himself & his country said his father is a fisherman, they dry the fish to preserve them have no canneries or modern equipment  he has never seen natural frozen ice or or seen such machinery as a combine or binder work, he said one day the first of this week it was kinda cool here and he said it was cold to him.  He said his folks lived right by the ocean said they dip water of the ocean sometimes to boil the salt out of it to get salt, he is going to Friends University this winter plans to make a doctor out of himself, he talks pretty good English, the missionaries taught him English.”
--Letter from my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, recuperating from knee surgery in Wichita, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Notre Dame, Ind., Tuesday, June 13, 1944.  

Jun 10, 2014

Sat, Jun 10, 1944: cranberry merchant

"Dearest DeVere:- Well I suppose you are as busy as a cranberry merchant right now.  We were glad to receive your two cards and your letter.  You are very fortunate to run into so many acquaintances and you surely must have had a fine time visiting Cape Girardeau....
“P.S. Homer and Ruby hear through Betty Watt that Jack had been wounded by a German machine bullet and is in a hospital in Italy. He said he would be confined there about a month and would be fighting again.  He received a purple heart."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind., Saturday, June 10, 1944.  My father had just started to midshipmen’s school at Notre Dame University.

Jun 6, 2014

Tue, Jun 6, 1944

"We're now getting settled for the long midshipmen's school grind.  This morning the boys came in from Asbury Park, so I think classes will begin about next Thursday."
-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Tues, June 6, 1944.  My father had just arrived at Midshipmen’s School at Notre Dame after having a leave at home with his family.  This letter was written on D-Day, the day that allied forces crossed the English Channel to attack German-occupied Normandy, although my father makes no mention of it.

May 21, 2014

Sun, May 21, 1944: interesting yeoman

"Incidentally, I met a very interesting yeoman up at the regimental office while on duty Friday night from 8 to 12.  This little Puerto Rican chap, Arana, who stands about 5 feet tall and is probably 25 yrs. old, was a very likeable person.  I made his acquaintance when he plugged one of his former boss's books by suggesting that an idle messenger boy read Richard Halliburton's 'Seven League Boots.' It turned out that Arana had worked for Halliburton off and on between 1936 and 1939 - at the same time doing some college studies.  He had typed up the manuscripts for such best-sellers as 'The Book of Marvels,' one of Halliburton's many travel books, and besides that was a personal friend of the author...."

-- Letter from my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, May 21, 1944.  This is the only fellow sailor my father referred to by name in his letters from boot camp.

May 18, 2014

Thur, May 18, 1944: change of plans

"A change of plans has been made for me.  I won't be home on the 22nd. Instead I'll be paid with the company and sent to OGU (outgoing unit from which men go to school or sea) on May 23rd.  There's a reasonable chance that I'll be home later, but don't count too much on it and we won't be disappointed.  That's the way things happen in the navy..."

-- Letter from my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, May 18, 1944.

May 15, 2014

Sun, May 14, 1944: little colt

"Stanley says to tell you he and Daddy put a halter on the little colt this evening.  You had better be thinking of a classical name for a mare colt as they have not named it yet."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., Sunday, May 14, 1944.

Thu, May 11, 1944: tickled

"Dearest DeVere:-  Were we thrilled when we heard you were going to come home [on leave]!  In fact I was so tickled it was two hours after we read your letter before I could settle down to my work again."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Jessie Maybelle (Berger) Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Camp Sampson, N.Y., Thursday, May 11, 1944.

Wed, May 10, 1944: ball park

“Life here has had a few variations recently.  For example Monday afternoon our two periods of drill as well as our scheduled second hair cut or head shave were cancelled unexpectedly.  We were told to make a quick change from dungarees to undress blues with neckerchiefs - then they marched us off.  Our destination turned out to be the ball park, and to our surprise we were entertained with an exhibition game between the Sampson nine and the Baltimore Orioles, who are now running second in the International League. Baltimore either lacked the class of Sampson or else they didn't put much fight into this non-league game for the final score read 9 to 0 in favor of Sampson.  But then the man on the mound for us was none other than Johnny Vander Meer of two consecutive no-hit fame back in his days with the Cincinnati Reds....
"Monday evening I took in my first entertainment move in over a month.  It was "Higher and Higher" featuring Frankie Sinatra, and in the absence of a feminine audience the boys did an adequate job of supplying the usual sighs."

-- Letter from my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., to his father, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, May 10, 1944.

Wed, May 3, 1944: fixing up things

“Daddy and Bato can't get into the fields so they have been fixing up things around here a little.  They put a new floor in the south half of the east porch and fixed new concrete most of the way around the cistern.  Yesterday they built a small pen south of the brooder house so if it ever dries up enough we will let the little chickens out.  Then to-day they also vaccinated some calves so they can take them up to the Clark pasture.  I think they are going to dehorn some calves in the morning."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., Wednesday, May 3, 1944.

Mon, May 1, 1944: damnable humiliations

"I'm no one to console a person because of awkwardness on my own part.  But a fellow of your intelligence and broad outlook on life needs none.  You will have many damnable humiliations, but will meet numerous personalities and be a leader among all of them.  There is no doubt that you now hold a record of being the most intelligent and best educated young man of your age to enter boot camp.  This will make you a natural leader and you can develop a philosophy which will be worth more than many more glamorous things."

-- Letter from Rip Tallent, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., Monday, May 1, 1944.

Apr 30, 2014

Sun, Apr 30, 1944: you can take it

"Stanley went out in the pasture and announced on his return that his heifer has a calf, so you can imagine the smile on his face....
"I take it that navy life is somewhat different where you are now than it was going to school, but you can take it and live through it if the other fellow can."

--Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., Sunday, April 30, 1944.  My grandfather doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for my father feeling bad about being sent to boot camp.  My grandfather had served in the Army in World War I and been sent to France.  I don’t believe he saw any real action, but he was close enough to hear the guns fall silent when the armistice went into effect, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

Apr 29, 2014

Sat, Apr 29, 1944: bad break

"The personnel man that interviewed me was a good fellow -- easy to talk with -- and he thought I had a bad break in being sent here.  In the line of trying to make me feel good he said that I had a higher set of scores than most lieutenants would make on the classification tests -- but that still doesn't compensate for near-sightedness, I guess.  Tell mother to get some of those Vitamin A pills -- it's worth it to make an attempt to improve my eyes."

-- Letter from my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., to his brother, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, April 29, 1944.

Sat, Apr 29, 1944: no disgrace

"Of course as you mentioned it is no disgrace for you to be transfered to a Naval Training Station and we never thought of it as being such.  I was rather disappointed more because of the uncertainty of your future destiny than because of any reality.  But you must not think of it as disgraceful because what a person can't help is surely no disgrace.  So just go ahead and be the best sailor you can as you always do everything else....
"Seals have heard from Jack again. He is still at Anzio Beach in Italy and has just started to receive packages they mailed in January.  He was feeling fine.
“Aunt Frances is pretty sure Joyce is on his way across and that Dale is preparing to cross as he had his will made out and sent back. That is something you should see to if you have to go across."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., Saturday, April 29, 1944.

Apr 23, 2014

Sun, Apr 23, 1944: church

“After that the company commander drilled the boys for a while.  Since these Italian fruit merchants from New York City couldn't get it through their heads how to do 'to the rear' we spent about 1 1/2 hrs. of supposedly free time practicing.
"In this camp everyone goes to church - either to Catholic, Jewish or Protestant services.  Out of 112 men in our company only 30 were Protestants.  This would be very surprising out in the mid-West, but it's to be expected, I guess, among these foreigners."

-- Letter from my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., to his family, Sunday, April 23, 1944.  My father grew up in an overwhelmingly white and Protestant county and seems not to have regarded Jews and Catholics as real Americans at this time in his life, but as "foreigners."

Apr 19, 2014

Wed, Apr 19, 1944: boot camp

"Dear Folks:
 "I made an unexpected move Monday.  Instead of going to midshipmen's school as expected, I went the other way - to boot camp.  So I'll be at home here not far from Buffalo - and about 14 miles form a town called Geneva - for the next 4 to 6 weeks.
"Sunday afternoon the executive officer called three of us over to inform us of orders from Washington to transfer us to boot camp.  Because our eyes didn't quite come up to the 18/20 standard, they took us out of the V-12 program....
"Well, I'm just about resigned to my lot in boot camp now.  We still have a chance to go to some service school for a rating -- in fact the Exec back at Asbury practically promised us we would, but I won't believe anything anymore until it happens.  If I had failed to use my books and slid through on D's back in V-12, I might be a lot higher in the Navy right now.  But, at least I got a year of free college out of the deal."

-- Letter from my father, Camp Sampson, N.Y., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, April 19, 1944.  This is the bluest my Dad sounds in any of his letters from the Navy.  He seems to think if he had studied less, he would have saved his eyes and had good enough eyesight to have been admitted to a midshipmen’s school, rather than going to boot camp.  Being in boot camp meant, he was likely to be sent into combat soon as an enlisted man, rather than staying in the U.S. for officer training programs.

Apr 17, 2014

Mon, Apr 17, 1944: fishing

"Went went down to the creek took our lunch and fishing poles.  there were seven of us David Jackson, Kieth King, Roy Eagleson, Fenton Easterling, Max Davenport, Gene Myers and I.
"Kenneth wasn't there because a horse fell on him and broke a bone in his foot.

"It was by King's were we went fishing.  We built a fire and three catfish and several perch. one catfish wiegh any way from a half a pound to a pound."
-- Letter from my uncle, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Asbury Park, N.J., Monday, April 17, 1944.

Apr 9, 2014

Sun, Apr 9, 1944: sick bay

"Dear Mother:

"My Easter Sunday is being spent in isolation from the rest of the world up here in sick bay [with measles].  Everyone in the place gets liberty today-except us of course, and this staying inside is a little hard to take when you can look out the window and see everyone enjoying themselves.  Thousands of people are parading up and down the boardwalk.  They're having what is called the 'Orchid Promenade' out there -- the 100 best dressed women are to be given orchids"
-- Letter from my father, Asbury Park, N.J., to his mother, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, April 9, 1944.  This is my father's 23rd letter to his family in 1944 and the last letter that my grandparents numbered.  However, they continued to keep most (perhaps all) his letters, while he was in the Navy.

Apr 6, 2014

Thu, Apr 6, 1944: powerful windy

"It has been powerful windy around here today, acts like their might be a rain coming which isn't badly needed but would'nt hurt any thing.
"Bato came yesterday to help with the farm work, we planted potatoes and some eight row corn in the old orchard. Today we sowed some Lespadeza? seed and worked on the sink drain which has been stopped up for some time, and tomorrow expect we will continue on the drain unless something more urgent shows up to do.”
--Letter from my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Asbury Park, N.J., April 6, 1944.
     Lespedeza, also known as Japan clover, was introduced from Japan into the United States by 1846.  Other varieties were introduced from Japan and Korea in 1919.  By the 1920s, it was used from New Jersey to Kansas as a forage crop.  One recent extension report describes it as, “an acid-tolerant, drought-resistant, summer annual legume useful for pasture, hay and soil improvement.  Although the plant is from Japan, the name Lespedeza comes from Vincente Manuel de CĂ©spedes, Spanish governor of Florida  and the botanist who first described the genus within European science.  When AndrĂ© Michaux wrote his Flora Borealis Americana in 1803, he garbled the name as "Lespedeza." 
     Sources: Samuel Henry Essary, ”Lespedeza (Japan Clover)” (University of Tennesse Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 123, April 1921; Craig A. Roberts, “Annual Lespedez,” (2000), http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G4515); University of Arkansas Extension, “Plant of the Week: Japanese Bush Clover: Latin: Lespedeza thunbergii” available at http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/clover_japanesebush_11-4-11.htm.

Apr 2, 2014

Sun, Apr 2, 1944: thick of it

"Ruby and Homer have gotten word that Jack is at Anzio Beachhead in Italy. That means that he is getting into the thick of it....
"Daddy's hand 'Bato' the fellow who worked here last fall is supposed to come this week to start working here.
"Hope he doesn't change his mind as Daddy really needs some help and he (Bato) is a good worker even if he is a little queer.  He isn't as disagreeable to be around as some hands are."
--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Asbury Park, N.J., Sunday, April 2, 1944.  My father was safely at a training facility in the United States, as he heard news of his childhood friend in "the thick of it" in Italy.

Mar 28, 2014

Tue, Mar 28, 1944: defer your crossing

"Dearest DeVere:- It was with a feeling of disappointment that we rec'd your card yesterday telling of your failure to get to go to Northwestern U.  You probably were more disappointed than we but perhaps it will be for the best in the long run.  Perhaps a little later you will get to go to a mid-shipmen's school anyhow and it may mean it will defer your crossing the ocean a little longer.  I am not very anxious for you to have to go across you know.  Of course if the war continues, sooner or later you will probably have to go but the longer it is put off the better as far as I am concerned."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Jessie Maybelle (Berger) Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Asbury Park, N.J., Tuesday, March 28, 1944.

Mar 25, 2014

Sat, Mar 25, 1944: remain behind

"My expectation was that I would be in Chicago today, but something happened.  While packing for the trip last week, one of my roommates told me I was wanted in the Company office.  Down there 13 of us learned that along with 21 men from Company 10 we would remain behind.  Lieut. Murphy didn't have the slightest idea, why I was left out....
"The food is about the same--there's not enough of it.  But I've finally hit upon an idea to keep from starving. It's simple enough.  I merely go through the chow line twice --once in the upper mess hall and once in the the [sic] lower mess hall.”
--Letter from my father, Asbury Park, N.J., to his little brother, Stanley Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, March 25, 1944.  My father had expected to leave pre-midshipman’s school in Asbury Park for Midshipmen’s School at Northwestern University.   The fact that he was not sent to Midshipmen's School for officer training made it more likely he would enter combat in the near future as an enlisted sailor.

Mar 20, 2014

Mon, Mar 20, 1944: subways

"The subways are fun to ride. For 5¢ you can go almost anyplace in the city.  After depositing your nickel in the slot at the turngate, you find yourself underground on a station platform.  The train comes roaring up at about 50 mph and seems to stop on a dime.  The doors remain open 10 or 15 seconds while passangers get on or off, and it zooms on its way....
"The boat ride out to the famed Statue was my first in anything larger than a rowboat.  I didn't get seasick, at least.  The Liberty Statue was really enormous and a work of art.  In her left hand she holds the declaration of Independence; in her right a torch; and her foot is stepping out of a shackle."
--Letter from my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Asbury Park, N.J., to my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., Monday, March 20, 1944.  My father had been a Navy ensign for more than eight months, when his wrote this letter about his first ever boat ride.

Mar 18, 2014

Sat, Mar 18, 1944: quiet Captain Miller

"I've just finished a day of good cheap entertainment in the immense city of New York....
"Our next destination was Stage Door Canteen where we stopped for a snack before the Capt. Miller show.  I was very much amused to find that a place with such a big reputation was so small.  However, the entertainment was very good.
"Over at the NBC studios we had some unexpected music before the show began.  Tall, broad shouldered, handsome, quiet Captain Miller introduced to us a visitor, Chief Petty Officer 'Tex' Beneke….  [The actual broadcast] really sounded good. And how Glenn Miller can direct that band and read from a script at the same time is something of a mystery."
-- Letter from my father, Asbury Park, N.J., to my aunt, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, March 18, 1944.  This letter is about my father’s first trip to New York, when he was stationed at Asbury Park, New Jersey.  Glenn Miller’s big band rose to prominence in 1939 with songs such as 'Moonlight Serenade,’ ‘Little Brown Jug,’ 'Pennsylvania 6-5000,' and 'Tuxedo Junction.'  His wildly popular civilian band gave its last concert in September, 1942, and Glenn Miller joined the military to lead what he called “a modernized military band.”  As Captain Glenn Miller, he led a band in a weekly radio broadcast called "I Sustain the Wings," which my father saw that day.  In the summer of 1944, Miller went to England and led the Army Air Force Band in some 800 performances.  His plane disappeared over the English Channel on December 15, 1944, and no trace was recovered.  Miller was forty years old at the time. I remember my dad occasionally playing Glenn Miller records around the house, although his great love was the music of Duke Ellington.  (source: “Glenn Miller,” Wikipedia.org; "Miller, Glenn." World War II and the Postwar Years in America: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia. William H. Young and Nancy K. Young. Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010. 479-481. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.)

Mar 15, 2014

Wed, Mar 15, 1944: chase chickens

"We are going to get rid of Buzz and the pup because they chase chickens.  I think we are going to get a bulldog named Tip.
"Daddy and Uncle Orrin worked old Fibber today.  He threw himself about 20 times and then they hitched him to the wagon."
--Letter from my uncle, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Asbury Park, N.J., Wednesday, March 15, 1944.

Wed, Mar 15, 1944: British sailors

"We, also, visited the local USO and enjoyed some sandwiches on the way down. I met some British sailors, and we tried to find out a little about their country--but their accent made it almost as bad as speaking with a Greek for example.  We didn't learn much."
--Letter from my father, Asbury Park, N.J. to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, March 15, 1944.

Mar 12, 2014

Sun, Mar 12, 1944: “salts”

"Scuttlebutt has it that some of these 'salts' from the fleet are pretty rough.  One of them wanted the ship's company's pick-up truck to haul his sea-bag from the R.R. depot to his dorm.  When the storekeeper refused he is reported to have said, ‘Listen Red, give me those keys or I’ll ram this typewriter down your throat.’ He got the keys."
--Letter from Lee Lenz, Sewanee, Tenn., to my father, Asbury Park, N. J., Sunday, March 12, 1944.



Mar 6, 2014

Sun, Mar 6, 1944: Boardwalk

"Dear Stanley:
"I'm writing this from my room from which we can view the Atlantic in the fashionable Hotel Monterey.  The Navy has taken over three of the better hotels in the city, and while a person doesn't live in luxury here, he does have living quarters better than barracks.
"I got my first look at the Ocean upon arising this morning out of our North window.  Later I stepped out of a door to the east and took a good look at the beach and the Boardwalk where the rich play all summer."
-- Letter from my father, Asbury Park, N.J., to his brother, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, March 6, 1944.

Feb 17, 2014

Thu, Feb 17, 1944: ocean

"Stanley just ask the question How far will DeVere be from the ocean?  I told him you might be as far from the ocean as we are from muddy creek, maybe farther or maybe closer.
“I took some Prairie Hay to the community sale at Dennetts corner today and it brought 67¢ per bale I kinda had the laugh on Brown he took some alfalfa bales and they brought 66¢ per bale, they should of brought more than my prairie hay."
-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Thursday, February 17, 1944.  Muddy Creek was roughly a quarter mile from my grandparents' farm house.  Stanley was my father's little brother; Brown King was his cousin.

Feb 13, 2014

Sun, Feb 13, 1944: Asbury Park

"Dear Folks:
"Lieut. Morrisey had some interesting news for us at yesterday's muster.  I'm to be sent to Asbury Park, New Jersey, as soon as the semester is finished here.  This summer resort town of 14,500 population is on the Atlantic Coast and about 70 miles south of New York City.  Here we'll have probably a pre-midshipman's school or, as some rumors have it, an amphibian school."
-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, February 13, 1944.

Feb 9, 2014

Wed, Feb 9, 1944: pretty prosperous

"Dear Folks:
"I was pleased to get so many letters from the family this week. When it's told from all angles I get a better idea about what is going on.
"Dad mentioned that the local township went over the top in its 4th War Loan.  Things must be pretty prosperous when a place like Bloomington Township can dig up $8500....
-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, February 9, 1944.

Feb 6, 2014

Sun, Feb 6, 1944: New Testaments

 "At 8 A.M. we had a special muster in the auditorium. A Gideon's organization from St Louis presented the program -- at the conclusion of which New Testaments were presented to all of those in attendance. Seaman Bob Hull of Wichita, himself a member of the Gideons, was the one who introduced the speaker and songleader.  The first testaments were presented to Lieuts. Soderquist, Morrissey, and Ripparett - (our new medical officer).  Then they asked Chief Petty Officer Hewes -- the last man in the world that you'd expect to find reading the Bible - to come forward.  But the burst of laughter died down when it was discovered that Chief Hewes - along with Chiefs Lenser and Norton wasn't in attendance."
-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, February 6, 1944.

Sun, Feb 6, 1944: big laugh

"Your Dad got a big laugh out of the letter you wrote about the [Nazarene] church you visited.  He carried the letter around & let several read it. I know just what you ran into. We lived by three or four families in Wichita that belong to that church.  Everytime we turned the ice cream freezer on Sun the old lady next door would go up in her closet and shut the door & pray loud enough for us so all the neighbors could hear.  While she was doing this her own family were just staggering in from an all nite dance & brawl."
-- Letter from Ada Lenz, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Thursday February 6, 1944.  Ada Lenz was a neighbor of my grandparents.


Jan 31, 2014

Mon, Jan 31, 1944: cake

"Dear Folks:
"The cake came through in fine shape today.  And now we're through with the cake.  I opened it at evening chow to pass around to the other five boys at my table.  But to my surprise I suddenly cultivated a multitude of friends of the backslapping variety - so I gave them all a piece - some of them mighty small - but large enough to give them an idea of its deliciousness.  I emerged from the dining room - while our packages are pressed out - with barely two moderately-sized pieces of angel-food.  I don't mind, though.  They'll have birthdays, too....
"From the looks of reports in recent papers perhaps it's just as well that I'm getting out of the V-12 program.  One anonymous Congressman says that he can't see any sense in drafting married men when we have thousands of young men 'who are just the type we need for 'combat duty' in the colleges of the country.  The army college program seems to be overbooked but V-12 may stay to produce some of the needed officers of new ships that are constantly being launched."
-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Monday, January 31, 1944.  V-12 was the Navy program through which my father took classes at Southeast Missouri State College, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as a uniformed enlisted sailor, in preparation for officer training school. 

Jan 27, 2014

Thu, Jan 27, 1944: Nazarene Church

"Incidentally last Sunday I had a rather novel experience.  I attended the Nazarene Church with a couple of sailors.  The first thing that caught my attention was their method of giving persons birthday recognition.  The birthday celebrant goes to the front, deposits his money, and proceeds to ring a small bell--one ring for each year of age.  Meanwhile the crowd joins in and everyone helps count the number of rings aloud.  This was all right for a 17 yr old girl, but my curiosity was aroused concerning the length of time required to count those of the aged and infirm.  My curiosity was soon put to rest when a woman of 59 went forward.  The crowd began 10 - 20 - 30 - 40 - 50 - 51 etc."
--Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, January 27, 1944.

Jan 24, 2014

1943-44: senior portrait

Senior portrait of my mother, Ruth Murray, at El Dorado High School (in Kansas), 1943-1944.  The yearbook shows that she was in the debate club, honor society, senior play, and orchestra.  The high school was kitty-corner from the Methodist Church, where her father was pastor, and down the street from the parsonage where she lived with her father and younger sister.  My mother would not meet my father until the fall of 1946.

Jan 1944: grades

“W. Geog....    E
Steno....           E
Span....            E
Chem....           E
Econ...             E
Spelling...        E+.”
--My mother’s report card for the fall semester of  her senior year at El Dorado High School, 1943-1944.  Since I have no letters from her in this time period, I’ve included one of the few documents I have from her.  Possible grades were “E—Excellent; G—Good; M—Medium; P—Passing; F—Failing.”