Dec 16, 2011

Tue, Dec 16, 1941: Christmas candy

"Daddy took some calves to Wichita this morning.  I want to get some Christmas candy made to send to Dale.  Don't suppose he'll get to come home.  Will see you Friday Mother"
-- Postcard from my grandmother to my father, December 16, 1941.  My father was a college freshman getting ready to come home for Christmas.  His cousin Dale was a soldier, who likely wouldn't be home for Christmas.

Tue, Dec 16, 1941: Uncle Sam

"Dear DeVere
"I've been intending to write and now I seem to have the time and plenty of it I'm riding the rails now.  You can probably tell that by the drifting of my printing Uncle Sam is taking me to a place where I can show how good a soldier I am. I'm a thinking he will find out... and May West too.... Mom wrote saying a few of the boys have enlisted from Southwestern. I hope they like the army as it is so vast a change from their normal ways of living. It's almost like a giant jig saw, you have to fit into all the angles then your a part of the army. The effective part."
-- Letter from Dale Sooter, age 21, on troop train, to my father, age 16, Winfield, Kans., December 16, 1941.  Dale Sooter was my father’s cousin.

Dec 15, 2011

Mon, Dec 15, 1941: some little gift (Pearl Harbor)

"I advise that you get Bill & Mrs. Sellers some little gift for Christmas."
-- Letter from my grandmother to my father, Monday, December 15, 1941.  (Mrs. Sellars ran the boarding house where my father lived and Bill was my father's roommate.)  
This quote is from the first letter my father received from home after Pearl Harbor Day and the declaration of war.  It makes no mention of these events, because my grandparents happened to be visiting my father the day Japan attacked.  My father said the following about the start of the war in his memoir: “On Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941, the Kappa Rho basketball team, a formidable competitor in the intramural league, held practice in Stewart Gymnasium.  George Reynolds, a late arrival, brought the scarcely believable news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.  Startling as it was practice was not interrupted; team members such as Adrian Richardson, who was to die off Normandy Beach as a naval ensign in June, 1944, scrimmaged to the end.  My parents happened to be visiting Winfield that Sunday afternoon, and were with their former pastor and his wife, Mac and Mona McNeil, now the business manager of the college. The four were glued to the car radio when they located me at the gym.  Mac listened intently, waiting for a message from Prime Minister Winston Churchill that Great Britain would join the U.S.A., a promise that was soon forthcoming.
“The following morning at 11 a.m., the boys at Sellers all gathered in my room, seated on the bed, and standing around it, to hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous message on my cheap Montgomery Ward radio.  ‘Yesterday--a day that will live in infamy--the Japanese deliberately and maliciously attacked…,’ it began, and the president’s words signaled the end of the comfortable student life of all of the boys huddled around the radio in its plastic case.  Mistaken confidence ruled, as youthful exuberance colored predictions, that Japan would be defeated ‘in three weeks with one hand tied behind us,’ or that ‘their paper cities’ would go up in smoke with the first air raid.  Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox led the way in boastfulness, but we quickly learned that a long, difficult struggle lay before us, involving every one of the boys in that room.  ‘Goodbye, I’ll see you in Yokohama!,’ exclaimed Bryce Roderick as he said farewell to us, and left for service shortly afterward.  Bill Stanley, my roommate, would fly many missions over Germany with the Army Air Corps, in the years ahead.”

Dec 4, 2011

Thu, Dec 4, 1941: homemade candy

"Dear DeVere:- Have been looking for a card from you telling about your watch & trombone. Please write. Am sending your clothes and some homemade candy.  Hope it is a kind you like.  Forgot to put your shirt in the package so will send it some other time.  The dog tore one of your shirts to pieces on wash day.  Pulled it off the line, the one Aunt Edith gave you."
-- Letter from my grandmother to my father, Thursday, December 4, 1941.

Nov 16, 2011

Sun, Nov 16, 1941: wonderful

"Dear DeVere:- We were down to Flo's to-day.  Katherine's & the folks were there too.  It was certainly a fine day.  Got your laundry bag and letter and will try to get them laundered to-morrow.  Hope you will not run short of clothing before you get them....
"Daddy bought five pigs and Stanley thinks they are wonderful.  with Love Mother"
-- Postcard from my grandmother to my father, Sunday, November 16, 1941.

Nov 14, 2011

Fri, Nov 14, 1941: new snow suit

"Dear Devere,
"Do you like Southwestern College. I wrote a letter at school yesterday, but I didn't send it.  I am writing another letter today.
"I got a new snow suit.  I had a cap a coat and a pair of pants.  Mother got me another coat and a cap....
"Your loving brother,
-- Letter from my uncle Stanley, age 8, to my father, age 16, Friday, November 14, 1941.

Nov 11, 2011

Tue, Nov 11, 1941: hadn’t heard

"Dear DeVere:- Another week has rolled around so fast it seems.  Suppose you made it O.K. to Winfield last Mon.  Rev. Nicholson said he had seen you two or three times last week so we're pretty sure you got there but hadn't heard from you....
"Daddy can't get into the field to cut his kaffir so he is topping by hand all he can.  Wayne Beatty from south of here helped yesterday and Jay Causey helped Saturday."
--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Southwestern College, Winfield, Kans., Tuesday, November 11, 1941.  Like a lot of college freshmen, my father apparently was not writing home as much as his mother would have liked.

Oct 31, 2011

Fri, Oct 31, 1941: Hallowe’en

"Yesterday the little room had their Hallowe'en party at school.  Stanley wore that old basketball suit of Daddy's and his old football helmet with a cross-eyed mask.  He got the prize for being funniest but after school he heard he just got third so he doesn't know which place he really got."
-- Letter from my grandmother to my father, Friday, October 31, 1941.

Oct 22, 2011

Wed, Oct 22, 1941: passed away

"Dear DeVere: Am sending some clothes & a clock.  Hope you are fine.  Aunt Stella called to say Grandma Brown passed away yesterday.  Her funeral will be at Columbus tomorrow....Barbara is going to a freshman skating party to-night if it doesn't rain too much.  When will we be seeing you?
"Love Mother"
-- Letter from my grandmother to my father, Wednesday, October 22, 1941.  My great-grandfather had died in 1936.  His second wife, with whom he had no children, had died on October 21, 1941. I am descended from his first wife, who died in 1896, when the youngest of her eight surviving children was 9 months old and her oldest child, Aunt Stella, was 17.  Aunt Stella took on a great role in helping her father raise her seven younger siblings, and she did not marry until she was 41.

Oct 19, 2011

Oct 19?, 1941: calves

"Dear DeVere: We received your letter the same day I sent yours.  Was surely glad to hear from you.  Am sending some papers thought you might like to glance over.  Daddy & I went to Wichita yesterday, took some calves, ate dinner at Aunt Ethels."
-- Postcard from my grandmother to my father, around October 19, 1941.  The stockyards were located in Wichita, which is presumably where they were taking the calves.

Oct 16, 2011

Thu, Oct 16, 1941: grade card

“Dear Devere
“I got my grade card  I got 99 in spelling. got B in writing, and in arithmetic 92, and in English A, and in Reading A, and in Social Studies A.  On Monday night Miley had a new calf.  That makes the six calves.  I was gathering walnuts this evening...."
-- Letter from my uncle, Stanley Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Winfield, Kans., Thursday, October 16, 1941.  Stanley was 8 years old; my father was 16.

Oct 7, 2011

Tue, Oct 7, 1941: taken possession

"Saturday we finished papering your room and got it straightened up.  Looks real nice so Stanley calls it his room now, sort of taken possession with you gone."
-- Letter from my grandmother, age 44, to my father, age 16, Tuesday, October 7, 1941. Stanley was my father's 8-year-old brother.

Oct 1, 2011

Wed, Oct 1, 1941: your laundry

"Dear DeVere:- Am mailing your laundry to you this morning.  I got home from Winfield O.K. and Daddy was here so we papered the ceiling in your room upstairs....Did your extra bed clothes feel pretty good?  We have to take Stanley's roosters to Augusta to-day.  Hope you are O.K.  With Love Mother."
--Postcard from my grandmother, Jessie Maybelle (Berger) Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Southwestern College, Winfield, Kans., Wednesday, October 1, 1941.
      My grandmother wrote my father this letter, just as he was starting his freshman year at Southwestern College, a Methodist school 30 miles south of my grandparents' farm.  She apparently had driven down to the college to drop off my father (16 years old at the time), while my grandfather stayed at the farm.  Note that he mailed home his dirty laundry and she washed it and mailed it back to him.

Sep 22, 2011

Sept 22?, 1941: hamburgers

“Mrs. Sellers said to tell that the lard she got was sure nice. The meals served here are sure tasty.  Last night we had hamburgers and everyone could eat all they cared for.  I could only finish four.”
-- Postcard from my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Winfield, Kans., to my aunt, Barbara Brown, Bloomington, Kans., September 22[?], 1941.  This is the first correspondence I have from my Dad, age 16, after he started his freshman year at Southwestern College, in Winfield, Kans., a Methodist school about thirty miles south of the family farm.  He lived at Mrs. Sellars's boarding house throughout his college years.