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.