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.”

Jan 19, 2014

Wed, Jan 19, 1944: fifty years old

"Dearest DeVere:- To-day Daddy is fifty years old.  That doesn't seem so old as it sounded thirty years ago.  Time just gradually changes things as you grow older and you scarcely notice just how or when they change...
"How is school coming along?  I had to give Harold Wagone a spanking again to-day.  He wouldn't do his work and had gradually been getting worse and worse since Christmas until to-day in one and one-half hours he had written only two lines.  After the paddling he did three times as much in ten minutes."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Wednesday, January 19, 1944.  My grandmother is referring to her work as a teacher at Bloomington School. Three days after this letter was written, allied forces landed at Anzio Beach south of Rome.  They held the beachhead, but met stiff German resistance and were unable to move much beyond the shore.  It would take over a year for allied forces to clear Italy of German forces.  My father’s friend, Jack Seal, fought and was wounded at Anzio.  (Source: William L. O’Neill, A Democracy at War, 188)

Jan 15, 2014

Sat, Jan 15, 1944: half century

"I'll take this occasion to wish you a happy birthday, Dad, since I notice that the 19th is this week.  Fifty sounds old, but, unlike most men of that age, you look and act like a comparatively young man -- no white hair, bald head, etc.  A half century is a long time and 50 candles on the birthday cake should provide enough light to dispense with the expense of electric lights for a while."
-- Letter from my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, January 15, 1944.

Jan 10, 2014

Mon, Jan 10, 1944: puppies

"Stanley tells me (with tears in his voice) to tell you that we will probably have to give away some of the puppies.  He'd like so well to keep them all....
"Raymond Clark is home and has been honorably discharged because of some ailment to his back.  He will probably get a job again at the White Eagle.  Guess he is glad to be home."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Jessie Maybelle (Berger) Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Monday, January 10, 1944.  White Eagle was an oil refinery in Augusta, Kans.  My father's brother, Stanley, was 10 years old.

Jan 6, 2014

Thu, Jan 6, 1944: snow

"The snow outside now makes it appear that we have some cold weather in store.  Is the ground still white with snow back in Kansas?  When I arrived in Cape last Sunday all the snow had melted.  Has Stanley learned how to skate by now?"
--Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, January 6, 1944.