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,”; "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.