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.