Oct 22, 2014

Sun, Oct 22, 1944: transportation being like it is

"We are eagerly looking forward to your coming home.  I would give my bottom dollar to be at your graduation exercises but transportation being like it is I might not get there.  I have heard of several cases where people had to be put off at out of the way places and wait for a few days before the train could take them on again.  Anyhow I want you to accept our congratulations and I am enclosing a $10 bill as a graduation gift."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Notre Dame, Ind.,October 22, 1944.  My father was set to graduate from midshipmen's school and to be commissioned as an officer.

Oct 15, 2014

Sat, Oct 15, 1944: Uncle Sams' plans

[language warning] "I believe it was Thursday your letter came, according to ‘Uncle Sams’ plans you are to go to school for awhile longer, it surely is a chance for some more schooling, Do you suppose you can ever master those Jap signs or letters.
"The past week I got about forty acres of Kaffir cut, got the new binder in operation on Wed. late and Brown & I run it Thurs & Friday and on Sat morning Stanley rode the Binder and I shocked Kaffir..."

-- Letter from my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Notre Dame, Ind., October 15, 1944.

Oct 14, 2014

Sat, Oct 14, 1944: interesting work

"As for the duties [of Japanese translators], the bulletin lists such things as interviewing prisoners, front-line duty in interpreting Japanese, reading leaflets, letters and documents, and listening to broadcasts in Japanese.  It should be interesting work."

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, October 14, 1944.

Oct 8, 2014

Sun, Oct 8, 1944: How would you like to study Japanese, Brown?

"My chances of getting a commission look very rosy right now -- 19 days before graduation.  For one thing I've passed the physical.  Instead of giving us a complete, rigid going over, one physician briefly inspected our throats, hearts, and bodies.  Not a word about another eye examination was said.
"In the second place I think I have a definite assignment.  Several weeks ago I put in an application for the Oriental Language School.  With my limited background (2 yrs. of Latin and one of German) I thought my chances for getting it so slim that I neglected to mention the request to you.  Last week a Commander was here from the Bureau of Naval Personnel interviewing applicants.  Instead of the long 15 or 20 minute cross examination that I had expected, I spent less than 5 minutes in his office.  After he told me to be seated there was a two minute period of silence, while he looked over my records.  Then he snapped ‘How would you like to study Japanese, Brown?’ I told him that Russian was my preference, but he explained that the need for Russian interpreters wasn't great. After a few more questions he said, "All right we'll put you down for Japanese.’”

-- Letter from my father, Notre Dame, Ind., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., October 8, 1944.  That five-minute interview set the course of the rest of my father's life.  He went on to learn Japanese at the Naval language program at Boulder, Colorado, to get a Ph.D. in Japanese history, and to become a Japanese historian.