Nov 30, 2014

Nov 31 [sic], 1944: howl and bark

"Are you learning a lot of Japanese.
"Dad was elected with 92 votes and his opponent got 65 voats.  I think Tom Tuner was elected for sheriff.
"The puppies howl and bark all of the time they are awake."
-- Letter from my uncle, Stanely Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., November 31 [sic], 1944. My grandfather was running for township trustee.

Nov 25, 2014

Sat, Nov 25, 1944: Thanksgiving

[language warning] "We have just completed our weekly three hour exam, which gives the Navy a check on our progress.  We had three hours whereas 45 minutes would have sufficed for translating 25 English sentences into Japanese and 10 Jap sentences into English; so I had a chance to check and double-check.  Tests so far have been relatively simple; but next month we start taking oral exams....
"Thanksgiving was a partial holiday for us.  I couldn't see that it was much of a vacation since we had four classes Thursday morning as usual; but we were excused from attending our physical education class in the afternoon and the required noon language table.... Wednesday evening we had out traditional Thanksgiving dinner -- with turkey, cranberry sauce, etc and such trimmings as nuts, chocolate, and fruit.  It by far outclassed any meal they've served us so far."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to my aunt, Bloomington, Kans., November 25, 1944.

Nov 24, 2014

Fri, Nov 24, 1944: Jack’s death

"Ruby and Homer showed us the letter you wrote to them.  They were very pleased to think you wrote to them and I am sure they appreciate it so very much.  They lamented the fact that it would be almost impossible to answer all of their letters immediately, at least, because they had received one-hundred fifty letters since Jack's death."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colorado, November 24, 1944.  My father's boyhood friend, Jack Seal, had been killed in action near Bologna, Italy, on October 16.  Ruby and Homer were his parents.  He was part of the gang of four boys, all born in 1925, that were best friends growing up in Bloomington.  All four served in the military in World War II.  All but Jack survived the war and lived to be old men.  In my father’s memoir, he wrote “Jack had the best personality of any of us.  He was handsome, friendly, and buoyant.  Life was just beginning when it was cut short at nineteen.”
            In a 2007 letter, my father wrote about how Jack’s mother learned of her son’s death:  “Homer and Ruby Seal ran the Bloomington Store across from the schoolhouse.  Ruby spotted the postman, probably Arnie Kistler (Beryl Folk’s father-in-law), approaching the school at an unusual hour in the afternoon.  She breathed a sigh of relief thinking that his delivery of a telegram was for someone else.  The postman, however, had merely gone to the school to recruit a delegation of women (who were meeting there) to accompany him as he entered the store.  ‘Is it Jack?,’ Ruby asked.  ‘Yes, it is,’ replied Sally Davenport.  Scenes in Ken Burn’s ‘War,’ now on PBS, are reminiscent of that event.
            “Edward King and I were both home on leave when memorial services were held for Jack at Dunsford Funeral Home.  Jack’s Dad whose heart was surely breaking at the loss of his only son, told us in a friendly voice, ‘Jack isn’t here, but I am sure glad his buddy’s could come.’  Later, my folks brought Homer and Ruby to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where we were living, for a family visit.  We had four children growing up.  Later, Ruby wrote to say, ‘I saw how it might have been if Jack had lived.’”   

Nov 19, 2014

Sun, Nov 19, 1944: too much competition

"Friday night was the party given by the GR for the Hi-Y.  I was chairman of the committee in charge of games and program. (I am just now hearing Louis Jordan singing "Is you Is, Or Is You Ain't" accompanied by his "Tympany Five" on the Philco Radio Hall of Fame.) I had counted on the swing band playing, Willis Beavers playing "Three Moods" - a Tommy Dorsey solo, and Donald Hutchinson playing a cornet solo, and perhaps a few other special numbers.  But the North-East football game offered too much competition.  Some of the swing band members wanted to go to the game and they wanted Willis to take his pickup.  Donald wouldn't play unless Willis would.  After planning several numbers we ended up with Eugenia and Ine playing a Count Basie piece; Donna Kneipp and Nita Mae Harvey playing "Begin the Beguine" on the piano [etc.]"

--Letter from my aunt, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., November 19, 1944.

Nov 14, 2014

Tue, Nov 14, 1944: so much noise

"Last Thurs. was school night and we went in with Lenz's owing to the tire situation.  They had a fine program planned.  The band class was first followed by two fifteen minute periods of classes, a program in the auditorium, then refreshments at the Junior High gym.  Really we got to hear the swing band play at the gym.  There was so much noise it would be unfair to judge just how the band did play."

--Letter from my grandmother, Jessie Maybelle (Berger) Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Boulder, Colo., November 14, 1944.