Dec 15, 2015

Sat, Dec 15, 1945: Yamashita trial

"Speaking of the Yamashita trial--our alumunus as of July 28th -- Major Harry Pratt has been getting some more publicity.  He is shown standing beside General Yamashita in the AP photo of the General hearing the death sentence pronouncement.  As head interpreter Pratt was supposed to be merely a supervisor.  However, the nisei boys assigned to the actual questioning were so bad on English that the major had to take over the job personally.  (He wrote this in a letter to Mr. Ozamoto one of our instructors.)  It seems that Yamashita told Pratt that he couldn't understand his Japanese -- or, at least made some complaint about it.  Pratt mentioned the incident in his letter and added 'That's all right, I couldn't understand his either.' "
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, December 15, 1945.  General Yamashita was executed on February 23, 1946. 

Dec 11, 2015

Tue, Dec 11, 1945: still in a bit of a fog

"I didn't make a mistake in applying for a transfer, though for quite awhile it seemed certain I had.  I'm now thick in the midst of military government for this district of Jiniya in Okinawa, occupying the post of military head of the departments of Welfare and Labor.  As I just arrived I'm still in a bit of a fog as to what I do.  In general, the function of MG seems to supervise and prod the natives on a little....
"Contrary to opinion prevelant [sic], Okinawans, with the exception of a few ancients, speak good Japanese. I wish I did.  The second day I was here the officer-in-chg. of the dist (only one MG co for the whole island) used me as an interpretor - with horrifying results.  Things like 'How long since the pump broke down?' and Do you have a lock for the jail' floored me completely.  Ah me."
-- Letter from Jim Allen, Okinawa, Japan, to my father, Boulder, Colo.  Tuesday, December 11, 1945.

Dec 8, 2015

Sat, Dec 8, 1945: the heartiest of handshakes

"Did I tell you abour our latest distinguished student?  He's Mike Forrestal, son of the Secretary of the Navy.  Mike is here to study Russian -- probably just a jump ahead of the draft.  He's a civilian and barely 18.  The kid has a lot of energy.  And he should do as well as his dad in politics.  When I was introduced to him he gave me the heartiest of handshakes -- as if he were never so glad to meet anyone in his life as me -- when somehow I had the feeling he didn't care whether my name was Brown, Jones or Smith.  I shouldn't have said that.  Mike really seems to be trying to make friends."

--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, December 8, 1945.  My father was right about Mike Forrestal.  He went on to be a key advisor to McGeorge Bundy, John F. Kennedy's national security advisor.

Dec 4, 2015

Tue, Dec 4, 1945: spondulix

"Daddy took some calves to Wichita to-day.  Two of them were yours so I expect you'll be having a little extra spondulix.  They brought $12.00 a hundred but Daddy didn't stay to see how much they weighed."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, December 4, 1945.  “Spondulix” means money.

Nov 29, 2015

Thu, Nov 29, 1945: carnival

"We had quite a good time at the carnival and everything went off pretty well except some of the children as usual got too 'rambuctious' and threw everything from confetti to cold cream at everyone.  However we cleared $117.72..."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Thursday, November 29, 1945.

Nov 24, 2015

Sat, Nov 24, 1945: Thanksgiving dinner

"My Thanksgiving dinner was at 5 P.M. in Denver.  (It probably would have been called a supper back home.)  John Howes invited me to accompany him to Carlton's, former neighbors in Hinsdale, Illinois.  The meal was a dandy - like something out of a story book.  The well-browned turkey was brought in steaming from the kitchen; after that Mr. Colton, a jolly chap who would have fitted perfectly into an English Christmas dinner, had the maid bring forth the carving set and proceeded to slice off individual servings.  Cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie, and home-made ice cream made it seem like a Thanksgiving like the ones we used to celebrate in Kansas....
"We got a glimpse of one of our school's recent graduates in last week's Navy movie.  In a newsreel shot of Gen. Yamashita's war crimes trial in Manila we caught sight of Major Harry Pratt, a marine who graduated with the July 28th class.  He's acting as official translator."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, November 24, 1945.

Nov 17, 2015

Sat, Nov 17, 1945: roamed the countryside

"Buel has an interesting story to tell - he has been through a lot of excitement since leaving August in '43.  Most of it centers around his capture by the Germans and subsequent stay of ten months in a prison camp until the Russians came through.  Previous to the Red Army's arrival they had been deserted by the Germans; so for 10 days they roamed the countryside on their own -- butchering cows for steaks, etc.  Then it was back to America where he was quite impressed by the welcome -complete with jig band-given their ship when it docked."
--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, November 17, 1945. Buel Robinson was a high school classmate of my father. 

Nov 11, 2015

Sun, Nov 11, 1945: terribly high

"Yesterday was another teacher's meeting.  This time at El Dorado.  Ruby Seal went to El Dorado with me to buy some new clothes.  Clothing is hard to get and is terribly high.  I got a new dress and hat and they both cost two or three times as much as they should."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, November 11, 1945.

Nov 10, 2015

Sat, Nov 10, 1945: men outnumber the women

"The civilians are getting settled in school here. 800 veterans brought the total enrollment up to an all time high of 4600 -- and for the first time since 1942 men outnumber the women!"

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, November 10, 1945.

Nov 5, 2015

Mon, Nov 5, 1945: a joke on the jokers

"While [Daddy] was shaving [on Halloween] he thought he heard a car.  On looking out he saw one driving down our lane.  He slipped out down to the road and watched.  After a little while a car stopped close to the lane, several kids jumped out and headed for the house.  Daddy thought he'd drive the car off but when he got there Betty Jones was in the car.  Daddy tried to get her to get over so he could drive.  She jumped out as Daddy drove the car home (it was Lloyd King's).  The kids had to walk home but not until they had torn up things in general around home.  Now Betty is sure mad at Daddy but I think it's a joke on the jokers."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Monday, November 5, 1945.

Nov 3, 2015

Sat, Nov 3, 1945: kids wearing discharge buttons

"The campus here is alive with students back to start the new term.  It seemed pretty drab and lonesome around here for two weeks while only gray-uniformed language students were around; but today a lot of red sweaters and sport coats are walking around to relieve the monotony.  This means the first taste of college to a lot of freshmen girls.  And veterans are coming back in droves to start in or start over.  I think I mentioned that the University has taken over half of our dorm to house them.  The youth of some of the kids wearing discharge buttons is amazing.  Most of them were in the army air corps and got out at 18 or 19 with a handful of points.  Seeing them getting off to this start makes me think twice about spending 18 months tucked away in some obscure corner of Japan translating telephone directories.  I hope the experience I get in my job and adventure of a trip to a foreign country outweighs being in the navy - and for that long."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, November 3, 1945.

Oct 27, 2015

Sat, Oct 27, 1945: trailer house camp

"From the sound of all those soldier parties a lot of the boys from home are stepping back into 'civvies.'  I wouldn't mind doing it myself - or at least known how long I'll be kept in if I finish this course....
"The Augusta Gazette brings word that Buel Robinson plans to go to school here next term.  I hope he can find a house -- Perhaps he can get in on the trailer house camp being set up for married veterans.  Vacant houses in Boulder are just about non-existant.  A lot of married language students are even finding it necessary to ship their wives and kids home; because so many veterans are coming back to claim their houses."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, October 27, 1945.

Oct 24, 2015

Wed, Oct 24, 1945: do some good

"You might also tell the folks to send out a mouse trap or poison cheese.  To add to my sleeping troubles, last night a mouse started gnawing on something about 10 minutes after I crawled into bed.... Each time I made some racket he stopped; but I still haven't located the culprit....
"You mentioned being surprised when Norma told you about my plans for being a minister or possibly a missionary.  Your surprise is justified. I've done little so far to indicate that I was headed in that direction.  But recently a big change has come over me.  I would like to do some good while on this earth; and feel that I might be able to in that field.
"As a lawyer, I'd probably be a failure - for a reason Norma mentioned.  I'm too honest."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his sister, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, October 24, 1945.

Oct 13, 2015

Sat, Oct 13, 1945: a "memorizing machine"

"I think you're right about getting out of this work, Dad. I'm going to stick it out.  The next nine weeks will be the worst, and then we hit the 'gravy train.'  I was a little bit disgusted last week with being a 'memorizing machine' for the Navy with no objective in view.  But although I went somewhere almost everynight, including a football game Friday before the big test, I didn't make a mark below 95 in four tests Saturday morning.  The thing that really worried me was that I felt so tired -almost too tired to think - and decided I needed a change.  The medical officer agreed that a lot of men would be better of physically elsewhere but didn't seem to think anything is wrong that won't correct itself when they graduate me from this 'prison.'"

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, October 13, 1945.  My father had been considering switching of the language program; but my grandfather had discouraged him from doing that in a previous letter.

Sat, Oct 13, 1945: climbed into a bed

"I was sent to Leyte with about 40 others assigned to a new unit.  Well while there I runs over to the 118th Gen Hosp to check on what had happened to all the fellows who were the with Schisto when I was there.  Found that there were orders from Washington stating that all treated schisto's will be sent back to the states - so I darn near climbed into a bed then and there."

-- Letter from Joyce Sooter, Moore General Hospital, Swannanoa, N.C., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Saturday, October 13, 1945.

Oct 10, 2015

Wed, Oct 10, 1945: quite an American now

"Everything is growing better here and we perceive each day that the whole of the world is prepared to help us.  Food rations have increased from 400 to 2300 calories a week.  I am quite an American now for I wear shirts and shoes handed out by the American Army.  When I had to dive I lost namely nearly all my clothes.  Only cigarettes are still very scarce here and as you will know a Dutchman is no real Dutchman without a cigaret.  We get only 20 a week.  Some people get cigarettes from relations abroad.  Therefore I would ask you to do me the pleasure to see if you can send me some cigarettes, say 300 to 400. I will repay them to you, of course, as soon as I know what I owe you."

-- Letter from Jacobus Lieshout, Hoorn, Netherlands, to my father, Boulder, Colorado, October 10, 1945. Jacobus was my father's penpal during high school.

Oct 6, 2015

Sat, Oct 6, 1945: College life

"I like the way you're taking hold of College life. From the looks of the Collegian you're a busy girl.  Say that pose of you and Norma on the front page is a honey.
"Sis you'll have to teach me something about women. I'm afraid things aren't going too well between [Norma and me] -- not that we aren't still friends -- but things aren't moving in the right direction. I'm crazy about her -- but she seems to be losing interest and there's nothing I can do about it out here."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his sister, Winfield, Kans., October 6, 1945.

Oct 1, 2015

Fall 1945: enrolled in debate

“I had enjoyed debate in high school; where my coach was Ward Henderson, a forensics star at Southwestern in 1936.  Accordingly, I enrolled in debate at Southwestern in the fall of 1945.  Dr. Allen the debate coach, was the father of my best friend from grade school days.  I had often visited his home, but whenever I took classes from him at Southwestern, he always addressed me formally, as was the custom in those far-off times.  It was always ‘Miss Murray.’  Another student was Bob Hill, whom I had known in grade school.  His intellectual abilities were entirely inadequate to the demands of discussion and debate, or for that matter, the demands of college work at all.  But it kept him out of mischief, and I assume that his father paid the tuition.
“Our first discussion assignment was to be on the possible future of atomic energy (this was just after the atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan).  Dr. Allen insisted that we allow Bob to participate in the discussion.  There were to be no snickers, and no unkind remarks directed at Bob.  It became an intellectual challenge for us to say anything sensible in response to what Bob said.  It was a lesson to all of us to respect others regardless of their limitations.
“During that year, our participation in debates depended on Dr. Allen’s being able to get gas for his car.  We took as many as his car would hold to tournaments at McPherson and Bethany Colleges in Kansas.  We also took longer trips to Nebraska, to the Great Plains Tournament at Kearney; and to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  Theresa Knapp always sat in the front seat because she was subject to carsickness.  The rest of us crowded together in the back seat.  Highlights of the trips was a stop in Oxford Kansas for Dr. Allen’s favorite pies.”

--Excerpt from brief memoir by my mother, Ruth Murray Brown, written about 2001, about her participation in debate in college.

Sep 29, 2015

Sat, Sept 29, 1945: citizen of Japan

[language warning] "Pat Katsura, our reading instructor, keeps us well entertained with his stories of what an enemy alien has to go through in this country.  He's a citizen of Japan - which means that even if he goes to Denver he has to get special permission from the district attorney's office.  It doesn't pay to drive in for the permit he found out.  Once he dropped down to get permission to go beyond Denver - but their question was how he got to Denver without a permit.  He apparently really got raked over the coals for that.
"When war broke out Pat was in Washington.  Hearing the news he rushed from a pro football game to the Japanese Embassy.  Seeing a mob there shaking fists at the staff members on top of the building burning papers and taking movies - he decided that it'd be healthier to drive on by - so he missed helping Japan in this war just by a hair.
"He then posed as a Chinese until the Chinese Embassy started passing out their 'I am a Chinese' official buttons. Pat tried to pick one up at the Embassy but they chased him off.  It wasn't safe to be on the streets so he finally lifted one from the coat of a chop suey joint cook.  After that he got a lot of sympathy.  In restaurants people would come over to pat him on the back and tell how sorry they felt for our brave Chinese Allies 'but those d__n Japs: Yeah, those d__n Japs' he'd agree in his thick Japanese accent.
 “Actually Pat looks more like an American Indian than a Jap.  Once he stood along the sidelines while an anti-Jap mob beat up two Filipinos.  'But we're Filipinos,' they protested, to which some mob fanatic replied 'We don't trust you Japs!'"

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, September 29, 1945.

Sep 22, 2015

Sat, Sep 22, 1945: seems like a century

"I graduated from V-12 only 1 1/2 years ago but it seems like a century.  And the guys have scattered to the far corners of the earth.  About the only person who writes at all regularly from those parts is Louise.  Tell Stanley not to worry about my girl troubles -- the affair with her is 'all over now.'"

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to my aunt, Winfield, Kans., Saturday, September 22, 1945.

Sep 15, 2015

Sat, Sep 15, 1945: curiosity

"Wednesday night Jim Allen and I went to a meeting of the University Young Democrats club. Don't worry, Dad, we went just out of curiosity....
“The local congressman won't have any luck if he searches for 'Isaac A. Waldenstein' of Denver, Colo. and 'Minamoto Yoritomo' of Vista, Calif. who signed the petition circulated that night recommending that we break relations with Franco Spain.  It was Joker Jim Allen's idea--not mine."

--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sept. 15, 1945

Aug 23, 2015

Thu, Aug 23, 1945: turned off at Beech

"It is really wonderful to think the war is over.  Thousands of people were turned off at Boeing last week among them were Aunt Frances and Wilma Jean.  I haven't heard from Flo yet so do not know about her yet.  Lois Arlene was still working yet for a few days.  Mildred has also been turned off at Beech but Carol is still working.
"Aunt Edith received a telegram from Wayne, who has arrived in Boston last Sun. evening.  He thought he would be home soon.
"Claude Davenport arrived home early yesterday morning and had received his discharge.  He is very happy to be home and be a civilian once more.  He even put on civilian clothes the first day. He has some terrible tales to tell of the fierce battles he took part in.  Jerry Wanzer[?] is also home from Italy but has not been discharged yet."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Thursday, August 23, 1945. All of the women mentioned in the first paragraph were my father's aunts or cousins working at Boeing and Beech -- aircraft production plants around Wichita.

Aug 19, 2015

Sun, Aug 19, 1945: happy at home

"Dear Folks:
"I suppose that you're happy at home to hear about the war's end.
"We took three days off from the usual routine in celebration.  Monday night we spent the whole night listening to an air raid siren 50 yds. from the dorm.  Tuesday I went to Denver.  Wednesday was a day of rest.  Thursday we rode a train to Cheyenne, Wyo. and back.  Then Friday and Saturday brought a resummation of classes."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, August 19, 1945.  My father wrote in his memoir, “V-J Day, Victory over Japan Day, August 14, touched off a three-day national celebration.  One of those days I spent in Denver with Norma Harrold, the Kansas girl who had gotten in touch with me.  My principal duty was to protect her from soldiers and sailors randomly kissing willing girls.  My officer’s uniform caused these roving enlisted men to back off.”

Aug 13, 2015

Mon, Aug 13, 1945: personal tragedy

“For today's lesson we learned the Kanji for the place names, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  They came a little late. The atomic bombings created a bigger sensation here than the possibility of peace. The many physics majors in the school had a chance to strut their stuff in attempts to explain the principle behind its operation to interested listeners between classes.
“If it brings the war to a close so soon it may have been worthwhile in spite of the condemnation from neutral countries, etc.
“The bombing meant personal tragedy to more than one of our instructors.  Several had relatives living there and Mr. Yamada's parents had resided in the city. (Mr. Yamada was my conversation teacher for some time.) According to rumor Mr. Eejima's uncle was mayor of the city. This may have been merely some misinformation spread by jokers; since Eejima (better known as Iwo jima) doesn't exactly have the students interests at heart when it comes to passing out conversation grades.”

--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., August 13, 1945.  The U.S. had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima on August 6 and on Nagasaki on August 9.

Aug 11, 2015

Sat, Aug 11, 1945: big news

"Everyone here has been glued to his radio for the past 36 hours; hoping to hear the big news.  It's rumored that Dr. Shaw school director, has predicted that grades will fall on today's tests. The unsettled condition hasn't exactly been conducive to study.
"Even if V-J day does come within the next week; don't expect me home too soon.  I suppose that they'll keep us busy studying for sometime yet.  However, it's not entirely impossible that they might pull us out of school for direct shipment to Japan."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, August 11, 1945.  On Monday, August 6, a U.S. bomber dropped a uranium-based atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing an estimated 80,000 people instantly.  On Thursday, August 9, a U.S. bomber dropped a plutonium-based atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 70,000 people instantly.  Tens of thousands more died of radiation in the months and years that followed.  As my father was writing, Americans were waiting to learn if Japan would surrender.  

Aug 7, 2015

Tue, Aug 7, 1945: counting the days

"We are just counting the days now until you can be home.  What day and time do you get off? or is it too soon to know for certain."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., August 7, 1945.  My father had a leave coming up.

Aug 4, 2015

Sat, Aug 4, 1945: Japanese Cafe

"I went to Denver again last weekend.  For supper I stopped at the Japanese Cafe of Mr. Otagiri, my ex-reading teacher. He was overjoyed to see a former student; and proceeded to talk school affairs with me all during my chop suey meal.  The wife was even summoned from the kitchen for an introduction.  Mr. Otagiri had been requested to go to Stillwater to teach in the new branch; but like a lot of instructors he resented the high-handed methods used in an attempt to force the change and was tired after 3 yrs. of it; so he quit."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, August 4, 1945.  The Navy Language School had recently moved part of its operation to Oklahoma A & M College in Stillwater, Okla.  For a time, my father thought he would be going there; but his class remained in Boulder. 

Sat, Aug 4, 1945: years of misery

"Dear Devere,
"Here I am again with a letter.  You will look surprised, I know.  You don't hardly know me anymore.  Five full years passed since I wrote you for the last time.  Years of misery for us as well as for you, but I hope this letter will find you in good health and I am very anxious to hear from you.  My family has passed war-time rather good and we all are save and sound.  Now we try to forget things as soon as possible.
"Yet I suppose that you should like to hear in what way I passed that long 5 years.  In the beginning the Boches did not alter much and behaves correctly. (I have to say that they always behaved correctly.  They shot you down with a smile and a face with the expression, 'I am very sorry but I cannot help it.  It is fair play.')…"
-- Letter from J. J. A. "Bob" Lieshout, Drieboomlaan, Netherlands, to my father, Boulder, Colo., Saturday, August 4, 1945.  Lieshout was my father's penpal in the Netherlands. 

Aug 1, 2015

Wed, Aug 1, 1945: docked at an island

"Daddy has his alfalfa out, the third time this summer, and is trying to find some one to help him get it put up. We called the War Prison Camp yesterday afternoon but they wanted us to call last night as they were not certain as to whether or not anyone was available.  Last night we were unable to get central so Daddy went up anyhow this morning and is not back yet so I don't know what luck he'll have!...
"Aunt Stella, Uncle Frank and Aunt Frances were out Sunday afternoon.  Aunt Frances had received a letter from Ira and he had seen Joyce.  Ira's ship docked at an island where Ira knew Joyce's outfit was located.  He had only two hours shore leave so he knew he couldn't find him in that length of time.  He happened across someone who knew Joyce and he said he'd see that Joyce got word his ship was there.  So that evening Joyce came aboard his ship and they had a fine visit.  Ira said Joyce was looking fine in spite of his long stay in the hospital.  It seems that Joyce and five others were assigned signal corps duty that lasted for five months out in the wilds of Negros Island.  That was pretty bad I guess...
"We have wanted all summer to go out there [to Boulder] but it seems its almost impossible.  Tires & gas and they're needing the trains and buses so badly. Guess we'll just have to wait until you come home to see you."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, August 1, 1945. Joyce Sooter was Frances Sooter's son.  Ira Brown was her nephew, and Joyce's cousin.

Jul 25, 2015

Wed, Jul 25, 1945: threshers

"Saturday night we went to town to see 'Lad, Son of Lassie.'  It was fine and although Stanley was tired out from carrying water all day to the threshers he wouldn't have missed it for anything.
"We got our threshing done last Friday and then I helped Irma and Alice cook for threshers on Sat. and Mon. so I feel like I had my share. They finished the threshing in this community Mon. evening."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, July 25, 1945.

Jul 21, 2015

Sat, Jul 21, 1945: keys

[language warning] “On Wednesday we had our first experience with the new conversation grading system.... I'm trying to do good work in that field in an effort to get a job as an interpreter instead of spending my career as a language officer behind a desk doing routine translations.  Last month I had a 91 average, which was quite a bit above anyone else in the group - but it probably depended a lot on luck.
"Last week we had some very amusing and interesting lessons.  In one a Jap gave his impression of the western world after a first visit to Paris and Brussels.  He was astonished by the large number of keys and from that developed his point that keys could sum up our lives from the spiritual to the material side of living. Another good story was on the life of Buddha, and the last story of the week was about the Magellan round-the-world voyage."

--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, July 21, 1945.

Jul 19, 2015

Thu, Jul 19, 1945: sugar situation

"Just as we were getting through with dinner yesterday, Herbert and family came to visit with us.  Daddy had to go to help thresh but the rest of us got to visit.  We went down to the swimming hole and Herbert and the kids went swimming.  They had a fine time riding Foxy also.
"I would like to bake cookies etc. much oftener to send to you but the sugar situation is really getting serious and we are not getting as much canning sugar this year. I baked some with honey the other day.  They weren't so good but I am going to doctor up the recipe and see if I can improve it somewhat.
"Keith Parry is home on furlough, the first time for three years.  He went into the army about the same time Dale did and had only one furlough before going across. He was wounded seriously in the leg several months ago on one of the Pacific islands.  He came to the states two or three months ago and was in a hospital in California but is home now for 30 days and has to report back to the hospital at that time.  He uses a cane and limps considerably but gets around very well.  Mr. Parry said he drove the tractor some last week.  He doesn't know yet whether or not he'll be discharged."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Thursday, July 19, 1945.

Jul 15, 2015

Sun, Jul 15, 1945: tobacco

"Incidently, Marvin didn't pass his physical for the Army, either.  Ada said he didn't want to do any work while he was up at Leavenworth, so when they handed him a broom he told them they couldn't make him do any work, because he wasn't in the Army, yet.  He also found out that, by sleeping in the bunks in the middle of the room one wasn't nearly so apt to be told to do something. He and another boy hid behind some empty bunkhouses (or whatever they were) so they wouldn't have to work....
"Thursday Mom and I went to Douglass.  On the way down there we stopped at Grandma's and Grandpa's. Grandpa, who had been silent practically all the time we were down there, got up just as we were leaving and said, 'You're not going, are you? I was just getting ready to talk to you.' Grandma whispered to me, 'He's going to spit out his tobacco.'"

-- Letter from my aunt, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., July 15, 1945.  Marvin Lenz and his mother Ada were neighbors of my grandparents in Bloomington, Kans.

Jul 7, 2015

Sat, Jul 7, 1945: secrecy

[language warning] "(I just took time out for a bike ride.)  We travelled up to Wall Street, a gold mining center -- 12 miles up Four Mile Canyon.  Unfortunately the place is still deserted.  We looked at the equipment - narrow gauge railroads, etc. - but didn't see a soul.  Either they haven't gone back to work yet or else the town's population had all ceased activity for a Saturday night in Boulder.  However, the rusty padlocks with which mine entrance doors were sealed shut seemed to indicate that no one had entered in quite some time.  I'd like to make another expedition up later.  If we could contact some old-timer - 'sourdoughs', I think they're called - we could probably get a nice background on gold mining history in these parts….
"Evidently the rules on secrecy here have been relaxed to a certain extent.  Names of graduates are now being read at graduation ceremonies, etc; so the publication of my name in the Gazette probably won't make any difference.  After all it'd be a little simpler for Nip spys to slip into graduation exercises than to read all hometown newspapers in the country.  That is if they care about learning who language men are."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, July 7, 1945.  

Jul 6, 2015

Fri, Jul 6, 1945: sweating out

"Well Son, my experience in Germany is now a thing of the past and I am now back in France awaiting redeployment. What we are sweating out is wether [sic] or not we will go to the Pacific direct or go through the states.  Of course it goes without saying that we want to go through the States so I certainly hope we can get together some way."
-- Letter from Everett Samuelson, Reims, France, to my father, Boulder, Colo., July 6, 1945.  Samuelson was a college buddy of my father.

Jun 26, 2015

Tue, Jun 26, 1945: German prisoners

"Woodrow and Maryjane brought Philip and Carol out Sat. evening to visit for awhile.  They are really little busybodies.  They like to ride Foxy and would keep some one busy watching them all the time if they could.
"Daddy had the German prisoners helping three days this last week.  He got most of his oats cut and shocked and his alfalfa cut again and put in the barn.  They are pretty good workers but you have to have them back to El Dorado by 6:45.  It didn't work out so well with the hay because it was cloudy and damp all forenoon and they couldn't work at it until afternoon.  So Daddy gave all four of them a hoe and had them cutting weeds around the yard.  Then by working real hard they got the hay in the barn but Daddy was a little late getting them back to El Dorado. Brown K. and Barbara put the last load in the barn by themselves."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, June 26, 1945.  El Dorado is about 20 miles north of Bloomington.  Five days earlier, on June 21, Allied secured control of Okinawa in their island-hopping advance toward the main islands of Japan.

Jun 17, 2015

Sun, Jun 17, 1945: Bond Drive

"Friday night we had a Bond Drive at the school house.  Daddy, being the twp. [township] trustee was in charge of the affair.  The Prairie State Bank force all came out.  We expected a very large turnout but a rain came up about seven o'clock and sort of put a damper on things. People kept straggling in until 10:00 P.M. but at that there were only about sixty present for the occasion.  Mr. Jackson auctioned pies and cakes and Betty King's pie was sold for a $10,000 bond.  Mr. Spencer of the Spencer Trailer Co. in Augusta bought it so I suppose it will be credited to Augusta twp.
"We also took ice cream and served ice-cream cones, cake and pie to all present."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, June 17, 1945.

Jun 16, 2015

Sat, Jun 16, 1945: Iwo Jima

“Denver has had its share of war-hero visitors in the past week.  Gens. Patton and Doolittle paraded down the main stem of the city before giving an interview that was front page news in the city papers.  Then, yesterday, heros of the Iwo Jima flag-raising were in town. (Survivors was the word I meant to use.)”

--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his father, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, June 16, 1945.  Iwo Jima is a small Japanese island, of about eight square miles, located in the Pacific 700 miles south of Tokyo.  The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted from February 16 to March 26, 1945, during which time 21,844 Japanese and 6,821 Americans were killed. U.S. forces raised two flags on Mount Suribachi, on the south end of the island, on February 23, 1945.  Both flag-raisings were photographed and the second flag-raising was captured in an iconic photograph, taken by Joe Rosenthal.  Only three of the six flag-raisers in the photo survived the battle.  The flag-raising and the subsequent participation of the surviving flag-raisers in a war bond drive were the subject of Clint Eastwood’s movie, Flags of Our Fathers.   My father’s choice of words ("survivors," perhaps not "heros") is very interesting.  He, like the flag-raisers themselves, seems not to have seen the flag-raising as especially heroic, given the context of the entire battle. 

Jun 12, 2015

June 1945: Fascism in the United States?

“Fascism in the United States?
“Presented by Max Wolff
“I. Prejudice.
“A. ‘There could be no successful fascistic movement without prejudice.
“B. The American prejudice against the Negro is following the same pattern as the German prejudice against the Jew.”

-- From the Estespeaks 1945 newsletter of the YMCA camp my mother attended in June 17-24 1945 at Estes Park, Colorado, after her first year of college. Dr. Max Wolff was described as “from Europe and U. of Missouri, Columbia.” The camp photo of the conference reveals an integrated, although predominately white, group of young people. It included one African-American and three Japanese Americans among the group of about fifty.  The group includes only about four young men, at time when most young men were in the military.

Jun 10, 2015

Sun, Jun 10, 1945: anniversary

"Dear DeVere:- Mother thinks I should write you so here goes. Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary, we found on the table this morning a baking dish, Barbara and Stanley managed for it in Augusta last night, the creeks and rivers ar'ent nearly so high as they were 22 yrs ago.  It rained a little today but we need enough water to wet things up."

-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, June 10, 1945.  My grandfather had almost missed his wedding, because of high water blocking roads in June 1923.  However, he managed to walk across a railroad bridge over the Walnut River to get to the church parsonage.  My grandmother grew up near my grandfather, but first met him enough to know his name when she was about twelve.  She said, “We went to practice for the Children’s Day service.  Leonard stood behind me and he kept pulling my hair.  I thought he was the awfullest thing I ever saw.”  They started dating about ten years later.

Jun 9, 2015

Sat, Jun 9, 1945: pressing need

"Dear Folks:
"I have just attended another graduation ceremony.  Sixteen men from the Japanese Dept. walked across the stage in Macky Auditorium to receive their diplomas from Pres. Gustafson. In addition six marines graduated in absentia.  The pressing need in the Pacific caused them to be ordered to San Francisco a week ago....For the first time I understood practically all of the valedictory address in Japanese."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, June 9, 1945.  He had been studying Japanese for about seven months at this point.

Jun 3, 2015

My mother at Methodist summer camp, Estes Park, Colorado, June 1945.  She is at the center of the back row, in white blouse between the man in the leather jacket and a woman in a dark sweater.

Jun 2, 2015

Sat, Jun 2, 1945: Hemingway

"Last Sunday afternoon I saw 'For Whom the Bell Tolls.'  In this case Hollywood put out a story amazingly like Hemmingway's book.
"My companion to the feature was John Howes, who lives in the same suburb of Chicago as Mrs. Hemingway, the author's mother.... In regard to her son, Ernest, her terse comment is reported to be, 'He should be spanked.' He ran away at the age of 16 to join the marines.  In the course of the war he saw some very bitter fighting, and she believes that it warped his mind."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, June 2, 1945.

May 29, 2015

Tue, May 29, 1945: tractor

"Today I took the culaviator [sic] down to Brown's so he could plow his potatoes.  I did not have to work very much and played with the twins and their two little kittens most of the time.
"Last Saturday I drove Brown's tractor home from our place all by my self."

-- Letter from my uncle, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, May 29, 1945.  This letter was written on my uncle's twelfth birthday.  At that age, he was already driving the tractor down the road by himself.  Brown King was my father's cousin, and about fifteen years older than him.  I believe he lived about a mile or two from my grandparents.

May 27, 2015

Sun, May 27, 1945: P.W.'s

"Dearest DeVere: It is Sunday again and the day has been full as usual as well as the entire preceding week.
"Last Monday (being the first since my school was out) I did a 4-week's washing.  Tuesday was the Senior's assembly as Evelyn Myers went with me to hear the will, prophecy and history of the Senior Class.  Barbara played 'Chloe' and 'Rag Picker' which sort of harmonized with the rest of the program.  Several girls also sang songs 'Sentimental Journey' and such.  We were unable to hear all of it but it was pretty funny.
"Wednesday I got the said 4-week's ironing completed then Thurs., Fri. and Saturday I spent almost the entire time cooking and washing dishes.  Daddy was putting up hay and got a load of P.W.'s [prisoners of war] to help him each day.  They were all pretty good workers.  They put some of it in the hay barn and baled the rest and put in the barn.  Then Sat. the prisoners helped clean out the barn.  It was a pretty big job since it had been collecting all winter and you almost had to use a step-ladder to enter the stables."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., May 27, 1945. My father’s sister, Barbara, was finishing her senior year of high school.  The prisoners were presumably Germans, like those my grandfather had gotten earlier (see August 1944).

May 20, 2015

Sun, May 20, 1945: wars in the Pacific

"Aunt Frances thinks it possible that Dale might be home in a few months.  Surely hope so.  He has had a rough deal for a long time.
"Wish the wars in the Pacific would soon be over but as hard as it seems for them to make any headway, it may be a long time yet."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, May 20, 1945.  Dale was my father's cousin. In May 1945, Allied forces were fighting the Japanese for control of Okinawa, 340 miles from the main Japanese islands.

May 16, 2015

Wed, May 16, 1945: essential industry

"S.C. [Southwestern College] was the only school in Winfield that remained open on V-E Day.  The boys on the campus were rather disgusted & proceeded to put various bits of propaganda on the bulletin board the day following as: telegram to Truman, asking that SCers not be drafted because it was an essential industry (working on V-E day...."

-- Letter from Norma Harrold, Winfield, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, May 16, 1945. 

May 8, 2015

Thu, May 10, 1945: V-E Day

"On V-E Day we had what was probably a typical celebration.  Pres. Guftafson made a few appropriate remarks to open the all-school convocation.  Then Prof. Reynolds of the Eng. Dept. read some up-to-date chapters from Isaiah, and Capt. Cheadle closed with a warming that 'There's a Job Yet to be Done.'  There was no celebration here - except that a few flags were hung out downtown and all business establishments closed.  After the many false alarms it was almost an anti-climax and, when, someone brought the report to school Monday morning, we could only believe it after hearing confirmation later in the day."
--Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., May 10, 1945.  The allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945. 

Apr 22, 2015

Sun, Apr 22, 1945: freak day

"Grandma and Grandpa are intending to move to Douglass as soon as they can get a house.  So far they haven't found anything they liked very well and are still living on the place.  It rained really hard the evening before their sale and there wasn't a very large crowd.  However everything went very well but did not bring as much as papa would have liked to have them bring. He really hated to have to give up his sorrel horses. Uncle Everett bought the farm.  He intends to rent it out if he can....
"The Seniors had their freak day last Tues.  On Monday, the rivers were up so badly they couldn't get to school but the most of the freaks got there Tues.  They were all supposed to be Dog Patchers.  Bill Kennedy was Little Abner and Lotus Noll was Daisy Mae.  All the girls carried cob pipes and I guess they were a mess.  Barbara had on a dress made out of various colored rags and had freckles painted on.  She went bare-footed all day in the school house.  After school they had a picnic in the park and in the evening a party.  They were really tired when it was all over."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, April 22, 1945.

Apr 21, 2015

Sat, Apr 21, 1945: chattering

"This afternoon we plan to bike ride down to Eldorado Springs -- 9 miles south....It'll be good relaxation to get away from the Navy Japanese Language School, ‘which sets men to chattering Japanese in three months,’ even for a few days.  The above quotation if from a quote posted on the bulletin board by some jokester.  Apparently it was clipped from a magazine.  Anyhow it ran like this ‘It used to be thought that Japanese couldn't be learned in 4 years of intensive study; but the Navy Language School at Boulder, Colo., sets you to chattering it in 3 months.’  Well -- I haven't noticed myself chattering it yet."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, April 21, 1945.

Apr 19, 2015

Thu, Apr 19, 1945: the hell knocked out of it

[language warning] “Well Son, I finally made it. I am now in ‘Der Fatherland.’ I knew I should have taken more interest in that year of College German we took....
“We arrived in Le Havre France not too long ago and from there went to a camp called 'Lucky Strik'  We then came through Belgium and now here in Germany.  We came through Aachen and brother they really knocked the living hell out of that time for that matter about every town over here has had the hell knocked out of it.  We have been in action here in Germany, have been fixing the guns at the Krauts.”

--Letter from Everett “Sammy” Samuelson, Germany, to my father, Boulder, Colo., April 19, 1945.  “Lucky Strike” was one of the “cigarette camps” established by allied forces near Le Havre in northwestern France, across the channel from England.  Aachen is a German town near Belgium and the Netherlands.   Samuelson was my father’s classmate and a member of his pep club and singing quartet at Southwestern College.  He was an army corporal, leading a mobile gun team in the field artillery. 

Apr 15, 2015

Sun, Apr 15, 1945: new President

"we finally got through combining kaffir finished the last job last Monday, have'nt got much farming done yet, sowed about forty acres of Oats I am not quite through assessing yet, have about a dozen to see yet and one a them is in Wichita one in El Dorado & one in Douglass  I have gotten along pretty well with the job.  The biggest holler is the roads everybody wants their roads fixed, and nobody wants that kind of a job.
"Seems like we have a new President of the United States.  Certainly was surprised at Pres. Roosevelt death, his late pictures have shown that he didn't look to good.”

-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., April 15, 1945.   In his memoir, my father noted, “Although Leonard was a Republican, and did not agree with many of FDR's policies, he conceded that the jaunty, confident political leader had ‘a good radio voice.'" Leonard did participate in New Deal programs like the Agricultural Adjustment Act, saying “If they’re going to do this, then we ought to get in there and run it.”

Apr 14, 2015

Sat, Apr 14, 1945: President Roosevelt's death

"Dear Folks:
"The shock of President Roosevelt's death has certainly left it's mark on the routine of our school.
"Although classes and tests have continued as usual, a much soberer note has been lent to the dormitory. Everyday seems like Sunday afternoon with radios broadcasting only organ music.  And even the blatant jazz of the chow room loud speaker has been replaced by music of a more stately nature.
"Last Friday in accordance with the 'Rocks and Shoals', all men put on 3" black mourning crepe bands.  However by noon an AlNav (rule applying the entire Navy) had come through abolishing this provision of the Articles for Govt. of the U.S. Navy.  Otherwise we would have worn them for 29 days.
"A number of services have been held in his memory.  Yesterday the entire University gathered in Macky Auditorium to hear Pres. Gustafson speak and tomorrow evening at 8 P.M. a more formal memorial service will be held.
"Pres. Truman doesn't appear to be a spectacular man, but apparently he's honest and determined.  There seems to be a tendency to ridicule the man here; and, true he didn't have a statesmanlike appearance in Life's recent Picture of the Week which showed him playing a piano upon which Lauren Bacall was roosted.
"But I think we should give the man a chance to show what he's made of before writing him off as another Johnson."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, April 14, 1945.  Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Ga., on April 12, 1945, at age 63, less than three months after having been sworn in for his fourth term as president.  He died of a massive stroke, after months of declining health. Harry S. Truman was sworn in as president at the White House within three hours of Roosevelt’s death.

Apr 10, 2015

Tue, Apr 10, 1945: sale bill

"I was really surprised as we were returning from the track meet to see a sale bill in a restaurant at Douglass with papa's name signed to it.  The sale is to be to-morrow and they are to sell the place as well as other farm equipment. I am trying to work it some way so that I may attend the sale.  Betty Jones has said she will teach for me but I haven't got to see the school board yet."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to  my father, Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, April 10, 1945.  Papa refers to her father, Charles Sumner Berger. Soviet forces would capture Vienna, three days later on April 13.

Apr 6, 2015

My mother, Ruth Murray, far right, at work in the Southwestern College business office, as a college freshman, Winfield, Kans., 1944-1945.

Apr 2, 2015

Mon, Apr 2, 1945: alive yet

"Sunday morning we went to Sunday School and on leaving learned it was our time to entertain 'Joe.'  As it happened I had gone to a little extra for dinner because of Easter and we had fried chicken, sliced tomatoes, ice cream, etc.  But the house wasn't exactly clean.  However Joe still seemed to be alive yet when church was over so I guess he survived."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., April 2, 1945.  Joe was the preacher at the Methodist church. 

Mar 31, 2015

Sat, Mar 31, 1945: in the sun

"With this new avalanche of work I’ve been forced to revise my bedtime upwards from 10 to 11 P.M.  But Fred Tremayne and I still spend out afternoons studying in the sun, and it seems to pep me up to the extent that I never get sleepy.  Join the Navy and Sunbathe in Vacationland Colorado….
“Say Dad - do you have the dog population of Bloomington Township tabulated yet?"

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, March 31, 1945.  My father seems to be ribbing his dad about his assessing work.  Based on assessment records I’ve looked at elsewhere, my grandfather was likely counting and assessing the value of horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, cars, bicycles, furniture, pianos, jewelry, farm equipment and buildings, etc., but probably not counting dogs.

Mar 19, 2015

Mon, Mar 19, 1945: pass

"Dear De Vere Sir,
"The Sgt wishes to write!  So if you will be at ease, I'll carry on, from here....
"In the morning I'm going on pass to Liege, Begium.  The boys say they had a lot of fun there.  So expect I will too.  The platoon Sgt. just told me I'm not going on pass but to a rest camp for 3 days.  I'm going to have a big time now.
"Wayne is about 30 miles from here, our paths might cross again!  I hope so."

-- Letter from Dale Sooter, Germany, to my father, Boulder, Colo., Monday, March 19, 1945.  Wayne was a cousin of both Dale and my father.  

Mar 13, 2015

Tue, Mar 13, 1945: “them days”

"Here I am sitting around a table in Smith Hall kitchen with a lot of Sigma mates writing letters to former Delphians and whose name should appear on the list but yours!  Everyone looked over the list and said, 'What's this guy like?  Hey is this guy married?  Is this sailor good looking?' So I said 'Well I'm going to write to this guy because I know he's tops!'… [switch from Norma Harrold writing to Mary Nakahiro writing]
"Norma told me you are studying Japanese at Boulder! Tough I'll bet!!! I know, because I've tried to study that ‘chicken scratch’ once upon a time way back in 'them days' in Pasadena, California (plug!) -- and I have several friends (Nisei) who are studying at Ft. Snelling, Minn."
-- Letter from several women at Southwestern College, Winfield, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, March 13, 1945.  Although I know nothing specifically about Mary Nakahiro, it seems very likely from her letter that she was a Japanese American who living in Pasadena, California, and was incarcerated along with all other West Coast Japanese Americans in early 1942.  Many of these prisoners were allowed to leave the so-called relocation camps in order to attend college or work jobs outside of the West Coast exclusion zone.  By the end of 1944, about one third of the incarcerated Japanese Americans had been allowed to leave the camps under clearance programs. Many Japanese American men, and some women, were already serving in the military when the war began and many more were drafted or  joined while they were incarcerated in relocation camps.  Ft. Snelling, Minnesota, hosted the Military Intelligence Service Language School from 1944 to 1945, where Nisei were trained in Japanese language for intelligence work.
            Many churches, including the Methodist Church, organized programs to help Japanese American student out of the camps by giving them opportunities to attend college. The Japanese American Student Relocation Committee of the Methodist Church decided in December 1942 to focus its aid on Japanese American Methodists seeking to attend Methodist schools (such as Southwestern College, where my father attended.).  They gave second priority to Methodist students wanting to attend non-Methodist schools.  They gave the lowest priority to helping Buddhist students.

Sources: James C. McNaughton, Nisei Linguists p. 300; Allan W. Austin, From Concentration Camp to Campus: Japanese American Students and World War II (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 44.

Mar 7, 2015

Wed, Mar 7, 1945: old gent

"Last Saturday we finally made our bike ride up Boulder Canyon....The high point of the trip was visit with an old timer in Christman.  When we passed his house the old gent was combing cockleburrs out of his dogs tail.  Seeming to be so leisurely we went back and asked him a few questions in regard to points of interest in the vicinity. This was enough to light the fuse to an apparently endless collection of anecdotes and facts about Four Mill Creek.
"First he told us the complete history of the old Bolder Valley narrow gauge railway, which ran up to the gold mining towns of Wall Street and Gold Hill, until washed out in 1923.... There is nothing like talking to a native who knows every foot of ground within a ten mile radius and every person or event within the last fifty years for learning the history of a place….
"A page or so ago I took time out to go to Denver with some of the boys. After taking care of the shopping we dropped won to the Ichiyo Cafe for supper. And this Cafe in the Japanese district put out a meal, the like of which I've never seen before - for 90¢.  We really got our chance to read Japanese; for the menu was written in characters and many of the juke box numbers were labelled only with kanji. However, the waitress, a nisei (2nd generation) knew less Japanese than we - so our conversational knowledge of the language didn't get a workout.  She confided in us that a number of boys from our school had appeared there in recent weeks and tried to engage her in conversation.  However, since it was incomprehensible to her, she usually bluffed her through by laughing at the remarks -- but she had decided not to pull her bluff on us."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., March 7, 1945.  

Mar 3, 2015

My father in his Navy ensign uniform, as a student at the Naval language school, Boulder, Colo., 1944-1946.

Feb 24, 2015

Sat, Feb 24, 1945: housing situation

"The school may possibly move to some point on the west coast.  Commander Heinmarsh, who is in charge, and tours the country picking up students, stopped here this week and among other things they discussed prospective sites for the school if moved.  This was at a meeting of all teachers.  For one thing the housing situation is bad here.  Boulder property owners won't rent to 'Japs.'  So instead of building houses for the instructors the Navy plans to pull up stakes and leave- from all indications. My roommate is all enthusiastic about rumors that we may go to California; since he once attended UCLA; but I prefer it in Boulder - 13 hrs. from home instead of 2 days.  And as yet I haven't had the opportunity to explore the nearby mountains....
"Every evening after supper, I go down to the room of my dictation instructor, Mr. Toyota, for 40 or 45 minutes of speaking Japanese.  He's a very enthusiastic teacher and invited me down without a request for help or anything. In class, he has a time, because his English is so bad that he can't get anything across to us in the line of explanations.  Even if he does know the proper word, his pronunciation is so bad that none of us recognize it.  Yesterday the boys got tickled at him, while going through some long winded explanation, and I think the old fellow got slightly angered...The old fellow really does have a brighter side.  Sergt. Beatty discovered how to get on the good side of him the other day when referred to him as "O sensei sama."  Sensei means teacher, and we usually call him that; but the O makes it more polite, and the sama does the same.  So, together - it was about like calling him a god.  The old fellow beamed anyhow.  A comment on the beauty of the Japanese characters which he has drawn will also bring a broad smile."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, February 24, 1945. 

Feb 18, 2015

Sun, Feb 18, 1945: health

"Aunt Frances has had a second letter from Joyce.  He still didn't say much except that he was O.K.  Aunt Edith heard from Max and he had crossed the equator and was where it was very hot but she does not know exactly his whereabouts  However she thinks he was headed for the Phillipines....
"Your work seems to be getting harder isn't it?  Don't (as you say) ruin your health by studying too hard.  It isn't worth that much.  Besides if you just can't make it there is always something else you can do.  I think you have done very well considering the fact that you had no previous training at all.  It is no wonder some of them seem to get along so well when they have had thirteen years to study etc."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, February 18, 1945

Feb 15, 2015

Thu, Feb 15, 1945: censor

"The only exam I have is that sometimes the variety of subjects we have to write about over here gets in a well worn rut and it darn hard to get out because the censor sometimes cut out that which is written about the military side and as over here there is very little outside the military it is hard job sometimes to guess just how close you can get into the military without having your letter thrown back at you or cut to pieces like a paper in the hands of a crazy woman with a pair of scissors which is all that keeps from giveing you  a real story. One that if it were in the movie would make most people say sounds like a lot of B.S. to me."

-- Letter from Joyce Sooter to my father (his cousin), Boulder, Colo., Thursday, February 15, 1945.  Joyce, a private in the army, was in a hospital in Leyte, Philippines, suffering from amoebic dysentery and schistosomiasis. His letter makes no reference to any of that, presumably due to concerns about censors.  He had participated in the U.S. assault on New Guinea and then of the Philippines.

Feb 11, 2015

Sun, Feb 11, 1945: pen pal

"Dearest DeVere:- We certainly appreciated your letter last week.  In fact we let several people read it.  Daddy gave it to Ruby and Homer to read, then Barbara took it to school and let some of the kids and faculty read it.  Among the faculty members were Mr. Gustafson and Mr. Hayes who said as he began reading 'My favorite reading material.'...
"We received this card from your Belgian pen pal yesterday.  Evidently he has gotten your name mixed with Stanley's or something.  I suppose you can send him only a post card also.  Don't you suppose you could write to the boy in Holland now that most of Germans are out of there?"

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, February 11, 1945.  This was the first my father had heard from his Belgian pen pal, since the war had started.  He had a second European pen pal in Holland, from whom he hadn't heard.

Feb 5, 2015

Mon, Feb 5, 1945: four good tires

"Yesterday afternoon Mother, Stanley & I, while Barbara studied, went down to Grandpa & Grandma's and today I took Grandpa to El Dorado to see about his A.A.A. sign up and I got the lights fixed on the car, they went out on Mother & Barbara coming home from church last night.  I don't know wheither I ever told you or not, but I got two more new tires a short time back so that makes four good tires on the car now."
-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Monday, February 5, 1945. 

Feb 2, 2015

My mother, Ruth Murray, center left, with fellow residents of Allison Hall in a yearbook photograph from her freshman year at Southwestern College, 1944-1945.

Jan 26, 2015

Fri, Jan 26, 1945: keep right in the “buggy”

"Your letter to Stanley came O.K. and sounds as though you had plenty to do, keep right in the "Buggy" and you'll come out all right....
"If my memory serves me right you have a birthday coming up on Monday, you will be twenty, think you will find the years between 20 and 51 will pass in a hurry, so make the best off your young years because from now on you won't know where they went too….
"Mothers school is about as usual with the added attraction that last Saturday some kids put the stink part of a skunk down the register and of course things have been pretty well scented up around there, she just found up who did it today."
-- Letter from my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Boulder, Colo., Friday, January 26, 1945. 

Jan 17, 2015

Wed, Jan 17, 1945: carrying on

"We are getting along nicely. We miss you men very much.  The girls are doing a great job, however, in carrying on until you return."
-- Letter from Rob Roy MacGregor, Winfield, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, January 17, 1945.  MacGregor was one of my father's college professors. My mother, Ruth Murray, was one of the “girls” at Southwestern, having arrived there in 1944. 

Jan 14, 2015

Sun, Jan 14, 1945: the pup

"P.S. We just took six weeks tests last weeks
"The pup is getting onerier every day.
"We just butchered two calves they were not very big. Yesterday we made some lard. I helped cut it up.
"Out here it seems more like spring than winter.  There isn't any ice on the creek and no snow on the ground."

-- Letter from my uncle, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, January 14, 1945.

Sun, Jan 14, 1945: a little hike

"Yesterday we took a little hike into the mountains.  This time Jim, Everett Bostrom (a boy in my section) and I explored the 'Flatirons', west of town.  Our excursion took us slightly farther than we had intended to go, so our arrival back in the city was rather late.  That meant that all of my studying has to be done today.  We had a good time, though; and nothing less than an airplane could give us as good a view of Boulder."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, January 14, 1945.  Two days earlier, on January 12, the Soviets had launched an offensive against German forces that would lead to the liberation of Warsaw and Krakow in a matter of weeks.
Undated photograph of my father, likely hiking near Boulder, Colorado, sometime 1944 to 1946.

Jan 5, 2015

Fri, Jan 5, 1945: stumped

"The Language school will fold up in September according to the navy.  It's being whittled down right now.  All but 8 of the 30 Japanese instructors have received notice of dismissal in March.  That's right after our class of 22 goes out (half the school.)  Some of the teachers are giving up their jobs with regrets.  $3000 to $3500 per year seems to be an average salary.  It'll be a blow to go back to running grocery stores, being chauffeurs, or underpaid college instructors as some were before the war....
"My ex-roommate Jim Allen who transferred out in September has a high sounding job now.  He's head of the department of welfare and labor in Jinazu Province of Okinawa.  (Knowing Jim as I do and his immature attitude toward life I'm just a little worried about the laboring class over in Jinazu Prefecture).  He says the chances to use Japanese are limitless.  The second day the island commander used him as an interpreter - with 'horrifying results'.  Things like 'When did the pump break down' and "Do you have a lock for the jail' stumped him."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Friday, January 5, 1945.

Jan 1, 2015

Wed, Jan 3, 1945: two honks

"We saw the New Year come in at Bert's Place, the only eating house or business establishment of any kind open at that time in Geneseo.  The people of Geneseo weren't in a very festive mood that night; for the only resemblance to a celebration there was two honks on some one's car horn at the stroke of twelve.
"New Year's Night our conversation instructor, K. Sato, invited us down to his house.  The strange assortment of food on his table was very tasty. Among the Japanese delicacies served were bamboo sprouts and rice cakes wrapped in seaweed.  To make the meal more amusing we were given chopsticks instead of the customary knife, fork, and spoon."
-- Letter from my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Boulder, Colo., age 19, to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, January 3, 1945.  This letter is about my father's trip back from Christmas furlough with his family to the naval language school in Boulder, Colo.  Geneseo is a small town in central Kansas, 100 miles northwest of Wichita.  By January 1, Allied forces had turned back the German advance in the Battle of the Bulge and continued advancing into Germany.