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.