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.