Dec 31, 2016

Tue, Dec 31, 1946: with a bang

“New Year’s Eve – bus was very late but we went to “Undercurrent” and started off with a bang again. (what will ’47 bring?)”

-- Entry in my mother’s diary, December 31, 1946.

Dec 28, 2016

Sat, Dec 28, 1946: half-empty candy boxes

"Our house looks a lot like yours must.  Except as a counterpart to those half-empty candy boxes is a feeling of disinterest in edibles on my part which has persisted for two days now.... Be seein' you tomorrow!"

--Letter from my mother, Hutchinson, Kans., to my father, Winfield, Kans., Saturday, December 28, 1946.  This is the first letter I have from my mother to my father.

Dec 26, 2016

Thu, Dec 26, 1946: New Year's Eve together

"Christmas is over.  The excitement caused by the Brown clan which assembled here yesterday has subsided.  Life at home is quite peaceful--with only nearly-empty candy boxes, a still-decorated Christmas tree, and a piece of wrapping paper around the living room to remind one of the merry holiday celebration staged by the Browns.  (Actually, Sooters, Kings, and Varners made up the guest list)....
"It would be nice if we could spend New Year's Eve together.  If you're planning to be there--and would appreciate my company--you might drop me a line at Seller's."

--Letter from my father, Bloomington, Kans., to my mother, [Hutchinson, Kans.], Thursday, December 26, 1946.  This is the first letter I have from my father to my mother.

Dec 17, 2016

Tue, Dec 17, 1946: better day

“game. walked home -- better day. ‘don’t be so polite’”

--Entry in my mother’s diary, Tuesday, December 17, 1946, about a date with my father.

Dec 14, 2016

Sat, Dec 14, 1946: no insubordination

"Ahoy there, matey--
"Orders of the Day: S.D. Brown, Lt (j.g.) is hereby authorized to have a super-enjoyable holiday season to be followed by a 'fine and and mellow' New Year.  All hands take notice.
By order,
Rollie -- O in C
P.S.Let's have no insubordination, Sid."

--Letter from Rollie Paulson, Iowa City, Iowa, to my father, Winfield, Kans., Saturday, December 14, 1946.

Dec 12, 2016

Thu, Dec 12, 1946: first kiss

“formal Christmas ball – gardenias & daisy corsage
“first kiss”

--Entry in my mother’s diary about a date with my father, Thursday, December 12, 1946, Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas.

Dec 7, 2016

Sat, Dec 7, 1946: worry!!

“Kappa Rho rush banquet & dance – didn’t call until very late. information & relations were strained  again – worry!!”

--Entry in my mother’s diary about a date with my father, Saturday, December 7, 1946.

Nov 28, 2016

Thu, Nov 28, 1946, Thanksgiving: marvelous time

“game & dance --  had marvelous time -- dancing better now - cocoa cookies for Browns”

--Entry in my mother’s diary about a date with my father.

Nov 24, 2016

Sun, Nov 24, 1946: great time

“he was worried – we went for walk after dinner & had great time – went to church & MYF”

--Entry in my mother’s diary about a date with my father, while they were both students at Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas.  MYF is Methodist Youth Fellowship.

Nov 16, 2016

Sat, Nov 16, 1946: are we married?

“assembly parade (his sweater!) won 3rd, tho- game. Stanley too Sellers Open House.  Elbert’s question- are we married? Dance – not too good – asked to kiss goodnite”

--Entry in my mother’s diary about a date with my father.

Oct 22, 2016

Tue, Oct 22, 1946: good time

“Kappa Rho hayride with blankets!  Conversation not dazzling – good time, tho.”

--Entry in my mother’s diary, October 22, 1946.  This was what my parents considered their first date, as their later letters reveal.

Tue, Oct 22, 1946: decisions

"I'm now a veteran and have been home almost two weeks and don't quite know whether I'm glad to be out of the Navy or not-I think rather that I am, though it's irksome having to make decisions."

--Letter from Jim Allen, Salt Lake City, to my father, Winfield, Kans., Tuesday, October 22, 1946.

Oct 15, 2016

My father, left, sports editor of Collegian newspaper, Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas, 1946-47.

Oct 8, 2016

Tue, Oct 8, 1946: lemon coke

“took me to the drug after library closed- lemon coke!”

-- Entry in my mother’s diary, October 8, 1946.  This is the first entry in my mother’s diary, which she entitled “The Brown Book.”  The diary focuses exclusively on her dates with my father.  The “drug” refers to the drugstore.

Oct 5, 2016

Sat, Oct 5, 1946: nisei girls

"It is interesting to hear your reaction to college life; Bob and Stan were here for a while, and we all felt rather strange that we were not returning with the others to a life of books and dull lectures.  You seem to be enjoying yourself what with the pretty nisei girls to whom you give eloquent examples of your fluency, etc."

--Letter from John Howes, Hinsdale, Ill., to my father, Winfield, Kans., October 5, 1946.

Oct 3, 2016

Thu, Oct 3, 1946: quite a while

"Do we or do we not have a boy in college at Winfield?  It has been quite a while since we heard from you."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Winfield, Kans., October 3, 1946.  My father was starting his senior year at Southwestern College.  After his sophomore year of college (1942-1943), he was in the U.S. Navy for three years (June 1943-August 1946), during which time he earned enough credits for one year of college.

Sep 15, 2016

Portrait of my father as college senior, Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas, 1946-47.

Sep 1, 2016

Around early September 1946: rural home missions

“I spent Friday of that week [Aug 16] sightseeing in Chicago with Dot – the big city certainly does fascinate and thrill me, and still I want none of it.  We saw the Chicago Temple, Chicago University, drove around Lake Michigan at night, looked out over the city from the top of Stock Exchange Building, went through the Chicago Library—wouldn’t I love to spend a week in there writing a termpaper!...
“Some of you may know that our work on the Caravan this summer helped me to make a decision I have been working on for a long time—my field of religious education.  It is now definitely rural home missions, so I chose for an interest group at Convocation ‘What is the mission of the church in rural life?’ and met here people young people from all over the nation who are going into the same sort of field.”

-- Letter from my mother to “friends from Missouri” (likely a draft letter).  My father had visited Chicago two weeks earlier. My mother and father had yet to meet.

Aug 26, 2016

Mon, Aug 26, 1946: wild P.K.

“At Chaffe[, Missouri,] there’s a wild P.K. [preacher’s kid] to reform.  The girl is adopted and has a bad reputation.... Sat nite... she is at the neighbor’s but comes after several callings, with her hair up, eyebrows in an unnatural shape, greets us politely.  She is tall, blonde, thin, wears short skirts...Sun morn: Dr. Polhamus gives further information that she is maybe going to Baldwin-Wallace [College] this winter, and that she has had a beauty course & is licensed.  He says to me nearly in a whisper ‘I hope you can get hold of my daughter for Christ and his church.  She thinks a lot of you.’  At table he defends her about missing these 2 years since hi school.  She has gotten some heck raised, a beauty course finished, and some growing up done.  Mother is less sympathetic about the matter.... Mom [a fellow caravanner, not the woman’s mother] says (Mom is very bashful) that she is boy-crazy & ‘acted bad with boys.’  One never knows what Mom means, but she also said some of the women refused to have her in their houses.... Wed morn... Went to town with her.  Interesting remarks:... She worships the ground [her father] walks on.—She has to see, feel, or touch to believe – She thinks people are interesting and tries to be nice to all. Isn’t too crazy about going to school.”

--Letter from my mother, Grand Rapids, Mich., to her family, [Hutchinson, Kans.?], Monday, August 26, 1946.  My mother had been in a youth caravan in Chaffee, Missouri, the week of August 3.

Aug 25, 2016

My mother, left, at Methodist Youth Fellowship, National Convention, Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 25-29, 1946.

Aug 15, 2016

Thu, Aug 15, 1946: almost homesick

“Yesterday, I was almost homesick for Kansas because I was certainly sick of Missouri weather.  It rained all week and by yesterday I had all sorts of aches and pains preparatory to catching a good cold.... Another thing that I was put out about was Dot going home sick for the third time this summer, and I’m sure she didn’t feel a bit worse than I did.  But I refuse to stay home as long as I can navigate.”

--Letter from my mother, Lutesville, Missouri, to her family, [Hutchinson, Kans.?], August 15, 1946.  She was finishing up her Methodist Youth caravanning trip in Missouri and preparing to go to the Methodist Youth national conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Aug 2, 2016

Fri, Aug 2, 1946: spillway

“Morgan from East Prairie took us to the spillway.  It seems the Mississippi cuts up every so often, so they built levees & paid the people ¾ land value who lived in the spillway.  At flood time they break the levee & save Cairo that way.  It’s all share cropper country, mostly Negroes.  They look like the Southern picture.  We passed one cotton field full of Negroes chopping.... Since I seem to have sleepy companions, I’ll just try to get ready to wind up this week now.  I told you about the illiterate girl.  This Taysley family used to live in the spillway.  Annie Bell is 18 & in the 2nd grade.  Ellie May is 21 and in the 1st grade.  They never went to school or church until they moved out here...”

--Letter from my mother, Dogwood, Missouri, to her family, [Hutchinson, Kans.], Friday, August 2, 1946.  She was on a Methodist youth caravan trip in rural Missouri.

Jul 30, 2016

Tue, Jul 30, 1946: a civilian

"Have you wondered what has happened to me?  I'm a civilian now -- and have been since about noon last Friday -- but there has been no time to write until now....
“Last Friday at 6 A.M. Walt Brunhumer came by my room to awaken me. After a hearty breakfast we still managed to get to the discharge center behind only Jim Spillane and Phil Walker--two Boulder men.  By the time they unlocked the center (7:45) a sizeable crowd was gathered.  We were early enough to go through with the first group.  After filling out many forms and hearing a number of instructive lectures, 23 signatures and five finger printings later -- we had our discharge buttons and certificates in our possession.  The center had a congenial staff--the old medical captain with his amusing quips: 'Were you nervous in the service, son?' and 'Don't you know that you were too old to have measles?' the personnel man who gave us a lot of angles on GI benefits which we hadn't thought about--some of which might evade the spirit of the laws, and the athletic-minded chaplain with his anecdotes about football: 'Even though the football season is over keep in there pitching for the old school'--this he applied to our case by substituting the words 'country' and 'war'....
"My plans call for a trip up to Chicago tomorrow to see John.  Aunt Nell thinks it would be nice if I stop here on the way back through since Uncle Orville's Aunt Frances, and Joyce will be here--so I'll be around for the family dinner Sunday--and I may stay on until Tuesday since Aunt Nell thinks it would be a good idea.  Also, I plan to stop over in Missouri -- so I don't know exactly what day I'll be back home."

--Letter from my father, Decatur, Illinois, to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Tuesday, July 30, 1946.

Jul 27, 2016

Sat, Jul 27, 1946: funny notions

“I bet you think I’ve fallen in.  But I haven’t.  Now the problem is to get two weeks into less than a pamphlet. Well, I can’t be as detailed as I’d like.  Somehow last week was simply swamped and rushed.  If only I had a typewriter now!  Well – I made the preacher’s wife jealous in California [a town in Missouri]….
“I am anxiously awaiting further discussion of later summer plans.  It looks as if Dot’s folks could take me to St. Louis & I could leave from there.  However, I will do what you want me to.  I promised this summer to go where sent & conduct myself as a good servant of Jesus Christ, so I guess another week wouldn’t hurt.  I at least know my traveling companions for that week….
“Mr. Hesler at California was marvelous.  So was Mr. Yoes[?] at Dexter.  But Mrs. Heslor was a funny one – an Easterner – no sense of humor & Mr. Hesler was clever as can be – She got funny notions. However I had no intention of taking her husband away.  I didn’t even know she had this notion until we left…."
--Letter from my mother, Charleston, Missouri, to her family, [likely in Hutchison, Kans.], Saturday, July 27, 1946.

Jul 18, 2016

Thu, Jul 18, 1946: overseas jobs

"Monday morning I dropped over to the Pentagon Bldg. for an interview with Mr. Nott who is handling overseas jobs for the War Dept.... Tuesday he called up Mrs. Farrow -- the Korean War Dept. worker in our offices who handles proficiency tests -- and said that he had jobs for five of the men who had applied -- my name among the five.... Tuesday night I was all set to accept the job [in Japan] until I went home at 11:30 P.M. to find Mom's letter waiting for me.  Mrs. Sellar's has a room open; so I decided to go to college & get my degree-- and I left the door open for a job next summer in Japan."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, July 18, 1946.

Thu, Jul 18, 1946: real farmers

“We gals became real farmers—drove tractors, watched turkeys hatch, ‘snoopervised’ the building of a new turkey house, and had blackberries and turkey eggs for breakfast.  All this was at the home where Dot and Ruth were lucky enough to stay at Gray Summit, or rather out of Gray Summit on ‘Hardeman Boulevard.’  These same Hardemans were three-fourth of the reason we had such a good start to our summer.  None of us had ever known a family that made such a place in our hearts in such a short time.”

--Group letter from my mother, Ruth Murray, and the three other members of her Methodist Youth Caravan, Thursday, July 18, 1946.

Jul 15, 2016

Jul 14, 2016

Sun, Jul 14, 1946: threshing

"The threshing is all done now except Uncle Orrin's sweet clover which they will thresh to-morrow. Guess I'll have to help them with dinner.  Last Friday they were working on our oats by noon but Myers seemed to think they should have the men for dinner as they had worked there the afternoon before and the most of the morning.  So I furnished some of the food and helped get dinner there."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C., Sunday, July 14, 1946.

Sun, July 14, 1946: preachers

“But Mr. Hesler now!  I heard his step in the church yesterday noon & knew that’s what it was – then his face appeared – young, earnest, clean & healthy looking.  I nearly hugged him & he has been just like we dreamed.  I had almost forgotten about preachers who know what’s going on and really take an interest in their people and have good constructive ideas.  He’s not better than average probably, but he seemed heavenly to us….
“After waking up – Sleep is a marvelous invention.  I am much encouraged now.  We had cokes with the lady & fed the dog cookies.  This better be as good as week in all respect as the people we’ve met so far.  I think I can even write the thank you notes to Cuba now – after I read the funnies, which I haven’t read since I left home.”
-- Letter from my mother, California, Mo., to his father and sister, Hutchinson, Kans., July 14, 1946.  The Youth Caravan was a program in which teams of Methodist young adults  travelled for two months in the summer to several churches in a region away from their home, staying with church members, and helping the churches improve their youth programs.

Jul 5, 2016

July 5?, 1946: Mrs. Hardeman’s gardener

“Sun. morning we went down – we had a hard time getting used to going out back when it was convenient instead of waiting until it was necessary.  In the kitchen an old man said, ‘Good morning, girls.  I’m Mrs. Hardeman’s gardener.’ We were very agreeable & soon Mrs. Hardeman came in & said.  ‘Did you meet my boy friend?’  We said yes.  (He is 78 & she is in her middle sixties). Then the boys came in & called him Pop. It turned out that he was Mr. Hardeman & I love him.  He says very little, but he’s a peck of fun when he does.  They call each other honey all the time.....
“We can tell the family is democratic, loving, cooperative & Christian from a few hours being with them.  They all help each other & tell nice things about each other.  This morning, we did hear Walker almost howl Howard out, but it’s the first sign.”
--Letter from my mother, possibly in Missouri, to her father and sister, Hutchinson, Kans., about July 5, 1946.  This was written while she was in Methodist Youth Caravan, travelling to churches in rural areas, staying the families, and helping churches work on youth programs. She was 19 and getting ready to start her junior year of college. 

Thu, Jul 11, 1946: observation car

"After I left Washington I stayed in the observation car until it got so dark that I couldn't see the scenery any longer.  It happened there was a man there who rides over that line about forty times a month.  He knew every crook and turn and made things much more interesting...Mrs. Howes was there waiting for me [in Chicago]....We went down to the Marshall Field store and looked at the many, many beautiful things they had for sale.  It was fun riding up and down on the escalators.  We ate our lunch in their beautiful cafeteria.... By staying in Chicago a day I missed out on getting dinner for threshers Wed. However to-morrow Myers and I shall probably get dinner together."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C., Thursday, July 11, 1946.  My grandmother was returning to Kansas, after having visited my father in Washington, D.C.

Jul 1, 2016

Naval language officers, Washington, D.C., 1946. L to R, my father, Bob Nave, John Holmes, J. O. Williams.

Jun 24, 2016

About June 24, 1946: Southerners

“Well, howdy you all!
“I’m not that bad yet, but it takes will power to keep from pickin’ up that stuff, and I about lost the urge to resist, when, tonight, for about the third time, I was classed as a Luthehuah.  The first day we were here, a woman asked if we were from the South, and we admitted it was South of here – A Wisconsin boy & some girl asked me if Kansas wasn’t below the Mason-Dixon line – a Texas girl that that we were about the same as Tennessee, in geog and another Texas girl said I’d pass for a Texan from my talk. This South business is being a liberal education to me….
“Southerners.  I’ve met 2 from Georgia, 3 Miss, 2 Kentucky, 2 Tennessee, too many Texas, 3 Arkansas, 1 Florida, so I’ve learned a lot about them.  We have a lot of good clean fun about our accents, it’s as good a topic of conversation as the weather.
--Letter from my mother, Ruth Esther Murray, Sioux City, Iowa, to her family, Hutchinson, Kans., around Monday, June 24, 1946. She was part of a Methodist Youth Caravan that summer and the letter was written sometime between June 16 and 24.  This is the first letter I have written by my mother.  It was written about three months before my parents met.  The Caravan training lasted June 18-28, 1946, in Sioux City, Iowa.

Jun 15, 2016

My mother, right, with her Methodist Youth Caravan group, around June 1946. They travelled to various rural churches to help with youth programs that summer.

Sat, Jun 15, 1946: capsized

"Last Sunday afternoon was a calm, peaceful, sunny one; so when Chuck Latimer invited us to go sailing on the Potomac we jumped at the invitation.... About 5 P.M. we decided to head for home base....Then it happened! With Bob egging him on J. O. had the ship very close to the wind.  We dipped far over to the right, recovered, then the wind and wake both catching us the boat tipped far enough over to ship a hull full of water. Meanwhile, we had jumped to the port side for ballast; so the whole ship having lost its buoyancy just eased over on its side dumping us all into the Potomac....There we were--five naval officers including a navigation instructor who couldn't keep a 16 ft. vessel afloat or right her once she had capsized....Finally some people came along in a motor yacht and offered us a tow."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, June 15, 1946.

Jun 9, 2016

Sun, Jun 9, 1946: TWA reservation

"Daddy went to Wichita Wednesday and they still had the TWA reservation so he bought my ticket to Washington....
"Daddy, Max, Stanley and two or three other fellows got the oats cut and shocked.  They were pretty good but it is getting terribly dry so we may not have any good crops....
"Our chickens are big enough to fry now.  We had fried chicken last Tuesday and again to-day.  I think I'll have to dress some for the locker because they are all going to be ready to eat at about the same time."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 9, 1946.

Jun 8, 2016

Sat, Jun 8, 1946: double header

"Today we got our money's worth out at the ball park.  The double header with the Chicago White Sox lasted 5 1/2 hours.  After a hurried breakfast- Walt Brunkhumer and I arrived out at Griffith Stadium at 1 P.M.  Then some 5 or 6 cokes, several sandwiches, and countless arguments later at 7 P.M. we left for home after watching the Nats top the White Sox in both games by an identical 7-6 score....
"Thursday night I took in the Duke Ellington concert at the Watergate -- an improvised ampi-theatre down by the Potomac River.  In fact, the band itself played on a barge moored along the river bank... The Duke was in good concert form.  As a master of ceremonies he has poise, as a pianist tops in jazz, and as a jazz band leader his wearing of tails was quite extraordinary.  The concert consisted of his more ambitious works..."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, June 8, 1946.

Jun 6, 2016

Thu, Jun 6, 1946: Constitution Hall

"Monday we hear the Tuskegee Choir sing some special arrangements of spirituals at Constitution Hall.  It was the best choir -- in the male section, at least, that I've ever heard.  The appearance was a departure in DAR tradition.  Mrs. Talmadge, president of the DAR gave them permission to sing because it was for 'charity' - the united negro college fund; but the 'white artists-only' rule still holds for regular commercial performances.  This prompted a picketing of the program by Negroes and others bearing signs like: 'Mrs. Talmadge - We don't want charity with contempt' -- and chanting 'Keep your self respect.  Join the line.' (Meaning to boycott the program)...”

---Letter from my father, Washington, D.C.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, June 6, 1946.

Jun 1, 2016

My father with two of his neighbors on a day trip to Mount Vernon, June 1, 1946.

May 25, 2016

Sat, May 25, 1946: rail strike

"Today Washington was charged with tenseness over the rail strike and what Truman might do about it.  To be in on the ground floor John and I dropped down to the Capitol about noon.  Since the joint session at which Truman was schedule to speak was to be held in the House chamber at 4 P.M. -- the whole south end of the capitol was blocked off by capitol police. Admission was by special pass only....
"With no chance of seeing the big show... I decided to watch the Senate fireworks touched off by the railroad strike. Today the galleries were full-- and almost every senator was on the floor!!!...
"Not being able to crack the secret service ring around the house wing, I decided to wait with the crowd outside the Capitol for a glimpse of Pres. Truman.... Then came the big climax -- the president's car with Harry clinging to a strap in the back rear corner sped by at 20 mph.  I snapped a picture which probably won't turn out since he was in front of me when I recognized him.  With that -- the crowd suddenly released after being held in check by presidential guards -- raced like stampeding cattle to catch a glimpse of Pres. Truman -- the common-like man who walked into that same building a couple of years ago unnoticed.
"I heard the speech in a park across the street from the Capitol by portable radio in a little gathering which included a commodore.  He put a lot of feeling into the talk -- and got the biggest ovation ever given Truman.  Then, I got another glimpse of the president when his car headed back for the White House....
"The housewives have gone hogwild on buying bread here.  Unless you're on hand when the store opens it's a breadless day.  We rarely eat break anyhow; so it doesn't affect us."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his brother, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, May 25, 1946.

May 19, 2016

Sun, May 19, 1946: Dr. Bob Jones

"That evening stopped in at Constitution Hall to watch Homer Rodeheaver lead the singing at the Youth for Christ rally.... I'd like to know who runs the Youth for Christ movement.  They distributed some ferocious anti-New Deal propaganda before the show.  It may be a political group hiding under the cloak of religion.  Dr. Bob Jones, who apparently spear heads the movement, practically hypnotized the audience in his 10 minute pep talk. The organization belied its name.  Instead of youths, the audience was top heavy with white heads - or at least bald ones - the kind who believe in audience-participation religion.  They punctuated Dr. Jones speech with shouts of 'That's right, Bob' and 'A men.')"
--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, May 19, 1946. 

Sun, May 19, 1946: colts & mules

"This afternoon Stanley & I got the colts & mules out and led them around some, I guess you know Foxie has a colt and & Daisy & Bess each have a mule.  Tonight we popped some corn and now Stanley has gone to bed.
"We cut the alfala yesterday I want to get it baled this week if I can, expect to get Weedon Breiner to do the work."
--Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 19, 1946. 

May 18, 2016

Sat, May 18, 1946: John Brown

"Our little excursion to the old John Brown battleground didn't pan out so well.  We're now sitting on the front porch of the Storer College Administration building waiting for the mountain shower to stop.  Also the RR strike might leave us stranded up here with the W Va hillbillies."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, May 18, 1946.

May 12, 2016

Sun, May 12, 1946: "men in the woods"

"Yesterday we got in some body conditioning... Bob, John, and I --along with Rod Devin -- another former Boulder student -- rode to the end of the Cabin John streetcar line.  Out there the wild country next to the Potomac with its jungle of trees, undergrowth, and rivulets, makes you feel isolated from civilization.  To break the spell you're always stumbling on the back of a settlement of houses, or the station for renting boats to fishermen.  Once while resting in a clearing, some kids of the nearby community found us.  For about an hour we had a steady job entertaining them. If the kids - age 6 to 8 - take home stories about the 'men in the woods', they'll probably be in line for a lecture on strangers."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, May 12, 1946.

Sun, May 12, 1946: new colt

"Old Foxy has a new colt.  Last evening Stanley went up to her in the pasture to get a good view of the colt and Foxy bit him on the throat and knocked him down.  He really thought he was ruined for a while but this morning was much better.  The teeth marks still show. I told him he'd have a hard time trying to make the other fellow believe it was a horse that bit him."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C.,  Sunday, May 12, 1946.

Apr 29, 2016

Mon, Apr 29, 1946: his shed

"Daddy with the help of several men has torn down the other half of his shed. He tried to get Bob Hughes to help build the forms for the foundation but was unsuccessful because he is building a barn and could not come."

--Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 29, 1946.

Apr 21, 2016

Sun, Apr 21, 1946: hose, size 10

"I am sending you a package of cookies.  They will be your belated Easter gift.
"Say if you ever can find any rayon or milon hose, size 10, I'd appreciate it very much if you could get me some, any color except black.  Mine are almost entirely worn out and we just can't get any."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C.,  Sunday, April 21, 1946.

Sun, Apr 21, 1946: foreign famine

"We've cut out wheat bread altogether -- and rice and wheat cereals -- in line with the program to help relieve foreign famine.  Dad, are you planning to take advantage of the 30c govt. bonus on wheat -- or do you have any in stock?  Hearing stories like the one the Nave's tell about India makes it seem criminal, almost, to hang onto any wheat that might go overseas."
--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, April 21, 1946.

Apr 18, 2016

Thu, Apr 18, 1946: Caravan

“I hope that the announcement of the fact that you are to Caravan this summer was glad news for you.”

-- Form letter from Harvey C. Brown, chairman, personnel committee, Methodist Youth Caravans, Nashville, Tenn., to my mother, Ruth Esther Murray (Brown), [Winfield, Kans.], Thursday, April 18, 1946.  My mother was preparing for youth caravan, where young church members would visit rural churches in Missouri to help them with developing youth programs.

Apr 14, 2016

Sun, Apr 14, 1946: Senate Judiciary Committee

"Yesterday was a profitable one from the standpoint of discovering how our government operates.  A notice in the Post of a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting at 10:00 A.M. aroused our curiosity.... [N]one could compared with committee chairman, Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada. The typical Western senator, McCarran had heavy jowls, a shaggy mane of white hair, wrinkles creased in the sagging fat of his face, and bifocal glasses.  Slouched in his heavily padded chair at the head of the committee table, he looked like an old mother hen, his face that is.  His drooping eyelids weren't a very accurate indication of the state of his mind.  Time and again he put the more loquacious witnesses on the spot with his carefully-framed questions."

-- Letter from my father, Washington, D.C.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, April 14, 1946.

Apr 6, 2016

Sat, Apr 6, 1946: a fraternization problem

"Never talk about strangers around you--even if the remarks are cloaked in Japanese.  John learned that--the hard way-Friday night.  While waiting for the bus he commented on the large number of captains and commanders standing near us--in Japanese, of course.  Spotting a scrambled-eggs man eyeing him with an amused smile, I said to John, 'Be careful what you say' in Japanese; whereupon the commander responded with a "Hai, ki wo tuske nasai', meaning: 'Yes, be careful'.  He got a big kick out of the incident; then told us that he had taken the course under Naganuma, himself, (author of our textbook) while stationed at the embassy in Tokyo....
"The office was brightened up considerably last Thursday, when the WAC nisei translators moved in.  We've had women around, but they were all women of 30--WAVES who are now being discharged.  Judging from the stir the younger army girls created, Cmdr. Steele may have a fraternization problem on his hands."

-- Letter from my father, Washington, D.C.,  to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, April 6, 1946.

Apr 2, 2016

Tue, Apr 2, 1946: eighth graders

"That office force reminds me of my ambitious? eighth graders  They try to see how little they can do and get by. It is really trying to a teacher to have pupils so careless and indifferent when I'm trying my best to teach them things I know they'll need to know in order to pass the exams.
"Only six more weeks until school is out."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 2, 1946.

Mar 31, 2016

Sun, Mar 31, 1946: the girls' apartment

"It's a quiet Sunday evening -- not much different from one at home.  We're sitting around the girls' apartment downstairs reading and writing letters after eating popcorn and popcorn balls.  The party is waiting for a banana pie which Ruth cooked up a while ago.  The pie has to cool enough for eating -- it was sort of runny at the last attempt."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, March 31, 1946.

Mar 26, 2016

Sun, Mar 26, 1946: Eddie Condon

"Monday night...Eddie Condon and his jazz mob was in town.  Eddie had intended for the jazz concert to be held in Constitution Hall, but the D.A.R. had different ideas on the subject 'because of the nature of the audience which would be attracted' (Where does that put me?)  This is the same DAR which barred Marian Anderson, one of the best contraltos in the country, from the hall on the grounds that she is a Negro--nothing else.  Biggest star of the Condon show was Sidney Betchet, Negro soprano saxophonist.  So Condon among his other cracks at the DAR announced 'Sidney and I are going to throw a little party down at Constitution Hall after the show'.  It was interesting to note that the Willard Hotel ballroom where the show was finally held was decorated with a huge American flag.  'The music we play is as American as popcorn' said Condon in noting the DAR slur at it and the color of its performers. (It might be best if Aunt Estella doesn't read this one.)  Star performers were Joe Sullivan, pianist, on 'Room with a View', Bechet on 'Summertime', Joe Dixon, youthful clarinettist, on 'The Man I Love', and Davey Tough with his sensational drumming."

--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, March 26, 1946.

Mar 21, 2016

My father in front of U.S. Supreme Court building, 1946.

Mar 20, 2016

Wed, Mar 20, 1946: famed cherry trees

"Down in Franklin Square the magnolia trees have blossomed out in white and the newspapers report some blossoms on Washington's famed cherry trees -- the Japanese gift which some 'patriots' wanted to remove at the war's start."

-- Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., March 20, 1946.

Mar 17, 2016

Sun, Mar 17, 1946: Ellington

"This morning Bob Nave, John Howes, and I attended the St. Thomas Episcopal Church just around the corner from here... Franklin D. Roosevelt belonged to this church.... In peacetime FDR was a frequent attender but after 1941 the secret service wouldn't allow it.  Even when he did attend, SS men surrounded him - in front, in back in the pew we occupied and to the left in the Roosevelt pew.  Also they were scattered over the church.  Roosevelt being a cripple, a truck brought a special ramp to the side door at 10 A.M. to obviate the necessity of the difficult trip up the front steps.  Even so he walked with the assistance of some one else and with a cane down the center aisle to his pew....
"I dropped over to the Joe Turner Arena to hear Duke Ellington in person. He played for a negro dance (about 30 whites were scattered among the 2 or 3 thousand colored spectators).  It was the funniest sight I've seen in years -- a sea of black faces -- everyone bouncing in rhythm -- dudes in zoot like clothing shouting -- jitterbugging couples moved around in very small openings in the crowd.  The men worked hard -- Ellington scarcely stopped for the 2 hours I was there -- with his piano chording between pieces on the old beatup upright job.  Lawrence Brown, trombonist was the best part for my money -- I stood beside him for 30 minutes.  During that time he didn't bother to take out any of the arranged music.  Al Hibbler, blind vocalist, was the crowd favorite."

-- Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his sister, Southwestern College, Winfield, Kans., March 17, 1946.  In a letter my father wrote to his parents and brothers three days later, he described many of the same events that Sunday, but left out the Ellington concert.

Mar 13, 2016

My father lived in this apartment building near Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., from March to June 1946, long with three other Navy language officers.  His doorway was the leftmost one in the red brick building. He wrote his family soon after moving in: "The rather modest looking apt. rents for $150 per month.  Mrs. Dick, the landlady, tells us that the last renters were a colonel and lieutenant-commander and before them a congressman.  It must be a classy neighborhood, although the houses are all old-fashioned three story brick buildings.  Ours is not over 25 feet wide with no yard on either side and a pitifully small one in front.  Across the street lives Raymond Gram Swing, the famous news commentator.  We are fixed up with a bedroom, living room, kitchnette, and bath. Bob and John sleep in the bedroom; J. O. and I in the living room." (March 13, 1946; photo: March 2015).

Wed, Mar 13, 1946: work is secret

"Officially the work is secret; but even if I told you about it there wouldn't be much of interest.  The Library of Congress is receiving thousands of books, documents, and pamphlets from Japan.  They have to be classified; so we are assigned to the job of writing brief synopses of the contents.  The variety is unlimited. I've handled things ranging from the church records of the Nishinakachō (Catholic) Church in Nagasaki to a Japanese French dictionary. We don't have time to read - just scanning - and it may get very boring after a few months.
"My new home is an apartment with three other boys from Boulder... So far I’ve done all right on my turns at cooking (We rotate on the evening meal and fix our own breakfasts.) However, I'd like to spring something different sometime; so maybe you can give me some tips, Mother.  You can't cook much on a hotplate -- but maybe you can give some ideas besides hamburgers and canned foods warmed.... Do you have any bacon or other hard-to-get stuff which could be sent from home?"
-- Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., March 13, 1946.

Mar 7, 2016

Thu, Mar 7, 1946: a fabulous city

"I finally got here... Washington is a fabulous city.  All of the places I've read about and which have appeared in geography and history textbook pictures can now actually be seen.  Last night as my taxi pulled out of Union Station I caught my first glance of the capitol building with its peacetime halo of light.  This impressive sight seemed very familiar -- as if it were a place I had known long ago....
"Cmdr. Steele seemed pleased when Bill McKeon and I asked for overseas duty; but he wasn't overly optimistic about the possibilities Six months ago there was a crying need for Japan bound language men - now things over the Pacific are being wound up and Gen. McArthur's army men are handling the situation in Japan."
--Letter from my father, Washington, D.C., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, March 7, 1946.

Mar 1, 2016

My mother, upper right, as a sophomore at Southwestern College with the Wesley Fellowship group, 1945-1946.  Her roommate, June Winchester is back row, center.

Feb 28, 2016

Thu, Feb 28, 1946: heresy

"Nice to get your letter yesterday.  No, it is not heresy to think of flying to Washington, but it is heresy if you do it.  However, even if you do we may welcome you anyway....
"The most interesting event which has transpired to-day was the sudden transfer of Bob Durden to the Marianas (SP?) where he will be an interpreter in the War Crimes Commission.  I knew the job was open and suppose I could have had it, but it seemed at the time that I should like to stay here in Washington for just a few weeks more.  However, they didn't ask Bob.  He arrived here for his first day's work this morning and had just been issued his dictionaries, a desk, etc., when Hindmarsh called him up and told him that he was leaving tomorrow to arrive in the Marianas on the fifteenth of March, all the way by air.  He was pretty happy about it although just slightly surprised."

--Letter from John Howes, Washington, D.C., to my father, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, February 28, 1946.  John Howes was a fellow student with my father in the Navy Japanese language program.  Howes had already completed the program and been stationed to Washington, D.C., where my father was also scheduled to move to once he completed language training.

Feb 9, 2016

Sat, Feb 9, 1946: graduation ceremonies

"I'd better prepare you for a disappointment on those graduation ceremonies.  This morning with 10 graduates they didn't last over 20 or 25 minutes -- and until about five minutes before Kryper Sensei's invocation it looked as if graduates would outnumber the audience."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his mother, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, February 9, 1946.  My father was preparing to graduate from the Navy Language Program in Boulder.  The program had graduation ceremonies every few weeks as people completed the program.

Feb 3, 2016

Sun, Feb 3, 1946: make the best of them

"I believe you had a birthday last Tuesday, just a short 31 years ago I was your age, the older you grow the greater your responsibilities so make the best of them as they come your way."

--Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, February 3, 1946. 

Feb 2, 2016

Sat, Feb 2, 1946: the dope on procedure

"Dad, I'd like to get straightened out on voting this fall.  Being a "man" -- of 21 -- I'd like to get the dope on procedure."
-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, February 2, 1946.

Jan 27, 2016

Sun, Jan 27, 1946: a little blue

"This afternoon we went over to Causey's. Jay is home and brought not only his discharge button but also a bride. She is an Alabama girl; seems rather attractive but acted like she was just a little blue."

-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Boulder, Colo., Sunday, January 27, 1946.

Jan 19, 2016

Sat, Jan 19, 1946: Japanese movie

"Thursday was the usual Japanese movie.  But it was novel to me because I took a date.  I believe that she had a better grasp on what the movie was all about than I.  It's amazing how little of the movies you can understand after 14 months here -- and I'm doing better than average."

-- Letter from my father, Boulder, Colo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, January 19, 1946.

Jan 5, 2016

Sat, Jan 5, 1946: shot another pigeon

"Sunday morning I shot another pigeon.  District Supertend Brown and Joe were there. Sunday afternoon I walked up to Billy's but he wasn't at home.  Dad got a new tire for the car last week and is worring about his income tax receits."

-- Letter from my uncle, Stanley Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Boulder, Colo., Saturday, January 5, 1946.