Trumbull – Dear Recalcitrants – Fatherly Advice – Aug., 1941

This is a  letter from Grandpa to his sons in Alaska. It includes the usual weekly postings about Trumbull and the family.

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Trumbull, Conn.

August 17, 1941

Dear Recalcitrants:

I don’t know if this is the right word but you won’t know the meaning anyway, so it will do in a pinch. The word has its inception in the thought that, save for a welcome postal from Dick, no word has been received from the Alaska branch of the family this week either. As there are three of you potential letter writers, this makes, in scientific parlance, nine man-weeks without letters, or approximately the length of time Hitler has taken to invade Russia. Think of how many millions of human beings have been made homeless since last hearing from you. Aren’t you embarrassed to realize what a large portion of world history has been in the making since last you wrote? Why at this rate the whole map of the world may be changed before I hear from you and if that happens letters addressed to Trumbull may never reach me because we may live in an entirely different country by that time, so hurry, hurry, hurry, while P.O. Box 7 is still in Trumbull.

Today is incinerator cleanup day. It has been dry for a short spell and with a lively sailing breeze a blowing, I thought it would be well to reduce the summer’s accumulation of trash before it overflowed. In this worthy labor I was joined by Dave and Paul, Lad taking upon himself the task of raking out front. As soon, however, as he saw our difficulties of keeping the fire going despite numerous cave-ins, his scientific mind began to function and before anyone was aware of what was happening he had the old blower we used to use on the furnace rigged up, front openings closed up excepting for the blower inlet and a regular blast furnace operating to burn up this debris in quicker time than ever.

Aunt Dorothy is showing steady improvement. She has a scale in her room which shows that she has gained consistently 1 pound per day every day since she has been here. If she keeps this up for a year she ought to make the grade. About an hour ago Lad drove Grandma, Aunt Betty and Aunt Dorothy over to see Elizabeth. They have just returned and are quite enthusiastic over her new home. While they were gone Burton drove up with Helen. They are all planning to have dinner here at about 630, Astrid – prepared. Astrid has been here all the week, and if you boys had been home it would have begun to look like old times again.

Dave has gone down in Don’s car to see the seven princesses in their new castle by the sea. He went over there yesterday afternoon with Barbara’s new boyfriend to transport the girl’s things and help get the cottage in order.

Lad has been combing the Bridgeport industrial concerns all week but being in A-1 classification it seems to be the consensus of opinion that in giving him a job they will be putting themselves in line for the accusation that they are assisting him to evade the draft. Ross Fotherop, who is now working at Producto, thinks he might have something for Lad and has asked him to get in touch with him Tuesday.

When Kemper was here last week he invited Dave to go to Vermont but whether the latter will do so or not he has not yet determined. If he found that Don Stanley was going up I guess that would be an inducement.

Page 2 of 8/17/41

I wonder if you could endure a preachy page 2, based on the age-old desire of a father to induce his sons to profit by his experience. I am referring again to that hard job of spending economically in order to save while all about you others are spending lavishly because money comes easily and the future with its possible if not probable needs is so indefinite. Just let’s figure the thing out for a minute.

If this war continues as long as Roosevelt expects and we either get into the shooting stage or keep getting closer to the danger of it, we will have an army of say 4 million men before it is all over. If also we are to furnish war materials of all kinds for this vast military machine as well as supply Great Britain and Russia and who knows who else with the sinews of modern war, we will develop an equally vast army of specialized workmen in industry. With peace will come, as it did in the last war, the rapid discharge of more than 3,500,000 men from the Army alone. There will be the discharge of men from the Navy which will also have increased enormously by that time. But that is only part of the picture. The government will be canceling national defense contracts right and left – – those for our own forces and those for our allies – – Russia and whatever other countries may be fighting the Nazis when that day comes. This will mean that millions of men and women will lose their jobs – – always assuming the war goes on for several years more and that the speeding up and steady expansion of defense production continues as expected. There obviously will be no market for the guns, tanks, fighting planes, shells, bombs, explosives, rifles, torpedoes, fighting ships and other war supplies. There would be no sense in continuing such production. There will be use for only a fraction of the merchant ships, freight cars and trucks we will be producing then. Soon after the armistice the government will begin dismissing thousands of clerks no longer needed in the emergencies created in the war and Navy departments and scores of other bodies set up because of the war situation. The reconstruction, like that following the Civil and World Wars is likely to be long and bitter. Those with even the wisdom of the squirrel who lays aside a winter’s supply of nuts during the season of plenty, will be better able to tide over this lean period who have practiced restraint in the days of plenty and laid by stores for the lean period. If you are not by that time so well entrenched in a certain company and industry which has a chance of surviving that uncertain hard period, or if in war work now that pays good money you have not laid aside a goodly sum for those rainy days, you will be just like the other 80% average human beings that do not look as far ahead as the next step. “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “it might have been”.” So my hearties, look not so much on the gloomy side of the picture I painted above us to take warning against the day that will be and entrench yourselves with restraint, judgment and a bit of willpower so that you may tide over not alone for yourselves but more for those dear to you that may be, by that time, dependent upon you for their comfort and well-being, or if not that, the ability to answer Opportunities knock that otherwise would not be able to answer. During the average human life there are periods of ups and downs. The wise ones will intelligently strive to even out those peaks and valleys. Thus the old man speaks and wise are the sons who heed.

DAD

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