Trumbull – Dear Network Stations (3) – Life in Brazil – September, 1945

This is the final portion of a 4-page letter from Grandpa, informing the rest of the family about the lives of Dave, Dan and Dick and Jean.

 

And Jean, who is probably the American belle of Brazil, writes: “Did you think we had forgotten all about you? We haven’t, honestly. Just that we’ve been so busy fixing up our house and keeping up with all the social obligations that I haven’t had a chance to write. We are quite popular, you know! We spent quite a lot of time out at the base —  it’s more of a necessity than a desire. We haven’t a refrigerator yet so we can’t keep food for any length of time. Once in a while though, we get a few cans of vegetables and a can of meat and come home for dinner. It is a little hard cooking, tho, because we have only a small gasoline stove, but it’s fun. Dick usually goes to the base at 7 and I get a ride in at 11. This gives me a chance to do a few of the necessary things around the house. I spend every afternoon sitting at Dick’s desk knitting or talking to some of the Brazilians. They’re trying just about as hard as Dick is to teach me Portuguese. I’m afraid I’m a hopeless case but I’m trying anyway. All the Brazilians I’ve met so far seem to be very nice — they go out of their way to do things for us. Being here with Dick is almost as good as civilian life. I see him practically all day during the week. He gets off at 4:30 and doesn’t have to report back until eight the next morning. Sunday is his day off. It’s really wonderful. We’ve been out almost every night — most of the time we stay at the base and see the movies or go to N.C.O. club where they have an outdoor dance floor. It is wonderful dancing under the stars. I’ve learned the Samba and the March. They’re lots of fun. The Polish couple that Dick mentioned in one of his letters lives a block away from us so we see quite a lot of them. They both speak English so it’s a lot more enjoyable for me being with them. One night we visited a Brazilian family. The man spoke English but his wife didn’t, so we sat and smiled at each other all evening. This same man took us to the Club last night — quite an affair. The Brazilian General and the American Consul were there. There were five

Page 4    9/16/45

American officers but Dick was the only enlisted man who was invited — that made him feel pretty good. Tomorrow night the enlisted men are giving a Labor Day dance at one of the Brazilian Clubs, where there is a beautiful tile swimming pool. There will be a swimming meet during the dance — it should be fun. I’ll probably be the only American girl there because the only other wives who are here are officers wives and that’s only two. I’m sort of getting used to being the only American. I felt uncomfortable at first with everyone staring at me. They still stare but I don’t mind it so much. The people in Portaleza are pretty poor and about 40% or more of them are illiterate. They can’t even sign their names. The school problem here is really bad. They have to pay for both grammar and high school. Most families can’t afford it so the children just don’t go. Three-quarters of the people are suffering from mal-nutrition. Before I got here I was under the impression that the cost of living was very low but it isn’t. Food, clothing and everything else is very high. Most of the people don’t even wear shoes and if they do, they’re just a scuff made of cheap leather or wood with a piece of material over the toes to hold it on. I get the creeps every time I go downtown and see the conditions that exist here. The Government does nothing at all for the poor people –if they can’t get work that pays them enough to live, they die in the streets. Out where we live tho, all the rich people have homes. It’s really a very pretty section. Our house isn’t one of the finest but it’s quite nice. We’re going to try to get some pictures of it soon and when we do, will send some to you. The weather is ideal –there’s always a strong breeze from the water. We live about a mile from the beach. Received your weekly letter the other day. Now I know how much that letter means to the boys. It made me feel a little closer to home. Dick gave me a beautiful Ronson cigarette lighter the day I got here. It has my monogram on it –JMG — pretty snazzy. Love to all. Jean.

Now for a few asides, comments, remarks, criticisms, insults or what have you. Dave, your letter cleared up a number of points I have been wondering about. The comments I would make to most of the things are obvious. I’m thinking the way people back home here are kicking up a fuss with Congress in the Army that you will be home long before Christmas, 1946. Dan, Airmail from your and might also cut down the 16 day transit time for regular mail. Last week I got off to you and adapter made to Lad’s specifications of aluminum by the Singer Mfg. So. Through  Zeke’s courtesy. I tried to send it by air mail but P.O. said no. I also sent a box with a couple of cans of meat for the Rabets, a few items for the Senechals and a couple of items for Paulette. More clothing items will be sent this week. All on the list have either been purchased or ordered, excepting the watch and wool. I am also greatly elated about the grandchild news. I am hoping it can be born here in little old Trumbull, but as you say, we’ll just have to wait for developments. Jean, enclosed is Paulette’s letter to you, with translation by Dan. Your check was mailed last week. The Washington phone calls totaled $4.85, if you must know. Thanks for the ration books.

Next week, along with new quotes (I hope), I will probably have an account of the APG’s trek through upper N.E. and N.Y. Coming up, one birthday for Dave. Hope he gets that raise, or better yet, an H.D., along with that phantom camera I have not yet been able to find for him. Dan, the latest, according to a Paris radio report, is that Adolph Hitler is hiding out in Bridgeport, Conn. I haven’t had any orders recently from a man named Schickelgruber so I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the rumor. I’m sneezing off now until next week.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll post more of the autobiography of Mary E. Wilson, as she and Archie move to Trumbull and expand their family again.

Next week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1941. The war is getting closer and all the boys are concerned about their draft status.

Judy Guion 

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