Trumbull, Conn. Jan. 9, 1944
Dear Dick, Lad, Marian and Dan:
‘Tis only the four of you I am writing to today, but it won’t be long now before Ced and Dave will be added to the list. Dave goes Thursday, and following my usual custom, which has happened so many times now it has almost developed into a habit, I should deliver my youngest at the well-known railroad station at Shelton to swell the ranks of Uncle Sam’s Army, and two days later I shall bid adieu to 6 foot plus Ced who departs again for the far North, with full intentions of making two stops en route, one at Texarkana to catch a glimpse of his oldest brother whom he last saw as he bid him goodbye at the Grace Line here (1939), and the second stop at Los Angeles (So. Pasadena) in order to meet his new sister in law; two visits which the writer confesses he would like very much to be making himself.
Ced has had an active week, spending two days in New York in which he visited the Burnham’s and Grandma, driving us all down to Pogg’s in Redding, where we had supper, and last night eating dinner with the Platt’s in Westport and showing the Alaskan slides. Last Sunday night we all went up to the Plumbs where also the Alaskan and South American movies were run off. Grandma, he said, was still mentally alert but was visibly weaker.
No letters from either Lad or Dan this week, but surprise of surprises, a letter from Dick, and a nice long letter from Marian.
In reply to yours, Dick, I want you to know how much it is appreciated. I was beginning to think you had just disowned the family. Writing letters to you month after month with never a peep in return makes one realize how a person broadcasting over the radio must feel who never gets any fan mail and doesn’t know whether anyone is listening or not or moreover doesn’t care. I am glad to have your assurance that my weekly efforts do mean something to you. I suppose it must be hard for each of you to realize that I really feel I am writing to each of you individually and not the way a newspaper editor feels when he writes for his public. I often have the feeling, when no comments are ever forthcoming to any of the topics mentioned (except course, big events like Lad’s marriage or Ced’s homecoming), that perhaps they are really of slight interest and not worth the effort, because at times it really is difficult, as you must know from your own experience, to sit down at a regular time, whether you feel in the mood or not, and try to be interesting.
Aunt Betty is very encouraging along this line. She reads every letter after I have finished and always, in a tone of great conviction, says, “That was a very nice letter. I don’t see how you do it, Alfred.” And immediately my ego goes up a point or two and I say to myself, “Well, maybe it wasn’t so bad, at that.” Good old Ced occasionally adds a few encouraging words and Lad and Dan keep on writing, so I give you the benefit of the doubt and keep on pounding out this stuff, hoping the fact you are away from home will add a bit of the glamour not inherent in the thing itself. It’s good to have Dick’s slant, for instance, in the following quotation: “I miss the scenes around good old Trumbull — the walks in the woods, the Brook, every room in the house and all the people whom I have known so well. I know I could walk blindfolded through the house from top to bottom without any trouble. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been home. When I was up in Alaska it wasn’t quite so bad because I was enjoying myself and knew that I could leave for home when ever I pleased. I really don’t get to lonesome though. There is always something to occupy my time, and idleness is the chief cause of homesickness. We all work and are hoping for victory.” Aren’t we all, Dick, feeling much the same, whether at home or in the armed forces?
And as for my newest daughter, Marian, the more I hear from her the tougher my luck seems that we haven’t had the privilege of really knowing her. She always writes such generous, effortless letters, cheery and bright. I rather think she is the sort of person who always sees the best in everybody and makes the best of everything. Her last letter says Lad holds out their prospects of their getting some place to live in Texarkana and Marian is making plans now to arrange her affairs so that she can possibly join Lad sometime in February.
January 6 was Elizabeth’s birthday, so we all piled into the old Buick, with the cake (I tried to get some cider from Boroughs but they have discontinued making it for the season), some presents, including those recently received from South Pasadena for Elizabeth and the kids. Zeke has quit working on the night shift at Singer’s so he was home also. The kids had gone to bed but they both came hurrying down the stairs in their Dr. Denton’s, and a good time was had by all.
Dick’s remarks about the old house here at Trumbull remind me of something I have thought of from time to time but never got so far as putting it down on paper. I look on this place not exclusively as my home, if you get what I mean, but as belonging to Lad and Marian, Dick and Jean, Dan, Ced and Dave (and it would be Elizabeth’s too, if she didn’t have a home of her own), sort of a community owned affair, a place that is really theirs for as long as they want to make it so, a place they can come back to after this war is over, not in the spirit of coming home to Dad’s so much is coming back to their own home, permanently if desired, but in any event, just as long as they need to find what they want to do in the future peace economy, using it perhaps as a springboard to launch off into some new effort, with that feeling of security in knowing that they can always come back to try another spring if the first doesn’t pan out as expected. When you are all settled permanently in what ever and where ever you want to be and do, only then will I feel that the old home will have achieved its final function. I don’t know whether I have put across the idea in the back of my mind, but the idea is to build up a sense of possessive ownership and a feeling of security from a firmly fixed anchor, particularly at the time after the war when the confusion of thoughts and circumstances naturally attendant upon readjustment from war to peace activities, is apt to upset one’s tempo. What fun it would be if we could all live together here for a while, anyway. Then the Psalmist’s words might come true, “Behold, how good and how well pleasant is it for brethren to dwell together in unity.” He doesn’t say anything about the sistren, and while that is generally conceded as more of an understanding, I guess we could manage that, too. Anyway, let that be the thought for the day, and make your plans accordingly. Here’s to the day when Brazil, London, Alaska, South Pasadena, Texarkana and (Camp Devens ?) all rally around the Trumbull banner, with the war only a memory and long years of peace and happiness and prosperity ahead for all.
With that cheerful note with which to start the new year, add a father’s love and blessing, and you’ll have a suitable message from DAD
Tomorrow, a letter from Lad to Grandpa and on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a very-long letter from Grandpa to his scattered flock.
“I know I could walk blindfolded through the house from top to bottom without any trouble.” – a lovely thought of one’s home, and I think your grandfather’s hope, that the house would be a kind of still point in the turning universe for his family, was well-founded.
Valerie – The really great thing is that the Trumbull House is still in the family. Dan and Paulette bought it after Grandpa passed away and in 2022, we will be celebrating 100 years of ownership of that house.