This is the final installment of Grandpa’s Christmas Report from 1945 with a letter from Dave and some final thoughts.
Alfred Duryee Guion at his trusty Remington typewriter
And to top off here’s a letter from Dave (nothing from Dan lately): Dear Dad: You’re first on the list of people whom I hope I will write to tonight (December 17th). This is the first night in quite some time that I’ve sat down to write. My laxity can be blamed on the Army. First of all they’ve put me to work. I’m now working in the GHQ message center. Were still in the 3373d but we may be transferred to GHQ in which case we would be sent to Korea. We have no desire to go to Korea. Forget all about those low morale letters I wrote. I am once again happy here. There is an athletic and recreation center here in Manila that is opening up, super PX’s all over town with ice cream, restaurants, hamburgers, etc. It’s got now to a point where the folks back home are the ones whose morale will suffer. There’s no time for writing letters anymore. There are also innumerable shows being presented around town. Another thing that has helped me is the one thing that most fellows don’t have overseas and that the Army can’t supply – a girl. Come to think of it the Army does supply girls but not ladies, and a lady is what I have met here. Now stop thinking what you are thinking. I’m not going to bring home a Philipino bride. The girl is about 25 years old, a schoolteacher, plans to become an old maid and would stop even talking to me if I started getting romantic with her. She works down at the Manila Club behind a counter playing cards and checkers with lonely GI’s and handing out cards, checkers and ping-pong paddles and balls — so, I sit and play cards and talk to her. I met her through one of the guys in our outfit. She used to teach first and second grade in the little village outside Manila. She told me a little about how it was out there during the occupation. She says sometimes she wakes up at night screaming from bad dreams. It seems funny to talk to a young woman who has seen more war-caused hell than I’ll ever see in my life. She said when the Jap’s were retreating they went around to all the houses getting the girls. Her father put her and her three sisters in the back room and told them that if the Japs got them it would be over his dead body. He meant it literally. Esther says she never will know why the Jap’s didn’t stop at her house.
Christmas Report page 7
(Dave’s letter continues:)
David Peabody Guion
Today I got a package containing this writing paper. I don’t know when it was mailed but it was to the old address. Maybe it was sent just after you got that letter from me that was written on toilet paper. It so happens that I need paper now just about as badly as I did then, so thanks. If things keep going as they have been I’ll be on my way home in another three months. I wouldn’t send anything expensive in any packages from now on if I were you. I would like some canned food though, peanut butter, jam, cheese, canned chicken, etc. try to send canned stuff — the rest gets spoiled. Something to make sandwiches out of is best, nothing that has to be heated.”
You’re right, Dave, about when I sent you the writing paper. I received your toilet paper letter on June 4th and within a week thereafter I got off that box to you containing the things you have just received. It is most discouraging to know that it takes from June to December for a package to reach you. The milk of magnesia tablets sent in the same package at your request must have arrived a bit late for your attack of indigestion. You could have had ulcers of the stomach twice over during the interval. It’s probably just as well we didn’t get off a package containing any expensive Christmas gifts because on the record established, it will be next June before they would reach you, and by that time, I hope we will be able to hand you personally any gifts we may want you to receive right here on your own doorstep. I’m glad the mail — airmail at least, is so good. Your letter was mailed on the 19th I notice and within 10 days it arrives here. I hope mine in the opposite direction are as quick in transit. Thank Esther for being so nice to my boy and let me know if there is anything I can send her from here that will be useful to her in six months from now. You will be interested to know that Rev. Powell is now home from the hospital and well on the way to recovery. The Dominie asked to be remembered to you and Dennie also asks about you every so often and asks to be remembered when I write.
My cold is better now and I’m beginning to feel more like my old self. Meantime Lad has taken over heaving coal into the hopper each night, filling the oil bottles and in general taking over all the bothersome chores I used to force myself to do cheerfully every night. And I didn’t even need to ask him. He just started doing it one night when the cold germs forced an early retreat to bed and has continued it ever since. “How silently, how silently, the precious gift is given” says the Christmas Carol, to which I heartily subscribed an Amen. It’s hard to imagine him as a harassed father walking the floor with little Lad making a big noise, although I must say he himself was a very good baby and did not cause either of his adoring parents much trouble.
Well, I guess it’s about time I brought this long letter to a close. It is now 7:40 P.M. I started it just after breakfast this morning and save for time out for lunch and to read the Sunday paper, I have been at it all day. If it brings you one little spark of the good cheer and the tender wishes for your welfare that we feel here, it will not have been a day wasted. And as it will be 1946 before you get this, let me here and now wish you a happy 1946 and you know how I am apt to interpret that phrase. Here’s looking at you.
Tomorrow and Sunday, I will be posting updates from Ced’s letters which he is using as a journal record of his adventure.