Trumbull – A Birthday Letter to Dave (1) – “A Father’s Letter To His Son” – September, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., Sept. 23, 1945

A Birthday Letter to Dave.

My dear Son:

On the 30th of this month you will be entering upon your 21st year. Little did I suspect during all these years that you would be celebrating your 20th anniversary on Manila, and of course I am hoping that before the year is out you will be back in the same place that you first looked out upon.

Most of us have had the experience of some time reading a passage that has made us exclaim, “That is exactly what I think but did not have the ability to put into words.” Such is the following “Letter from a Father to His Son”, which I ran across one day and which, if I remember rightly, I quoted to Lad on his 21st (or thereabouts) birthday. Anyway, here it is, saying what I want to say better than I could say it myself.

Yesterday a man talked to me about a father who wrote an entire history of mankind in order to guide his son on his march through Life. There must be thousands of ways which the fathers of the world take to bring their sons the wisdom and the truth which they want them to feel and to understand.

I, too, my boy, have felt this urge. From the first day you came into the world, life took on a richer meaning. There was something more to live for – – to fight for. Men thought that I was after dollars. How little they knew! Why, I would rather earn one honest hour of your faith and your trust than decades of the world’s pomp and glory.

In every waking minute of my life there is one great urge – – that you shall know me. Not as a neighbor nor even as a husband. Each of these is a different world. In these other worlds even good men must often be something other than their real selves. Father’s take on masks. There is so much they want to be – – so much they want to say and yet dare not say. But in your world, here, surely, a father may be real. Here he may grope forward. Here he may reach out for his boy to hold him, to touch him, to talk to him.

Time and again, how I have hungered for this. I wanted to tell you the truth about life as I have come to know it. Time and again, alone in the sacred recesses of my heart, I have carved words for you. Carefully, earnestly, sacredly, I have carved them – – and yet when I came to speak them they were not the words I wanted to say. The sacredness was gone from them. They were dull and lifeless. A wall seemed to come between us – – a wall created by a greater power than yours or mine, and it seemed to say: “Yes, you want to be part of your boy – – a limb of his limbs; to speak for him; to fight for him; to take for yourself the blows which the world is waiting to aim at him. But no! It is not to be. Alone he must fall, and creep and climb and bleed and hunger. Alone, even as you did; even as he learned to crawl and walk. By his own desperate sorrows – – by the crashing of his own dreams, by the leap of ambition when it fires him, and by the flames of defeat when they scorch him – – out of these he must learn.

Yes, perhaps this is as it should be.

Listen, my boy. I cannot write you a History of Mankind. Live your own life in your own way. I cannot put out tomes of wisdom and reason. But this much I can do. This much I can say: March out on life. Live it according to the truth as you see it – – not as other men do. According to the dreams you dream – – not those other men dream. March out on life. Come to grips with it. Seek out your birthright and fight for it. A thousand men will come to talk of fear and defeat and failure. A thousand others will frighten you by the futility – – the emptiness – – the miserable emptiness of their lives. A thousand lies will seek to deafen the song of courage and truth in your ears. But go on. Go on and keep going on – – so that I may see in you the hopes – – the yearnings I sought for my own life. Your Father.”

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the second half of this letter. Grandpa has some additional advice for Dave.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be posting letters written in 

Next week, I’ll be posting some letters from 1941. I’ll also have a special treat on Thursday, June 1st.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Network Stations (1) – More News From Dave – September, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., September 16, 1945

Dear Network Stations:

Might as well start in with quotes at once this week as otherwise I might be accused of not doing my part in conserving paper. Maybe you have noticed that the quotes tail now wags the letter dog so to speak. Clever of me to work it this way, wasn’t it? I now don’t have to do anything but sit like a big spider in the middle of my web and merely act as a clearinghouse or central station (Dave would probably have the right descriptive adjective or term for this sort of communication center) for the messages you boys send in of interest to all the rest of the family (when I say “boys” of course that includes the girls too), making it unnecessary for me to use my brain, if any, to try to think up interesting and clever things to write so that you boys will all exclaim in chorus, “Oh, isn’t he wonderful! I don’t see how he does it!” You notice, don’t you, how we get to the quotes at once. Oh well, then, here’s one from Dave:

“Someday I’ll write you a long letter on St. Augustine’s Church in the Intramuras and some of the other things I’ve seen and heard here. One night at St. Augustine’s I talked to a Spanish woman that had lived near there. She told me some pretty gruesome things that she had actually seen. One thing I got a laugh about was her account of the first Americans she saw returning to Manila. She said she looked at them from a distance and decided that they were awfully nice looking Japs, but when one of them said Okay, sister, move along”, she knew they were Americans taking back the city. The Japs have turned many of these “flips” into robbers. The only food they had was what they could steal and it became a habit. Now we have to watch carefully every time one gets near. Of course they aren’t all that way, some are really very nice and respectable people. They love MacArthur and seemed to be better Americans than some of the people whose homes are in the States. There seems to be some resentment on MacArthur’s seemingly “glory getting” attitude among the men in the Pacific, but you won’t find very many guys who express satisfaction with those that are over them. It just gives them something to moan about. Remember I said they didn’t like Buckner too well? – The same thing. However I’ve never heard anyone say anything about not liking Stillwell— he seems to be an all-right guy.

And another from Dave dated Sept. 4th: “Today they stopped censorship on the mail which gives me a chance to say some things which until now I have hesitated to mention. The first you have probably already guessed – – I was put in the harbor on L-Day at Okinawa. That was Easter Sunday—a day I’ll never forget. The feint on the east side of the island came off at dawn and then at 8:30 the real invasion went ashore. It was a beautiful clear day and we stood on the deck watching the barges go by with the Marines in them. On shore we could see the little dots advance up the beach and into the brush. Later on, we watched the vehicles, tanks, etc., go in. In the air over the island we watched American planes dive straight down out of sight and then come up again in a matter of seconds. There was a haze over the spot— they were dive bombing Yontan Airport. The other important thing I want to tell you is far more saddening to me. A group of the boys went down to Shuri — I think it was the last Sunday in July — souvenir hunting. There were about nine of them. Shuri was a scene of hard but swift fighting. Naturally there were a lot of explosives left there by the swift advancing army. Minefields weren’t cleared and duds were still left lying around without being detonated. The supply sergeant, who is a wild sort of guy, saw a Jap dud and raised his foot to kick it. Al Rundel, who was in my class

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back at Crowder, told him not to kick the dud, and when he saw him doing it anyway, he dropped to the ground. The dud went off throwing shrapnel all over the place. Bernie Arnold was in front of Sgt. Hamm, the guy who kicked the dud, and caught most of the shrapnel right in his stomach. He screamed and fell to the ground. He died about an hour later. There were three of us who were quite good friends — Hensley, Bernie and myself. Hensley was there and saw the whole thing. He gave me the complete story which wasn’t very pretty. I’ll never forgive Sgt. Hamm for the damned-fool thing he did. If we’ve seen one training film about leaving duds and charges alone, we’ve seen fifty. He escaped with the damaged fort. Leg injury to one of the cooks, complete paralysis to the arm of one of the clerks and other cuts and bruises were some of the other damage done. But as usual, it was the best man of all that had to die. Naturally I felt terrible about the accident and loss of Bernie. I want to church that night and that helped, but not enough. I felt pretty bad for a number of days. All I could think of was the picture he had shown me so many times of himself, his wife and his three-year-old daughter sitting in front of their Christmas tree the year before last. To top it all off, about two days later I got a letter from Ellie asking me to thank Bernie for the bracelet he had made from a Jap plane, which I had sent her. Bertie was no longer there to thank. He had missed the end of the war only by a few months. He was 38 and would probably be on his way home now. I’m doing crypt work here or at least I will be when our co. get set up in Korea in a few days. We will handle the communications between GHQ and the co. I think the rest of the co. will be in Korea. We are no longer a monitoring co. and now have reverted back to a plain service co. When the rest of the co. landed on Okinawa, Lieut. Greenberger intended to give me the T/4 that was open on our team. At that time he didn’t know how good Salamone was, and was more deserving of the rating and been in grade longer than I. So Sallie got the rating but Lieut. G. told me that when the chance permitted, he would see if he could promote me. As he is in charge of the group here in Manila, my chances are fairly good I think. All I’ve got to do is stay on the ball. The only trouble is it’s been so long since I’ve worked in a code room, as up in Okie I was working in the compilation section.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll post the rest of this long letter. The posts will include more news from Dan and also news from Brazil.

Saturday and Sunday, I’ll continue the story of Mary E and Archie Wilson as they move to Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

Trumbull – Dear Chillens (2) – News From Dave in Manila – September, 1945

Now Dan, as for that camera part. Lad seems to know exactly what you want and he spent the better part of an afternoon this past week going all over Bridgeport’s camera stores to try to locate the missing ring. I do not recall your sending it with the other parts, and Lad has looked for it in the trunk where I put your parts that you sent home, but he is having Zeke hand make something that Lad things will do the trick and we shall try to get it off this week with some of the things for Paulette which Marion went shopping for in Bridgeport last week, before we received your later lists. I am very much afraid the coat will exceed the weight limit. As for the Schick razor, Lad says he has one he will give you. In looking for the adapter ring in your trunk, he came across a Rolls razor and was sorry he had not asked you to buy him one when you were in London. I told him I didn’t think you would mind if, as long as you were sending you his Schick, he took your Rolls. If you have to fight it out I’ll be the referee. As for the wristwatch, that’s too indefinite for so important an item. Refer again to the Sears catalog, and based on the three models illustrated on page 473, give me some idea of style, size, shape and approximate cost so we will have some idea to shoot at. As a hasty and much belated answer to your question asked long ago, you say tea, coffee, cocoa and soap are always welcome. I assume you referred to the Senechal’s, as I did. You may recall I asked if they wanted coffee in beam (if they have their own grinder) or if desired ground, how fine and for what type of coffee maker? Do they like Black, Green or Oolong tea? As to soap, laundry or toilet? I quite agree with you in regard to Paulette’s wardrobe. Tell her— no, send her in here and I’ll talk to her myself. See here, girl, don’t ever get the idea it is imposing on us to have Dan give us a list of the things you want. It is a real pleasure to do little things for others, particularly when one has the satisfaction of knowing they are really things the other fellow wants and needs. It shows a fine feeling on your part not wanting to put other people to trouble on your account, but Marian, upon whom falls most of the brunt of choosing with her women’s taste, the clothes for you, enjoys shopping, and particularly for you, and the funds are Dan’s, which he has thriftily, in months past, sent on to me to keep for him. So, everything considered, it would be quite a disappointment if we couldn’t do these little things to show just how much we think of “our little French girl”. And if that new hubby of yours doesn’t write me an answer about the things your family would like to have, and which I would like to send from there American friend, just to show our happiness in having acquired a new daughter, just write me another letter yourself. Why not try something in English, just to get in practice, like Papa Senechal did and which I

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thought was a very considerate and courteous thing for him to do. You ought not mind writing in English even if you make some mistakes. We would have no right to laugh at such mistakes knowing very well we could not do nearly so well if we tried to write you in French. (Then, too, we could write each other little secret notes which wouldn’t have to pass through the hands of the interpreter). And let me thank you right here and now for that very lovely letter. I wish you were here right now so I could tell you how much I appreciate it. You can’t get here soon enough to please me. Leave Dan behind if you have to and I’ll meet you at the dock with a French dictionary in one hand and a French flag draped around my waist so you won’t mistake me for the Statute of Liberty. I’d even go so far as to have our dog Smoky trimmed to look like a French poodle if that would help. I couldn’t promise to have any real Camembert cheese, of which I am very fond, on the table for your first meal, as we are able only to get the imitation over here, but I might get hold of a loaf of French bread and cook up some French fried potatoes. What other inducements can I hold out to hasten your departure?

Dave, the old smoothie, has written me such a flattering birthday letter, that I feel like the old Irish woman at the wake of her husband, while the priest was extolling the virtues of the departed, said to her son, “Jimmy, look in the coffin and see if it’s your father who really is in there.” In fact, I am just too modest to quote it, so I’ll have to fall back on the old advertising gag and say “details furnished on request”. It’s nice to have you feel that way anyway Dave, and I suppose I can justly take some pride in being the father of a son like you.

I’ll have to condense Dave’s other letter a bit so as not to run over on a 5th, page. He says: Everyone seems to be here in Manila except MacArthur and a few of his boys, who left a couple of days ago for Tokyo. Some of the boys here saw MacArthur the day after he landed, standing on a balcony without his hat. They claim he’s bald. Perhaps that’s why we always see pictures of him with his hat on. Why I should mention this I don’t know— there’s certainly no crime in being bald. Ever since I got your letter quoting Dick’s, I have been trying to figure out what made Dick write to you. I think now I’ve got the answer. Jean was about to join him and he figured she would ball the daylights out of him for not writing you for so long, so to avoid any trouble, he wrote you a short note to clear himself. Some one of these days I’m going to write you a letter, Dick, to tell you what I really think of your correspondence in the past. You ask, “Will Dave stay in Okinawa?” You have the answer to that one now. Yes, I’ll be part of the Jap occupation in a roundabout sort of way. We don’t know but it looks as if we would sweat out the rest of my Army career in Manila. I’ll be home for Christmas, but it will be ’46, just as I predicted some time ago. I’m disappointed in Jean. I had a magazine I could have read during my plane ride to, but there was too much to see below, especially over land. Both Dan’s and Lad’s letters on the marriage were very interesting. It was nice to have had Lad there for the ceremony. It looks now as if your French daughter-in-law will soon be in America with her husband. The way I see it, with Dan’s 75  points, he should be home before Christmas.    Dave.

And now a couple of sneezes a piece for each of you, and a bleary but loving glance from your sniffling     DAD

For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting another 4-page letter from Grandpa, with quotes from letters received from Dave, Dan and Jean.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Benedicts and Bachelors (1) – Dave Sent to Manila – September, 1945

Same old Trumbull, but a new Sept. 2nd, 1945.

otherwise known as VJ Day

Dear Benedicts and Bachelors:

Well, the dawn of a tomorrow is at last a reality, and the “land of the rising Sun” is indeed facing a new day. When you read this however, the event will have passed on into history, and so fast is the pace these days that new events may have already crowded it into the background. There are great days ahead. Huxley once said that the most difficult time in which we live, but also the most rewarding, was in those occasional dark valleys between two peaks of vision when one system had lost its grip on men’s minds and the new system was not yet crystallized. Which seems to describe this present generation. Maybe that is why having lived through the recent dread days there is such a thrill in anticipating the days ahead which you boys, in the strength of your manhood, are facing. History shows us that man’s eternal struggle towards the heights has often been retarded and even halted, but never turned back. Problems the world is now facing will be solved. Nations will find their souls, a new and better world will emerge. You boys are truly at the threshold of great things I truly believe. So much for that, now let’s get down to earth.

Lad, of course, is the big fact still in our conscious thoughts. He and Marian, with the help of the Buick, seem to find plenty doing in these here parts. Yesterday morning we gave Elizabeth a few hours breathing spell by kidnapping Butch and Marty for an auto trip to Bronx Zoo. After returning, they went to a dance in Candlewood Lake as guests of Burr Davis and tonight they are having supper with George Knapp. Elsie just arrived so tomorrow promises also to be not without incident.

And turning to the Quotes Dept., we also have some interesting items there. Dave writes from Manila: “You are no more surprised to find I’m here than I am to be here. It all happened so suddenly that it still hard to believe. Take it from the beginning and follow through. On August 23rd I was told that I had been taken off the old five-man team, and Friday afternoon I was told to pack my stuff and be ready to leave Okinawa by 5 AM Saturday morning. I got only one hour sleep Friday night. In the morning we went up to Kadena Airport, boarded a C-46 Commando transport and in 5 ½ hours found myself in Manila. It was my first real plane ride and I felt a little sick-ish from nervous tension. As soon as the plane started to move up the runway, I lost all fear and became intent on watching the ground below fade away. All of a sudden it just became a big thrill. I acted like a kid on his first train ride. I glued my nose to the window until I couldn’t see Okinawa anymore. Then every once in a while I’d look out to see if we might not pass over an island. Then in almost no time I began seeing the northernmost of the Philippine Islands. I watched every one of them fade away in the distance far below. Finally we got to Luzon. I was sitting up forward near the navigator’s position and by way of conversation, I said: “This is my first time”. I could tell he knew it anyway because of my eagerness to see everything below. When he finished a plot on his map he handed it to me and asked if I’d like to follow our progress as we went along. We were flying at about 8500 feet and the coastline looked just like the map. I could see the rivers and inlets and bulges along the coastline just as they were on the map. We passed over Lingayen Gulf where the American Navy had come in to retake Luzon. Then we cut inland and finally landed at Nichols Field about 6 miles outside Manila.

After waiting for about two hours (spent that time in a canteen gaping at comparatively beautiful Philippine women) we got on the truck and started towards Manila. We passed through what was once a beautiful residential district. There were remains of large and magnificent homes. We passed a ballpark that I had seen in the newsreel. The movie showed American boys cleaning the Japs out of the bleachers and an American tank pitching shells from the pitcher’s box. Now it was just a quiet, torn up mess. We passed well-to-do Philippines living like the ignorant “Okies”. When we entered Manila we saw large public buildings, half rubble and half gutted concrete frames. Manila seems to be about the size of Bridgeport, possibly larger. Can you picture the Klein Auditorium strewn all over Fairfield Avenue, the stage alone standing? Or Central High with the facade all bashed in and the rest of the school gutted, the City Trust Building reduced to four or five stories, City Hall just a pile of bricks? You can’t imagine how heartbreaking it is or how lucky we were this war turned out as it did. The City Hall here was built in 1939. You can see it was a beautiful structure but now it is full of shell and Bomb holes. The people are trying to keep their businesses going but they don’t have much to do it with. You can see where there was once a beautiful nightclub. It is now a makeshift affair with a makeshift band looking like a sideshow at Coney Island. That about explains the whole city – – just a bunch of concessions on the sidewalks of a gutted ghost-city. http://rogue.ph/18-photos-that-show-manila-before-and-after-world-war-ii/

The following quote is from an interview I had with Dave about his childhood memories and growing up in Trumbull:

On August 25th, I think,  we were all watching a film in a kind of natural amphitheater and one of the guys from Brooklyn had a buddy, who was also from Brooklyn, and I remember this just as if it was yesterday,  he came running over – we had gotten some rumors that theJaps were going to quit – and this guy came running over and says, “the signing has been confoimed.” I never forgot that.

But anyhow,  between the time of August 25th and September 7th when they signed the Treaty, I left Okinawa and went down to Manila. Here I am now – the war is over – all I have to do is go home and they’re shipping me out in a plane to Manila. The pilot spent about 20 minutes, maybe, trying to start one engine and I said to myself, “I’m going to die in the ocean and the war is over.” Anyhow, we got to Manila. That was quite a sight – buildings where the first floor was completely gone and five or six or seven stories would be on top of it, canted,… All kinds of destruction. If you went to the City Hall and looked up, you’d see a room with curtains on the windows. That was MacArthur’s headquarters. So he had curtains on his windows and the Filipinos  were watching dead bodies float down the river.

I would say I was in Manila probably six months. I came home in March 1946.

I’ll tell you more next time. The address will do for the time being until we can find out a little more. Dave

Yes, Dave, I called up Eleanor and she was of course interested to hear about your latest move. She asked what we all have been asking each other, “What does this mean?” in terms of your homecoming? And of course the answer is a large lettered WHO KNOWS? Your birthday is not so far off and so far I have not been able to hear a thing about the camera so I am afraid it won’t get to you for your birthday. We’ll be waiting for your next installment to see if it throws any light on this new move. Does it mean a promotion, part of the Army of occupation on Japan, a visit to China to aid in their communication system, or what? At least it means you are seeing another part of the world and that is interesting.

Tomorrow and Friday I’ll post the rest of this long letter, including a very interesting letter from Ced.

hJudy Guion

Trumbull – A Ticket To Heaven and Sikorsky – June, 1943

At this point, as Grandpa says in the salutation, his boys are scattered. Ced is still in Alaska, Lad is in California, Dan is in Pennsylvania and Dick in in Indiana. Dave is the only one left at home since Biss is married and has two sons of her own.

Trumbull     June 13, 1943

To my Trumbull Boys

in far places:

This is one of those quiet, sunshiny, June Sundays when it is hard to realize that the peace which comes stealing in with the rustling leaves, the murmur of the brook and the play of the sunshine through the dancing leaves of our old Maple tree is not typical of the whole world. Iris and rhododendrons are now in full bloom. From where I sit now on the cement terrace, so much is reminiscent of you boys. For one thing, there is the iron pipe set between the two Maple trees near the driveway which you used to use as a chinning device. It is perhaps unusually quiet for a Sunday because the ban on gasoline has greatly reduced the number of cars passing on the road.

This morning, as usual, I donned old clothes and weeded and hoed in Mr. Laufer’s potato field, stonily watched all the while by two grotesque scarecrows set up in the neighboring cornfield, clad in old straw hat and coat. After an hour of this back bending exercise I hurried home, took a shower and arrayed in my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, hied down to the church.

There were two reasons for this unusual religious fervor on my part. One was the fact that this being “Children’s Sunday”, Dave had been asked to conduct the morning service; and second, my youngest grandson, Marty, was to be baptized along with eight or 10 other young sprouts.

The church service was unusually well attended. Dave presided in a dignified, reserved and unhurried manner, on which I heard many favorable comments afterwards from members of the congregation. The little ones were baptized by Mr. Powell, starting with the tiniest babies and ending with Marty. All the babies received their tickets to

admission to the Kingdom of Heaven with humility and quiet acceptance, but when Marty’s turn came, and Elizabeth and Zeke, accompanied by Butch, started up from the pew, Marty set up a howl, increasing in tempo and volume and rising to a great crescendo as Mr. Powell did his stuff, and gradually tapering off but continuing until sometime after they were again seated.

Dave then came forward to resume conduct of the service, and amid the hushed expectancy, as he was mounting to the platform,Butch, who seemed to have been a quiet spectator of this — a new experience for him —  recognized Dave, and broke the stillness by saying in a loud, surprised and cordial voice “Hello, Dave”. The ripple of laughter throughout the congregation which followed did not ruffle our boy here. He merely smiled casually and went on with the program.

I referred a while back to the decrease in auto traffic. This seems to have been offset with a surprising stepping up of airplane activity. Even at night as I lay in bed I can frequently hear the whirr of motors. Sikorsky is building a new plant in Bridgeport for the construction of helicopters but I have seen none in operation over Trumbull yet.

Uncle Kemper has just sent us a generous gallon can of maple syrup from his own place in Vermont, and with Grandma’s toothsome griddle cakes and waffles to go with it, I could just picture you all gathering around the kitchen table this morning ready to start action. Yesterday we had the first luscious strawberries from Mr. Laufer’s garden; but perhaps I had better lay off this line or you will be tempted to go A W O L.

Jean, the only one who wrote this week, reports being in Indianapolis where Dick is now stationed. She found a nice clean room in a private home and is now looking for a job. Jean says Dick is having a taste of the real Army now. They have to leave camp every morning at two and don’t get home until eight and they can’t have every night off either.

Grandma, as usual, is doing a splendid job on the culinary end and Aunt Betty is getting to be quite a horticulturalist. Both are well and apparently are good company for one another. At least I have had no complaints. It is so pleasant to get home nights now and find dinner already instead of immediately having to take off my coat and start to get supper.

Now a brief message from the sponsor to individual members of my far-flung audience:

Jean: I have taken care of your income tax as requested. Aunt Betty has done up your blanket in moth balls and put it away for the summer. In looking for a job, it just occurs to me that the Bridgeport Brass Company have quite an active plant in Indianapolis and you might find an opportunity there. I am enclosing the Book-of-the-Month. The July books are by Stephen Benet and Walter Lippmann respectively. The first is a literary essay on American settlers and the second on America’s foreign policy.

Dick: Bobby Kascak is married. I don’t know the details.

Lad: Mrs. Jimmy Smith was very anxious to have me tell you, when next I wrote, that Jim’s brother is in Los Angeles, works as a guard at Warner Brothers pictures, and would be delighted to see somebody from Trumbull. She thinks you also would enjoy yourself if you looked them up.

Dan: Dick Christie is home for a few days. He is still a civilian.

Ced: Have not forgotten the Sunrise Service program, but so far Dave has been unable to locate it.

Well, with Mussolini getting a good swift kick in the pantalleria, I am hoping, like millions of others, that Germany and Japan, before long, will get bombed into a submissive frame of mind and you boys can be back safe and sound in this old Trumbull home of yours. THAT will be the day! Meanwhile, borrow a few minutes from Uncle Sam, and write soon to your expectant and lonesome

DAD

This weekend I’ll be continuing the story of Mary E Wilson, who was born in England, had a hard life but eventually arrived in the United States and was able to achieve the “American Dream”.

Next week, I’ll be posting letters from 1945. We’ll read about Dan’s wedding to Paulette from several sources and different viewpoints.

Judy Guion

Army Life (5) – Letters From Dave and Aunt Helen – July, 1945

Letter from Dave dated July 24th.

Got your letter written July 8th. I’m glad to see you’re giving thought to this business of seeing the world. About having someone take care of the house, I guess I’ll have to get married. Will that solve the problem? If all the boys moved off to other parts of the world with their families, I could stay there at “Ye Olde Homesteade” with you and the business and we could keep things going. Then, no matter what may happen, there’d always be a home to come back to. My vote is to keep the house by all means. If on the other hand, one of the married factions of the family should stay on in Connecticut and want to live in the house, you and I could set up house in another place. As far as I can see there are no problems.

One thing I’d like to have Dad, is a camera. I suppose that’s an impossible item to get back there. That’s why I put off asking for one ‘til now. I’ve been hoping to get my hands on one here but it seems to be hopeless. I don’t want a good one – – just any old thing that will record the places I’ve been and seen. Yesterday I saw Naha for the first time – – what a mess !! The whole countryside down there is torn up. You’d never know that Naha was as big as it was. So far we haven’t seen anything in the way of typhoons. We get reports of them every so often. For instance, we got a report of the one that hit the naval force off Japan. It was coming up from the south but missed us. Okinawa now has lost a good deal of its quaintness. Native buildings, and in some cases, whole villages, are gone. New, well-made roads have been cut and airfields

Page 6  (continuation of Dave’s letter)

are going up all over. It seems every time they find 3 square feet of flat land they start to build a strip on it. I saw my first B-29 at Kadera airfield the other day – – are they beautiful !! On the side door in the rear of the monster these words were inscribed: “Through These Portals Pass The World’s Best Pilots”. Okinawa, having lost its quaintness in my eyes, is becoming less enjoyable to me. It’s been awfully hot and I’d welcome cooler weather even at the expense of meeting the Imperial Emperor at his home – – provided, of course, that Gen. Stillwell is right in front of me. Don’t try to read between the lines and guess I’ll be moving soon. We’ve received no orders, but just in case I should ever stop writing for a month or so you can expect the letter following the elapsed time to be full of news – – sights in a new land.

July 9, 1945

July 9, 1945

In the July 9th issue of Time magazine there is a picture of a landing spot on Okinawa. It’s a scene of LSTs and equipment on the beach. This is the point at which I came into Okinawa. I thought it might be interesting for you to see this spot. This picture was taken from what was then a narrow, winding, dirt road. At the time I landed, there wasn’t as much equipment on the beach as the picture shows, however. The picture is in an article about re-conversion under Vinson whose picture appears on the front cover. If you like you could save some pictures of Okinawa. As I don’t have a camera maybe I could tell you something of the island through the pictures you save.

(I have just ordered a copy of this magazine and will perhaps be able to share snippets with you.)

Letter from Aunt Helen dated July 29th.

The news about Jean just bowled me over with joy. I think it is perfectly wonderful and I am very happy for both Jean and Dick – – sorry though for all of you in Trumbull. Ted left on the 23rd for the Bahama Islands. He went to Miami by train and from there took a plane for Nassau. It was all rather sudden and so no time for anything but general preparation. It may be a very brief stay. If it develops into something then of course I’ll go down. And am I hoping it will develop into something !! Ted got there about noon on Thursday so there hasn’t been time for me yet to get any news from Nassau. He enjoyed his trip to Miami and the short stay there looking up old friends. If the job develops it will be on the island of Eleuthera. I never knew before that the Bahamas had such an island. It has 7500 inhabitants and we are betting they are mostly Blacks. Oh, I’m working. I’m in the circulating library at Bloomingdale’s (lending library). By the way, since Ted left there is an extra room here. In fact I can put up two. Of course, whoever comes will have to be on their own during the day. I don’t get home until about 630. Dan’s letter is at Anne’s and she will mail it to Dorothy.

Sorry, but I’m fresh out of further quotes maybe it’s a good thing because my finger is developing corns from soaking this thing for 3 ½ hours on my gold watch and chain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ADG

We have reached the end of this 6-page typed letter, the longest I can remember. Grandpa brings the family totally up-to-date on each of the boys in their own words, which highlights their distinctive personalities; Lad’s analytical approach commenting on each letter from Grandpa in chronological order; Dan’s use of  a wide variety of very descriptive words that actually helps you visualize what he is telling you about; Ced’s rambling jaunt from here to there and back again, indicating his penchant for doing many different things and jumping from one to another quickly; an earlier letter from Grandpa finally inspires Dick to compose a letter, showing his quirky sense of humor and his growing confidence in himself; and finally, Dave’s letter from Okinawa, expressing opinions and observations as he did even as a child. Not much from Grandpa but I hope you thoroughly enjoyed hearing from each of his “boys”. 

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll begin the autobiography of Mary Ellum Wilson, born in England. She came to this country as a young girl but eventually achieved “the American Dream”. She was the mother of a good childhood friend so I knew her personally but never realized how difficult her life had been until I received this from her daughter. It is my honor to share her story with all of you. Enjoy.

Judy Guion

Trumbull (3) – Dave’s Idea to End War – July, 1945

Page 3    7/29/45

Now for the quotes. Both Ced and Dave have written good long letters. They are two interesting to summarize too much yet too long to quote both in full, so I think I shall reserve Ced’s until next week. Dave, after comparing the experiences of Dan and himself and showing their marked similarity goes on to say: “Dan’s description of the V1’s reminds me of the Japanese Kamakazi (suicide) planes. The effect is the same but as it carries a pilot, it is more accurate. Here’s an account of the first suicide plane I saw. One day I was down at the beach when the air raid sirens blew. “Hit the dirt”. I dove for a concrete wall that stood in front of one of the numerous tombs on the island. I looked up and saw flak mushrooming all around a fly speck in the sky. All of a sudden it started to fall. “They got hit” someone yelled, and all the guys started to clap as though the fellow carrying the ball broke through the line and went over for a touchdown. Later we found that the plane hadn’t been hit but instead took a nosedive into a hospital ship. Hospital ships are painted white, have big red crosses on them and look like a Dollar Line steamer.

No other ship looks anything like it out here. No one will ever convince me that the Jap flying that plane was trying to hit any other ship in the harbor, which ship, by the way, was not empty. We’ve had quite a few discussions in our tent and how to avert another war. The only objection to my theory is that it is an immense job but I think if it will stop wars it should be done. It is that rather than play “Superman” as Dan so aptly puts it, the only way to stop all wars is to teach the other people of the world to live as we do. If you teach them the sin of killing, if you teach them Christianity, if you teach them and make them follow the rule of doing unto others as they would have others do unto them, I think – – I know – – it will stop all wars and make the world a better place in which to live. I know it is an immense job and almost impossible. When I presented this theory to the boys, one asked me if I’d spend my life in Japan teaching the Japs our way of life. He thought that would corner me but I told him that if my theory were carried out on a large enough scale so that it would really do some good, I’d be glad to spend the rest of my life in Japan or any other place in the world to accomplish this goal.

And I would too, because I am thoroughly convinced that it is the only way to have peace. World courts are no good. Do Traffic Courts or any other courts in the world stop crime? On the other hand, do children who are brought up to be good Christians and who are taught that they should treat other people as they themselves want to be treated, go out and kill or steal? I don’t think you’ll find it happens very often. What about the old adage, “All men are created equal”. How can there be equality of one group of nations rules another. Maybe I’m not looking at this thing from a broad enough scope as I realize that there are a lot of things to be taken into consideration, but I think that in time (a long time) it would avert all wars. Who is it that starts these wars? It always seems to be a group that starts their party by denouncing Christianity.

Kids are the same the world over. You’ve got to be awfully careful how you treat the youngsters because they are the tomorrow, and you’ve got to be awfully careful how you treat the older ones because they are the ones who form the minds of the younger ones. If you lord it over those you have conquered, they won’t like you any better for it. The kids here, and I’ve no doubt it’s true in Europe, run to seeing the big implements of war roll down the dusty country road or wriggle through the narrow streets. It is all new to them and they are inquisitive. And who in this world doesn’t like to get a smile and a wave of the hand from a stranger as well as a friend? These Okinawans will never forget the American soldier. They’ll never forget what the Japs told them of us and they will never forget how wrong the Japs were. They were told we were pirates, killers and pilferers. The Okinawans emerged from their hideouts in the caves and found the American soldier with this carbine on his shoulder, where it wouldn’t harm them, and his hand out stretched, with the palm up, holding candy and cigarettes. They found him with a smile on his face. They found him with wonderful equipment that saved the lives of Okinawans who would ordinarily have died if the Japs had been there. True, the invader had brought terror with him, had burned the houses, ruined the rich farmland, had destroyed every bit of quaintness on their island, but after it was all over, he brought food, medical supplies, protection, not only for himself but for the natives also. He shared what he had. Now, tell me, Dad, who are the children going to be that remember that smile, and who are the ones who are going to remember what he imagines as a  cruel eye and a poker face.

For an overview of the Battle of Okinawa, click here.

Tomorrow, Grandpa ends this letter with a few thoughts about Dave’s Plan.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be posting more of the continuing saga of Ced’s Coming of Age Adventure.

On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941 as the war draws closer. The boys are all concerned about their own fate as well as that of their siblings.

Judy Guion