This letter is addressed to Ced alone, since Dan made it home and Lad is driving to California at this time.
Trumbull, Conn., Dec. 27, 1942
Last letter there was mention of a cold spell that had set us all a-shivering, but that news was a bit premature because that cold spell was followed, or should I say, developed, into a still lower temperature, and if neighbors’ thermometers are to be believed, resulted in the coldest days the family ever experienced since they came to Connecticut. Mrs. Mantle told me that one day the thermometer both at the back and at the side of their home registered 24° below zero. Even well after sunup, the thermometer just outside our kitchen window registered 14 below. In any event, it can be said without any possibility of overstatement that I have never experienced a series of cold days of so low a temperature over so long a period. We had about arrived at the conclusion that it might be a good thing to journey to Alaska in order to find warmer weather. However, I am glad to say that due to the weatherproofing done last year, the installation of storm windows and the operation of the furnace at full capacity, both day and night, temperatures prevailed. I guess we can all remember that winter we spent in the apartment when pipes in the cellar froze and Ced burst forth in his vehement imitation of Bradley Kincaid. The only damage done this spell was a burst pipe in the laundry, but as that is an annual occurrence anyway, it failed to make much of an impression. My car failed to start due to the fact I had not put enough Zerox in the radiator to protect it that low, so it froze to some extent, but not enough to do any harm. However, the weather since then has been normal for this time of year, and even when the mercury crept up toward zero, everyone remarked how warm it was, being almost tempted to leave one’s overcoat at home. Well I guess that’s enough of an opening paragraph about the weather. By the way, it seems to be very popular these days to add a pint of casite to one’s oil for ease in starting.
For Christmas, Dan breezed in, but in spending Christmas Eve in the Warden’s, he evidently drank the wrong kind of wine so that the next day he felt pretty miserable and did not begin to feel like himself again until Saturday. Last night he and Barbara went to New York to see an ice show. About midnight Christmas Eve, (Aunt) Anne and Don (Stanley) alighted from the bus, and Christmas morning the four Zabel’s and Elsie arrived to gather around the tree for the usual procedure.
Trees this year were very expensive, small ones costing two or three dollars and four or five foot trees selling for a dollar a foot. The small ones on sale around here were so scraggly that Dave refused to have anything to do with them, and then he had a brainstorm. He had been busily engaged trimming a beautifully full, fair-sized tree in the church for their pre-Christmas party, which tree had been dismantled Christmas Eve and thrown out back of the church. With some of the base removed it made perhaps the best looking tree we have had for a number of years. The only fly in the ointment came while we were at dinner when Butch (Raymond Zabel Jr., Bissie’s oldest – 3 years old) disappeared for a moment and came back into the dining room grinning and proudly announced he had pulled over the Christmas tree with all its lights and decorations. He wasn’t kidding. He had done just that. Dave, with a great effort of will, maintained a discreet silence, thus winning a great moral victory.
Later the tree was restored but seemed to lack some of its pristine virginity. With Elizabeth’s help, we were able to have a big turkey and Kathryn Warden had generously donated two pies so we got by very nicely in spite of the scarcity and high prices of food. On the day before Christmas, not an ounce of butter was obtainable anywhere in Bridgeport or vicinity. The previous day I had been able to get a quarter pound at Herb Hay’s (Grocery Store in Trumbull Center) and the day before that, half a pound in Bridgeport, which, with what I had bought the previous week, was sufficient for our needs. No cream is on sale, but that saved from the top of Laufer’s daily milk deliveries serves just as well. It was interesting to note food prices in Anchorage. Beef is practically unobtainable but when occasionally it is for sale, prices are around $.55 a pound. Codfish is $.43. Turkey is $.51. Bacon, very scarce, but when obtainable $.45. Smoked hams are out entirely. Canned vegetables limited to one can to a customer. Many canned goods are missing, baked beans, chocolate syrup, corned beef, mushroom soup not having been on sale for months. In general, Anchorage food prices are surprisingly close to ours.
A telegram from Lad instructed that all mail hereafter be sent to Camp Santa Anita, Arcadia, Calif., marked “Hold”, so I assume he has either left Flint for the far west or is about poised to go.
The usual flood of Christmas cards arrived. And in this connection, Dan, it occurred to me that if you did not copy Jim Shield’s address, you might want it. It is 1023 Seneca War Homes, Seneca, Ill. Don Whitney is with the 743d Tank Bn., Fort Lewis, Wash.. Col. W. C. Weeks, Hdq., 7th Corps Area, U.S.A. Office of Engineers, Room 1103 Federal Bldg., Omaha, Neb., and Sgt. Nelson G. Sperling, Battery B, 375th Fg (?) Bn., Fort Jackson, S.C.
Two interesting letters arrived from Ced, which served somewhat to ease the pain of not having all members of the family gathered under the family roof at Christmas. The first of the two to arrive was the one written last; the first one written arriving a few days later. Among other things, it set forth clearly and fully the thing we have all been wondering about so long and that is Ced’s status as far as getting into the armed services is concerned. After much effort he has finally passed his examination and now has his aircraft engine mechanic license, on the strength of which Art Woodley has asked his deferment. The local board is averse to granting it but final decision rests in Seattle and up to the time Ced last wrote, no final word had been received. The house the three of them have been living in has been sold and as of December 12th they will all have to find new living quarters. (Correction: change the word Seattle above to Juneau).
I am awfully pleased about that license, Ced. It does my heart good to know you are progressing along your chosen line. The next license you will go after, I suppose, will be your pilot’s license. I’d feel safer to know you are on the ground rather than up in the air, fighting with some treacherous air pocket above a glacier or near a mountain, but that’s just the old man part of it, I suppose. After receiving your explanation as to how you feel about the letters dispatched week after week, I haven’t the heart to carry out what you choose to call threats; but I do want very much to hear from you regularly and hope your kind heart and understanding nature will induce you to do what you might not be led to do with mere threats. Aunt Betty fairly cheered at your sentiments regarding war songs and says she is 100% with you. Lots of love from us all to you and Lad.
In three weeks I’ll begin posting letters written in 1943, a truly momentous year for Lad.
Tomorrow more Special Pictures of the Trumbull House, Then and Now.
On Sunday, The Role of Sports, a Guest Post by GPCox.