The last few days have been kind of busy for me. First off, I would like to welcome the new subscribers to the blog who have found this project as a result of the column that Chris Churchill wrote in the Albany Times Union this past week. I hope that you have had a chance to catch up on the story by reading the postings on the website. One note on these e-mails: if at any time you are having difficulty with links in an e-mail or if I make reference to a video that has been embedded in the entry that does not show in the e-mail, you can click on the title and it will take you to the post on the website where the full functionality of being able to play videos and click through on links will be there for you. For those who have been following for a while and have not seen the article, you can click here to read a .pdf of it
I am writing this from a hotel room in Schenectady, having attended a memorial service earlier today for Terry (Lubinski) Quinn, known as “baby Terry” to the long time readers of this blog. It’s been a bittersweet day, to say the least; catching up and reconnecting with many family members who I have not seen in decades. It’s been a particular pleasure to reconnect with Terry’s children and people who knew Terry throughout her life and share stories about her. It was even more touching to hear the priest officiating the funeral mass make reference to Churchill’s article in his Homily.
With that, let’s get back to 1945, where Anna is in the hospital having just delivered her second baby. The war in Europe just ended. Stanley is home from England on 30 day Rest and Recuperation orders, and Dad is getting acclimated to life on Northwest Field on Guam.
July 11 and 12, 1945. As with other posts, given the proximity of the letters, I’ll be combining them in one post. Stanley continues the letter writing for home, having taken over correspondence duties now that Anna is in Brady Maternity Hospital where she has just delivered her second child. Stanley and Anna’s husband Eddie visited Anna the night before and found her “…still in a daze and pretty weak. Her eyes were somewhat crossed but she was very glad to see the both of us. …The baby was a baby girl…with brown hair. …she weighed 8 lbs. and 13 ounces. As I gather it from Ed, the baby niece was born about 11 AM on 10 Jul 45 Tuesday” After visiting Anna, they went to Eddie’s parents’ house to “…pick up that troublemaker Terry… She sure misses her mommy. We told her that her mommy went to the hospital to buy her a baby sister. Ed’s boss and Ed and pop…figured that it would be a boy but Anne fooled all of them.”
In the middle of writing the letter on the eleventh he halts his narrative and offers a snapshot of life in the household. “Just a while ago Terry was helping mom say her Litany in the parlor. She was kneeling…and mom was pushing her little finger from one line to the other. It was so nice watching her…It is six o’clock in the evening and the bells on the church just stopped ringing the Angelus. It sure felt good to hear the bells again.”
Stanley took advantage of a “very nice sunny day” to get some much needed shopping done. He was not able to find a the suntan pants he was looking for noting that “there was not a pair in sight in the whole city of Albany, especially my size.” He stopped into the Army and Navy store to pick up “insignias, stripes and overseas bars”, and used the sewing machine at the house to sew the stripes on his shirt, commenting, “I used to sew on the stripes by hand but I wanted to try something new and sewed them on with mom’s sewing machine. I was surprised at the result, I though you needed to have a special sewing machine …but it worked out very good.”
While he was downtown he also used the shoe certificate he got when he was processed through Fort Dix and bought “a pair of plain toed shoes.” He also bought “three separate bottles of BERGAMOT gentleman’s toiletries by ORLOFF” which he has seen advertised in Esquire magazine, specifying that they were cologne, after shave cream lotion (“very soothing and not rough like regular after shave lotion with alcohol”), and talcum powder.
Stanley then suggests that he would get Dad the same products, and alludes to what must have been a requirement that a serviceman request certain items before they can be purchased or shipped. “I will go down to John G. Myers and get the stuff for you. You in the meantime when you receive this letter send home a request that you want some after lotion and talc and cologne. I probably could alter your typewritten letters with an additional P.S. and out the stuff on it myself, but I’d rather have you send home the request.” The he goes on to tease his brother only the way an older sibling can, “The stuff I am getting is quite aromatic and the hula hula…will swoon when they get a whiff of this stuff. I know you will enjoy using the stuff. You will probably make a big hit with the native women.”
Stanley relays the story of an experience he had when he was going downtown. He was “on the corner of Central and Lexington. Some fellow …asked me if I wanted a ride.” Stanley accepted and “saved a dime”. As he was talking to the driver he learned “He was in the marines twenty nine years ago and…had two sons in the marines…somewhere in the Pacific. He said one of them was wounded and recuperated in the hospital in Australia and went back to fighting again. He said it was almost three years since he last saw one of them.”
Before signing off he writes, “Well brother, God bless you and take good care of you and bring you safely back to the good old U.S.A. You never appreciate a thing until you leave it behind. Am I right, brother?”