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Posted by on February 29, 2016

May 25 and 29, and June 1, 1944. A few letters home from Dad who is still with the 270th AAF Base Unit (SW) at Topeka Army Air Base. Dad reacts to some news from home about a friend who is getting ready to go overseas and a cousin who is home on a sixty day leave. He also reflects on his own experience in Topeka and that of other enlisted men and officers. Lastly, he makes light of his brother-in-law’s purchase of a band saw from the upstairs neighbor.

Dad was glad to hear about Eddie Falkowski having a chance to visit before being shipped out. He sends his best thoughts and expresses his frustration with his current assignment, wishing that he could be making more of a contribution to the War. “I would have liked to been up there and wish him the best of luck. He will be going someplace and doing something while I waste my time in the middle of Kansas doing a job that perhaps a WAC could do. I’ve been here over a year and according to the way that things are run, I should have long been over seeing our kinfolks elsewhere in Europe or doing some sort of sightseeing.”

Dad also acknowledges the news that Eddie Morawski is home, commenting, “I think I feel almost as glad as our cousins on Second Street to hear that Eddie is home visiting them for about 60 days. As for his getting married, that’s up to him. He’s been through worse experiences than that to decide for himself. …His luck and mostly prayers must surely have been what got him through the War.”

Dad also writes about one of the girls in one of the offices, her attitude towards enlisted men versus officers and his own thoughts about the difference. The girl is a stenographer, and Dad describes her as “bar-happy”, because “She’ll go out with no one lower than a second Lt.” The term “bar happy” is presumably a reference to the bars worn on the uniforms of Lieutenants. Dad writes, “The fellows here razz her about it… The other civilian girls around here associate with the enlisted men. Since this is a higher Headquarters, the fellows around here are very intelligent and have had high schooling and I’m sure many of them would make good officers if only they wanted to go to O.C.S.  However they just prefer to remain clerks and enlisted men. Officers must buy their own uniforms… The Enlisted Man has no such expenses outside of having one heck of a swell time for himself, and they do find girls, because all girls…are not ‘bar-happy’.”

As usual, there are plenty of diversions on base, including the movies. Dad reports seeing “…the movie ‘Show Business’ with Eddie Cantor, George Murphy, Joan Davs and Constance Moore. It was a very good picture, musical, comedy, and acting all in one, Eddie Cantor was very good.” He also mentions seeing Gaslight and comments that “Ingrid Bergman was as good as ever and she was as cute as she was in the picture ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ in which she played with Cary Grant.”

Poster art for the 1944 MGM movie Gaslight.

Poster art for the 1944 MGM movie Gaslight.

With springtime upon the Kansas plains, it is time for planting as the “Squadron Adjutant made a victory vegetable garden outside the orderly room. It keeps the basics busy, watering the garden and trees we have planted.”

Dad reacts to the news that Eddie bought the neighbors band saw. “What in the dickens is your husband doing, Ann? Is he running a ‘hock’ shop? He should have got that saw when Stanley and I were home, then we wouldn’t have had to work so hard sawing the wood.” He then jokes, “Whatever happens, don’t let Ralph sell Eddie a half share in the Parker-Dunn Memorial Bridge which spans across the Hudson River. It would take you a lot of money to keep up the maintenance on the bridge.”

A photo from the 1940's of the Parker-Dunn Memorial Bridge which spanned the Hudson River. Photo credit: Flickr Albany Group Archives

A photo from the 1940’s of the Parker-Dunn Memorial Bridge which spanned the Hudson River. Photo credit: Flickr Albany Group Archives

Next up…Catching up on some of Stanley’s V-mails from England.

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