January 20, 23 and 29, 1945. Dad writes several letters home from Topeka. He responds to the news from his sister about the heavy snowfalls that they’ve had back home in Albany, NY. He writes that “A 1st Lt. who works here and who comes from Albany received some newspaper clippings and pictures of that 15” snowfall you had up there… I guess Kansas isn’t so bad, especially in the winter where we walk around only in our field jackets. I only wore my overcoat once; that was when I had my jacket at the cleaners. …Shucks, after the war maybe I should settle down around California or one of those Pacific Islands.” He goes so far as to mention on the 23rd that “…today was one of the warmest days we’ve had, almost like late Spring”, but by the 29th he notes that “Freezing winds began to blow, and…I wouldn’t be surprised if we are in for a cold spell.”
As far as the news about the fire at St. Joseph’s Academy, Dad notes, “Sure hate to hear SJA burned down… That old building had a lot of tradition o it and I know I’ll never forget the pleasant memories I have of it. It’s the little occurrences which I remember more vividly and I can almost close my eyes and live mentally through it all.”
Dad turns his attention to the latest war news as he notes that he is “following very closely the present Russian offensive and …hoping [it] is the final phase of the war.” He continues, “From the pessimist’s viewpoint – I’d say the Russians will be stopped at the Oder River and it’ll take another push, sort of a grand finale to finish off the German’s. From the optimist’s viewpoint, one could say, ‘It’s in the bag!’”
Dad provides additional commentary on the Russian offensive. “It seems the Russians have gone right in after the Germans in Poland… My opinion is the Polish Govt. in England catered more to high society who were removed to England leaving the underground to fight. With the Polish Govt. set up at Lublin, perhaps the Polish peasant class will get a better break.”
Taking a view wider than Poland, he observes, “Lately…Stalin has been able to play politics such as putting Tito of Yugoslavia into prominence… It remains for the future to decide whether Stalin is sincere in his desires and actions.” Keeping in mind that at the time Russia was a firm ally of the United States in the fight against Nazi Germany, one can gain perspective on Dad’s seemingly shocking comments about Stalin. “There may be some good in him. Although he had to murder off the Tzars in Russia and some of the high class, I’d say he put Russia on her feet, gave the peasant a chance to learn and set up a manufacturing industry. Just how far communistic he is in the sense of these communists we have here in the U.S., I don’t know, and maybe one of these days everything will come into the open…” Eventually things did “come out into the open” and I can unequivocally say that the man that I knew as my father was far less enamored of Stalin than he seemed to have been during the War years, but that is a topic for a far different type of post.
In a lighter vein, he mentions that there is a pool table in the day room where he often writes his letters. He comments that “once you get to play on it, it gets into your blood, and you fool around till around 1 and even 1:30 AM. I keep away from it since it is sort of a weakness of mine which prompts me to put myself behind the cue stick behind the ivory balls while I could be writing letters…”
He wraps up his letter with, “Seems as though that’s about all for now.”