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I Guess That’s What Life Is

Posted by on June 20, 2015

September 22 and 27, 1943. Two letters home from Dad at Topeka. He apologizes that “I don’t keep up on my letter writing to you the way I should. I just don’t have anything to write about unless it is some gossip about the other fellows around here, or receiving and writing letters to the choir members.” The letters are rather rambling and cover a variety of topics. He does not mention where he is when he is writing the letter on the 22nd, but does say that as he is writing the letter of the 27th he is “in the library and this place is pretty crowded today. It’s 3 more days to payday…”

Dad reacts to the news that Paul McCann has been discharged. “Anne…must have felt marvelous when the Army returned Paul to her. I understand that the Army’s going quite a ways in discharging several thousands of men a month who are in limited service. It seems the war has gotten to a stage where the Army can be particular about whom it has. Well, I guess that’s what life is no matter where you are; it’s the breaks you get the count…Sometimes I’d prefer to be in the Navy and if I were in the Navy I’d probably think the Army was marvelous.”

As is often the case, Dad also writes about the news from home concerning his niece. “Theresa-Marie certainly keeps all of you busy and in good spirits…God certainly knew what He was doing when he allowed her to be born at grandma’s and grandpa’s where she would bring a little cheer. Just imagine how dull, and how dismal the house would have been without her during these days.” Dad also writes about the baby’s mishap on the rocker noting that “Terry sure must have been scared when she rocked herself off the rocker and found out the floor wasn’t as soft as her bed.”

As far as entertainment on the base, Dad has managed time to catch a few movies at the base theater:

  • ”…’Johnny Come Lately’ with James Cagney
  • “ ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ with Nelson Eddy, Claude Raines and Suzanna Foster.” Dad mentions that Suzanna Foster was good in the movie and “was the one who should have received more advertising.” However, the movie “didn’t have as much singing as “The Chocolate Soldier”.
  • Also, “they had that technicolor picture ‘This is the Army’… It is a fine picture and runs along the same lines of ‘Stage Door Canteen’ except it is more colorful in entertainment.”

Below is the trailer for Phantom of the Opera

Dad also writes about a few details of his daily life:

  • “It sure is getting dark around here early and stays so when we get up at 6:15 AM but actually get out of bed at 5 minutes to 7 to eat and fall out for roll call at 7:15 AM.”
  • “Once in a while on Friday we have bullheads (catfish is what they call them here) and although the fellows kick about them, I enjoy them because it reminds me of how we went fishing with Eddie and then ate them after mama cooked them.”
  • As a reply to Anna’s note about the blackout drills in Albany, Dad notes that Topeka also has black-out drills, although he was never in the city when one was being held.

Just before closing the letter, Dad advises Anna on how to handle questions about her dress blowing in the photo that she mentioned I her previous letter. “When the people ask you about your having that dress blown by the wind on that picture, why don’t you tell them that the Army’s around and decided to make a little “draft” and you got caught in it”

A photo of Anna and Dad when he was home on furlough in August of 1943.

A photo of Anna and Dad when he was home on furlough in August of 1943. Dad suggests to his sister that if people ask about the way her dress is blowing she tell them “the Army’s around and decided to make a little ‘draft’ and you got caught in it.”



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