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I’d Like to Be There to Help Him

Posted by on February 15, 2016

May 9 and 11, 1944: Dad writes two letters home from Topeka Army Air Base where he is with the 270th AAF Base Unit (SW). Things are pretty routine. He writes about buying War Bonds and sending money orders home. He also provides a slice of life as he writes about the retreat ceremony on base and also makes an observation predicting the baby boom generation.

He apologizes for not writing sooner has he has been preoccupied with work, going to movies and going bowling in town. Now that his work is caught up he is catching up on his correspondence. Most of what he writes on the 4th is random details.

He notes that he has automatic payroll deductions set up to buy War Bonds. “I was in the Army for a year before I started taking War Bonds. They take out $6.25 each month. That makes four $25 War Bonds a year.”

He writes that he received Anna’s letter of the 4th that included the post card ballots for the upcoming election. “Thanks for sending me that application card for a voting ballot. Those citizens of Albany, bless their little kind hearts. They could have at least put a stamp on the card.

On the 9th he writes about the weather, “…the weather is wonderful down here today. I don’t know how it’s going to be tomorrow.”  He is also sending a money order home for deposit. Getting money to a bank in Albany from Topeka in 1944 is done the old fashioned way and Dad makes sure there is something in it for his father who normally handles the transaction for him. “Anytime I send home a money order and daddy has to go on Central Avenue to cash it, tell him he can take a dollar out of it and drink as much beer as he can, and I’d like to be up there to help him. I know how troublesome it is to go to the Post Office and then the Bank.”

Dad also provides a snapshot of life on base as he describes the evening ceremony known as Retreat or sometimes Evening Colors. “While I write this letter it is 5 o’clock PM and they are marching off to retreat. …It is the base personnel that attends retreat and believe me, there is no other ceremony in the Army more inspiring than retreat when the National Anthem is played. You may have seen it in the movies but to actually be a part of it is another story.”

Before closing his letter, Dad comments about the coming demographic changes that will happen after the War and foresees the “baby boom”.  It’s fine hear of all the girls having babies up there in Albany. After the war they’ll probably have to employ more teachers at school and perhaps build more schools to house all the children form the various tribes. When we get back from the Army…all of Albany will be one big kindergarten.”  

He closes the letter with “That’s about all. God Bless You All.” I leave you with a modern retreat ceremony.

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