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The Blackout / Send Potatoes

Posted by on July 1, 2014

May 7 & 9, 1943. Two letters from friends in the choir at St. Cecilia’s. The first is from Henry Gostyla. Henry says that he does not have plans for the summer “except, maybe to get a job.”  He reports, “I am still with the choir and I enjoy it.” He also reports “Nothing new has happened in Albany except for the blackout. It was a very strange one, because when the sirens rang all the house lights went out but the street lights did not. After 15 minutes the whole city was in total darkness. The blackout lasted over an hour.”

He also received a letter dated May 9, 1943 from Isabelle Pawluc, the secretary for the choir. She notes that dad is in Kansas and confesses, “The first thing that flashed in my mind was “CORN”. Do you see much of it there?” She also comments “It is often said that the real democratic America lives in the Midwest. Are the people in Kansas of a different type than the Easterners are?” In this instance she uses the “small-d democratic”, implying no political overtones to her comment.

Isabelle also asks if Dad has seen any potatoes and writes “If you should, just send [them] home because we haven’t seen a potato in two weeks. The government is stopping sales of old potatoes for spring planting, so we won’t be able to get any until the new crop is out in June. Happy is the fellow who is assigned to K.P. duty not having any potatoes to peel.”

Isabelle passes along the news that a “new Wednesday group” is studying chromatic scales. She notes that “The knowledge of chromatic scales is definitely an advance towards being able to sing better types of music.” She also gives word that “Jackie Panski is well on the way to recovery. It will not be long before he will be singing tenor again.” Additionally, one of the other girls in the choir, Regina, is leaving “indefinitely after her marriage” to “live in Boston, and then in North Carolina with her Lieutenant husband” Tony Wilk.

She signs off wishing “Lots of luck in your work at your new location.”

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