June 1 and 5, 1945. Dad writes two letters home from Guam. Every day the camp on the island is getting closer to being comfortably inhabitable.
He writes about the preparations that are happening. “We just got electric lights [and] a public address system setup over which we get [the] latest news and music. The chapel tent has been enlarged and we have seating facilities. We have [an] outdoor theater and our outdoor projector works swell, just like in an indoor theater. A day ago we had cooked chicken and had fresh fried eggs, no powdered stuff, several times. I want you to know that everything is a lot better and nicer than when we first moved in here. When we get barracks it should be better, but sleeping in a tent is O.K. We got ours fixed up with a small table and netting, it is very convenient. Also waterproofed it by digging a little ditch around it. One of these days, hope to set up a floor of wood. …We must be pretty safe as our guns have been put in storage…”
On the fifth he addresses his letter to his father in anticipation of Father’s Day, but there is little doubt that it was read to the entire family. He notes that, “…our Chaplain has been reminding us of this day and has gotten after us Catholics to write our parents. We must keep their morale up.” He continues, “I have nothing to send you other than…hope [that] after this messy war is over we may get to spend many happy years together.” He harkens back to memories of days passed. “Sure would like to paint a couple of houses with you like we used to before, even if you did have to catch us by our pants to make us do it. We enjoyed it anyway…”
Things continue to improve as he writes more about the chapel. When they first got there Mass was said “on a board placed on a can, the kind you use back home for keeping ashes and rubbish. We have come a long way since then and the chapel…is a nice place now. Although our church here isn’t as magnificent as those on Sheridan Avenue…we appreciate it just the same if not more…” He writes that they have even formed a choir in his group and that “…a 1st Lt. is in charge of us. He used to be under Arturo Toscanini and knows his stuff.”
He apologizes for using the letter to tend to some business, noting that he has increased the allotment that is being sent home “by 35 dollars in addition to the 50 you’ve been getting, so starting with 1st of July, you will be getting a check for 85 dollars monthly…” He instructs his father to use the money if the family needs it. “Don’t inconvenience yourself and ma financially. Don’t worry about paying me back because you are worth more to me than earthly dollars. You spent a lot more money and health, more important than money, in bringing us up especially during those tough years in the early 1930’s when the depression was going strong. Such times helped to tie us together all the more. We children of yours might not have appreciated what you did for us then as we didn’t understand your predicament then, but now that we have grown up a bit we realize very clearly what troubles you went through. … I can’t use the dough so why let it lay around.”
Next up: More from Guam