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What I Cannot Understand

Posted by on January 9, 2018

January 20, 1946. Stanley writes a letter to Dad from Albany. He acknowledges,“There is not much news from 382 Orange Street,” starting off with a weather report of “very cold weather. Last night it was about 3 below zero and at about midnight they said it would reach as low as 12 below zero late in the morning.” For not having much news, he then goes on for another four typewritten pages. I’ll try to hit the highlights.

Before getting to the news from home, Stanley writes that they “received a letter from Anna Nurska in Poland” whom he identifies as mama’s sister. He summarizes her letter. “According to her letter she was under German occupation and has just recently returned to her old homestead. She said there was not much left of anything. The Germans took everything away and she came home to the four walls of her house. All her letters coming home to us are censored through the Polish army. I don’t see why they should be. She said that she gave a letter to an American soldier to send to us but so far we never have received it at all.”

Before getting on to the bulk of the letter, he devotes a paragraph to his nieces. “Terry is a little better girl than she was before. She now listens more when you tell her not to do something. She still likes to get into mischief. …Little Judy…is now learning how to sit up …I imagine in another month or so she will be able to sit up by herself. She is such a gentle little girl and a good little girl.”

Stanley spends a few paragraphs covering developments in some of the more sensational local news stores. First about a murdered grocer, “In connection with that murder of Mr. Bell, a grocer on Orange Street, they have two colored fellows in connection with it. I guess they have signed statements… So far I don’t believe they have set a date for their trial.” He then goes on to relay news about another grisly crime. “With reference to the case of the Saratoga girl whose body was found dismembered in a manure pile in back of a chicken coop. They took into custody a Mrs. Leggett, a nurse…who was to have performed an abortion operation on this 20 year old girl who was three months pregnant. The nurse said they had an argument…and she slapped the girl and she fell on a dresser hitting her head…and that killed her. The nurse dismembered the body and hid it. They buried the body and now they exhumed it again for another examination. They said the girl died from loss of blood. They haven’t as yet had the trial of the nurse. I will let you know how it comes out.”

Stanley also addresses some national news, specifically a strike that is happening in the meat packaging industry. The meat packer strike was one in a wave of labor strikes that washed across the country in the 18 months after VJ Day. Stanley expresses his opinion. “Here’s what I cannot understand. As soon as the war started all the companies raised the prices on everything and kept raising the prices till the war ended but would not give their employees a raise in pay. Now that the war is over and the companies have pocketed enough money, the poor worker asks for a raise in pay and they won’t give it to them. …I remember the sugar you could buy 5 lbs for 20 cents. Now you pay somewhere in the vicinity of 30 cents. Butter has gone up sky high and they intend to raise the price up higher. ..A dollar bill is not worth anything anymore.”  

He also addresses “criticisms regarding the demobilizations….and all the meetings and mass demonstrations.” He recalls hearing on the radio “that they had enough ships to bring all the GIs home,” and “heard one fellow saying that he read in the New York paper where the Government dumped into the ocean brand new B17’s and B24’s… Why couldn’t they use them to bring the GI’s home? If they say they don’t have enough pilots why don’t they contract airline pilots to fly the planes back and forth in a ferry system? …Why didn’t they take the guys who have been in the States a long period of time and have not seen overseas service and send them to replace men with service overseas? Now they are planning to recall into the Army and Navy men who were discharged and did not even complete six months service. …the whole system is really screwed up if you ask me.”  Interestingly enough, both the issue of  demobilization and news of labor strikes are covered in the base newsletter that Dad had mailed home in his letter a day or two earlier, a letter which Stanley certainly had not received when he was writing his.

Front page of the Saipan base newsletter with stories on demobilization and the stateside labor strikes.

As far as some of their friends and family who were in uniform, Stanley writes that there is no news on whether Vincent Morawski is back in the states yet. Stanley mentions seeing their cousin Eddie Waskiewicz and his wife Ruth on the trolley on his way home from work. He writes that Eddie is a Staff Sergeant “stationed at Fort Dix and is briefing officers who go through the separation center before they get their discharge form the Army.” Stanley also makes mention of Billy Lubinski in that “he was to have went to Alaska as a replacement …but the orders were changed and they just turned around in the Pacific and came back to the States.”

Stanley signs off with wishes to Dad that “God bless you and keep you safe and sound.”

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