January 5, 8 and 14, 1945. Dad writes a few letters home to Albany, NY from Topeka. He notes that “now that the holidays are over, everything is running normally again.” After reading Anna’s letter detailing the Christmas festivities back home he pines that he “would have liked to been home with you on Christmas and help you eat the “kielbasa”.
As with most soldiers, when he is not working he spends time listening to the radio. As far as the music available on the airwaves in Topeka, “no matter what time of day you turn on the radio, you’ll most likely find cowboy music somewhere on the dial fiddling away.” In addition to that, he writes about hearing I Never Left Home. “Bob Hope and Frances Langford were in it. It’s a humorous and yet serious story of Bob Hope’s tour overseas.” He also hears a good bit of news on the radio, and comments that “Although the news on the radio isn’t as good as we’d like to hear it, nevertheless I think it will get better and I wouldn’t be surprised if Germany gave up at the end of this coming summer at the latest.” As a matter of context, at the time that Dad is writing the letter, the Battle of the Bulge is still being fought and on another front, the German Army is moving east from the Rhine.
He also passes time reading, with the most recent book being Murder Masks Miami, of which he writes, “No, the story is not about my former drill sergeant at Miami Beach. It was quite the story but I didn’t care much for the way it ended. It seemed the book gave all sorts of alibis for the guilty party and then slapped the murder on it on the next to the last page in the book.”
Things around the office seem to be fairly routine. Dad writes about a “Lt Col. in the office next to ours and he’s sort of a supervisor but I don’t see how he has any work too keep him busy. He has a civilian girl stenographer who is off for the week getting married…and so it must be kind of hard for the Col. to do nothing by himself without a helper to help him do nothing together.” He also mentions that they “got some calendars and maps from the Santa Fe RR and other railroads in our office, and every day we are getting to look more and more like a travel agency.”
As far as his educational efforts, he writes, “Last Friday we finished our machine shop course. Of course, I’m not a skilled machinist but I did get a general knowledge on the operation of lathes, milling machines, drill presses and shaper. I made myself a center punch and a hammer styled after a gavel, from…stainless steel. It was a lot of fun operating the machines. We also had training films…which were very educational. When you run a lathe, the machine does all the work… However, it does take a little skill to know when to disengage the machine from the work.”
He also writes that “Several days ago we had some journalists out here from the local Topeka newspaper who talked on the opportunities of journalism after the war. It was very interesting and we fired questions back and forth. I don’t think I’d care much for it but I was curious as to what journalism covered.” Although Dad is not interested in pursuing a career in journalism after the war, going to college is still on his mind as he muses, “I was just wondering whether there will be any girls after the war who would be willing to go to work for 4 years while their husbands go to college for 4 years.”
As he wraps up his letter on the 14th he writes, “Can’t think of anything extra to say. Best of luck to you and God Bless you all!”