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Polishing his Discharge Button

Posted by on August 1, 2017

November 4, 1945. Stanley writes a letter to Dad from home in Albany where he reports everyone is “in a pretty good state of health.” He apologizes for not writing sooner, explaining that he has “been running around looking for a job here and there.” Among the many companies he’s applied to are “The New York Central and the D&H railroad for clerical jobs.” He also applied for a Civil Service job as an Accounting and Auditor Assistant hoping that his education from Albany Business College and his “Army experience of making out payrolls and working on clerical records and making of reports” will be to his advantage. Stanley is hoping the Civil Service job comes through, and that there is a “veteran’s preference”, especially since the job pays $2100 a year.

As much as Stanley is hoping for the best, it is clear that the job search has been frustrating for him as he details. “…all that stuff they say about giving Veterans…good jobs…is a lot of crap. I spoke to several veterans down at the Employment Office…One was polishing his discharge button and I told him, ‘That button doesn’t mean a thing now, does it?’ And he said, ‘Hell no.’ Another one came to me while I was waiting my turn to get interviewed…and said you are just wasting your time… Another one I saw said that when you are looking for a job they tell you…we are holding the jobs for our veterans who worked here before. Another told me that they told him, ‘Don’t you know the war is over now? We don’t need any more help.’ That’s how they were treating the veterans. During the war they really pushed you fast to get you into the Army and now when you are out they don’t care about you.” Stanley even goes so far as to note that, “Anywhere you go they want female clerks as they can pay them less. …All these women got into the good jobs during the wartime and now when a veteran wants to get a job the women don’t feel like going back to washing dishes at home. I’m telling you the GIs who got out now are really PO’d if you ask me.”

Stanley writes that for now he is working “in the baggage room at Union Station for the NY Central from 5:45 PM till 1:30 AM at about 71 ½ cents per hour.”  He sees the job as a stopgap as he is “tired of laying around the house sweating out a job” and he figures that he “might as well earn a few cents.” He also sees it as an opportunity to get his foot in the door in case a clerical job with the railroad opens up, noting that it is an opportunity to “…start from scratch all over again and start life anew and build myself into a good job at the railroad.” He is hoping that he might be able to move into the 2 to 10 PM shift in the baggage room so he would be working the same shift as pop.

He mentions that he bought some new clothes, specifically a “new light weight top coat” and “a new brown hat.” For now he is holding off buying a new suit as “stocks are very small in the stores. They do not have white shirts in the stores at all.” He also mentions that “shoes are off the ration list now.” It seems that bit by bit, things are getting back to normal.

It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve hear about little Terry, and Stanley does not disappoint in this letter. He writes, “Anytime she makes noise in the house or does something she shouldn’t do, mommy takes her and throws her out the doors in the back hallway and tells  her, ‘When you learn to behave then come into the house.’ She then goes upstairs and tells babcia that her mommy threw her out of the house. …Anytime she is a bad girl I tell her that I am going back to camp and right away she comes running to me… The other day she put my GI gloves on, tie and GI OD hat and started out toward the doors for the street saying nobody loves her anymore, mommy threw her out of the house, and she is going back to Army camp.”

Wrapping up his letter, Stanley writes, “God bless you brother. Here’s hoping you come home soon.”

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