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The Easter I Remember Back Home

Posted by on January 22, 2017

April 1 and 4, 1945.  Dad writes a few letters home from McCook, Nebraska. It is Easter on base and there is a “cold wind…which makes you start sniffling. However, when the sun does come out, it warms you up and you can feel the cold going away… Easter around here has been like the Easter I remember back home. It is warm most of the week, but on Easter Sunday the sun comes out as usual, but the cold wind starts bringing with it cold air.”

Dad writes that the base Chaplain has been quite tireless in his reminders to the faithful about their obligations during Holy Week. “He warned us about eating meat on Holy Friday and till noon on Holy Saturday, stating he would be on the lookout for those at the Officers Club. He also smilingly told us we had all better go to Communion on Easter Sunday. It sounded like he was trying to threaten us but we realized just what he meant… After the Holy Saturday services at noon, he turned around to us before leaving the altar and said, ‘You can now eat all the meat you want!’”

On Easter he went to nine o’clock Mass at the base chapel. It was a High Mass, which is a form in which the liturgy is sing by the priest. Dad writes that “our Chaplain contacted a choir made of men around our base…of about 4 to 5 men (two Protestants) who sung the mass…they were even better than our own Choir back home. The Tenor and Baritone blended beautifully. …The Chaplain expressed his thanks publicly and I’m sure everyone present in the Chapel appreciated the fine efforts of those fellows in the Choral Group.”

Dad notes that he is writing from the barracks and gives a make-up of the guys he shares quarters with. “…quite a few are Catholics and most of them work in our Section as Airplane Mechanics. Quite a few of the office clerks around here are Jews. A clerk who works with me is an Irishman by the name of Cpl. McCormick…he is a Catholic and at one time had ideas of becoming a priest.”

He turns his attention to the latest news about the War, commenting, “As you have seen from the papers…them Germans are all washed up. The news of surrender should easily come before the end of this summer as had always been my opinion even in October of 1944. …but no one need prophesy that they will soon collapse as it’s plain as daylight that this moment is ripe.” With the end seemingly near for Germany, Dad speculates, “…I wouldn’t be surprised if Stanley would come around and see me where I’ll be.”

By the time April fourth comes to McCook the weather has shifted back to winter mode with “a 2” snowfall and temperatures below freezing which started on Easter Sunday… It was odd to see icicles from the water which formed from the dripping off the Mess Hall roof, especially at this time of year.”

In an earlier letter, Anna asked Dad what “bivouacking” is. Dad answers, “It means carrying a pack on your back, blankets, tent, and all which is then used for sleeping with the stars and the sky being your roof, that is if you didn’t have a tent. It is the time at which the more leaves and twigs you can gather, the more comfortably you will sleep all night on the solid earth. When I get back someday we’ll have to try it around Lake Champlain; you can save that much more money then if you slept in a cabin. Quite a profitable business, isn’t it?”

He also writes in reaction to his brother-in-law Eddie using the shoes that he left behind when he was conscripted. “Glad to hear you’ve made use of my shoes back home as they were too tight [for me]…I thought those shoes would stretch when I bought them, but they never did… by now they must be too tight as my feet grew while I added on some height, so make use of the shoes.”

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