Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

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Letters home

I just had a chance to read through a stack of letters that my father's father sent to his sister, brother-in-law, and niece when he was in the Army in 1943-1944. He was briefly in Illinois, then was stationed at Camp Thomas A. Scott in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and later was at Nichols General Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

Reading these letters from a man who died years before I was born was very odd. It's especially odd to realize that he was just a few months older than I am now, when he wrote them.

One of the letters was written on D-Day, and he'd been listening to reports on the radio of the exciting news of the Normandy invasion. Another, written the following month, is about two-thirds in Hebrew script, which I can readily recognize, but not read in any useful sense. There are then a few paragraphs of letter in English, and it's utterly unclear what the deal is. Maybe, since he was writing to a family, he wrote in Hebrew something for the adults that he knew the teenage Charlotte (now in her late 70s) wouldn't be able to read. (His and Miriam's father was a rabbi, so it occurs to me that they'd have had occasion to learn Hebrew pretty well. belmikey suggests it may have been Yiddish, and he's quite possibly right.)

Another letter, again in July '44, was in different handwriting, and it took me a moment to realize it was written by my grandmother! Nana sent me lots of cards and some letters at camp and college, and it's interesting to see this much-stronger version of her handwriting. It's recognizably hers.

My father's Aunt Miriam seems to be the only relative who so religiously kept Tulea's letters. I'm glad she did. These 60-year-old envelopes and pieces of U.S. Army and U.S.O. stationery tell quite a story, even though most of the writing is very casual and mundane.

I should add for telcsymbiont's sake that my grandfather was an Army dentist! He was a 1st Lieutenant, and made Captain in late 1944, just after he'd expressed certainty that it wasn't going to happen.

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