Tuesday, March 21, 2017

September 23, 1941: To Be Without You

Letter from Ella to Opa


Thomas Döppner
1119 Kearney
Manhattan, Kansas  USA
Sept. 23rd, 41
My beloved boy
Now the holidays
(I believe she means the summer holidays) have passed again, and I had to be without both of you. I hope they were the last ones. Everything is so hard for me, and I beg of you, not to leave anything undone, so I can come to you, and soon!

I received your letter of August 18th. Hunschen, do you have so little money, that in such a case you could not stay in a decent hotel? I believe you are saving in the wrong areas. Your description was quite humorous, but your situation was more than unpleasant.  My poor boy!

I am waiting anxiously for news about your housing in Manhattan. Your letter should actually be there already. Do you hear from Ellenruth? Martha is very worried about her.  It is not understandable that she did not visit you. Martha is telling herself all sorts of possibilities, that this man totally controls her, does not mail her letters, does not give her the letters from home, locks her in: a real wild west story. Even if I don't see it that black
(German expression for trouble), I am also very worried about her, because her last letter was from July. Please Hunschen, write to her and if you also don't get an answer, try to find out what is going on there.

Her address is:

Mrs. L. Silva
1861 North Kingsley Drive
Los Angeles California. USA
By the way, do you know that Hilde Sonntag lives in Kansas? Maybe you would like to visit her:

Hilde Rossbach
Kansas City, Mo.
3627 Pasa
Thanks a lot for the pictures. I wrote to you that Papa had an enlargement made of the picture of Patti and Maurice and sent it to me as a gift. I now asked him to have one of your pictures enlarged as well. I sent him 4 to choose from, the counterpart to Lula (not sure about this name), two horses and a donkey, you and Shelley's at the front door I think.  Since I  assume that Papa will be reluctant to send them back to me, I ask you to send them to me again. Tilli also wants the donkey picture. Is it possible to send me several copies, all my friends would love to have a picture of you.  
Do you still see your friends (male and female) from McPherson at times, or is the distance to far? I do wish that you and Esther will remain good friends. You know yourself that you are too young for a binding relationship. So many more people will come into your life, so you really can wait with that for a while. Write more to me about Terry, I am not sure where to place her. Is she the daughter of your biology professor at your college, or am I mixed up about that? 

Hunschen remember, we will write to each other every week! Loewe’s received your letter, they were happy to hear from you and will write to you soon. Write to me in detail about your work, living conditions, life and especially about your thinking and feeling.
I kiss my beloved child and Erna
Your Mama

(little note on top of page)
What does Pattilein write?
Have you heard from Herting and Erna?
How are they doing?

Ella marks her time by seasons of absence. Another summer holiday has gone by without a visit from her children. In an ordinary life, she'd have them home for the summer, on their break from college. They'd be visiting friends and getting into trouble with her for staying out late or some other natural offense. Instead, she waits each day in hopes that she'll receive mail from them.  She is miles away and yet even the miles seem to be the easiest part about their distance. She herself is in a cage of fear and political boundaries, desperate to get to one of her children, but subconsciously aware that she is stuck and there isn't much anyone can do. So she fixates on their well-being, and holds on to any and all images she receives as proof.
Opa is in Manhattan, Kansas now. Ella hasn't wasted any time finding new people for him to write or visit. She is concerned that Opa's cousin Ellenruth didn't visit on her way from New York to L.A.. Ella's sister, Martha (Ellenruth's mother) is inventing stories fit for a "wild west" as Ella puts it. She is sure that Ellenruth is in grave danger. Ella is more concerned that Ellenruth is likely making poor choices. Either way, it is now Opa's job to check in on his cousin and put his mother and aunt's fears to rest. When I visited with Ruth (Ellenruth's daughter) - she told me about how much Martha and Erich had hated Alfred. Alfred was Ruth's father, and they basically blamed him for everything. 
Ella checks in on whether Opa still sees friends from McPherson (which he does because many of them have gone on to Kansas State). She checks on his heart after some information about girls not being girlfriends anymore. Then she reminds him he is too young to settle. Ha. But Patti is married. I think Ella is the kind of mother that has an idea about what is good and right, but will love and accept her children through any decision they make. Speaking of Patti, no one has heard from her in a while. I wonder what's going on with her?
Ella starts her letter the usual way- wishing and hoping to be near her children and asking him to do anything he can to make that happen. She signs off her usual way, asking for more letters, giving him love, and reminding him that whether he likes it or not, someone is loving him and thinking about him every second of every day. Her greatest sorrow is to be without him.

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