I learned something new today: B.T.U. means British Thermal Units. The amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree fahrenheit. There ya go! So the lethargy in the library was because of the heat of the summer. Opa mentions correspondence lessons, which are sort of like what we would call online courses today. The student completes assignments and receives instruction through the mail.
Opa mentions receiving a red cross letter from his mother, one that had been mailed a while before and only just reached the US. I didn't realize that the letters had to be two months apart, what torture that must have been to have to wait and then mail them. It seems that you could write earlier, but that they wouldn't be mailed until a certain date. I thought it was sweet that Opa knew Ella would enjoy having a letter postmarked on her birthday. Opa seemed to be genuinely surprised by his mother's words that she hoped to join him soon. He didn't know that she wanted to join him in the United States, but I wouldn't have doubted it. I don't know why this was so surprising to him. I also wouldn't have taken her words so literally as to imply she specifically wanted to have a reunion in America. I thought it was more of a general "I want to be with my child."
I love Opa's defense of his and Grandmother's love. He is frustrated that her parents only think they have their education in common, but he seems pretty confident that they will win them over letting the "march of time" do the work. I'm not sure why Ray would be a source of help (Grandmother's brother), but the thought is sweet that big brother might be able to put a good word in. Opa feels for Grandmother as she spends her summer at home with parents who disapprove of her engagement.
My favorite part of this letter is when Opa writes poetically about the true nature of love, and how a debate of cold facts on either side cannot be the deciding factors. It's almost like a pep-talk to Grandmother to stay firm in their love and not let herself be convinced otherwise. He's straddling the line between fighting for their love and telling her to not listen to her parents. I can tell he wants to be respectful of them. This line though:
the criterion as to whether or not a marriage would be successful is nothing that can be solved by a Lincoln-Douglas debate or a contest in dialectics; factors like love, the will to get it done and the joy in challenging prejudices, and, most of all, mutual faith are of much greater importance.That's good stuff.
Opa talks about the war, which I can imagine he follows extremely closely. He can't make out exactly where it is going, and is confused by what is happening in Italy. I was confused too when I looked up some historical data on the time period. Italy overthrew Mussolini for a hot second and then he came back? I honestly need to go read up on that a little more, but it seems the Allies were making a little headway there, but perhaps not as much as Opa thought they should. His wish that the allies keep up the bombing did come true. In November there was a bombing campaign focused specifically on Berlin. Throughout the year on special days intended to embarrass or interrupt the German leadership- there were bombing raids. The one in November was particularly devastating and affected Charlottenburg where Ella lived. Of course Ella never mentioned the bombings, and luckily she was not one of the civilians that were killed. I wonder where she went during the air raids. Did Jews have to go to a separate place, or were they too afraid to even go to a shelter?
Opa switches to more happy topics, like movies and getting a high schooler to stop pestering him. Ha. I wonder how she kept pestering him? Was she interested in him or was she being rude because he was German? Either way- he seemed to take care of it.
Opa reflects a little on the German people as he mentions that Goebbels was quoted as saying that bombing would never hurt the German morale. Opa knows better. How angry he must be at the people who flaunt their power and pride with little regard to the people they are stepping on in their march. Opa does already talk about Germany a bit like a place from his distant past. He wants them to be bombed, even though he does tuck in a little word of kindness for his hometown of Berlin, it's just an aside.
I think above everything else, Opa is ready for this war to be over. What will he do on the other side? Right now his plan is to stay in America and marry Marjorie- whether her family likes it or not.