Wednesday, October 4, 2017

August 31, 1943: For Some Reason or None

Letter from Opa to Grandmother


                       August 31, 1043 (1943)

Favorite (Liebste) Margie,

Since I wrote yesterday, there isn't much to write; since I know, though, that the only way to get a letter from you is for me to write, I write.

Please accept my sincere feelings of deepest sympathy to the tragic event of the intruding mouse. I shall immediately tell my adjutant to give orders to have the captain send out his sergeant to pick out a bunch of husky pfc.s who will make an efficient and loyal body guard so as to protect you from further disturbances of this cruel and torturous nature. In the mean time, I advise that you wear slacks which are tied to your ankles with elastics.

I'm glad you liked the pictures. As to the necking party -- how can your folks ever get an idea of a modest, timid girl like you. Remember that time I tried to hold your hand and you slapped me for it? So you can't get used to my mouth; well, you just need a little more practice, that's all.

Pretty bad news from the Physics department. They are not able to get the government to sign their contract for some reason or none, so will have to wait with hiring people for at least another week. It seems as though I shall get into the mess as the last time; have to take another job for sure in order to play safe. I shall wait a while, though, and try to keep the Kansas Power and Light Co. in the fire.

Old Papa Zimmerman gave us a lecture yesterday about making too much noise after ten. We pacified him, though, by commenting on the efficient way he runs that station of his and other unmeant compliments. I sure hope the old lady gets back soon.

I am working on an article for the "Engineer" on Radar; have a devil of a time trying to get pictures for it, though. The companies are not allowed to give any out, and Signal Corps won't give any out, and Prof Martin thinks I had better not photograph our material here in the lab. So, I guess we shall run the article without pictures.

Maybe I am unnecessarily worried, but just why does Archie have to go to see you? Surely, he won't come against your will. Are you still corresponding with him?

I wished you had not found a room yet; there is a room for rent at 1005 Moro, which is next door; also one right across the street from my place. Think how we could have aided the war effort by all the shoe leather we would have saved.

Last night, I went roaming with Johnny, and we settled all post-war problems about Germany. It really is very simple; all you have to do is kill all Germans and burn their cities. Simple, ain't it? Just think of all the troubles it would have saved you if they had done that in 1919.

Well, I notice that my mind is drooping proportionately to the square of the time variation.


Did you hear about the little Margie who was so modest she went into the closet whenever she changed her mind?

I am anxious to hear about that idea you have been playing with.

Opa is already teasing Grandmother about her fear of mice. This cracks me up because for as long as I can remember, there was a sort of light-hearted joke in the family about Grandmother's fear of mice. I never saw her encounter one, but I did see the dozens of mice-themed cards that her friends would send in taunting fun.

The next paragraph reminds me that my Grandparents were young, in love, and apparently necking. Ha. I do feel a little bit like I'm reading their diary in these moments, but the cheekiness and flirting makes it so much more real and relatable!

It sounds like the Physics department is having trouble getting permission to hire Opa- I love his line about this: "for some reason or none." A lot of things in Opa's life happens or doesn't happen in this sort of arbitrary context. He is hopeful that this better job gig will come through, but might have to go to his fall back plan with the lesser paying but more sure Kansas Power and Light.

Ah, Archie comes up again. Opa has a point. Why on earth does Archie need to visit Grandmother? And of course she must be corresponding with him or there would be no way she would know (or consent) to Archie's visit. It's kind of like Opa is realizing this and trying not to be rude about it, but also putting it out there- like- you know YOU have full authority to tell Archie not to visit, right? Poor Opa.

While Grandmother makes plans for Archie's visit, Opa is trying to work it out for her to live next door. All in the name of efficiency, of course. 

This last paragraph of Opa's sort of took me back a bit. I'm reading a book called Americanah (by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), a fictional tale of a woman who leaves Nigeria to study in the United States, and a peek into how people adjust to different cultures. It has made me sort of hyper-aware of when we adopt the culture and sentiments of the world around us, rather than being true to ourselves. This paragraph makes me a little sad, like Opa has sort of clothed himself in American dude-ism. "Kill all the Germans and burn their cities." I know he says it all tongue-in-cheek, but some of his family is still there. Many of his friends are still there. He is already burning the bridge behind him a little bit, allowing himself the privilege of looking at Germany as if it is unattached to him. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but this is not something Opa would have written in a letter to Gisela, this is not the Opa who wrote to the AFSC about his convictions that he would never fight in a war. This is a changing Opa, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

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