Monday, August 31, 2020
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
Young Men's Christian Association
404 East Tenth Street * Kansas City, Missouri
Dearest little Monkeytail,
The Fairfax Restaurant had a chance to hire another fry cook. They gave me the choice of either leaving or staying for good, so, naturally, I left. I got paid for two thirds of a week, which was very decent of them. I am waiting now for answer from Charlie, and may, if he can't use me for a while, look for another job here. Without employment agency! If I know what I am going to do, I'll try again to do something about that agency deal, but I don't think I have much chance unless I am going to court.
There was no mail at all today, not even from Margie. You must have gone back on your old mail box again.
I don't like the process of the invasion so well. Why don't the Allies land at other places? And why haven't they taken a single major town yet, after more than a week of fighting? I bet they are way behind schedule.
I said I didn't get any mail, but there was a letter from the State Department. They are awfully curious but, before they can give my application for a visa any further consideration, they have to know whether, when, where, and why I was born and some other information. I took tomorrow for my letter-writing day, so they will have to wait a day. Tomorrow I'll also start getting all these documents located for the Canadian Consul. That's going to be a full-time job for a week or two; (poor pay, though.)
Nothing else of importance; I'm just waiting for things to happen and I don't like such a situation. I guess I'll have to commit a murder, get drunk, or set the Pickwick Hotel on fire, so as to get some excitement.
I hope you are not mourning too much about the fate of poor old Euphrosine. Where did you bury her? Does she stink yet?
Love from your he-he man,
Opa has officially quit his job. He doesn't last long in restaurant jobs. Now he's looking for odd jobs until he hears back from the companies who have showed interest in hiring him (for engineering things).
I don't know exactly what happened with this employment agency, but it was bad enough that he mentioned going to court over it!
Opa doesn't like sitting around waiting for things. He's actually managed to always have the next thing, the next project to work on. Now he's in a holding pattern for pretty much everything: the end of the war, word from his family, marriage to Grandmother, job offers, and the ever elusive immigration process.
He does actually have a project to work on: letting the State Department know "whether, when, where, and why (he) was born."
Friday, August 21, 2020
Monday, August 17, 2020
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
This is going to be a short letter, because I am awfully tired today. I didn't sleep very well last night; kept dreaming about that darn invasion.
Tell Mrs. Frazen she is nuts. You don't have to give her a day's notice before leaving, as long as you pay your room rent for one more month. That might be different in the nursery school; you will have to find out. I am awfully glad you are planning on coming this weekend; let me know whether you come by bus or train, what time you get here, and, if by bus, what bus line you take. They don't all arrive at the same depot.
No mail today, except your letter. Still no permission to go to K.C. I can't just go up and tell them the situation, because the U.S. Attorney to whom I report is in Topeka, and not here. If I don't get answer by the end of the week, though, I'll write to him.
I bet you have been busy without Mrs. Jones; is she back now? How are the brats? The darn viper of yours still alive? That girl from your hoe town is at least some company for you. Thanks for drawing her picture for me. She looks like your twin sister.
Good night, dear:
Better find another mail box. Your letter, written June 5, was stamped 530pm, June 6. They may have a mail box in Lawrence that is taken out more than once a week.
Opa was right, it's not a long letter with not too much said. He's still waiting on word of whether he can work in his field and not at a restaurant.
Opa said he was tired because his sleep was interrupted by dreams of "that darn invasion." I can only imagine. I know that now in this pandemic, my sleep has been more haphazard and my dreams more bizarre. I even have moments in my dream when my brain is just awake enough to say "wait, we shouldn't be here! We should be social distancing!" And then I wake up instead of enjoying a benign dream about a backyard BBQ.
I can't imagine what Opa's dreams were.
Monday, August 10, 2020
Letter from Opa to Grandmother, June 6, 1944, D-Day.
Young Men's Christian Association
404 East Tenth Street * Kansas City, Missouri
Well, finally. I got two letters from you this afternoon; one you wrote June 2nd, and one from June 5th. I don't know where the first one was all that time, but not at the K.C. post office. I would have called you had I not heard from you today, for I was a little worried.
What do you think about the news? I was just terrible nervous all day. I read the Times in the morning, which gave just the first communiques, and I couldn't find out a thing until in the afternoon when I got off work. At the restaurant, they were so damn disinterested, I just burned up. Even now, I am so excited, that I go down every half an hour to buy the extras. Things look all right so far, but the Germans may use the same tactics as at Anzio and answer with the counteroffensives after bridgeheads are established. Probably, right now or pretty soon landings are being made in Belgium, Holland, or even further east.
I saw Winton last night, for an hour. He was on his way to Fort Leonard Wood, where he will be stationed now. It's a shame, just now where I am in Kansas City. We had hardly any time together, since Winton had to stay in contact with the other members of his squadron. We went to a bar, and Winton and I managed to sit a little off side the rest of the boys, so that we got at least some of the most important things talked out. If we only had known what would happen a few hours from then...
Still no permit from my attorney, but somebody from the 7th Service Command was in Manhattan, inquiring about me and checking on some of the references I gave. He seemed rather surprised not to find me there. I hope it won't have any bearing on the outcome of may application.
Another possibility for a job came up through another employment agency. I am through with those agencies, though, and won't even go for an interview unless the present chances are out. My preference at the time is National Geophysical, if they offer anything like they did when I interviewed them. I hope something turns up in the near future, for I don't care a bit for the atmosphere at the Fairfax Restaurant. It's just a little wilder than the Wareham. Fairfax is an industrial district, and the kind of people that work there are not of the best. The surplus of girls is dangerous and so strong that the waitresses flirt even with the negroes, but at times get downright vulgar with the few of us white boys left. Anyhow, I'll be glad when something else turns up.
So far, I haven't found anybody to pal around with here; the boys who stay at the Y are awfully young. Also, I don't have much time, since I have to go to bed pretty early to be in good shape when I get up at five in the morning.
Be sure to come up next weekend!
Something I have learned (to my surprise, though I shouldn't have been), is that even if a person has been the victim of racism, misjudgment, and persecution, it does not mean that they will automatically be immune to being racist, judgmental, or persecutor.
Opa is a German, Jewish refugee and he still considers himself to be higher in the social hierarchy than Black people. It's pretty damning.
Opa had never seen a Black person until he came to the United States. He wrote about it in his autobiography, and how foreign the racial situation of the United States were to him. Opa was not blatantly racist, in the sense that he did not advocate for harm or disenfranchisement of the Black community. However, when plopped down into the middle of the US, he easily adopted the hierarchy that had him higher.
In case anyone wants to say that he didn't know any better, trust me, I would love to be able to let him off the hook. But I can't. In his Quaker youth group, he studied about the racism problems in South Africa. He had been a victim (and seen the real manifestation in his country) of racism against Jews. He had the tools and information to know better. It just didn't benefit him to know better. This is how it works even today, white people like myself aren't "blatantly" racist, but there are spaces when we fail to combat racism because it doesn't benefit us to do so. We have to do better.
The irony in this letter is a bit on the nose, but I won't let it lose the point. At the same moment when Opa makes an off-hand comment about waitresses "even flirting" with the Black patrons of the restaurant, he is also complaining that no one seems to care that there is a literal fight for the future of the world happening on the shores of Western Europe.
His frustration is valid! The oblivious Americans who are so uninformed as to be apathetic, they need a gut-check too. Perhaps if they had cared more about world events there would have been a viable diplomatic response after the First World War. Perhaps not.
But what Opa is lamenting is this: apathy. Particularly apathy towards things that affect people in such vast and severe ways. Opa has shown his own blind eye to the plight of the Black community in America. He reveals the American blind spots of world events. We Americans are still culturally very bad at caring about things that happen far away from us. (And unfortunately, sometimes very far isn't far at all.) We have an apathy problem. I don't think we're the only ones with this problem, but we're pretty knee-deep in it.
D-Day was a turning point in the war, a time when perhaps more of America was paying attention and hoping that the end of the war would be soon. D-Day was the beginning of liberation for Western Europe. For Opa, D-Day was the first possibility in a long time of his Dad to be out from under Nazi rule. It was the first real indicator of whether the Allied forces could truly defeat the Nazis (and other Axis powers). He was paying attention.