Thursday, October 22, 2020

July 12, 1944: It's Complicated


Letter from Opa to Grandmother


July 12, 1944

All the mailman brought me today was a postcard, and that wasn't from you. We worked pretty hard today (comparatively) but at our last hole, at about six o'clock, the universal on our truck broke, and we had to be towed in. It is about 8:30 now, and I doubt if this letter goes out tonight.

I guess I wrote you about Limper's letter yesterday and then forgot to enclose it. Well, here it is. 

If it ever gets to Lawrence, go and see the show "Once Upon a Time." A complete phantasy, but one of the nicest pictures I have seen. Without love story; just plainly cute.

I am reading now "Three Comrades" by Erich Maria Remarque; an excellent story of the postwar period in Germany, written by the author of "All Quiet on the Western Front." The translation is pretty poor, but that has to be expected.

Margie, there must be some way in which you can send that typewriter. I have those letters to the State Dept. and to Canada to write, and they have got to be typewritten.

Are you going home this weekend?


I love how Opa spends his free time: reading and theatre. It makes me wonder if I stripped away the other newer methods of spending our time, if I might read more. I know I would. I own the book Opa mentions and should read it. I haven't read a book straight through since I read the new Allie Brosh book recently, and before that I can't remember! 

I can tell through the books, poetry, and other material that Opa is reading that he is already trying to make sense of what is happening and has happened in Germany. He spent his whole life reading and searching for an explanation. I don't know that he ever felt he got the answer. I don't think there is one answer. Like all things in life: it's complicated, and each story is one small part of the answer. That's largely why I do this work. I'm telling one of the stories, providing one of the answers. I don't expect this story to solve everything. I just know that every story is valuable, and this one is mine to tell.

Not only is Opa searching for some answers himself, he longs to share his experience and perspective with Grandmother. He's hoping that she will understand more about where he came from. I imagine he felt a little lonely in his quest. Most folks were happy to paint the Germans as evil and leave the caricature as that. For Opa, these Germans were his grade school friends, his relatives, his neighbors, himself. 

Once again something breaks at work, I'm not sure if this was par for the course for any machinery in 1944, but they seem to have breaking parts as the norm.

Opa not only wants his typewriter for convenience, he now needs it to send official documents. This makes me wonder just how common owning a typewriter was, and if there were people who had to go out of their way to type up these papers because they had no typewriter of their own. How much of an obstacle was this minor detail of requiring forms be type-written?

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