Monday, October 25, 2021

October 11, 1944: Blurr

Letters from Opa and Philip to Grandmother, October 11, 1944.


October 11, 1944


This letter is apt to start in a peculiar setup. I am at the hospital for an eye check; they gave me some eye drops, and these drops are making everything appear extremely blurr. Right now, I can see only the lines I am writing; the words are very indistinct. They say it is going to take several hours before this effect ceases.

Probably, I am to get one or two pairs of S.I. glasses. I won't wear them much, though, for I don't want to look any more like a moron than I do already. Right now, I am waiting for the examination; thought I'd utilize the time.

Last night, after I mailed your letter, Johnny came and we went to see the show "San Diego, I love you." Awfully cute and funny; see it if you have a chance.

Slept through reveille this morning, but did get up for breakfast. (Missing breakfast would be too great a sacrifice even for Morpheus.

A while ago, we were issued a whole slug of stuff, including a bayonet. Yesterday, this bayonet was taken away from us, indicating that we are not going to have any bayonet practice. You can't imagine how glad I am for that, for in my estimation, bayonets are slaughtering instruments of more cruelty than any others. I'm getting a headache, so I had better quit and finish this when my eyes are normal again.

Your letter came a few hours ago, and with it those of Spohns and Philip. I can't do any work today on account of my eyes (good excuse, anyhow) so I went over to the prison office (there ain't no z I prison) to look up Philip. He is a swell guy, much nicer than I had expected from your description. We had a good talk together, and now I am at the Service Club. Philip will come up here after work, and we will have supper together. It is too bad you can't be here too; better buy some ice cubes and put them on your ears, for they will need cooling off.

I don't have your letter here to answer it but I didn't think there was anything in it which was intended as a question. Don't worry about my swearing, since there is nothing to worry about. I'll write to the Spohns one of these days; not only for the wedding gift either, even though this decidedly plays in as a mighty good reason.

Philip may be going home around the 19th. I hope he stops in Lawrence, which he probably will. Too bad I can't go with him. On my first weekend pass, however, we might go together. By the way, he is a corporal now. 

Well, my eyes start hurting again. The next time they dope me like this, I'll quit my job. I decided anyhow to send a petition to the colonel which would state that Company A of the 27th Battalion be granted an honorable discharge, with $10,000 mustering-out pay, and a monthly pension of $500 for life. A general survey has revealed that most numbers of my company would be in agreement. I, however want to wait till after I get my citizenship, while the rest of them do not see any need for that. I am sure the colonel will have no objections, aren't you?

Write me a long letter, darling, and be as sweet in my dreams as you are in reality.



Dear Marjorie,

Was surprised and happy this afternoon to have Tom come walking in the office and introduce himself. We have spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening visiting, eating and playing ping pong, which by the way is a new sport to me and it's needless to say who won the games. Tom seems like a very nice fellow and I find him very interesting and feel sure we will be the best of friends. I'm awfully glad he landed here. I hope some time you can come down and see him soon so that I can see you too. Now that he is here I still don't expect to hear from you often as I will be seeing Tom every once in a while.

Best of Luck and with Love,
Your Brother

I started laughing when I realized Opa was writing this with dilated eyes. You can tell by his handwriting and some of his small errors. Opa needed glasses for as long as I knew him, so perhaps this was the beginning of that truth being known. He seems to think glasses won't look good on him, but he quickly adjusted. I thought he looked very dignified with glasses on. 

Opa's mention of his relief in skipping the bayonet and its cruelty was an interesting aside. It reminds me of his pacifist origins, still in there even in the middle of army life. 

Grandmother's brother, Philip, was in the army, and at the same base as Opa now. Opa introduced himself and they seemed to get along well. Philip was much older than Grandmother, 17 years older. For Grandmother, he was almost like an uncle and not a brother she knew very well. He was the oldest in her family of six children (two of whom died as young children). Grandmother was the youngest and only girl. That helps explain Philip's letter to her: sort of formal and paternal. It is sort of a "small world" thing that Opa and Philip should be meeting on base like that. 

I'm reminded of the quick and small wedding Grandmother and Opa had, hardly any of Grandmother's family was there, including Philip. I can't imagine meeting my sister's spouse for the first time a month after they were married! 

Also, I realized that Opa still hasn't gotten his citizenship, his main reason for joining the army and hanging in there when things are bizarrely inefficient. I'm waiting for that big day!

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