Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 8, 2013

World War II, chapter 76, Oh Boy a Letter today!

World War II

Oh Boy a Letter today!

Chapter 76

Heilbronn,  Courtesy of the Cain Family

Heilbronn, Courtesy of the Cain Family

Dad and his fellow soldiers arrived in Germany on 5 February. The pictures from Marvin Cain’s Photo Album show there was a lot of bombed out buildings yet my father goes on writing like there is not a war going on.

18 March, Bruggen, Germany

My Dearest Darlings, Oh Boy! A letter today. Mar.6. Sure seemed good to get. Man we had lots of mail today. Guess a boat came in. Some letters were clear up to Mar 12. I only got the one from you. But that’s all I look for anyway. As long as I get them I’ll be satisfied. We had chicken for dinner today. Sure was good. Also had potatoes gravy and some chocolate pudding. And the usual. Seems I have [not] lost my appetite though cause I sure could eat. Had cherry pie for supper. Good too. I am sure glad you got the pictures. There are some more on the way and by the first I should have quite a number more to send. In the ones I took there should be a few more of me than in the ones I have sent. You see we have someone take the pictures send them in than order each a set. The last time I think over 25 sets were ordered. That’s a lot of pictures there were 80 in the set.

Heilbronn, Current day. Compare it with above picture

Heilbronn, Current day. Compare it with above picture-Thanks to Mustang Koji for finding it!

I finally know the story on the pictures. This explains it all. I have been lucky enough to have been able to share my father’s photos with several families of the men my father served with. As I have gotten on in the letter’s I have found there are quite a few men posing for the camera. As I transcribed the letters I have not seen some of those men even mentioned yet we have several pictures of the same men. Now we know for sure that the men shared their pictures with each other the way a family would.

Boy it sure took you a long time to write this letter. Sure hope Mary hasn’t been giving you to [sic] much trouble. Gosh honey I wish I were home. I just don’t remember who was by that hole. It was a bomb crater. Just one of the holes left the time we were bombed. Wasn’t bad though. I think I sent two pictures of the mule as you called it. One was Ben and one Edlund. The kid was French and owned it I guess. One with the crashed plane was Morris don’t remember any more. Tell you the rest tomorrow nite. Well honey this sure isn’t very long and I would like to write more  but have to get up early in the morning. I love you my Darling. I love you so much honey. Gee honey I guess I’ll always love you. I love you Darlings. My best girls. All my love, Lefty

Dad Wrote "Judson Haviland  in bomb crater"

Dad Wrote “Judson Haviland in bomb crater”

20 March, Bruggen, Germany

My Darling Wife & Daughter. Hi Darling, Hows [sic] Mary hope in the best of spirits. Boy I sure would like to be home. But I guess that’s not just the right thing. Wasn’t through here yet. Haven’t gotten any mail the last couple [days]. Well from you anyway. Got a V-mail from Rose & Elmer and one from George and Clara. Aunt Clara wishes us a happy anniversary and told Uncle Gerald was home and what was wrong with him. Rose didn’t say much. Said Dad was ok and that’s about all. Was in Brussels again yesterday. I kind a wanted to buy you something but you know what you could buy for a dime back home would cost about $3.00 here so you could see what something really nice would cost. Saw some real nice flowers. And both Bob and I said we wished we could send some home. I’m afraid they wouldn’t look like much when they got there. That Palm reading was quite the thing. Hope the first part is right about marrying the spouse of your dreams. But the 6 or 7 kids is out.  I’ll have gray hair after the second one. I sure am tired tonight. I got to bed at 12 last night and was up at 6:30 this morning and have been going ever since. Have to work a little more now. Its [sic] a hell of a lot better though.  Gee Mommie mind if I stop for now. I love you so much honey. I love you my darling. I sure hope you and Mary are ok. Gee my Darling I love you sure do wish I were home with you. My Darlings your all I want in the whole world. I love you. All my love Darlings, Lefty

I love that Dad and Bob feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts with each other. I know they really loved both of their girls. Dad expressed so in his letters but he also gives great insight to how much Bob loved his girl, Madeline. It was nice to find out that Bob and Madeline got married in 1946 and had two sons. My parents ended up with five kids, not so far off of the fortune reader’s prediction. If you consider in the fact that Mom had two miscarriages it was spot on.

21 March, Bruggen, Germany

My Darling Wife & Daughter, Here’s that old man of yours. You know if I were as old as I felt I sure would have made a statement then. But I’m not. Haven’t done anything all day so I shouldn’t be so bad off. No mail again today. Sure wish it would get on the ball. This waiting around sure doesn’t get it. Makes me awful, awful lonesome for you. You know I was setting listening to a radio today and dozed off and had the darndest dream. It was so real. You were with me, but Mary wasn’t and I’ll be darned if you could find her. Everything just seemed so real. God Darling I’ll be glad when we won’t have to be dreaming things like that any more .

It is sad that those nightmares would be replaced with ones of the atrocities he saw in this war.  My mother told me once how bad they were at first. He really had a hard time getting used to the fact he was no longer in danger’s way and was home safe. Back then they did not have a name for what haunted my father and many of his fellow soldiers long after this war was over.

I’m just not sure what I’m going to write tonight. I have scanned about everything I know of and haven’t found a darn thing worth a darn. I guess the French do their washing in cold water in the winter time as well as summer. Once we were at Chow and I believe it had been almost a blizzard all day and finally cleared up and here the two women were wringing clothes in a little creek. Don’t see how they kept from freezing cause I almost did and I could see they didn’t have as much on as I did. I guess they just use lots of elbow grease to get the dirt out because the soap they have sure isn’t worth a damn. They have lots of crude ways here. Well Gee honey I have reread all the letters I have from you and can’t find anything I haven’t written about. Sure wish something would happen so I could write. But then if it did I couldn’t write it so maybe its [sic] better.  I can always tell you how much I love you Darling and they won’t cut that out. I do love you so much. Say Rose said in her letter that Della May Vance got married. I had just received a letter from her mother saying she was about to. Now she dood it. Hope this time it lasts. My nose is sure itchy tonight. What does that mean? A pleasant surprise huh! I sure hope it is. Well Honey I got the second lesson ready to send on my correspondence course. Haven’t heard from the first yet. I love you my Darling. I love you both so much Darling I love you I love you Darling. All my love Darlings, Lefty

Book one done and Dad is about 17 lessons away from being a carpenter. I am not sure how much experience he will get driving a truck.

Dad and his friend

Dad and his friend

22 March, Bruggen, Germany

My Two Best Girls, Hi Sweet. Hows [sic] the small subject today. Not a darn thing special. Didn’t even get shaved. Had time though but just had spring fever and was to [sic] lazy. Got a couple darn nice letters today. One from you which was by far the best and one from Mrs Johnson. She sure had the news to tell. Mostly about us coming up when I get home. She was kind of put out that I wouldn’t write and request her to send me something. She is just that way I guess. She wrote all the latest gossip from Ventura which was very nice. Said none of the old gang had gotten married. Honey trench foot is a lot worse than either athletes foot or trench mouth. But as you say its [sic] pretty bad. If not taken care of it will cause the loss of the feet and sometime death. Its [sic] just pretty bad. Mrs Johnson said Dorothy sure got a big laugh when she read where I wrote of Mary’s red hair. Dot just hates red hair and I was always kidding her about it. Mrs Johnson said she bet Mary did not have enough hair to really tell. I guess she has quit working at the Canteen up there. Since we left there there hasn’t been enough business and what there was was all Navy and she didn’t seem to like that so well. She works in the school cafeteria once in a while now and several other things around there. Guess she has her hands full. You know lately there are two things I can’t get enough of. Eating and sleeping. Guess if I would go to sleep when I got to bed I would get enough sleep. But I have to have a couple hours a day to really think of you. Of course I always do but mostly the mind is on something else during the day. Oh Mommie I love you so much. Then I’m always eating between meals so when chow is served I can’t eat much then. Well my Darling I love you so much I love you my sweetheart. I haven’t told you lately about the toe I broke. Its [sic] ok again. Only has a joint in the wrong place. I must go to bed now honey. Must have my beauty sleep you know. Oh Gosh Darling I’m so lonesome for you. Sure hope Mary is well and gaining lots of weight. I love you honey. I love you I love you. All my love Darling, Lefty

23 March, Bruggen, Germany

My Darling Wife & Daughter, Gee honey is it ever nice out. The moon is shining and its even worm enough to be out without a coat. Sure hope the winter is over. I imagine it will be a little chilly yet though. Had frost on the windshield one morning. I sure wish you were there to have spring fever with me. As you used to say. In spring a young man’s fancies turns to love, or something. We didn’t get any mail today. I guess  the rest got some. But I’m the unlucky one for today. My day is coming though. I’ll get beaucoup mail. And then we’ll see. Walt and I were going to Brussels tomorrow only it was only a dream. We were really seeing the town. And those damn street cars. I heard someone express them this way. They had as many outside as in and they were really packed. Said people on the outside platform were hanging on to each other and from what I’ve seen I believe him.  Bob just came over and we have been talking. Don’t seem the same anymore since he isn’t here to heckle. Of course he is only about 20 feet down the road. But we have different jobs now and hardly see each other over five minutes at a time. I sure hope Mary Lynn is doing ok. And not giving you to [sic] much trouble. You know Mommie I just want to talk and talk about her. But just don’t know anything to talk about. Harker had a picture of his boy. 2 months old and Mary one. Boy she is twice as big. Sure looked good to me. I love you my Darling. I love you so much. Gee honey I sure wish I were with you. I’m awfully lonesome. I love you Darling. I love you sweetheart. I love you. All my love, Lefty

24 March, Bruggen, Germany

Hello my Darlings, Boy Mommie I got two good long letters from you tonight. Sure were nice. Hadn’t gotten any for quite some time and they are sure good to get any more. I love you Darling. Oh yes! The lock of hair you sent. I have asked about everyone as to whether it is red or blonde and the biggest share have said red. And I think so too. Well maybe not all together red but its [sic] almost. Talking about film. Awhile back I miss read one of your letters about getting film and requested you sent me some. Since- I have figured out you couldn’t get any for yourself let alone me. So forget my request. I still have a couple and someone will have some film around. And I think I can get some from them. Yes Mommie the Holland people are quite it. They are the best we have been around. The Belgium people aren’t bad but somehow the Hollanders are more cleaner. Once when we were parked near a Holland House the women scrubbed the door about 4 times.  Every time a truck came by and splashed  mud on it out she would come and do it again. All she had was a rag and pail of water. They scrub the sidewalls once a day. Once we lived in a sort of a dance hall and the people who owned it lived next to us and we had a writing room in their house. They really kept that place clean. Scrubbed about twice a day and were always sweeping. The men of the town were out with fire hoses washing the streets where we drove to keep the mud off. It was awful muddy then. And everything was dirty anyway. But they were very progressive. Seems as soon as the German’s were out they were working to build the towns and country up again. You know Mommie if Mary Lynn is big enough to play hide & seek when I’m able to get home. You’ll have to find yourself a new man. Christ Mommie I’m not worth a damn now what will I be in a couple more years. Gosh honey did I ask you to send gum too. Sure must have been off the Beam that day. Took a reading the other day and have about 10 packages of gum and don’t chew any—- too much so have plenty. You know maybe I have some hidden talents I don’t know. You say Mrs Grilla though I was a football hero. Perhaps she was feeding you a line. She didn’t ask for a loan after telling you those things did she. I guess I just didn’t have my mind on women when I was in school was the reason she said I didn’t know she was alive. Anyway she was just talking. I know her that well even if she wasn’t alive. I don’t know whether I told you or not but you’ll get one check of $30 and from then on it will only be $20 So in all you should get $110 one month then $100 from then on. Well I probably won’t be sending much home only getting about $4 now. But I’m not going anywhere anyway.

German ME 109

German ME 109

I wonder if that is per month. That would be $114 dollars a month.  What amazes me most is that my father only keeps out four dollars a month. As I look back on my father’s letters it is a common theme. Everything is too expensive where he is.

Except to Berlin. And that’s free of charge if I don’t get shot trying. Hope that’s enough for you?? I guess I’m going to have to pen a shorter name for Mary Lynn.  It takes me a week to say all that. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a swell name and like it very much. We’ll see. No Mommie I guess I don’t mind to [sic] terrible much if you miss writing a couple three days. There was a time when I almost went nuts when I didn’t get your mail. But you soon learn different here. One thing just comes after another and they soon get so you’re used to it. And then it doesn’t matter. At first when the mail didn’t come it was awful. Now we don’t mind so much. We are all so damn lonesome we can’t be much worse. Could be maybe that’s why I took a bust. Perhaps someday honey will make that money back. But I’m not worried. I must quit now darling. I love you so much. Gee honey I love you. I love you my precious wife. I love you both my Darlings. All my love, Lefty

In my mind I can see my dad running around asking the other men what color that lock of hair was. He probably showed it around quite a bit to get a general consensus of what color it was. He seems really proud to have a baby. It is sad that she is two and a half months old and he has not seen her face-to- face yet. I wonder how old my sister will be before Dad gets sent home.

26 March, 1945 Quartermaster move to area east of Rhine in town of Lohnen

27 March, Lohnen, Germany

My Darling Wife & Daughter, Let’s see. Don’t just remember just when I wrote last. Must have been two days at least. Been awful busy. Haven’t even shaved for about 5 days. We got in about 4 this afternoon and by the time we had eaten and done the chores it was 6 and had to go on guard at 7. Well we have one thing to look forward to. The same thing tomorrow. I’d be satisfied if it only helps get this damn thing over. Getting awful tired having someone trying to kill me.

That is the first time I remember Dad saying anything like this. It made my heart skip a beat when I read it. I would love to know the details because if left to my imagination it is not such a good thing.

Hows [sic] Mary tonight. Boy I’m hoping to see her soon. But there just isn’t that much luck for me to have. Gosh Mommie I have a letter somewhere to answer, but I’m not sure where my things are. And I haven’t gotten any mail since the two I have written about. My mail calls are awful slim lately. I did get a letter from Eva. She said she had heard from you and some of her troubles. Her Bro is in the hospital and she feels bad about that. Otherwise she didn’t say much. I’m using Bob’s writing material. Mine is with your letter and I’m not in the finding mood tonight. Boy am I tired. I love you so much my Darling. I love you Honey. Gee Darling. I love you so much. I am going to bed now. I love you. All my love Darlings, Lefty

What really happened on this trip? Not only does Dad seem out of sorts but he does not know where his stuff is. He really sounds fed up with the whole war but as we know he had no choice other  than staying there and doing whatever is sent his way.

Donald R. Edlund

Donald R. Edlund

28 March, Lohnen, Germany

Darlings, Well Mommie if this seems to be dripped on don’t mind. Its [sic] raining outside and I’m a little wet. Not bad though. But by morning it might be worse. The Tops [officers] might like sleeping in a truck. When and if we sleep. Hasn’t been bad though.  Last night I said we should have to go again today. Well we got a brake [sic] and didn’t have to go out until noon. I didn’t get up until 10. Wouldn’t have then but those whiskers and wool blanket didn’t go good together and I had to get up and shave. Its [sic] a good thing I did. Had hot water and had I waited a while longer I wouldn’t have so I didn’t miss so much sleep. Its [sic] sure March weather here. All except the wind. It doesn’t blow so hard. But it rains. The sun did shine and believe me everyone had spring fever for a while. But that’s all over now. Haven’t time for daydreaming. There seemed to be lots of mail again today. But my luck still holds I didn’t get any. Oh yes I did [get] a paper. I think it was sent last year. So the news was old. Some of the pictures we sent for came today. So I’ll be sending some of them. I think by the time they all get sorted I’ll have 88 to send. And quite a few more are coming. Sounds like Kansas is having its trouble with teachers. When I was about a Jr or Sr about 6 or 8 people quit because they were pregnant but none were teachers. The teachers were all to [sic] old for things like that.  To [sic] bad about Deloris. It would have been nice had she been able to spend her leave at home. I imagine Aunt Maude was quite worried about her. Lets [sic] see Mommie. I guess I made a mistake when I explained the Dutch Windmill. The blades do turn by the wind. But when the wind changes you have to change directions of the blades by hand. The windmill I told you about was in Germany. I don’t believe I ever saw one in Holland. That[‘s]surprising isn’t it. Mary Lynn sure doesn’t seem to bother your weight loss does she.  Harker’s  wife had to stop nursing the baby because she was losing so much weight. You know in the picture before the baby was born I noticed you had a double chin. And by gosh in the last one you still have it. It looks bigger and better than ever. Going to have to get you doing a little road work when I get home.  Well Darling I hope you & Mary Lynn are both ok. I love you so much I love you my sweetheart I love you darling. I love you so much. I love you All my love Honey, Lefty (have 8 pictures to send in one group. Here are some)

Ok Dad, stop with the weight thing. That is just not a good thing to say to the woman who just carried and has been caring for your child alone for the last two months. My father’s aunts where pretty heavy and became and later became bedridden relatively early in life. I have to wonder if this is what sparks this kind of chatter. I also know these words would have thrown my mother into a tizzy. I really feel sorry for her and this is an emotion I don’t think I have ever felt for my mom before this journey.

 © 2013 notsofancynancy

Robert “Bob” Winter, Raymond Linden, Walter D. Huntsucker, Harker W. Harvey, Marvin Cain, Donald R. Edlund

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Responses

  1. Yes, a lot of the men didn’t want to bring the war too close to their loved ones and avoided the topic of combat in their letters; my father was the same way.

    • I was talking to a man at the beach he had a friend who served in Vietnam and he said the same thing about him. It seems to be that way in any war.

  2. Those letters from your mom really seem to be the only thing that keeps him going. And I think you’re right, he was also doing everything he could to shield her from what he was actually experiencing.

    • I agree that Mom’s letter’s keep him going. I am so glad I started this project because I had no idea how much in love he was with her. I did not come along until 13 years after the war and don’t start remembering things for another 5 years. After that long and 5 kids I never saw this kind of love between them. I needed to know the story these letter’s tell.

  3. I’m sure you looked it up already but you can see the same steeples in this photo of Heilbronn today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heilbronn_Innenstadt_u_Wartberg_20050918.jpg

  4. And here is a photo of the bombed city at just about the time of Lefty’s letter… http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Heilbronn_1945_US_Army_retouched-2.jpg

    • OMGoodness this is an awesome picture! I can imagine Dad rolling into this mess and trying to get around in his truck. Wow, How can he not talk about this???

  5. These letters really described Lefty’s dark feelings of war weariness.

    • Yes they sure do! He is really ready to come home. But they are not done with him yet!

  6. I love the way this post began……..I seem to remember my own dad starting a letter that way. He was in Germany also. He used to write about how beautiful it was and he always wanted to go back to hunt the mountains and fish the streams.

    • Makes me wonder if my dad ever wanted to go back. After driving all over France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany maybe not.


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