Letters Home: 20 August 1943, a long reply from Dad

Omaha, Nebraska
August 20, 1943

Dear Kenny:

I kinda feel ashamed of myself for having not written sooner but I have been busy with several house deals and repair work etc. etc. and time slips on before one realizes it.  Your letter of July 26 received directly at my office and was pleased to receive it.

Regarding the beer you satisfied my curiosity, as I couldn’t figure out when the Navy came to the point of issuing beer or liquors, but I can understand your situation you must have some relaxation and it was fine of then to get such a nice place for you.  I bet you are as brown as a nut with tan.

I can use plenty of business for a while as you know it was pretty tough going after I broke off with your uncle but things seem to be getting established and I have a fine clientele.

We are sorry that we couldn’t keep the chickens any longer so when Helene and Mae got back last Thursday it being sorta of a celebration, Mrs. Whitlock’s birthday dinner for her and a lady by the name of Mrs. Richards that lives with her, Helene, Mae, mother and I on last Sunday.  We ate the chickens and thought of you boys and wished you could have had some of them.  The garage has now only the rabbit and the car.  Mrs. Whitlock was awful well pleased over the letter she received from you.  She is still pretty active for being 78 years old and a jolly old soul.

Helene had an awful nice time in the two months she was gone.  She rode horses, drove a cart, milked a cow, gathered eggs and I understand was a mighty swell kid, behaved herself fine.  She has grown, it seems like a couple of inches but doesn’t weigh any more.  She has been awful busy since she got back getting acquainted with her playfellows.

Mrs. Loomis brought over a picture last night of you and Dick and Loomis taken when you were about 12 years old.  You fellows had on white pants and white shirts and you had a football hair cut and if you ever saw 3 peeled onions, you were it.  Who ever thought then that you fellows would be scattered apart.  Loomis is still in Texas waiting for his assignment. [The Loomis family lived one street over from Ken’s family in 1940.  Their son, Clyde Loomis died flying over France in 1944.  He was a bombardier/navigator on a B-26.]

Your mother left last Monday night for Denver to spend her vacation there.  That is the first trip she has had for a long time and it is the first time in her life she will see the mountains.  She will more than likely have a splendid time and get to see Dick quite a lot while there.  A card I received from her this morning stated she and Dick plan on going to Estes Park Saturday and Sunday.  [Young Dick was a radioman for the U.S. Navy.  I am not sure what specific training he went to in Denver, as there were several training programs for the Navy and Army Air Forces (aka Air Corp.)  The Army Air Forces had the Western Technical Training Command in Denver which trained members from all branches of the military, while the Navy had linguistic training at Boulder, a Naval College, Intelligence training, and the Rocky Mountain Chemical Warfare School.  The questionnaire mentioned later leads me to wonder if he wasn’t going to intelligence or counter-intelligence training as part of being a radioman.]

A few days back I was talking with one of the Navy Recruiting Officers here in Omaha and he stated that you are entitled to a 5% increase of base pay when you have served in the armed service for 3 years or better.  He also said the time you spent in the National Guard would be counted as part of your 3 years so if you are not already getting it you should make application for it.  He had been in the National Guard 2 years and one year in the Navy and is now getting the 5% increase and if you haven’t been receiving it would be reactive to the time that your 3 years period had been served including your National Guard service so suggest that you look into it.  It is a bill that was recently past.

We keep asking Helene about the mountains if they were as big as the hills around Omaha and she says much bigger.  She and Dick and Mae went for a horse back ride up into the mountains.  Dick got a couple of lazy horses they were so lazy that they almost had to carry the horses back.  Dick got disgusted and took them home.

I can’t feature Army being a papa.  I think that you and Bill are wise and that you don’t have the worry of a wife and children back home.  Your time will come with a lot more happiness when this thing is over with.  Regarding the blonde, brunette or redhead, there are a lots of women here that would be tickled to go and some really keen ones that you boys could really fall for, but means of transportation is quite difficult so I expect that they will have to rest until you get nearer home.

I wrote Bill a letter today.  In his last letter he said he had seen all the world he wanted to, he liked the Navy but was just plain homesick.

Yes, our anniversary was the 8th day of August it was the same old routine as usual.  We went to a show that night as a celebration, I wanted to take your mother to dinner but she didn’t want to go.  Your good wishes for that day were ample, Kenny, and we rather that you wouldn’t extend yourself in any manner.  We appreciate your thought just the same.

I got a letter from Charlie Harding several weeks ago and he is on a 30-day furlough in Seattle.  The first he had seen of his family for 2 years.  I think they had gotten back to the States for a rest period or possibly an over haul. [Charles Harding was the son of Charles F. Harding, a Navy man whose family was living in Omaha in 1940.  In 1935 the family was in China and Charles F. died at Seattle in 1952.]

This letter is in answer to yours of July 27, and one of July 29 and finally the last one received of August 9, which you evidently had written on the graveyard shift.  Sorry to learn the mustache finally fell into the hands of the razor and you got rid of the itching under your nose.  I am sure it was quite noticeable if standing very close to you.

We received a letter from Dick this week stating that he had heard from you.  Two letters which he enclosed for us to read.  They were 2 swell letters and he was very appreciative of them.  He said he was going to write you immediately.

I liked “Pride of the Yankees” very much.  It was a swell picture.  I also saw the picture “Action in the North Atlantic” which was plenty full of action.  The picture was based upon convoy duty to Murmansk, Russia.  I think you probably saw some of that action yourself.

The cabbage is all gone from the garden, used it up and have replanted the ground.  I have made 4 and 5 replanting of some of the ground this summer and we do have a swell garden.  Tomatoes are good.   I picked a market basket full last night.  We haven’t been bothered very much with ants on our plants so far.  First time I heard that expression so you really originated something.

Your allotment check for $75.00 came August 1 and it was duly deposited in your account, which now stands at $419.77; still growing, kid.

Dick expects to finish his school about the middle of October.  There is some possibility that he might be sent to another school at Washington, D.C., what it is he doesn’t know.  But he sent a questionnaire home to be filled out.  I guess they all have to be good to make it.  They all get a chance at it but just those that can qualify are the ones that get it.

We had our Bingo game last night.  Helene and Mae went along out and Helene almost won a prize.  We cleared $24.60 for the Post Building Fund.

Kenny, this is getting quite long I think that I will sign off here and bid you good-bye with good luck and may love.  Let us hear from you often.

As ever your Dad,

P.S. Dicks last letter he ran a foul to the captain. Didn’t see him until it was to late to salute.  The captain made him walk a block with him but the captain did all the talking.  Dick had his liberty restricted for two days, but he figured he got off easy.