World War II Letters: A 24-Year Old Soldier is Almost Home!

Like every other soldier still on duty, Dad longed to be home with his family.  He and his twin brother Eddie would turn 24 on November 30, 1945, and Dad wanted so much to celebrate that post-war birthday, though Eddie would be home for it, not Dad.  November 30 of this year Dad would have been 90.  I’ve included in the last part of the WWII blog some photos of Mom and Dad right after he became a civilian again in 1946, and photos of them from the 1980’s.  The last photo I took of Dad was in his living room in his favroite chair holding their very much loved dog, Benji.  Dad was at his happiest when playing his guitar, and I took a candid shot of him in his study doing what he loved best.  A favorite photo of our family was the one of Dad and my brother playing their guitars together.  We all joked about the potted plant behind Dad that looked as though it were growing out of his head and made him look like Carmen Miranda.

My brother David would be in the army during the Vietnam conflict, and I have included a photo of his unit and a photo of him and his rifle in 1970.
I would like to end the WWII portion of my blog with the photo with which I began, my parents when they were both 18.  My greatest wish has been to honor them both along with all those men and women who served their country in one way or another during World War II.  They all deserve our deep respect and gratitude for changing the world for the better and for all time.  I can add that I still love and miss them very much.
November 23, 1945
11:10 P.M.

Dear Mom and Dad,

     I received you letter of November 15 yesterday (Eddie & Marge’s anniversary)  I was going to answer it last night, but we had a fire at the gas dump.  Some fun!  I would like to have the money that went up in smoke there last night.

     Mom, when Bonnie goes around the house all day singing, you can be sure she is happy.  Boy, was I glad to hear that.  She has really been through a lot, but now I know she is all right, and I’m not one bit worried.  What a wonderful feeling that is.  You can be sure she won’t have to get nerve medicine from her doctor anymore…unless all women have to take it when they’re going to have babies.  By George, it won’t be long now before you’ll be a grandmother and grandfather again.  Say, Dad, do you feel “old?” You’d had better sit down in a chair and rest.  Egad, that sounds comfortable.  Move over, old boy!  What do you say to tapping a couple of bottles, huh?  You sure?  OK.  Hi Bonn, let’s have some Pepsi-Cola in here.

     Boy, I sure hope Eddie can get home for our birthday.  I received a letter from him today, and he said he hopes to be there.  That is only a week from today.  We’ll be a whopping 24!  It’ll be swell to see Eddie and celebrate the birthday together.  I would have liked to be there when he gets his new guitar.  Man, oh man, will he be happy!  Mine is still going swell.  I play it quite a lot.  If he gets home, he’ll be there for Christmas and New Year’s Eve too, won’t he?

    Well, I see it’s a quarter ‘til twelve, so I’m going to hit the hay.  Good night, and God bless you and keep you safe.  I hope I can see you soon.  Please keep me informed about how Bonnie is doing with her pregnancy.  She never complains, so I can’t tell if she’s being on the level with me that she is having no problems.  I’m so excited about the baby coming in March. Think of it, I’m going to be a dad!  Tell Bonn and Vi I said hello.

Your loving son,

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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