February 24, 1944
Adele's rash cleared completely overnight and the doctor gave me permission to take her out of bed. The German Measles clear in 24 hours and that's what happened. I guess you think I'm sore—oh yeh! He told me to keep her in the house for four days and then I can take her out. Today the weather was lovelier than ever, warm, sunny, breezy and downright beautiful. Gosh but I wanted to go out! I received 3 pieces of mail—your v-mail of the 14th, Jack N.’s lovely letter, and a letter from Milt. Milt expects this weekend to be his last home—he's going over any day now, as most of his division has left already. Jack N. decided he wanted an overseas hat and a pair of gloves instead of a shirt. I don't know when I'll be able to shop, but when I do I'll get you a hat, too. He's doing photography again. That reminds me—Ruth managed to get me another roll film. I'm saving it for the warmer weather to have clearer snaps.
Adele's appetite is very poor and consequently she is pounds lighter. I wouldn't want her to lose any more weight for as she grows it is taken up in the height. I kept her in bed in the morning, let her walk around the room in early afternoon, and brought her down for dinner. Time for all my love and adoration, baby.
February 24, 1944
No mail today for a change—and I'm almost relieved, because it gave me a chance to catch up with my correspondence. I just completed three V-mails to Ruthie, Seymour and Jack. I still have to answer Phil, Jack S., Jack N. and Eddie, so you see, I'm still way behind.
Today I have no letter of yours beside me to help me gather my thoughts, but on the other hand, it gives me an opportunity to tell you something of myself and my activities, such as they are, of the past few days.
Really, on reflection, there isn't much to tell. “Business” has been pretty dull, and the pictures at the theater being way below par, I hardly stir from the hut in the evenings. Occasionally, when I happen to get hungry after a supperless day, I stroll down the road to the Snack Bar. There, I’ll chew the rag with boys awhile over coffee and sandwiches, loaf around in the lounge about a half-hour or so listening to records and leafing through magazines. I don't stay more because the “jive” records and the “swoon crooners” make me intolerably homesick. When this happens, I head back to the hut, where, after warming up at the fire, I settle down on my bunk to write the daily letter. This goes on night after night with hardly a break to vary the monotony. Occasionally there is a “break,” but it's of such a nature that I wouldn't be permitted to put the details in a letter. Too, there are other things about our operations, the actual aspect of the field, the number of planes, etc., that I would like to tell you about, but all these come under the heading of “forbidden topics,” maybe, though, it's a good thing I can't enlarge on these subjects. After all, I'll have to have something to talk about when I get home—some blessed day.
As to the more mundane aspects of my present existence, I can truthfully say that I rarely felt better, physically. My appetite at lunchtime, which is the only meal I eat consistently (breakfast never, supper sometimes) is simply enormous. If Mom could see the quantity of food I consume at that one meal she’d be astounded. Living quarters, as I've already told you, are comfortable and designed to meet our minimum needs. Luxuries, in this respect, there are none, naturally. Time, i.e., spare time, isn't too plentiful either, in spite of our comparatively easy routine. Every day is “Monday,” and we make no concessions whatever to Sunday. The high spots in a rather drab existence for most of us, are letters from home, packages from home, pass or furlough, or a particularly encouraging item of “war news.” The main pre-occupation of all the G.I.’s is what, in their more refine moments, they are pleased to call “batting the breeze,” but more commonly referred to by a vulgar term which doesn't bear repetition here. The subjects that come under discussion are as varied as the vagaries of life itself, and are debated with a like variety of emphasis and vehemence. A “discussion” may be anything from a quiet exposition of opinion and an equally quiet assent to a conceited conception, and a violent argument—or anything in between. Surprisingly (or is it?) whatever the topics of discussion through the bulk of the evening, they invariably lead up to that ever-intriguing and indefatigable “subject” that forms the “common ground” of Man and Woman. (That's the “nicest” way I am capable of putting it)—and truth to tell, I can't conceive of a more entertaining topic. The boys as a rule, aren’t the least but squeamish about rehashing their “adventures” in the most minute detail; indeed, they never enjoy themselves better than when they can recount a particularly lurid story to a group of invariably interested listeners. You are probably wondering what part I play in these little tableaux. Frankly, I talk and expostulate probably more than anyone in the hut—up to a point. When it (the conversation) gets around to the “ultimate subject,” I am forced to shut up and listen. Not that I am such a prude that I would disdain to talk in like vein—not a bit of it! The simple truth is I am way out of my class in that particular league. Any story I might tell in that connection would be an insipid thing, indeed, in such company, ’cause some of the boys, although years younger than I, have really “gotten around.” Sometimes, when things are oppressingly quiet in the hut, and most of the guys are in an introspective mood, I’ll deliberately “pick” an argument. My chief foil among the guys is McFarlin, so, when “in the mood” to stir things up a little, I simply park myself beside Mac, and in the most aggravating tone I can muster, say “Well, Mac, Whaddya think you know?” That does it! From then ’til “lights out” there is plenty of give and take with everyone “putting his oar in.” Once the lights are out, the talk dies quickly, and the hut is quiet except for an occasional snore or someone mumbling in his sleep. Sometimes, one of the fellows comes in late after a night of imbibing—and a little (sometimes a lot) the worse for wear. Invariably, such a one will suffer a misadventure in the small hours of the morning. The next morning, he is the target for unmerciful, ribbing. He is scorned, taunted, condemned, and insulted by guys who, more often than not, have been guilty of the same misdemeanor more times than once. This latter “activity” is by way of being the favorite sport around here. Everyone, me included, takes a savage delight in heaping coals of fire on a “sinner's” head. The “sinner,” on the other hand, will assume an exaggerated attitude of outraged innocence. Anyone not in the “know” would be tremendously impressed with our deadly serious miens, our blasphemous. flaying of the offender, and the equally blasphemous defense of the persecuted one. Inwardly, though, we're having ourselves one helluva good time, and laughing at ourselves and each other.
I don't know how all this will strike you, Chippie, but aside from the amusement we derive from certain aspects of our Army life, I know we are all learning valuable lessons in human nature and human behavior. Most important, we learn to respect the other fellow's point-of-view on every basic subject. My own personal opinion is that tolerance is the most sadly neglected tenet in the world today. The Army, all unwittingly, in forcing groups of men to live together, has done much to eradicate the biggest obstacle in the course of human progress—intolerance. In many respects, this war will prove a beneficent factor in the history of civilization. I daresay I will have reason to point out the truth of this even in our time.
All the foregoing just about “cleans up” everything I have to say for now. Except, of course, that I love you above everything, my Evvie, and if I took the pains to tell you in detail everything that my love for you embraces and signifies, and makes significant—well, I should never finish writing. Tell our sweet little Adele (my own punkin), how her daddy adores her and how he will spare no effort to make life sweet for her. Tell her that her dad's every thought and action is prompted by his love for his two girls and God willing will someday tender more concrete evidence of that love than his daily letters signed
P.S. My love to all.
February 24, 1944
Owing to recently received information and in respect to your present stature, I hereby forswear the appellation of “short-pants” and apply the more apt cognomen you see above.
Seriously, Jack, I was more than surprised at your rapid development. I was positively dumbfounded. With your added height and weight you shouldn't have any trouble at all making the varsity teams this year. Best of luck!
Yours is the kind of letter I love to get, because I don't have to think twice about what to write. I simply answer all your questions:
No, we, i.e., I do not indulge in any form of athletics whatever, unless you include stud poker in that category. Yes, I finally managed to meet Eddie in London. He looks O.K. No, I don't think he got any taller. No, neither did I (and have a care who you're calling “shrimp”—I don't draw the line at 5" 10-1/2" and can still make a certain second string center wish he were inches taller and pounds heavier!) Judging the English “beauties” by our standards, I would say—not nearly! No, I haven't seen any of the famous Hollywood stars—except in the movies (and I see all of them). So far, the only person I knew back in the States that I have met in the ETO is Eddie—but I'm still hoping to contact the others whom I know are “over here.” Yes, I hear quite a few of the “popular songs”—but not the very latest. Thanks for your offer in this connection, Jack, but they make me homesick and I'd rather not hear them for that reason. I manage to follow the sports news pretty closely, thanks to the “Stars and Stripes,”—and thanks again.
Well, Big boy, I trust I have answered all your questions to your satisfaction. Don't hesitate to send along a fresh batch. I promise to answer promptly. Keep punchin’, Jackson. Give my love to all. Wishing you all the best. I am
February 24, 1944
Dear Strongin family,
How’re you all? Yep this is me Lee writing from way down south in Tenn.
We received your lovely letter Eve and sure were glad to hear from you. You remember me Eve I'm the other half of Len. I know I should write more often, but will make up for it when the war is over by seeing you more often.
Gee, we sure would like to see your sweet little girl (or should I say big). She must be the cutest thing.
I'm glad to hear Phil is fine. Give him our best rewards and say we'll be seeing him soon when this war is over. I headed the letter Strongin family, although I'm writing mainly to you Eve.
Len and I are just fine here and are slowly but surely getting used to it down here, although we can't complain and I won't.
I'm not working here, for I can't get a job that's half decent, so I manage on my allotment and Len’s pay fairly well. We live in the outskirts of town, it's really beautiful here, just like the country and all the homes are brand new. We have a beautiful room in the home of two sisters whose husbands are in the army and they both have babies, both boys, one is 4 months old and the other is 7 months old. They are just the cutest things, especially the one who is 4 months, he's so chubby and sweet, I can just eat him up.
I’m able to cook all my meals in, so that helps a lot. I'm with the girls all afternoon and we go places together and make our meals together. Len comes home every evening for supper and sleeps home every night and is up 5:30 every morning except Sunday, which is his day off. You can see from this that we have no kick coming, not right now anyway.
Eve, I'm still the same Lee, maybe a little fatter and older, but still the same. Len has gained about 20 pounds and really looks swell. He looked pretty bad after his mom died and so did I, but somehow he picked up a bit and I'm picking up slowly but surely. I guess I'll never be fat or much fatter than I am now anyway.
How is Mrs. Strongin feeling? Fine we hope.
How is Goldie and Harry. They'll be having a family soon, I've heard. Lots of luck to you, Goldie.
Eve I guess I've finally run out of words, so I'll just have to close this letter. I hope you can read this alright. There is so much that I want to say and it's hard for me to put it in writing. I get so excited, but I guess this will do.
Our best Love and Regards to you all
Len and Len.