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Brad Friedman - Letters from Grandpa

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Following the death of my grandmother, Eva Friedman, my aunt, Bobbie Glaser, came across these letters from my grandfather, Harry Friedman who had passed away a decade or so earlier. They were written during WWII while he was away in the navy.  She thought they were beautiful and I agree. So here they are. The letters were perfectly typed by him and punctuated; not bad from a man with a sixth grade education. Well here goes. (Letters retyped by Roberta Glaser, Harry's oldest child)
This letter to Harvey Wayne Friedman (Harry's second born child) is dated Monday 30 October 1944

Harvey I was really surprised when mother wrote me and told me that she was having trouble with your going to DANCING SCHOOL. Son I want you to know that going to dancing school is not being a sissy. It builds up big strong muscles, makes you strong, and later when you are big all the boys will be jealous of you because you are such a good dancer. I know because when I was five years old going on six my mother couldn't afford to send me to dancing school, and when I grew up I couldn't tell my left foot from my right. I was very clumsy, and it made me bashful and ashamed to dance with other girls. Many, many times I turned green with envy when I saw some of the other fellows, who had gone to dancing school, dancing with the pretty girls while I stood on the side and watched. Yes you are a lucky fellow that you have the opportunity to go to dancing school, and don't worry if some of the fellows call you sissy. It's either because their fathers and mother(s) can't afford to send them to dancing school or don't care enough about them to send them. Yes Son you are a lucky fellow. And remember some boys are just not very bright. They have the chance to go to dancing school and don't take it, and later when they get big and it is to late for them to learn, they are sorry they didn't go. So you be the smart one. Don't pay any attention to any one. Go to dancing school as often as you can. Grow tall and strong. Then you will be able to tell the other shrimps I told you so.

Tell everyone how much I miss them. I know you are a good boy at home. I know you don't fight with your sister any more, and are good to mother and grandmother. Be sure and tell Bobby how much I love her (to). I am always thinking of you all.

Daddy

Thursday 1 March 1945

Hello Honey:

Today I received your letter written Saturday the 17th of February...I can't understand why I didn't receive it earlier, it was stamped as being received here the 22nd of February, but I guess with so many men on the base they slip up occasionally, or oftener.

To refresh your memory as to what was in the letter, it starts with telling me that Jerry is a good kid, which he is, and has a note in it written by Mike to prove he is coming down to the store.

You ask me if I complain about my nose. Honey I couldn't get out of this Navy before the war with Germany is over if I had a letter from the President. There is a severe shortage of men in our special branch of work, and they keep you, if you are a yeoman, if you are deaf, dumb, blind, have syphlis, and are suffering with galloping Consumption.

I read about Itzie coming home the 3rd of March, and I sure would love to see him, but I'm afraid it's impossible for me to make it, (doggone it).

Honey I really believe our daughter is exceptional in her playing of the piano, she has an unusual ear for music, although where she acquired it I don't know, unless you are musical, I know I have no ear for music. I think both of our children are exceptionally bright, but I wouldn't dare tell anyone else this, for I remember how it galled me when other proud parents started talking up their children who I happened to know were just average every day children. I'd rather some one else told me how bright my children were (then) me telling them. So Bobby is checking up on her brother, it's a good idea, shows an interest in her brother. You know Dear even if they fight (occasionally) they are still crazy about each other.

About my spelling, you know I never have any difficulty with words of more then one syllable, but when it comes to the supposed to be simple words I'm not worth a damn. Words that begin with "e" or "I" stump me, but did I ever tell you I was any good as a stenographer, or did I ever want to do that kind of work? Baby I'm only doing it because the Navy says I gotta', after I'm out of this outfit they can give te job back to the Indians, or the namby pampies that want it. I'm a cigar smoker not a perfume user, and I'm a mighty unusual looking yeoman, me with my pipe, I look like I just came in here by mistake.

Yes Dear the yeomen are the delicate flowers of the Navy, the artiste, the ones with temperament and all, the way some of them boss the men around here you'd think they were Admirals. One thing I always try to do is treat everyone like I'd want them to treat me, I told you I'm not a very good yeoman, I haven't the knack of belittling anyone, most of the yeomen around here try to make the average sailor fee; like two cents. All we have to do is make a yeoman striker out of a seaman and he starts running the base.

Well this will have to be it, I'm being prodded by the Chief to get the monthly report out, so I had better get going, he's my boss you know, and how well I know.

Good Evening Sweetheart.

Harry

This letter is dated 19 June l945 The heading on the letter is Amphibious Training Base Oceanside, California

Hello Sweetheart:

Today I received a letter from my sister inquiring about my discharge, and asking if there was anything else she could do in the way of helping me get it. Of course I'll answer her letter as soon as I can. She seems to be the only one of my family interested enough to write me, and she has often sent me packages. It seems that she doesn't get along with her other two sister-in-laws either.

Something else I want to write you before I forget it. That confidential stuff I wrote you yesterday is top secret stuff, so forget I even wroe you for it, just don't mention it to anyone. (Both top secret and anyone were underlined)

By the time you receive this letter our children will have started on their vacation. Mother will have her hands full with them, and I hope she is able to bear up under the strain of running after them all day long. Looking after our children is a full time job for a young person.

I heard today about a fellow that was here in ship's company with us and finally being shipped out on a shore duty survey being killed at Okinawa. He was a mighty fine man about my age, father of three children. It's a funny thing how fate has to take a hand, I'll write how he left here and you'll see what I mean.

This man was a Boatswains Mate first class, and before shipping him out they wanted to rate him Chief Boatswains Mate, but had no opening in our complement. SLCU 42 which was training here at the time had an opening so we transferred him to this Unit and rated him up. Now this Unit rated a Chief Boatswains Mate in their Administrative command, which stayed aboard ship while the Unit was making the invasion, and a Chief Boatswains Mate that went in with the invading forces. We tried to put him under the administrative command, but Lt. Comd'r Marting, who was in charge of the Unit had his own favorite for this spot, and insisted that Torrance, that was the man's name, be put in the group handling the invasion, anyway he was killed with them. Perhaps if we could have swung that other post for him he would be alive today.

I got a letter today from two of the yeomen that shipped out of here just recently, they shipped out together on an aircraft carrier.

Honey I think I've just about covered everything new and old for today. I'll just say adios until tomorrow - I love you.

Harry

Wednesday 20 June 1945

Hello Baby:

I've been in the dumps today, and it's mostly on account of scuttlebut, and this time it concerns me. I hesitated writing you this until I got the authentic dope on it, but it seems like they intend making me wait a while until they tell me officially and just like me I tell you strictly scuttlebut of course, my request for a discharge has been disapproved, there is supposed to be a critical shortage of yeomen.

I got this dope from the captain's yeoman last night after I had written you, he told me it wasn't official and that I would be notified officially of it when the executive officer got around to it. I hope he is wrong, but I don't believe he would tell me this if it wasn't authentic. Of course if I hear otherwise I'll wire you as soon as I get the dope, if I just get a confirmation of what was told me you'll read about the confirmation in my regular letter as soon as it is told to me.

They of course will show me the letter that the bureau wrote back and I'll write you what they had to say.

My day was brightened some this evening by the wonderful letter I received from you and Bobby. Bobby wrote me a mighty sweet and interesting letter, and it made me mighty proud to read of the wonderful grades she made in school. I certainly wish it were possible for me to be home for her recital. I'd give most anything to be there, but I don't believe I could talk Uncle Sam into letting me go.

And our son's report card was a fine one too, again I must say that I feel mighty proud of my children. Now with summer coming on I hope they are able to get the most out of their vacation months, but I do wish that they try not to be too much of a trial to their grandmother. They should always bear in mind how much they really love her, and behave toward her as they should towards someone they love.

I'll try to write our children a letter as soon as I get out of the dumps a little, but in the meantime I do wish that you let Bobby read this one to brother.

Dear it looks like St. Louis is having much more of it's share of rain this summer, but it is a question which is worse, stifling heat or rain, as for me I'll take the rain. As bad as you think the rain is now I'm afraid when real summer finally sets in you'll be wanting these rainy days.

I could ask for a leave and get it, as I have no leave in my record, but I can't afford to do it, I've got to protect my job if I want to stay here. After all my time ashore is over, and they are just keeping me now because the R&M Officer says it will take me three months to break in another man. He doesn't know to much about the job himself, and he is afraid if I leave he will be lost, that is really the only reason he is doing everything to keep me. I can assure you it isn't because he loves me so much. He is dumb, and he never will learn, just a nice front man. I assemble the wanted information for him then he crows all around the base how much work is involved in the R & M department, when he really does damn little of it.

Yes Baby we've had a hard ride through life, it's been a happy one, but no one has greased our way. I've gone into the service and you have been left with a business on your hands to run. I'm afraid I can't say my work in the Navy has been all beer and scittles. I haven't used any suction to stay ashore, it's just between a lot of damn hard work they've gotten their moneys worth out of this gob. And you've had to work every day while so many other wives with children have been able to stay at home with their children, and a husband to come home to them every night.

Yes we've been mighty happy in love, and this love should always mean more to us then to most people as it's been necessary for us to fight every step of the way for our happiness, our love, and our existence.

Again, remind mother and the children how much I miss them - and just for me- ask them to be as good as they can possibly be - which is very, very good.

I love you Dear,

Harry

 

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