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
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.
1 March 1945
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
This letter is dated 19 June l945 The heading on the letter is Amphibious
Training Base Oceanside, California
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
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.
Wednesday 20 June
I've been in the dumps today, and it's mostly on account of
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
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
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,