DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 15, Good News, Planning for the Future

May 28, 1944

Here it is Sunday and it sure was a nice day.  I took most of my laundry outside and am letting the hot sun dry it out.  Things mold over here so fast during this season.

I received your letter of the 14th three days ago.  I’ve sort of caught up or maybe I should say my mail has pretty well caught up with me now.

I’m glad you got the card and flowers for Mother’s Day.  I could have sent flowers through the army system, but missed the chance, so I sent Dorothy the money and told her to get them.I was wondering if the things in the box that I sent home would mold by the time they got there.  As they get damp over here, they mold easily.  How do you like the little brass bowl?  I thought that it was sort of novel and thought you would like it.  You can use it for powder or something like that.

I’m glad to hear that it finally got dry enough so that you could work in the fields.  If it stays that way maybe you can get the crops in before it gets so late as last year.

Well now that Uncle George has sold his place that settles that.  I’m glad in a way as it has always been more or less of a worry.  You won’t have to work so hard after this summer.  You can farm on the home place more leisurely so that you can handle it yourself and don’t need to hire a man.

As for Dorothy and I, we can find us a place somewhere close enough so that we can help you out on the home place.  By that time there be lots of opportunity as these older farmers will be ready to retire.

One nice thing if there won’t be any cattle fed down there on the other place next winter, you won’t have to fool around filling the silo and you can shuck all the corn standing.  You should keep half (yours) of the corn or as much as you needed and you won’t have to worry about buying any next winter or spring.

If you get the place pretty well paid up you won’t have to feed more hogs than what you can raise the feed for.

I don’t think that Uncle Pete will want to give up the place now as he has paid up as much as he has.  I suppose he had paid off all the other debts he owes you.  Of course that’s still plenty.

Of course, if it should happen that he would be willing to turn the place over, maybe it could be worked out so that we could handle it.  If there had to be a little money put up to gain possession, I’d be willing to put some in on it.  of course at the present, i don’t have very much, but every little bit helps.  If the place was put up for sale, I don’t think it would bring over seventy-five hundred.  That’s a good price.  Of course it’s a pretty desirable small place.  The buildings are in pretty good shape and the location is good.  The land is good and a buyer that really wanted it might be willing to pay a good price.  To us it would be worth quite a bit as it is close to the home place.

Editor’s note:  Grandpa and his brother [Great Uncle Pete] had adjoining farms.

Write and give more particulars about the situation as of course I’m interested.  The main object is to clear the home place as near as possible.

If I had some money (enough to put down on a small place), I wold be willing to buy a farm now and get al loan that I could pay off in a few years.  I’ll never go very far in debt though as I’ve seen too much of that already.  I think the government is going to help the service man out a little after the war is over.  Of course there isn’t much use of me thinking o buying a place as I’m getting too late a start and have no money now.  Of course later in life, if I’m fortunate to make some extra capital and get a good opportunity, I might invest in land.

In the meantime I’ll just have to rent and then someday take over the home place.  I feel that for about five years after the war a person can make a little money on the farm.

Well,I’ll close for this time.  I know you are busy now.  Hope you are feeling well.  Would sure like to drop in for a chicken dinner.

D-Day InvasionEditor’s note:  Operation Overlord (D-Day invasion) took place on June 6, 1944.  At long last the war seemed to be ending in Europe and gave Dad hope for the future.  His life had been on hold for three years, now it was time to look ahead.

June 11, 1944

Here it is another Sunday and it my day off.  I went to church this morning for a change.  That took up most of my morning.  this afternoon I haven’t accomplished anything up to now.

Yesterday broke the delay in mail as I got four and had done without any for about five days.

By now you should have most of your corn in, providing the weather allowed.  That’s too bad for the tractor to fail during the busiest time of the year and after having it overhauled.  I guess it’s getting about wore out.  I was in hopes it would hold out till I got home and then, l thought, maybe after a year or so we could get a new one.

DSCN0270One of the two barns–this one called the horse barn.

Yes, when I get home maybe we can all work together and sort of fix up the home place.  It sure needed a lot of work when I left.  I hope to get out of the army in the late summer or early fall so that I’ll have plenty of time to get set before spring.  Maybe dad and I can repair things around there during the fall and winter.  the house needs something done to it and the barns also.  I’ve often thought that on a place that size, it wold be better to have one large barn instead of two small ones.  Anyway the cattle barn is much too small.  I have an idea the shed west of the cattle barn is about all the way down by now.  Maybe we could enlarge it or something.

Don’t worry about me finding a place to farm.  Just keep the home place going while I’m gone and that’ll be enough for you.  I’m counting on getting home sometime next year.  Depending on the way things go will mean whether it’ll just be a furlough or be home to stay.  I certainly hope it is the latter.

Dorothy said that they couldn’t get anyone to spade up their garden.  It is sod and is too tough for her to handle.  I wish that it was so that she had a garden to work with this summer, but I’m too far away to be able to do anything about it.  I sometimes wonder just how it’ll be for her to get accustomed to farm life and possibly starting a family all in one year.  Of course a person has to expect those things.  Sometimes I think it would be better to postpone a family for a year or two until we sort of get settled.  We are both getting to the age where we should have kids as soon as possible though.  Dorothy is 25 now and I’ve heard the younger a woman has her children, the better luck you have with both.  Enlighten me on that if you can.  You’ve had more experience than I have.  I’d like to have at least a couple of kids even though I am getting a late start.  It looks like most of my old buddies back home have gotten the jump on me.

Editor’s note:  Dad asked Grandma for advice on starting a family.  Things worked out as planned, the first child was born two years after the war, in 1947.     

WelI, I hope this was doesn’t last over another year and we can all get down to business again.  Everything is going as well as can be expected with me.  The hot climate is more that I bargained for but I guess it’s better than what some have to put up with.

Write as often as you can.  It sure helps a lot to get letters from home.

6-14-44 (V-Mail)

I received your V-mail letter today of May 30th.  I’m glad to hear that you got the corn all in on the other place.  By now I guess it’s all in and you are cultivating it.

My corn crop looks like pop corn.  I doubt if the ears have many grains on them, it sure doesn’t look much like it.  they look like there might be some nubbins, but I felt of one yesterday and it didn’t feel like there was much inside.  I guess that is the wrong type of corn for this climate.

I wonder what Ern Lee wants with another house.  I suppose he’s just speculating though.

I sure would like to be there to eat some fresh strawberries.  It has been quite a while since I’ve eaten any.  Send me a picture of your roses if you get a chance.  I’ll close for this time.  Everything is OK, but awfully hot.

strawberries

June 18, 1944

I received your letter the evening of the 4th of June.  I’m glad to hear that you got your corn and beans in.  I suppose that you finally got the tractor fixed up so that it runs right now.

How much corn can you cultivate in a day with the tractor?  It takes longer when the corn is small, but when it gets up a foot high you can really go to town then.  I’d sure like to do something like that again.  I remember that it runs into real work during hot weather.  The sun beats down and the tractor got hot and so did I.

That cold storage locker is all right.  You can have fresh stuff after the season is over.  How long can you deep fresh fruit and vegetables before they spoil?  What is the average temperature in the locker?

You speak of blackberry and raspberry bushes dying out.  Maybe the chickens killed them out.  I remember one year we had all kinds of blackberries and raspberries.  I believe that was the same year there were so many cherries.  Speaking of gooseberries, do you remember when I was kid how I stemmed a bucketful for a quarter?  It took me a whole afternoon if I remember correctly.

If you have a good wheat crop, maybe it’ll help out if you can get it harvested.  The fertilizer must be doing some good.

Yes, my appetite has improved and I’m eating enough, I suppose for a hot climate.  I’m not losing any weight.  I seem to be holding my own.  I’ll fatten up again when I get in a cool climate again.

Editor’s note:  Like most mothers, Grandma worried about her son’s health, the quality and quantity of army food.

Well, I’ll close for this time.  I hope to hear from you again soon.

June 27, 1944

I put off writing a couple of days this time because I thought that I might hear from you, but as it is I haven’t heard since week before last.  I think the last letter I got was a V-mail.

I had guard last night and I should not have any more details this week.  It is still awfully warm which can be expected for quite some time to come.

Since the invasion has started I suppose a lot of the people back home are very much interested in the war over in Europe.

It looks now like we might get a furlough in the States the fore part of next year as the rotation seems to have started over here.

I just couldn’t think of anything in particular to write last night so I just laid the letter aside.  I received your V-letter of the 12th today.  I’m glad to hear that you are pretty well up on your work.  By now I suppose the wheat is ready to cut, or are you combining it this year?  I didn’t know you had cattle on pasture this year.  Did you save some back or did you buy some on the market this spring?

I played some volleyball this evening and then took a shower.  After that I washed out a few pieces of clothing before dark.  Most of the fellows went to the show tonight, but I just wasn’t in the mood to go.

I’ve been thinking it over now since some of the men out of this theatre, that have been over here two years, have started home on furloughs.  If they continue that policy, I should be getting home the first part of next year.  sometime ago you spoke of the Dams place being open for rent and asked me if I wanted you to rent it for me.  If you think that it is practical to do so why it is OK with me.  If the war should be well enough alone by that time and a lot of things can happen in that length of time, may I could get home to farm it.  Now, I don’t want to throw any extra burden on you, so do whatever you think best about it.  Since you have livestock and equipment to handle it, it looks like a shame to get rid of lit and then have to restock later on.

I’ve asked Dorothy how she would like to move out on the place in the country such as that and have a cow, chickens and a garden.  Of course in the event that I wouldn’t be able to get out of the army by then, she could help with some of the farm work.  I don’t know what she’s going to say.  I’m waiting for an answer now.

I’m putting a lot of stock in the war ending sometime next year.

Well, I guess I’ll close for this time.  I’m as well as can be and hope you are the same.

July 1, 1944

I was running through old letters tonight, as I haven’t gotten any mail the last few days, and I ran across the two letters that you wrote me the fore part of April.  It sort of put me in the mood to write about the things on the farm.

I guess by now you have cut the wheat, unless you intend to combine it.  If it turns out good you should make a little more on wheat this year.  I suppose the price must be up around a dollar and a half, unless it drops around harvest time.

Is Uncle George working his two old white mules this summer?  I can just see him wrestling something like that around,  I imagine they get around as slow as he is.

white mulesFarming with mules

It seems funny for that place to be in other hands as it has been the Gahr place for so long.  I can’t remember them living anywhere else.  I suppose it’ll be a relief to not have to bother about feeding down there this winter.  It used to be quite a drag going down there when it was so muddy.  I didn’t mind it too much though, as I was interested in feeding the cattle.

Did the tractor finally get to running all right after you had trouble at the start of the season?  That sure didn’t speak so good for the guys that overhauled it.  I hope we can buy a new one with rubber tires, lights, starter and all, after the war.  I suppose that it’s near impossible to get them now.  How are the tires holding out on the tractor?  Did you ever change the rear tires from one side to the other?  Next time we buy tires for a tractor we’ll know to get heavier ones.

So you had to finally get a fuel pump for the car.  Dorothy had to put one on her car recently.  How are your tires holding out?  Have you ever had any flats?  Dorothy said her tires are getting pretty bum.  When they are gone I suppose she’ll have to do without.  They are four years old now and that is pretty good life for a tire.  These synthetic tires aren’t so much.

If you haven’t had the points checked since I’ve been home, you had better do before winter again.  You had better get complete new wiring, if possible and if not, have the old checked.  The car is getting pretty old,and the wiring usually goes bad after so long a time, and can give all kinds of trouble, even to shorting and causing a fire.  Lots of cars burn up by shorts and I wouldn’t take a chance.  Sometime when you have the time, you can take it somewhere and have all the lights, as well as ignition wiring replaced if you can possibly get it done.

Editor’s note:  Had all the good mechanics gone to war?

Your cattle sure did good last winter.  They gained a fraction over 1.6 pounds a day figuring that you fed them for 140 days.  You got a nice margin on price, too, at $4.75.  That sure is different from what it was during the thirties.

I wonder what a good milk cow would cost when the cows you put on the market brought a hundred dollars apiece?  I wonder if you would buy me a young heifer so that I’ll have a cow by the time I need one.  I hope to be getting back to stay sometime next year.  It looks now like the war might be over sometime next year.  I hope so.  I got a lot of things I want to do besides fight a war.

Well, I hope you are well.  I know you are busy.  Write when you can.

7-2-44:  Dug ditch to drain shop area yesterday afternoon.  Worked on it this morning.  Rained all morning.  This afternoon the water started to rise and covered most of the area.  Water was 1 1/2 feet deep in day room. We had to move some boxes we had stored as the water was about 2 feet deep around them.  The water came within six feet of our tent and run back thru our drain ditch into the area.  At 7 o’clock the water had quit rising.  the news sounds better all the time.  I feel that Germany will be out of the war by the end of the year.  I also feel confident that we’ll get to come home after two years.  [last diary entry] 

Author: warturoadam77p

70 year old married retired communications worker with three grown children, transplanted from the Midwest to the sunny Gulf Coast.

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