Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My Great Uncle Mandell

I never knew Mandell, my great-uncle, the youngest son of Barney. He fought in WWII, just like his older two brothers. However, he didn’t return home. I’ve known for awhile that my uncle had Mandell’s war journal. And I’ve mentioned to him I’d like to read it. Last time I said this was a couple years ago when he wrote a poem based on his own reading of the journal, and showed the poem to me. He said sure. My uncle and I have a similar personality in that we are both forgetful, and if you want something from us, you sometimes need to be persistent. And I haven’t been. It was always something I could ask for again later.

In a conversation with my mother Sunday night, I discovered she had a photocopy of the journal. So I went home from Father’s Day dinner with it. Mandell’s handwriting was better than my own. But a chimpanzee’s handwriting is better than my own. Luckily, his was better than a chimpanzee’s too, but it’s still not the most legible at points. Of course, he wasn’t writing under the best of circumstances.

It looks like a journal that was ’standard issue’ because there were predefined spots to write down names/addresses of ‘buddies’ and dates to remember (birthdays/anniversaries) of family back home. Every page has a quote from someone famous on courage or heroism or such. There was a spot in the front that said “The following pages contain the diary of my life in the service. This simple record of my daily experiences and thoughts has given me pleasure in the writing of it. If for any reason it leaves my possession, I would like to have it forwarded to: “. The addressee was “B. Newmark” - which could be either his father Barney, or mother Bertha.

Note: Obviously in the 40s there was no gender-connotation to the word ‘diary’

So far I’ve made two other linguistic notations. The slang term PO’d was already in use in the 1940s (And Mandell thought it was an appropriate term to associate with ‘APO’) and he refers to a beer as “Green Death”. Apparently this term has long been associated with Rainier beer, and one of his buddies was from Seattle Washington, so even if it wasn’t referring to Rainier in particular, its possible the Seattlian introduced him to the term.

I may include some excerpts here I don’t know how many people care about what life was like in the army in the 1940s for a relative of mine, but then again, perhaps more than those who care about my views on George W.

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