Monday, January 25, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: I Know You Will Come Back to Me

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.  If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

I meant to spend the last two Mondays of January with the transcription of the final 20 minutes of the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and his siblings recorded in 1977. However, I only managed to transcribe seven of the ten minutes necessary for today's post.  So, I will push that back a week and share part of a letter my grandmother, Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch, wrote my grandfather in March of 1943.

I know you will come back to me. I’ve never doubted that, ever! And when you do come back, you will find, just as you left them, everything your letters tell me you hold dear. I’ll be wearing the same smile I wore the day you left St. Louis (not the sad one I wore when we parted in Washington). And on my arms the silver bracelets you gave me last March for a birthday present.

And, waiting for you, the children will be first to hear the sound of your step on the walk, and the quick way that you and only you open and shut the front door. How they will run to greet you, far out-racing my own swift step, meeting you with shouts and laughter, before I have even reached the door!

Inside, by the warm fire in the living room, you’ll find an easy chair with the lovely, new, red leather hassock in front of it, where you can be even more comfortable than you were before you went to war. When you come back to me, you will find nothing changed. Those left at home promise that. Here in Wydown Forest your children are still free to sleep and laugh and play – still free to look to the sky, clear-eyed and unafraid.

Our house still stands, attractive and lovely as it always was, and down the street the maples and elms march straight and tall, unwithered by the heat of war! And every Sunday, steeple bells still ring and in our churches we still sing hymns to God.

I’ve told the children, and I tell myself, this is what you’re fighting for! These are the big and little things worth waiting for. The things that make our lives worth living, that make this war worth winning. We are so proud of you. Proud that you are making sure that hate and greed and tyranny will never rise to threaten us again. And we are proud to make our own sacrifices, knowing that they will help to bring you back to us sooner.

Back home to St. Louis, to the same job you liked so much – to the same America we have always known and loved – where you can work and plan and build – where together we can do the things we’ve always dreamed of – where we and our children are free to make our lives what we want them to be – where there are no limits on any man’s, or any woman’s, or any child’s opportunity.

I know you’ve thought, “That’s the America I want when I come back…don’t change that, ever…don’t let anyone tamper with a way of living that works so well.” Never fear, darling – that’s the way we ALL want it. Everything will be here, just as you left it, just as you want it…when you come back to me!

March 13, 1943

In a sentimental mood a few days ago, I wrote the above – and decided not to send it. However, with our first anniversary apart fast approaching I do want you to know how proud I am of you, and to assure you that I’ll be able to carry on, if I must. I’ve always heard the expression “the first year is the hardest” and I hope this applies to wars, separations and the establishment of APO’s.

My grandfather's civilian job was Postal Inspector, and his assignment during the war was to the establishment of APOs, mostly in Africa.

The above letter, along with several others my grandmother wrote during the war, was in the same box my maternal aunt recently shipped as the photograph I posted on Wednesday.  The poetry, and the patriotism, of the letter stood out to me as I was sorting through the contents.  The letter continued for another page with an update on the lives of family and friends.

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