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.
This week I transcribe a letter my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch, sent home Thanksgiving, 1942.
Nov 26, 1942
I just returned from a movie “You’re Always in my Heart.” It had a splendid theme melody. Everyone keeps whistling it. “You’re Always in my Heart – You’re Always in my Heart.” Yes, it sounds very good. It’s about a fellow who was away from home – for a much longer time than I expect to be. I enjoyed it a lot.
In coming back to my room I found a letter from you had been left there. It was dated Nov 20, and you very appropriately wished me a pleasant Thanksgiving Day. Apparently you can depend on our mail service for a pretty good schedule. We did have a wonderful Turkey dinner with all the trimmings and pumpkin pie – of which I had two pieces. I hadn’t given any thought to Thanksgiving at all until today. We have a lot to be thankful for. The news is excellent over the radio – I’m hoping that next Thanksgiving we’ll all be home – at peace.
I guess you can rightfully change your mind about my shopping ability after buying that perfume that Eppard took home. I talked to one of the boys who was to send you that perfume from (Censored) and he said it had been sent. It seems it may have gotten lost. Anyway, what I sent home with Eppard was purchased locally – it was all they had – and I had no choice – so, you’re probably right that I paid more for it than you would have at home. Maybe Louise would take it for a Xmas gift.
I guess I’ll have to write Jerry and congratulate him on the heir. The name “[?]” isn’t suitable for a girl – so surely he’ll have to wait before he can use it.
Don’t worry at all about a Christmas gift for me. There is nothing I need and would prefer that you did not mail any parcel to me. I would like for you to buy something for yourself and just pretend it’s from me. I’ll try to get the right perfume if I have a chance, but can’t say whether there ‘ll be an opportunity.
Col. Harkins and Dewey Patton left here a couple days ago and this a.m. a fellow named Thomsen, a Chicago Div. man, went thru. This place is a world’s crossroads. We get to see everyone.
My love to you, ... and ....
1) During the war, soldiers were often not allowed to include their location in letters home -- they were only allowed to indicate their Army Post Office. The identification of those post offices has since been released. APO 625 was Accra, Ghana. [Source: Numerical Listing of APOs January 1942-November 1947 - I originally found this pdf at the 7th Armored Division website]
2) The movie my grandfather saw was likely Always in My Heart (1942), starring Kay Francis and Walter Huston. The title song from the film received an Academy Award nomination.
3) "Jerry" is the nickname for my grandfather's brother, Maurice. [Some documents list his middle name as 'Gerald'.] The 'unsuitable' name for a girl is illegible to me, but from the context, sounds like a joke. I aleady know Jerry had two daughters, and the first one was born a couple weeks prior to the letter.
4) Since my grandfather was the APO censor, the parenthetical remark was just his way of saying he couldn't say. I'm the one acting as censor in the signature. Though neither my mother nor aunt would likely mind, it's my habit not to mention living relatives.