Monday, April 18, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: Waiting for a Letter from the Navy - 1944

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, newspaper articles, 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 grandfather, Martin Deutsch, received from his brother, Ed, in 1944. The letter is more about their brother, Jerry, and his entrance into WWII.

June 30, 1944.

Dear Martin:

It was only a couple of days ago that mother mentioned the fact that you’ve forgotten her, and she sure was glad when she received your letter yesterday.

There isn’t much to write about here except the weather, which hung around the 100 mark for a few days and suddenly dropped to 75…quite a pleasant change.

I received a letter from Jerry yesterday. You see. On June 22 he packed up everything and decided to go back to work, disgusted and disappointed because he hadn’t heard from the Navy Dept. Prior to that, on or about June 7, he received Greetings from the President: For Pre-Induction physical examination in the army, to report on June 16. Well, he went down there and had his exam, and they told him that he would not be called for about 30 to 40 days and that would give the Navy time enough to act on his application. He waited around here for another week and all of a sudden he decided to go back to work…he had a hard time to make up his mind whether to take his family along or not but I think Dorothy insisted to go with him.  On the following morning (after they left) we received an official-looking letter from 218 Federal Bldg. for Jerry, I immediately forwarded it to him. The following day or so he sent us a card stating that it was THE letter that he was waiting for. Just imagine: Waiting four weeks for a letter and receiving it after driving 750 miles back to Cass Lake and missing it by a day. Mother had tried to persuade them to leave the kid with her, but Dorothy wouldn’t stand for it.

Here’s part of the letter which we received yesterday:
On Saturday morning, June 24, the Navy called me to their office h(e)re and swore me in as a lieutenant (equivalent to a Capt. In the army). My orders for active duty did not come with the appointment, but they warned me that orders are following and that I should be prepared to go to Farragut, Ida., on or before July 18.
That’s all we know about it…except that Dorothy got grippe and is laid up in bed, but she’s doing nicely and have a very nice woman taking care of their baby. He doesn’t mention whether he’s coming back to Chicago or not, but I doubt that he’ll drag his family all the way up there without first finding out the lay-of-the-land.

I wrote a letter to Myrtle a couple of days ago asking her to bring the kids here for a vacation, but I haven’t heard from her yet. At the time I wrote that letter I hadn’t heard from Jerry direct, but there were rumors from here and there about him getting his appointment, but I didn’t know anything about Dorothy being sick…so mention the fact to her in your next letter.

Anything else you’d care to know about any of the rest of the family I’ll gladly oblige. Me, the only excitement I have is reading detective stories….I’D GLADLY change with you. Best of luck,

Mother and Ed.

P.S. – If you care to get in touch with Jerry, write to 218 Federal Offc. Bldg., Minneapolis, Minn.



1.  There isn't a letter from my great uncle, Jerry (Maurice Gerald) in the collection of war letters my grandparents saved.  But at least I have this paragraph from him second hand, from their brother, Ed.  This letter also contains some great details on Jerry's entrance into the war. There were seven Deutsch siblings.  Jean, Ted, Jerry, Ed, Martin, Berta and Allen.

Here's photographs of my grandfather, and two of his brothers (Allen and Jerry) who served during WWII.

Martin Deutsch (1907-1991) Allen Deutsch (1914-1988) and Maurice "Jerry" Deutsch (1909-1950).

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