Monday, February 6, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Letter from Myrtle Van Every - Feb 15, 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.

I began this project back in February of 2009, and since then, many others have joined in on the meme.  Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others. If you participate, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments.
This week I transcribe a letter my grandmother, Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch wrote to her sister-in-law Jean (Deutsch) Kamerman on Feb 15, 1944.  (Dashes indicate names of living or possibly living people)

February 15, 1944

Dearest Jean:

I want to thank you for sending the children Valentines. They were so thrilled to get valentines from Aunt Jean, and I think it was mighty sweet of you to think of them. I don’t believe I mentioned in any letters I’ve written you since the first of the year that I appreciated your remembering our wedding anniversary and your New Year’s greetings. I think you are the most thoughtful person I know about remembering dates, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Thanks a lot, darling.

It certainly was nice having Bert here those few days, and I hated to see her leave so soon. She was a real help to me with ___, but I don’t think she had a very good time for I was kept busy the whole time she was here. I supposed she has already told you everything we did…which wasn’t much.

I’ll bet you have an enormous phone bill this month, what with talking to us so long last Sunday. It was thrilling to hear your voice and Mother’s. The children got a big kick out of talking to you all.

Martin has moved from Tunis, but I have not been able to learn just where he is at present. I have not heard from him since the 7th, but in that letter he seemed very cheerful and hopeful that he would get a 30-day leave some time this Spring. I hope he’s right but since the disappointment I had last fall, I won’t believe he’s coming home until I see him.

The children are just fine except that ___ accidentally slammed a door on ___’s hand yesterday, mashing a nail quite badly. I suppose she’ll lose the nail since it is pretty badly bruised. She was a brave little soldier, though, and didn’t carry on as much as you’d think. That is one of the sharpest pains there is, I believe, mashing a finger nail.

What do you hear from Wally and ___? Is Wally still at Fort Bliss? I rarely hear from one of my sisters now, since her daughter-in-law came from Costa Rica to El Paso to have her baby. The child is due to be born this month and ____ and her mother came to the States so the child would be born in America. [deleted.] They have taken a small apartment near my sister and I suppose they’ll return to Costa Rica as soon as the baby is big enough to travel. [deleted.]

If you didn’t write me about Allen and Jean I wouldn’t know they exist. Is Jean still in New Jersey? I understand Al is putting in long hours at Stewart Warner’s so I hardly expect him to write. If he writes regularly to Jean that probably takes up all his spare time.

We had the heaviest snow in two years yesterday, but a lot of it has melted. We have had a very mild winter so far, but from now on it will probably be plenty cold.

Honey, it is time to go to work so I must stop. Lots of love to you, Lee and Joel.



1) Jean and Bert were both sisters of my grandfather, Martin Deutsch. Allen was a brother. Wally was Jean's son.  Fort Bliss is in El Paso, Texas, and my grandmother worked there briefly at the QuarterMasterCorps at age 19.  She left her state of birth for St. Louis at age 20.  So when her sister-in-law's son was stationed there during the war, I'm sure she looked forward to news from him.

2) My grandfather was often not allowed to reveal where he was stationed for security reasons.  However, his letters would indicate Army Post Office number, and there is now a listing identifying what those numbers represented.  A letter he wrote in January of 1944 indicates he was stationed in Casablanca.  He didn't get a 30-day leave in the Spring of 1944, but the Summer of 1944 he was re-stationed in Florida, and his wife and children joined him for the remainder of the war.

3)  I'm unsure about the mother-in-law, but I believe my grandmother's nephew, wife, and children remained in the United States, or if they returned to Costa Rica, it was only temporary.  I have deleted some extraneous comments from this post, but I am willing to share them with any relatives.

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