Monday, July 28, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: Letter from Ted to Martin - Feb 7, 1943 - Of War and Citizenship

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 on February 16, 2009.  (Recently the posts have been sporadic, but for a few years it was weekly.) Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe and share their family history documents. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.

This week I transcribe a letter my great uncle, Ted, sent to his brother, my maternal grandfather, Martin, while Martin was stationed in Africa during World War II. Ted had both a law practice and worked at a Chicago newspaper. I haven't edited any of the typographical errors. In the days of mechanical typewriters if you made a mistake, you kept on typing, as the only other option was to start over. You could backspace and X out, but I'm sure Ted didn't feel a need to do so when he was typing a letter to his brother.

FEB 7, 1943.


It’s just 5 o’clock in the morning here and everything is quiet so having nothing to do I thought it would be a good idea to sit down and linotype a few lines. I am on what they call the “dog watch” on the sheet and only get busy when things happen. Ihave been “watching” now for a year and a half and nothing has yet happened on the shift.

Your letter came in vedy handily and I felt relieved as I thought maybe you have forgotten about me. The inclosed post card was a big bust. Now I know what they meant by the second front in Africa. I have shown it to many of my friends and they sure got a kick out of it.

Things are going along smoothly at home. Too smoothly infact for there isn’t many of us at home now. Mother lives mostly by herself as only Jean and Lee are stying with her and Jean Works while Lee goes to high school. Wally is now in the service at Fort Sheridan and Ed is also in being stationed in Fort Beale California. He is with a medical detachment. You may think California is a swell place for him to be but no so from the letters a get from him. He says its been raining there ever since Nov. 30 the day he got there and now its nothing but a mud hole. Betwixt the rain and his sore feet he is having one hell of a time. His last letter said the Major gave him a polite hint to apply for a discharge as he is over 38 years and the outfit could move along much faster without him. I sent him a written request from the employer and am now waiting for him to be discharge.

Allen was stationed in Missouri for awhile and he went to see Myrtle while he was there. He said she was angry with me for not writing her. If she’d know all the letters I am writing every week she’d probably forgive me. I have to do all the family correspondence as Frances is not so well and does not write to any one. Her school keeps her very busy and saps all her strength. I thing she would be much better off if she’d quit and stay home and raise a family. But she won’t hear of it.

Today I met Mother and went with her to the Customs house where she made proof of her citizen ship and received a derivative citizenship certificate. Boy was she happy. I saw Myrtle Howell the other day she has two girls of her own and told me that Emil her brother who is a captain became the father of twins. What a man!

The law business has kept up well for me. Three men from our office are in the Navy and left me to take care of all their business. In January after 15 years of practice I took in the fabulous sum of $1,200. I hope I don’t have to wait another 15 years to duplicate it. Well, it’s getting toward quitting time. The phone (damn it) is ringing somebody must have had a baby or something so I’ll say thirty and close.



1) I previously transcribed a letter Ted wrote a few weeks later, on March 8th, 1943. At that time he said he'd keep writing when he found the time, but these are the only two surviving letters that he wrote my grandfather during the war.

2) We don't have the postcard my grandfather sent Ted, but from the obvious puns Ted uses, it's not difficult to get a rough idea.

3) Allen and Ed are additional brothers of my grandfather, and Jean is a sister. Wally is Jean's son, and Lee a daughter. Myrtle is Martin's wife, and Frances is Ted's wife. I'm unsure who Myrtle and Emil Howell are.

4) My great grandfather, Samuel/Salomon Deutsch, filed his Petition for Naturalization in 1921.

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