Monday, February 8, 2021

Amanuensis Monday: Letter from Melvin Newmark July 28, 1943

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.

Today I share part of a letter my grandfather wrote in 1943. I’m not sure to whom he was writing, nor am I positive the letter got sent. I assume it did and my grandfather felt it important enough to keep an unsigned copy of his letter. I do have a copy of the letter referenced in the first line, but there is no surname on the letter. 

Dear Micky:

Glad to hear from you.


Sissy and I are going away on a little vacation. We are leaving St. Louis Friday and will probably be gone about ten days. We are going up to Elkhart Lake, Wisc. to try to cool off.

I have an opportunity to go across for the American Red Cross as a field director and I am having a very difficult time trying to make up my mind. I am hopeful that during my vacation I will be able to think the thing out and reach a decision. I don’t know whether you are familiar with the job or not. It pays $275.00 per month. While I would not be considered part of the military, I would wear an officer’s uniform and live with the officers. If I went in I would probably leave the country in about four weeks. I wish I had your faculty for reaching a decision.

Apparently you do not like your present assignment. All of the fellow that I know have griped about the training and you have the consolation that that will be through soon.

Your thoughts about the law practice are pretty much the way I feel. If I do not take the Red Cross job, however, and if I am not drafted, I will probably never have the nerve to quit it. More power to you.


I understand Stella and the Baby are with you. Give her my best.

Sis and the Kids are fine. Sissy is very set against my going into service and if I don’t go in it will probably be because of her wishes.

Good luck, Micky, and let me hear from you soon.



1) My grandfather took the job with the Red Cross. When he returned after the war, he returned to the law practice.  I’m not positive what his issues were. Micky’s letter is handwritten and difficult for me to read, but I’m going to work at it.

2) Both of my grandmothers weren’t initially supportive of my grandfathers serving. A letter I’ve previously shared indicates my maternal grandmother was upset about my grandfather’s decision without her consent.

3) Sissy was the nickname of my grandmother given to her as a child by her brother. Later she would spell it Sissie.  

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