Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Letters from home

July 1, 1945

Dear Ma, Pa and all -

Received two handfuls of mail yesterday and today. First I have had since leaving the UK (England). Glad to know you are all alright -- the garden sounds wonderful - and I envy you so for being able to see Judy all the time - she sounds adorable. I hope you got to go to the mountains.

Had a letter from Lester. His handwriting on the envelope looked so good. I trust by now he is home, or on the way. Harriet and I often speak of home. We certainly don't help each other. I'll say "Gee, Harriet, I'd give anything to go home" and she immediately replies, "and I would too". I find that I am closer to homesickness here than ever in England. I loved England and altho I am sure France is lovely, I have no desire to stay here.

Please don't misunderstand me tho. Harriet and I both want to come home to see our loves ones again (she has the sweetest old mother and a very nice family - 3 brothers in the service overseas). We both feel, however, we want to stay in it until the finish or at least until our Red Cross overseas duty period is up. We are not content here because we want to be with combat wounded. The boys from now on in this hospital will only have ordinary ailments and as there are many girls willing to do this type of work, we want to do the other. So many are leaving here for the CBI (China-Burma-India). We hope soon to join them.

I'd give anything to join a unit that was coming home before going to the Pacific. But one never knows. Is Marje Harlow home yet? Last I heard she was in New Jersey. She said she would come out to see you.

This camp is almost like a League of Nations. We have American, Polish patients, Polish workers, French patients, French workers, Italian workers, German prisoners, German patients, German nurses and Dutch nurses! What a time we are having trying to tell them to do our washing, pressing, etc.

The other night the cork stopper in the tub split in two. I wanted a knife to pry it out of the drain. I went to the boiler room and when my English failed I tried to ask for a knife in French. Finally the man shrugged his shoulders and said "Me Italian". This was the nite Harriet almost collapsed. According to her she opened the door of the room where I was going to take a bath only to see a man standing outside but halfway in the window with an open knife in his hand and me bent over the tub with my back to him! OF course, all it was  was my Italian friend trying to hand me his knife. ONLY SHE DIDN'T KNOW THAT!!

The other day, I asked for two German prisoners to help me. They asked for volunteers and I think the whole group raised their hands. Two were pulled out of their line-up and I was told to have them back in 15 minutes. Off I trot down the road (both sides lined with prisoners digging ditches) the two following after me. I walked them over to where Red Cross girls before us had their quarters and into one of the houses there. The house was all boarded up and no one around but me and the two Jerries. I suddenly began to wonder if maybe I shouldn't be scared - but I wasn't. So I (in sign language) told them to move a wardrobe over to my new quarters. After 15 minutes of banging the thing around trying to get it through doors we got outside. Just then a column of Jerries passed by and the two yelled for help and then I had six to account for! But I got them all back OK.

It was funny during the day, I had three carrying furniture for me. I stepped out onto the main road ahead of them when two GIs came up and started talking to me. One happened to say "Gee, you women - when we get you home again guess we will have to live in tents with you -- you girls seems to thrive on rough living". Just then I saw the Jerries going the wrong way and I yelled "Hey, this way". They immediately turned and came towards me. The boys looked at each other and one of them said "Well, I'll be! We had to have guns to make them do that -- say you should have joined us sooner, we could have used you on the front".

This is the sort of a mixed-up mess I want to get out of. But while here I'll manage to enjoy it because it is an experience and a very odd one at that!

Be happy with each other and enjoy your comfortable home for you don't know how much these things mean until you don't have them.

Love to one and all,

Lester is Elsie's younger brother who served in the military during WWII.

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