letters from my father – letters 4 & 5

January 14, 2012

I counted up the letters my dad wrote home during WW2 in box and there are around 150. That’s kind of a books worth. We’ll see how far I get.

Letter 4

Undated, but probably Thursday, January 14th, 1944

Dear Granther and Granpee,

We are now in California. We just had breakfast and I saw palm trees for the first time. It is now 7am and about 50 degrees. It is much warmer than it was this same time in New Mexico. I sat next to a colored Coast Gaurdsman at breakfast. He was very nice and we made friends quickly. He has some ribbons and has been in a couple fights with German submarines. He said some of them sailed right up to New York harbor. The sun is now coming up over the mountains. And we are going thru a sandy, rocky, desert. We were wakened up this morning by somebody singing at the to of their lungs. It was the short, fat, ¬†boy next to us. As he would pass by each room pillows and water cups fly out at him. The conductor said we probably wouldn’t get to San Diego till 7 or 8 o’clock.

Love, Truman

Letter 5

Saturday

I arrived here Thursday night at 12. We went to bed at 2:00am & got up 5:30. Friday was hell and I was almost sorry I joined. We were on our feet from 5:30am until 10:00pm, sitting down only 4 times, 3 times for meals & once when I got sick from shots. I have my uniform & things are a little better. We are busy all day & night & I hardly have time to write. I left some things in my bag I sent home as I was rushed. Its plenty tough out here. I am completely bald after my haircut. My address is (please print it).
Truman B.Moyer RDMCB
Platoon 68, San Diego 41, California

Love, Truman

What jumps out at me most in these letters is the the change in tone. In letter 4 there’s still a sense of adventure and surprise. Dad seems boyish and kind of innocent, in a way, or maybe naive is a better word. The fat boy is still singing. Dad’s still checking out the landscape and making friends. The reference to “colored” was definitely a sign of the times.

Thinking of Dad on the train makes me think of all the train rides I’ve taken across the country when I wasn’t willing to fly. I can so easily remember looking out a train window and seeing the sun coming up. I understand why Dad wrote it down. It is something you feel compelled to at least mention.

In letter 5 the shine of the adventure is off. Dad sounds tired. Dead tired. He got through the first couple days and in the quip about getting his uniform and feeling a little better, it sounds a little bit like he’s trying to assure himself he’s going to be ok. It’s the start of his ordeal.

2 Comments »

2 responses to “letters from my father – letters 4 & 5”

  1. Mom says:

    Years ago I read all the letters. What stood out was his maturity – from the 1st letter to the last. Especially his attitude towards his relatives. Their letters complained about food shortages and rationing. He had little patience with that. Also his relationship with (sp,?)Ju Ah (his Chinese girlfriend) who he wanted to marry – but couldn’t get permission from the military – primarily because of the Chinese Communist buildup at that time. Later he discovered that she had T.B. and couldn’t have passed a physical. He actually tried to dessert – but a buddy talked him out of it. He wrote her when he got home – but a relative of hers wrote and said that it was dangerous for her to receive letters from him. He had her name tattoed on his shoulder and kept pictures of her.

  2. liz says:

    I would love to read the letters Dad got from his family and I’ve wondered what happened to them. We’ve only ever heard Dad’s side of the story, what he told us they wrote, and I would imagine that there was more there than he shared. It’s interesting that when you read his letters you see his maturity. To me he seems so young, and specifically boyish on the train ride, but young in general and trying to cope with the weight of everything.

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