Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wasting a Silver Dollar Moon

It’s the end of April, 1945, but as far as Frank Stevens is concerned, the war might as well be over. At least, that’s how ready he is to go home.

As usual, he mourns his lack of mail and speculates as to what the hold-up might be. There were precious few diversions on board, and the mail was the only attempt at filling that sizable gap.

There might have been a hint at another gap in this Chicago boy’s life: wasted moonlight in the face of no mention of Jeanne for quite some time.

Pat’s boy friend is lucky to receive ordinary mail in five weeks. I suppose mine is laying on the bottom of the pile in some ware house on one of these gook islands. I’m looking forward to seeing Chi—I’m pretty tired of all these wide open ocean with no where to go and nothing to do. When we left Pearl Harbor we were allowed a case of beer per man but it was all gone before we hit Iwo Jima. We were allowed a can per man per night while we were in port and none while we were underway. Haven’t been off the ship since January 20th except for a few minutes at Leyte when we went up for the mail. Except to go ashore here before we leave sure hope so its rather tantalizing to be so near terra firma and yet be so far. Weather is nice and beautiful moon lit nights—moon as big as a silver dollar, seems a shame to have it go to waste. From what the radio says our job at Iwo wasn’t in vain—with fighters going straight to Japan almost every day. Must close now. I’ve got the 12 to 4 and have to get some sleep. Nite now.
                                                                            Your loving son,


  1. I'm imagining what it must have been like for Frank to never leave the ship from January to April, when he writes this letter. The war is nearing a close in Europe -- but several months until Japan finally surrenders. I just finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I highly recommend itboth as an amazing survival at sea story and for a perspective of what the POWs went through in Japanese camps. Thanks for the blogiversary congrats. I think we have to save these treasures. The key is finding the way to organize them to find. Your blog is doing a great job in highlighting key topics in Frank's letters -- and your understanding of the context. I'm scanning my letters now (with a feeder scanner -- it's not hurting the letters at all, is super fast, and keeps all the pages as a single file of individual pdf letters. The the letters can be given to the Veterans project at Library of Congress, where you know they'll be well cared for--and descendants will still have copies.

  2. I too, can't imagine being stuck on a smelly boat with smelly guys for months on end. Ugh!

    ...and they didn't have any Febreeze then...


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