Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

Posts Tagged ‘Hiroshima

As Low As A Snakes Belly

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This letter was written on August 5, 1945, one day before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. What I find fascinating is that the length of the war has clearly taken its emotional toll and Alex writes to Sylvia only of his depression and the fact that he has not heard from her.

Cover of

Poster of Tomorrow – The World

Alex  mentions the movie “Tomorrow The World”starring Frederick March and Agnes Moorehead, which was first released in December 1944. Notably, in the midst of war,  Hollywood productions are being shown by the Navy as part of the Navy’s efforts to teach sailors the meaning of their sacrific: the movie portrays Americans teaching  a former Hitler Youth member to reject Nazism. Clearly, Hollywood was not only  exploring the heroism of the individual soldier but was also teaching larger and  subtler moral and political lessons about the meaning of their sacrifice. Alex’s son, David (my father), remembers interviewing Alex. He told me ,”I remember Dad telling me about New Orleans and his reaction when he of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He literally said he jumped for joy for he – and all the guys who had just survived the European War – was sure that they were on their way to the Pacific war.  I remember interviewing him about this and being shocked that my left-wing, peace loving Dad reacted this way. He set me straight, pointing out that all the soldiers were ‘scared shitless’ (his words) about the Pacific and didn’t have a great historical perspective over why Truman ‘used the bomb.'”Here,  Alex is in New Orleans waiting for his next  assignment. He is busy making plans for Sylvia to visit. Ultimately, she chooses not to go to New Orleans – perhaps because of her health, perhaps because of the difficulty of the journey, perhaps because of her anxiety over leaving  Cookie. This was deeply disappointing to Alex. I encourage you to reread his harsh response to Sylvia’s decision previously posted here.

Sylvia, though, is not a meek wife who does not also get angry at Alex. That will be the subject of the next post.

Sunday August 5, 1945


Long time no hear from you, in fact since I left. Yesterday I stood in the mail line for 20 minutes at a time twice but there was nothing from you. The hot sun and the futile waiting depressed me enough to feel as low as a snakes belly. Of course today there is no mail and I am very expectantly waiting for tomorrow. I hope I won’t be disappointed.

Darling returning to the subject of your visit to New Orleans I am informed that there is a train from Penn. Station which makes it in 35 hours. I tried to call the Agency but was unsuccessful and the nearest phone is at least a mile from here. So you inform yourself and be prepared to know.

Dearest, I decided on a few steps I’ll have to take tomorrow. One is to ascertain the period which I expect to stay here. Two apply for a 5”38 school which will insure my staying here for four weeks more. Tuesday I am going to town to make inquiries about a room and perhaps rent one for a week and get you down so that when the vacancy occurs in the Navy homes you will be here already and won’t have to rush about.

In this last week I have discussed this a lot in my letters. I imagine its quite a one sided discussion. I really don’t know what you think about all this.

I am R. Adamic “My Native land” and is quite good and written very objectively about Yugoslavia. Also seen a movie “Tomorrow the World” which was quite good. The Nazi Youth was very well portrayed.

Today I slept until nine read a little in my bunk than [sic] had lunch and now I am writing. After this letter is finished I’ll play a little chess with Ted, read a while, eat go to the movies, have a couple beers and than[sic] to sleep. The canteen here serves beer, and so far I have not gone to town. Mainly because I am trying to hold on to my funds, which in spite of everything I do or rather I don’t is dwindling away.

How is Cookie? Does she ask for me? Is she missing me? I’d love to see her and wouldn’t be for the fact that the trip is so tiresome, and that you would be tied down to your rooms for a whole month, I’d wouldn’t have minded if you had taken her. As it is, that is out of the question for all the reasons I have told you.

Darling, it is very hard for me to keep up this one sided corrispondense [sic], in spite of all my love for you. I do hope so I hear from you tomorrow so that I may know your opinions on ed and that perhaps you may not be so enthusiastic about the whole idea of this trip.

This place is very hot and there was a lot of rain. Perhaps you ought to call the doctor and ask him if it is advisable for you to come, considering the long distance and this climate.

My dearest sweetheart I don’t want you to misunderstand me, its just aht I want to best for you.

Well, I think I am getting sappy. I will write tomorrow lengthily again. (I hope an answer to your letters).

In the mean time all my love to you and millions of kisses to the baby.

Your very faithful and adoring,


Written by Molly

November 5, 2012 at 8:00 am

Alex’s 99th Birthday! Blog’s 50th Post!

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Drum roll please…….. This is the 50th post on this blog AND today would have been Alex’s 99th birthday!

Sorry for the long absence, but timing is everything! Happy birthday Grandpa. My grandpa’s birthday is the day before mine, so I’m posting a photo of us during what I believe was one of our birthday celebrations together. Since I don’t have a scanner this is a poor quality photo of a photo.

Here is a cool birthday coincidence: My grandpa Alex was 35 when my dad (birthday March 13th) was born. And my dad was 35 when my brother (birthday March 7th) was born. Each generation was 35 years apart down to the week.

Here is a picture of my dad and my grandpa 10 years ago on March 17th, 2001.

For this special 50th/birthday post I wanted to put up this blog’s first audio clip. However, technical difficulties prevent that as well so consider this a teaser for what the next 50 posts will bring.

Below is a letter that Alex wrote on his birthday in 1945.  My incredible friends and family are getting my 25th year off to an amazing start and I’m so grateful for that. Reading Alex’s letter is difficult because it highlights how far away he is from the people he loves. At the start of the letter Alex is not so happy, realizing that he is alone because everyone went out to drink while he was asleep. He refers to “the boys” a lot in this letter, and by the end realizes that they may have decided not to wake him because he had gotten so drunk the night before. This is a community of men who appear to be both young and caring.

My darling,

Here is once more my birthday. I think my last one was in Boston. At least then I knew that in a few days I would see you. Now its just another day… and the realization that I am not growing younger.

I got up at the usual time this morning. There was work to do and I kept at it even after everyone else was finished. We were painting our tool locker and I wanted it done so that on Monday we should be able to store away all our tools. It was done about 4 PM so I took a shower and shaved for a change and put clean clothes on. I had supper and I told the boys to get me up for a few beers when the pubs open up. They open at 5PM I was so tyred [sic] that I slept like a log. No one got me up and I am dry and thirsty and I can’t even say that I had a few drinks. Its about 10 PM now. Some hellofaway to spend ones birthday.

I think I thanked you and Cookie for the birthday cards, but if I didn’t thanks a lot, you both are thoughtful and sweet and I love you even more for it.

Cookies pictures delight me always. I keep on looking them over, and she really strikes me as a pretty child.  They also make me a little homesick.

They remind me of the sunny afternoons in Knickerbocker Village. At any rate its splendid to see a little of your environment.

We have beautiful sunny days, strange as they may seem for England. At such times your being far away is felt even more keenly. I am never going to live down the caption on one of Cookie’s pictures. You write “I woke up grouchy like you” and did the boys took notice of it, when I proudly them the pictures. As it is most of the time I’ve got to throw them out of their bunks in the morning, a terrible job in itself. But now they all attribute it to m bed disposition on awaking.

Darling, the crow (Eagle) on Cookies arm is wrong. It should be on the right arm. Of course young lady may have their choice.

On of our boys is lucky. We bumped into our chief cook on our second trip. He borrowed ten dollars from this fellow of ours. Now he is collecting it after ten months.

Tomorrow I think I am going to a concert if I am lucky and get tickets. This is the firs of the season in this town and it’s a fine orchestra considering the conductor. So I hope I’ll have a good time.

The boys are lit tonight and they just came in waking up everybody and singing (?) songs and (?). Last night we had a riot in our quarters. I acted drunk and the boys carried me into the  focusle(?). Of course I really looked as if I had one too many. My buddy Mike was just raving “Once I let him go and he comes home drunk… he won’t go out anymore, etc.” The boys told him they picked me up from the gutter. So Mike very tenderly undressed me, took my shoes off and socks, my jacket. Hoisted me up into the bunk and covered me up.  All this while he was swearing that he won’t let me out alone anymore. During all this time I was enjoying all this fuss about me and acting the drunk. Its just dawning on me, that must be the reason the boys must have stopped from waking me up. The saloons over here are opened from 5 to 10PM like all over England. At 10PM the sidewalks are pulled in. So over curfew is even better than at home.

Darling now to sleep. I hope I dream of being home with you. All my love to you and Cookie and millions of kisses,



On a more serious note, I feel compelled to mention the tragedy that is continuing to escalate in Japan. My heart goes out to everyone who has been impacted by the earthquake, tsunami and now the nuclear disaster. It is impossible to comprehend that a country that just commemorated the 65th anniversary of when an atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima, is now amidst yet another nuclear threat. The images that we, the American public, are seeing are horrifying. I look for comfort in the fact that human compassion is so strong that even when Japan was considered an enemy nation during WWII, the US government censored the images of Japan after the bombs in order to rally citizen support for its actions.  Today, we are flooded with detailed reports and images of what is happening on a minute-to-minute basis in Japan and I only hope this will fuel the world’s compassion and generosity.

Written by Molly

March 17, 2011 at 8:00 am


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