Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

Gambling Daddy


Nothing new happened since last night. I watched some Negro Workers working building a railroad line into our camp. It was just beautiful how skilled they were with their heavy hammers driving the spikes into the ties of the RR.

Then I read half of Alvarez De Vayo’s book which is very interesting. About Spain and all they did to educate the people while the war went on.

Later I got in a little Rummy game and lost one dollar. I did go into the game not to win but so that the boys would not think I was tight or something like that. Now they think I am a god looser [sic] because while I was the biggest looser I proposed the limit of time of four more games. People are simple minded. Aren’t they? But public opinion counts, and sometimes you got to give into it.

The days are beautiful over here and the sun shines in its full glory. Not like in N.Y. But when I come home I shall bask “you are my sunshine / my little sunshine / you make me happy / when the sky’s are gray”

You see what an education the movies give me here? I’ll begin to know all the popular songs!

Darling I love you and I am looking and counting the day when I’ll see you again!

Millions of Kisses to you and to Cookie from,  Gambling Daddy

This short little letter is not only charming but packed with clues to the grandpa that I knew and can recognize. Just last week my cousins and I were reminiscing about the Rummy tradition that he introduced to us. I used to play Rummy with my dad all the time and hadn’t remembered that it was actually my grandpa who brought it to the family. I remember the over-sized cards we would play with when he couldn’t see very well and my cousin Bill remembered that he never had to re-arrange his cards to make winning groups. He would just suddenly win. (This may be confusing to people unfamiliar with the card game. You can find the rules here). So we see the origins of his card skills in this letter. He was also using the game to win the affection of the other men at the camp in VA where he wrote this letter.

Alex was watching with obvious admiration as workers built a railroad nearby. He was reading the writings of Alvarez del Vayo who founded the Spanish Communist Party. And yet, when he mentions his education in this letter he is referring to learning the song, “You Are My Sunshine!” Sylvia is his sunshine even in the gray light of NY. While I hated being woken up by my dad singing this song when I was little, I have a lot affection for it now. Alex is learning about pop culture from the movies that they watch. He writes, “I’ll begin to learn all the popular songs!” in such an endearingly foreign manner. The way popular media, especially movies, holds such a powerful influence on everything from personal relationships to public policy has fascinated me for years. I love how directly Alex points out it’s role in “Americanizing” him.


2 comments on “Gambling Daddy

  1. Dad
    December 6, 2010

    what a post!You really pick up on things I never would have noticed! Gambling as a means of bonding (and, perhaps, organizing?)?

    It’s interesting how he doesn’t seem to overtly discuss his politics but does it through allusions to his observations about African-American workers’ nobility and a book he’s reading. I wonder how he got a book by a Spanish communist…. did he bring it along or did he find it in Europe?

    oh, also, I didnt mention how interesting the Thanksgiving post was. I neber realized that turkeys were such a central part of the war effort!


  2. Dad
    December 6, 2010

    …ooops, I see he hadn’t left the country yet —

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This entry was posted on December 6, 2010 by in Alex, Americanization, games, music, Navy.
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