St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Memories of Jim in a Letter From 1942

December 15 is the birthday of a cousin of mine. A cousin I never met. But live he did, and so I wish him a happy restful 96th birthday as Jim, the father, the patriot, rests in peace.

However, I do know his daughter and with her permission, I am placing a very special letter written by Jim to his darling wife and baby girl while he was off fighting for America during World War II.

It's a great letter and serves to kinda put everything in perspective as we near Christmas and time of birth of our Savior.

By the way, the dig at the Marines is actually a joke meant for his brother in law who served in the Marines during WWII.

Without further ado----

Somewhere in England
25 December 1942

Dear Babs, Dear Ellen and all,

Christmas morning. This year I have really made my Christmas Day like any other day in the year. I’ve found that it is home and family, not time of year that makes that lovely, friendly, human atmosphere of the days before Christmas. I saw the English equivalent of it there in a town I visited several Saturdays ago. I wish I could tell you what town it was—it was about as charming a spot as I’ve ever seen. Anyhow, as I was saying, on Saturday afternoon the streets were crowded like under Kaufmann’s Clock with pedestrians overflowing off the sidewalks and practically meeting in the middle of the street. The hustle was almost like home, but the percentage of khaki was almost 60%, which is higher than I’ve ever seen in a street scene at home.

Holly is an important part of the Christmas spirit over here. I think I’ve told you how much holly there is over here. In hedges and trees, both green and green with white edges on the leaves. And such a plethora of berries that if you saw it for sale at home, you’d swear that they were tied on. Well, every person I’ve seen for weeks (or so it seems) has had an arm full of holly, and every hedge or tree has had scars and wounds here and there.

Last evening was rather hard to get through. I kept thinking of the candle light ceremony in your room last year; wondering if it was repeated this year and if so, if it was done without tears as it should have been. Every time I’d think, “Now Babs is doing this or that,” I’d remember the five hour difference in time and console myself that this was only a rehearsal over here. The real Christmas Eve, my Christmas Eve, would not come for five hours yet. Did you have the big pink candle burning? I hope so because I kept seeing you in its glow. But if you decided to save it, that’s all right too, because then I’ll see you oftener in its light when I get home.

I tried to get them to fire a 21 gun salute on Wednesday when it was 5 o’clock over there to celebrate Young Stuff’s anniversary, but it seems that she hasn’t received her “federal recognition” yet, and so rates no salutes with the army.

We had a rapid succession of services of various faiths last night. The somewhat involved prayer offered by one chaplain asked blessing for:

(1) All soldiers both here and elsewhere,
(2) All sailors,

(3) All marines,

(4) All allies

(5) Our enemies.

At the end of the prayer I said, quote, “I don’t mind praying for our enemies but let’s leave the marines out of this,” unquote. John will want to settle that when we meet again.

Did the flowers arrive in time or at all? After I spent about 3 quid to send them (the native who sent them through said “whew” when he looked up the price) I heard that all cables were being held up so I don’t know if you got them or not.

Goodbye for now,

Love Jim

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