Letters to a Soldier: The Letters -- Hanau, Germany, p.5

The Letters: Hanau, Germany, p.5

217.  Dad

Monday [January 28, 1974; no postmark]

Dear John,

I sent the night letter today from the office after Mother called and told me about your letter of the 23rd. What can I say now. I don't know at this moment what has happened, what effect it will have, or when we will see you. If you have done something that will delay your release from the service is there something we can do to help. If there is anything you can do to prevent things from getting worse won't you please do it. For our sakes yes but for your sake especially. You can have a long and good life. You mustn't let a few people spoil it. Believe me there are mostly good people in this world. Many are victims of a mean minority but no one is perfect and while I myself get discouraged from time to time with the behavior of many of my fellow men, I can usually look around and see people who are friendly, who will help out the troubled, and who might only need a smile at themselves to turn on. So please don't do anything to spoil the days ahead when you can get back doing what you want to do.

Your 2 part letter we received a week ago seemed so nice, you seemed rather happy. You asked for a new Pogo book. You had laughed. What a shock 1 week brought. I pray, deeply, that things are not as bad as you intimated. I remember some of Jim's letters. He hated the service and the letters were very disturbing. But he came back and he seems better than ever. Really enjoying life. I looked at Hudson's today for a new Pogo. They don't carry it. I will try the "Little Professor" book store in Dearborn where I got the first one. I hope I can remember which one you have.

I worked till 7 tonight because a big snow storm came up and I didn't want to chance driving home at 4 o'clock. I tried to clean the car off but the windows got snowed over before I could get around the car once. It was about 32 degrees and the snow soft & big flakes. By 7 it was stopped and the salted roads were pretty clear of traffic. But til about 6 I could watch from the office window & see the traffic just creep along, on the freeway and Grand River.

It is supposed to warm up tomorrow.

Your local U.S. Congressman is William Ford. The U.S. Senators are Robert Griffin and Phillip Hart.

Gosh, we wish you were here safe at home. Please pray for help and guidance. God is no myth. He can and will help, if only you ask. If you try to go it alone you are bound to fail. Try it our way, please, at least until you are out. Anxiously awaiting word,


218.  Mom & Dad

Telegram, sent January 28, 1974, 2:00 PM, delivered 29th, to the Deutsche Bundespost, Hanau, Germany


full image 75 kb

219.  Dad

Sat. Feb [February 1, 1974]

Dear John:

At this writing we don't know any more of what's going on over there since our last letter to you, so we leave it to our imaginations as to what situation you are presently in. I hope you will be pleased with the enclosed Pogo book. They are such great sellers they are hard to find. I must remember which ones are bought. The last one, I believe, is "We Have Met the Enemy And They Is Us," right?

As far as I know you could be confined. I got the enclosed note about Bishop Walsh in the mail yesterday and thought you might find some encouragement in it. At least don't be offended or angry.

Also enclosed is the sketch of the promised redecorating at the church, part of it.

Jim said Article Fifteen could result in a fine or being jogged [?]. He seemed to think it is better than a court martial, but then we don't know the details.

Hope these will cheer you up. A new month now, 4 weeks to March-don't louse it up, ya' hear?

Nothing much new here since the last letter. Presume you get the Free Press. Yet we got more snow but today it doesn't look like the Groundhog will see his shadow, so Spring-where are you? Will write again soon, son.


221.  Mom

Monday Aft.

Feb. 11, '74

Dear John,

Another day--another mail come and go and still no word from you. You can't imagine how patient your dad and I are trying to be in waiting for you to write and tell us what happened over there.

All I can think is--if he is in some kind of trouble, why won't he let me know instead of my spending so much time wondering and worrying?

If there is nothing the matter--a short note even would certainly alleviate the knot in the pit of my stomach.

I have even considered writing to your C.O. and I still may have to do that of one of us doesn't hear from you soon.

I am trying to keep calm by remembering that you only have about two and a half months to go.

Please, won't you sit down and write to us now and explain any difficulties you may be having or have already had?

Life goes on here much as before but somehow the trivial happenings of family life don't seem to be too important until we know how you are.

Everyone sends their love and concern, especially


222.  Dad

Tuesday Feb. 12

Dear John,

I write this about noon, on my lunch hour, in my office. I can look out the window and see snow and also sunshine, which is a rarity. It is supposed to climb into the 30's so maybe the sun will melt the snow again. We haven't seen much green this winter. It does plod on though and I hope it is passing for you well enough. I, or we, wonder what you are doing and where you are, or even if you are getting our letters. At this writing we haven't heard for a long time.

Tonight, even though it is Tuesday, we plan on going to the Calvin to see a nature type film. Mary Lou likes animal-type movies (as well as books, etc.) and I find them usually very interesting. There are so many rotten-sick-movies out that we don't go too often. We did see another Disney one lately, "Robin Hood." That was good. I would rather see a good, funny, even dumb movie, rather than these serious, violent, sex muddled films that they put out. Why people go see the "Exorcist" which shows such sickening stuff I will never know. People actually become sick while watching it, yet they flock to it. I just can't figure some people's idea of entertainment.

Mom & I had a nice dinner the other night at the Hilton Inn by the airport, just down the road from the Sheraton we took you to once. Reminds me of our lunch we had up on top of the Gas Co. Building. Seems like not too long ago, especially when [abrupt stop before turning to page 2!]

I look forward to the day (soon I hope) you will be heading our way. I find out from friends that time in the hoosegow doesn't count so I hope you are not confined like that so as to delay your return. Of course we can't know but we can imagine all sorts of things. That is why, if you are able, it would be a good idea to write frequently, even if you don't say much. We had you for 18 years and we want you back as good as when you left.

Bill still goes to Eastern, except for the time he skips. He doesn't seem to take it seriously enough. He dropped that nature course, I can't think of the name-you have a lab course & dissect insects, etc. But he enjoys the music courses and plays the piano and the guitar pretty good. He has seen a few long hair-type concerts lately, I guess, and he, (or his class) met with the members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra last week when they were at Eastern for 3 days.

Lynn says gas is hard to get in New Jersey but we have no trouble except that it costs a lot now. Although Maverick at Avondale & Inkster Rd. has it for 48.9 for regular, most stations have it for 51.9 and up. Of course both the twins want to get cars when they graduate. As you know, their insurance, especially Mike's with his one accident, will be high, even with this new kind Michigan requires now. Small cars are the thing now and large cars are hard to sell. We still don't know if gas rationing might come although now at the end of winter they will start making more gasoline and less fuel oil.

Well, I guess I better get back to work, so God be with you-

223.  Mom


Feb. 24, '74

Dear John,

After talking to you last week I got the impression that you were going to send me the name of the person and how much money should be sent to you in the form of a check. Did you change your mind? You have about $250.00 in your account, perhaps a little more because of end of year dividends.

You do understand how dangerous it would be to send unsigned traveler's checks through the mail? Of course, all this is academic if I receive your request this week

I called Paula's mother as you asked. Perhaps by now you have Paula's and Bo's thank you note. The clock arrived about three weeks ago. Perhaps, also, they didn't tell you that Mrs. Leyten had to pay $7.00 to get it out of the post office. She gave me a tip on how her relatives send packages to her avoiding the high cost of mailing.

On the gift to be sent you should label the customs declaration as "GIFT." For your insurance payment, she suggested estimating the gift as 1/3 its worth. (e.g. if the item was worth $30.00, you put down ten, thus paying lower insurance rates.)

Mrs. Leyten said that they loved the clock, (incidentally, what happened to the one I asked you to send us? I offered to pay for it. Remember?)

Well, let me know your decision about the check. Time is running out. March will soon be here.


224.  Dad

Monday- [February 25; postmarked February 26, 1974]


Only 10 months from today is Christmas. May I be the first . . . .

Anyway, in 2 days Lent starts and in 6 1/2 weeks will be Easter. I wonder if you will be here by then. It should be warmer anyway. Our cold weather persists. Nobody got my message, "Enough." I hope I appreciate the summer.

I also hope we don't have as bad a gasoline situation as Lynn says they have in New Jersey, or my co-worker Harold Powers says they have in Florida. Last week he got disgusted waiting in line for gas down there and sometimes getting only $2 worth. Here it still is easy to get but more stations seem to be closing down and most of them close in the evenings and on Sunday. And toward the end of the month many run out of gas entirely.

Now the good news. Last Friday the mortgage co. sent a letter notifying us our house is paid for in full. We now own it, completely, all by ourselves. Such a wonderful feeling. Of course, about 60% of the monthly payments have been going for taxes and insurance so this expense shall go on. But it sure is cheap rent in these days when apartments go for $150-$200 a month (and up).

I renewed your Free Press for 1 final month, March, maybe into the first week into April.

225.  Mary Lou

Tues [the 26th; postmarked February 26, 1974]

Dear John,

Today we got out at 2:00 instead of 2:30 because of 2 funerals. We only had 1/2 hour for lunch though. Tomorrow we won't have any school in the morning.

Tomorrow I'll probably have to go to mass and after the mass you'll get ashes.

You're probably wondering why I'm printing. Well I write better that way. Besides its easier. [All her letters were printed.]

I'm only feeding Pepper once a day now but I'm giving her a little more to eat. That way she will eat her food.

I have about 16 fish now. I have six in a separate bowl (hopefully) so that they will reproduce. I was going to buy some more but I decided not to.

I changed my room around again. Now the bed's under the window by Harrison's drive and I am writing on the desk that mom and me took up from the basement!

I sent away for some stickers (100). Then I find out that this girl's sent away for the same thing and she told me that you have to lick them to get them to stick. The ad said that they were free but you would have to send 50 cents for p. and h! Included you get their catalog so that you might want to send a way for something.

Well I hope you're doing fine and hang in there because your time is almost up.

Mary Lou

226.  Mom

Saint Patrick's Day card [postmarked March 11, 1974]

227.  Dad

Tuesday Evening [March 12; postmarked March 13, 1974]

Dear Lynn and Bob and John,

I am trying an experiment tonight. I am writing the same letter to each of you with the use of a carbon. The one who gets the original wouldn't know it if I didn't mention it but the one who gets the carbon might wonder. Most of what I write could be the latest news so why should either of you suffer by not hearing from me just because I wrote the other. Now you can both hear my cheerful words twice as often, maybe.

As you probably are experiencing your selves the weather is shaping up nicely into a prelude of Spring. The grass here is getting greener little by little and your dear father has gotten the bikes oiled up and takes a few evening cruises about the neighborhood. I even got the LTD oiled up today, changed various filters in it yesterday and really am ready to plunge into the Spring renaissance. Got my dining room captain's chair cleaned and re-varnished and it looks so good I think I will do all the chairs back there as well as the Danish chair in the living room that has looked so bad the last few years. We did get nice new cushions for it but the wood looked bad. As we may have mentioned we got our new bedroom set except for the chest of drawers (mine) which will take longer and it looks real nice. It is not too bad waiting for things. So many start out by thinking they have to have everything all at once but it is kind of nice to add things as you go along and have something to look forward to. And speaking of looking forward that should be approaching which we have all looked forward to for so long, eh John, and that is your return to civilian life. Right now you have been away for over 10% of your life but when you get my age it will be only 4%. I really honestly can say that each phase of my life has been interesting and enjoyable but I wouldn't want to return to any part of it but look forward in anticipation to an even more enjoyable future.

The gasoline situation has eased considerably after a few trying days at the end of February. I didn't really have trouble getting gas but saw a lot of lines and didn't do much traveling anyway. I hope it gets easier so we can drive to Morristown maybe in May for your birthday Lynn. Maybe we can work it into a little vacation with a swing down to Williamsburg or even up into Vermont. Nothing is being planned now but we love to think about things like that. I suppose you will have had enough of traveling John and will be ready to settle down among your friends for a while. Mom doesn't want to leave Mary Lou for very long, much more than a weekend, but school time would probably be a good time to go unless we took others. John, do you suppose you will have any time or way to stop in and see Lynn and Bob while you are in N.J. Perhaps they would discharge you right from there although I wouldn't be surprised if you might have to go to some base first.

Bill will be out of school within a month and then he wants to get a different full time job and get another car. The old LTD uses too much gas and is sluggish and not too stylish for the youthful generation. But it does run and it is overall better than the Mustang he got rid of. Too bad he didn't have the luck of your Mustang, Lynn. His was only a '67.

I saw that this carbon paper I used isn't so hot. Don't know why. Looked almost brand new. To not play favorites I'll send each of you one original. Now how original can you get. This is almost like a 3 way conversation.

Our church decorating is coming along nicely with the walls all plastered and the fabric or vinyl covering selected last Saturday. Your complaint about the light fixtures, Lynn, must have been heard. The drive for funds for this project was so successful that Father Petit wants to get some good fixtures now. Even the regular Sunday collections have gone up to near where they belong since this started so maybe this project was a good catalyst to weld our parish into a solid community more than ever before. I hope so.

Got the weather report which says temps in the low teens tonight and tomorrow night although the daytime temps will be in the 30s & 40s.

Well as I took off time to see Banacek on the TV it is now a bit past my usual weekday bed time so I better close for now, so with lots of love to you all, until the next time,

228.  Mom

Thursday a.m.

March 14, 1974

Dear John,

Had a dream about you this morning about six a.m. which reminded me that your army career is fast drawing to a close. Forgive the sarcasm! You did say that somewhere around the 14th of April you would arrive at the east coast base, didn't you? I presume that those plans are still in effect.

By this time your discipline should be pretty much over with. Since we haven't heard anything from you since "the phone call," (I should have put it in Capital letters. It was so expensive!) I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything is working out for your departure in a month.

And around here, life goes on, pretty much the same. I know that your dad just wrote to you the other day so there isn't much news. But I just wanted to remind you of our interest. Our days are more blue and gold now that spring is just around next week. One of these days you will be here to enjoy them with us.

Much love,

229.  Mary Lou

Thurs. 21 [postmarked March 22, 1974]

Dear John,

Today is supposed to be the first day of Spring but I don't believe it. It is snowing and kind a' cold. There isn't much snow on the ground.

While I am writing this Pepper is licking my knee! She comes up to you and licks you. It drives me crazy.

Today was hamburger day instead of Hot Dog day at school. The hamburgers were from Mac's and they were 1/2 of 1/2 an inch thick. They cost 30 cents over here now. It seems the higher the price the smaller the merchandise.

Mom found an American Wildlife book upstairs in that little cupboard in the wall in your bedroom. She was wondering who's it is. It might be yours.

My teacher is getting crabbier and crabbier every day. She calls on you when you don't have your hand up and she makes a fool of you! I can't stand her.

Lynn sent me 2 little rabbits (china). They are really small and cute. She is also making me a scarf. (if she ever finishes it).

Have a happy Easter!

Mary Lou

P.S. Our class is going on a field trip to Henry Ford Museum March 29. But I wish we weren't because I've been there so many times.

230.  Mom

March 22, 1974

Here is the check that you asked for in the letter we received yesterday. Your credit union account is down to about $63.00 now. I had to take the $200.00 from the C.U. over to Manufactures Nat'l. Bank where they made out this New York draft.

Have you considered the differences in the money exchange? Will your $200.00 American be the same as the German Mark? Perhaps you will have to adjust the payment in some way. You might even get some money back.

This just may be my "bon voyage" letter. Hope the next few weeks fly by smoothly for you. I am also hoping that the change in you that I read in your letters will not be permanent. It would be extremely uncomfortable to live with such anger and cynicism for very long. Three years is long enough-because this harsh outlook on life started a year before you even left for Fort Knox.

At any rate, we will be waiting for your arrival.

Much love,

P.S. I sent your 1973 Michigan Tax form under separate cover.

231.  Mom


April 1

Dear John,

Here it is-from two years to two weeks and before long it will be two minutes. I suppose that you are all packed and ready.

By the way and before I forget-if the Army sends you home with your winter jacket-keep it-keep it. Mark loves the one Jim brought home but Greg claimed it and wears it every cold day we have. You know the one-with the hood and zipper?

Anyway, even if it is very warm when you get to the east coast, take it home with you, o.k.?

Saw Jim's new apartment yesterday. He just moved in on Saturday. The complex is big with lots of facilities but is unfurnished and quite raw looking yet. [The Huron Towers in Ann Arbor, MI.] He is on the top floor and likes the quiet of the place. No one can hear his stereo going full blast, I guess.

Bill only has two more weeks of school left. That year passed so quickly, I thought but had its dragging moments for him.

Mike wants me to go to the paint store with him now so I'll close and drop this at the post office.

See you soon,

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