30 January 2013

When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 3

When my father died in 2002 and my mother began her precipitous decline (dying eight months later) my brother and I began the arduous task of cleaning out the house. In my mother's dresser drawer I found a packet of twelve envelopes containing letters my father had sent her during their courtship. The letters are sweet and humorous, completely reminiscent of my father's personality. They are a wonderful chronicle of the beginning of their enduring love-affair.
In honor of what would be my parents 66th anniversary on February 9th, I will be posting a letter each day along with an annotated transcription adding additional insights and explication.

Tuesday, July 10, 1945

My dear "Circe,"

    I have just returned from mail call and was very happy to receive a letter from you. Your prompt reply deserves one in return so here I am, not two minutes later. It was good to hear from you and I am glad to see that you are in your usual happy frame of mind. I am fine and dandy and with the exception of a few minor annoyances cropping up occasionally I feel super.

   You mentioned pulling your blonde hair and I can't picture you as a blonde. Now that I think about it, I am almost sure you are a red head or was it black. Yes, you have black hair, that's it. I think it is very pretty hair, too. Then again who ever made me an authority on hair. As for you being the demonstrative type, that sounds interesting. When shall I come around for the demonstration. "Foul ball!" [1]

    It took me a little time to recover my composure after the second page. You made me feel lower than Dr. William Beebe. What a heel I am. I think that next new years I will have to make that a resolution. Be kind to Norma in 1946. I'll protect you, and comfort you, too. I can lick any woman my weight and twice as old.

    My social life is still running in somewhat the same vein. Last Friday we had a very nice formal dance which I attended. Saturday I went to Champaign to a dance. Sunday I drank beer at the N.C.O. club and Monday night the same.

    Our latest card game is hearts and we really play for blood. I like to play bridge but I can't seem to get any players.

    I am very interested in finding out exactly what those two dashes mean, "Just because you look like ______  ______." If that means Boris Karloff I'll never speak to you again.

    Yesterday, I spent a very profitable day and my morale was raised 100%. I had an interview with that Lt. and I succeeded in qualifying for two more battle stars. This raises my total to 93 points. I then went to the head of this technical school and I was told that I would not have to start school. From here I expect to be sent to a base close to home. The latest rumor has it that Langley Field, Va. is the closest field open, right now. There I shall get some sort of an assignment and be put on the quota list for discharge. It all sounds lovely but it will take time and I hesitate to predict how long. However, it is something to look forward to. On second thought I had better make allowances for things going amiss. I won't predict the army. They may change some rule and have me chasing fliers on Okinawa, who knows. I have my fingers and all ten toes crossed. Boy, to get into a zoot suit again and spend those enjoyable evenings at Louie's Pool Parlor. I may even decide to take a job making [check mark in circle] on peoples books. I still have my movie contract pending but I don't like being in the public eye, or hair, have it your way. Perhaps, a white slaver would be a lucrative enterprize [sic] or perhaps, taking numbers. You must admit I have ambitions and want to get ahead in this world.

    My brother is now at home enjoying a 30 day furlough. [2] He writes every day and keeps me posted on his activities. The highlight is that he is thinking of becoming engaged. I know his girlfriend quite well and I approve. [3] She is a nice sweet kid. I guess he is leaving his brother in the dust. My sister is finally settled in Dorchester after a nice honeymoon and is enjoying married life. [4] She recommends it highly, so there must be something to it. So many other people are doing it, too. What is this world coming to.

    I couldn't help noticing your salutation, "as ever sonny." I'll see what I can do about that.

    Nuff sed for now so I'll close. Be good, have fun and please write.

                                                                                                 Your affectionate friend
                                                                                                                     (how's that)

1. Norma Wilson had jet black wavy hair.
2. Leonard Garber, was nearly five years younger than Sonny. He had also been in the Eighth Air Force stationed in England. The brothers had been able to visit each other during their assignment in the United Kingdom. Both came home unscathed.
3. Lenny married his high school sweetheart from Madison High School in Brooklyn, Harriet Silverman, on 3 February 1946.
4. Leah Garber had married Samuel "Westy" Eisenberg on 17 June 1945. Westy was from Boston and the couple settled in the Dorchester neighborhood.

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