08 February 2013

When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 12

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.

August 29, 1945

Dear Norma,

    I had just made up my mind that if I didn't get a letter today I would take you over my knee and warm the seat of your pants. Luckily for you, a letter came this morning, and you were spared. Boy, am I rough and tough, g-r-r-r-r.

    I had heard that my cousin had returned to the states but your letter was the first one telling me that he was home.  [1] If you know Herbie Auerbach you surely must know Irving as they were both in class night. [2] Did he tell you about his exploits overseas and how he won the war single handed. He was always very modest so I am sure he didn't. He was never very aggressive with women or has he changed?

    I am sorry to hear that Skippy is sick. [3] I'll bet you have your handsful [sic] taking care of him. 

    That block party sounds like a swell idea. I'll bet you will have lots of fun. Don't get all beered up you old sot.

    As far as getting a pass I don't think I'll need one. I will be home, a full fledged civilian by that time. Today, I went through the necessary processing to clear this field. I had a medical and surprizingly [sic] enough, I passed. I had my clothing checked again and tomorrow I shall have my records checked. That will prepare me for Camp Dix. [4] I don't expect to stay at Dix more that forty-eight hours and I should be home by Tuesday of next week, at the latest, unless I run into a snag. [5]

    The weather here has been rather warm. As I sit here and write the sweat is pouring off me. The radio says that the weather at home has been very poor and cold. It gets a little chilly in the evening and that only helps sleep.

    I saw George Raft in "Johnny Angel" last night. It was all right and it passed the evening. My idea of a perfect picture would be to get all the screen tough guys together and let them fight it out. Can you just picture Alan Hale, George Raft, Humphrey Bogart and a few others, all together. [6] Boy, what a brawl and all the blood running down the street, hubba, hubba.

    I guess that about brings me up to date. I don't think it would be advisable for you to answer this as I won't be here to receive it. Just try to think of me once in a while. I'll be seeing you.

1. Irving Garber (1920-2000), son of Nathan and Yetta Garber (see here and here), served in the Army Air Corps, as well. Like my mother Norma, he attended Lincoln High School. She was acquainted with him.
2. Herbert Auerbach (1919-1968), son of Martin and Jeanette Auerbach, was a long-time good friend of my father's. Later in life, after both he and my father were married with children, he and his wife Sylvia lived just a few miles from my family on Long Island. He died suddenly and too young, leaving his wife and three children.
3. My mother had at least two dogs during her youth. I know she, at one point, had Bruno the St. Bernard (named after the dog in Gone With the Wind). She also had another one (perhaps Skippy), a wire-haired terrier prone to running outside and rolling in mud puddles immediately after he'd been bathed.
4. Camp Dix (aka Fort Dix) near Trenton, New Jersey is about 75 miles from Brooklyn, New York. Much closer to home than Langley, Virginia.
5. No snag, apparently. Bernard Garber was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps at the Personnel Center at Fort Dix, New Jersey on 3 September 1945. 
Final Payment Roll, Attached Unassigned Separation Center 1262d SCU Personnel Center, Fort Dix, New Jersey, Voucher no. 78261, 3 September 1945, identifying several soldiers including Bernard Garber. National Personnel Records Center, St Louis, Missouri.
6. Actually, they'd already made a movie together: They Drive by Night (1940).

Other posts in this series:
When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 1
When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 2
When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 3
When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 4
When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 5
When Bernie (Sonny) met Norma: Courtship Letters, 6

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