The young cadets in Miami Beach may have been serving their country, but that didn’t exempt them from  keeping their uniforms clean in the sweat-inducing, broiling Florida heat—at their own expense! Frank writes a soulful letter to his mother on his monetary woes, and making a good case in his need for CA$H.

His expenses sound like a pittance in today’s money, but check out this handy calculator at $Dollar Times to figure out how inflation has eroded the dollar’s buying power since Frank was in the Army Air Corps.

His laundry bill of $2.35 would be $31.95 today). His Suntans (tan-colored, summer military uniform) have to be cleaned every three days at 55 cents each time ($7.47 today); $1.35 to develop film ($18.34 today). No wonder Frank is begging for money.

My grandparents hated to spend money and you’d be hard-pressed to find people who could sacrifice as they did to save every penny. So it will be interesting to see their response to their son’s pleas in the next letter.

Read on to find out what expenses were like for an eighteen-year-old airman stationed at Miami Beach 70 years ago.


U.S. Army Air Force


Dear Mom:

Miami Beach is really swell but it costs too much to live here. I hope I go to college soon so I can start saving money for the things I want when I’m flying. Yesterday we took our classification tests and today we were classified and had our papers checked. This may be a good sign that they are planning a shipment soon.

I hope! I hope! I hope!

I’m feeling swell and think I got that cold and cough licked. I hope everyone at home is feeling well. I took a few minutes today to complete a letter to Frank Von Arx that I started last Monday.

I’m sorry I didn’t leave you know sooner that I had received the money you sent me. THANK$ <—(HINT). My laundry hasn’t returned from the G.I. Laundry so I’ve been forced to buy new clothes. As you can see, every time I turn around, I have to buy something or other. Yesterday I took some film to be developed and that cost $1.35 so it goes in a vicious circle.

When the war is over I’m going to take you to Miami Beach and leave you see what I mean. Dad would never like this place. Well, love to all and say Hello to Will for me. When does he take his operator’s license test again? Soon, I hope.

Vera wrote me and told me she was coming down to Chicago in a few weeks and also thanked me for your sending Chuckie that slack suit. He was nuts about it. Cookie sent her a blue nightie. Well, it’s time to quit now. Till I write again, I remain

Your Loving Son


Note: Frank was alerting his parents to the upcoming visit of Vera and her son, Chuck, in this letter, and the last post tells how how disastrously that turned out.

Original Letter