Home front news in 1943 included meat shortages, car break-downs, nights out for dancing and drinks [rhumba-ing and cocktails still figure into my parents’ fun], and a couple of movies, all reported in my mother’s breezy style. She and Dad are still having lots of fun despite the long hours they work during the war. The characters reported on here are Kenny and Arlyne (Kenny was my dad’s best friend, and both were in my parents’ wedding party]. Gert was my mom’s best friend at the time (also in wedding party). Since this year Easter falls on March 31, I thought I’d post a photo of my parents, authors of this letter, on their first Easter together.
4034 West End
Mar. 31, 1943
It’s been quite some time since we have written you so although this may be short, still it will prove we are thinking of you.
Firstly, we were so sorry to hear you were ill—and hope sincerely you didn’t have to lose any teeth as a result of the trench-mouth we understand you had.
Heard you telephoned home Sunday. You see, we keep quite well posted on your even tho you don’t get time to write us direct which is perfectly understandable, what with all you probably have to do.
Did you hear about Essie? [Essie is Fred & Lil’s pet nickname for her car, an Essex.] About two or three weeks ago there was a terrific wind such as only Chicago can have. I had taken Essie to work that day, and upon leaving the office that evening, found that the top was all blown off, including the insulating wool, and only the white muslin “Underwear” showed.
Driving home that evening, I was trying desperately to decide whether Essie was worthwhile keeping up or whether we should junk her. Well, at that psychological moment Essie manifested a terrific knock—bank, bang, the motor sounded every few turns of the wheel. That decided me, sentiment or no sentiment, Essie had reached the end of her trail.
When Fred came home from work I told him the sad news. Says he, “How can you junk poor little Essie who had been thru so much joy with you, etc. Etc.” Well, I was feeling pretty much the heel already and when he started this sob sister stuff, believe it or not, I cried.
But we figured we can use Essie’s heater, battery and wind-shield wiper for Blitzbuggy [the Model A Ford in which they drove Ebner to the draft board on Jan. 23, 1943], which alone would total $21.00. Fortunately we had not yet bought the 1943 license plates for her, so her breakdown came at just the right moment.
Last Saturday, Freddie and I saw “Black Swan” and “The Meanest Man in the World,” going with Will. The first was a wonderful picture and the latter “comme si, comme sa”—so-so to you, Toots.
Sunday Kenny and Arlyne and Fred and I went to the “Latin Quarter” on Randolph Street downtown. We had a marvelous dinner there and a drink. They have the best rhumba orchestra I have ever heard. There was a couple there that were such wonderfully smooth dancers that we enjoyed watching them more than we would a floor show. To dance like that! Mmmmmm!
Gert was over for dinner last night and we even had meat. In case you don’t know there was an acute meat shortage in Chicago last week. However, we were not caught short. Your mother got us some and I was at the butcher bright and early Saturday morning, being fortunate enough to get one of the only three half hams they had. There were so many people waiting to get in that the butcher would allow the first group to come in, would lock the doors, till they were taken care of, then let the next bunch in and so on.
Don’t you get anything to eat in camp? Anyway, you surely are well taken care of by Mama, judging from the ample supplies I see her sending you. While on the subject, did you get our little offering of cookies and candy send about three weeks ago? Also, in what condition did it arrive?
Enclosed you will find one buck which may serve to ease the financial strain somewhat. Perhaps this will be more useful than cookies or other food since you apparently have a few sources of supply in that connection.
Write when you get a moment, if only a line or two.
Lil and Fred