North Ave. Beach 8/27/1941

North Ave. Beach 8/27/1941

Fred (my dad) sent  this amusing “scientific analysis” of two “aquatic species,” probably based on a photo (he says “illustration” but I think that’s  part of the joke)  that was enclosed with the letter. He typed it up almost exactly 70 years ago, on January 27, 1942. It was written three months before his job loss at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant (see War and BigotryAn FBI Investigation, and Anti-American Hobbies).

The “illustration” or photo wasn’t saved with the letter, but based upon the content, my guess is––it is related to this picture, the first photo taken of my parents together, on August 27, 1941, on an early date at a Chicago beach. To read Lil’s entry about their date, click on Love is dancing by ourselves.  

Dad uses his scientific background to express affection   through the back door of humor. The letter is a little faded so I’ve transcribed it, editing a few typos, to make reading easier.

January 27, 1942

Dear Lillian,

Just to prevent myself from forgetting to bring it up the next time, I’m going to ease my conscience, not to mention your curiosity, and send you this illustration of a hitherto unclassified biological species. According to close observation, it has been concluded that they are aquatic, if not amphibian. This conclusion has been reached by detecting the comparative ease with which they appear to be with a watery background. They must be an industrious genus for although the climatic conditions at the time of discovery were not of a vegetative productive era, neither of the two seemed underfed. This condition of the absence of malnutrition is especially predominant in the case of the male (assumed because of size). 

 Also, they are definitely not of a hibernating class since they have been observed under a variety of climatically-conditioned activities. Notice also the plumpness of the female’s cheeks. Among lower four-footed animals, the well-development of the heavy-muscled jowls reveals much biting and fighting. The male, not being battle-scarred, it can safely be assumed that these two exist in peace, and therefore, such well-developed “muscularis maxillaris” must be intended for domestic uses, such as a highly scientifically developed method of osculation, which has been observed from time to time. It might here be mentioned that the recipient of such outbursts was well satisfied with the results.

Science shall do its utmost in attempting to civilize and domesticate this rare type—but I doubt whether they will be successful. – – – – You had better get a drink, and a good strong one, at this stage, if you’re still conscious. I’m sure you’ll need it. Be seeing you soon.



Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 1st, I’ll be posting to the annual “Carnival of Genealogy I-Gene Awards.” For those of you not familiar with the CoG–I-Gene Awards, it’s a take-off on the Oscars, appropriate for this prize-frenzy time of year. All entrants post links and brief “award highlights” in five categories from their previous year’s posts: Best Screenplay, Best Documentary, Best Picture, Best Biography, and Best Comedy. I won’t be sending out an email blast on this one, so as not to clutter your in-box, but do drop by if you want to see my choices from 2011.