I’m posting two letters here from Frank to his parents, written within days of each other. The second is very short.
The first letter has no date, but based on content I’m going to guess it’s a little after 1/25/1944. Frank responds to his mother’s 1/25/44 letter in which she says she’s sending “jeweler’s rouge,” which is a buffing compound he requested, probably to brighten up any brass on his uniform. He writes about “getting paid soon” but still wasn’t paid in a 1/29 letter, posted second, so it must be before 1/29.
Like many army guys, Frank is figuring out ways to pull in some extra money. His mother sent him so much jeweler’s rouge, he’s going to sell the extra to his Cadet buddies.
Perhaps it’s the responsibilities he’s taking on or the camaraderie of the Army Air Corps, where everyone has a job to do, but this letter demonstrates a growing maturity in this 19-year-old. He was a fun-loving, rascally high school kid who probably didn’t do all he could to help his seriously over-worked parents in their janitorial business. Here is declares when he comes home, he’ll show his dad “what a real son is like.”
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m finally writing again. Thanks ever so much for all the goodies you sent me and all of that jewelers rouge; it’s enough to last me all my life and pass it on to my sons in the next war. I told you it was impossible to get any around here so I’ll make up small packages and sell them to the fellows here.
I don’t know whether I’ve told you that I have received the money you sent but I have and it was greatly appreciated. We will be paid this week for the month of December so I won’t bother you any more for money for sometime to come if ever.
If you could I sure would appreciate more of that pastry and slices that you used to send me. They arrived in good condition and just in time for Guard Duty. I was Sgt of the Guard and had to sit up half the night. I ate cookies and drank coffee till I almost bust.
I saw a wonderful picture tonight named, “A GUY NAMED JOE.”* See it and you won’t regret it. Miss it and you have lost something good. It plays on your imagination and is a swell show.
I’m very happy now and almost pleasant. I feel that I’m going to make the grade after all. Maybe the picture boosted my morale but I feel 100% better than I have.
I’ll have to stop now but before I do I want to ask a few questions. How is everyone back home? Is Dad still working as hard as always? Tell him to lay off a bit for me and wait till I can get back and show him what a real son is like. I’d like to work with him and stay with him every moment. I can’t say what brought this on but I have suddenly come to a realization that life can be worth so much to everyone when everyone pitches in and does his share.
While on guard duty last Monday I received a great compliment from Major Honneyman. He turned in a report on the guard detail that was superior + and I know I couldn’t have gotten it without the cooperation of every fellow on duty.
Say hello to Will, Sam and Lill and wish them good health and happiness.
Your Loving Son
I’m feeling swell and I received the money you sent to me. I was very glad to get it but you are spoiling me.
We haven’t been paid for December as yet but we will next Friday so I won’t need any help for quite some time.
Last Saturday night I went visiting but I didn’t have any success. I couldn’t even find a trace of Edith Schulz but I did find the address of Esther Marie (Schimmelpfennig)* Klink. She wasn’t at home so I plan to write to her if I get the chance and make arrangements to visit them next week.
We went to the pressure chamber* this morning and my final worry is over. We went up to 38,000 feet and came down again with no ill effects. I was wondering if my concussion would show up but it didn’t.
(*This link to an article about the “Stratotrainer” may or may not be the same “pressure chamber” Frank trained in, but it was written for the July, 1943 issue of Flying Magazine, and gives some idea of what training for high altitude flying may have been like for future Bomber crews).
My cold is coming along fine and I have had no trouble with it. I’m sorry I couldn’t write more often but I’m very busy and it takes all of my time.
Well till I write again. I’ll keep well and wish the same to everyone back home.
*Schimmelpfennig means “moldy penny” in German. Esther was a friend of Frank’s brother, Fred (my dad), and for some odd reason, my grandfather, always with a joke in his head, called her Schimmelpfennig, and it stuck.
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