This is Part 4 in a series of letters written by my grandparents to each other in 1945.
In this letter, my grandfather starts to tell the story of his life and then abruptly stops. I suppose he was waiting for my grandmother to tell him to go on, but she never did. In any case, I like this tiny snapshot of his early life. Which apparently involved canaries.
26 July 1945
My dearest darling Frida,
I am writing this from my office and as you can see I have an entirely new type of typewriter. This is a type I used to use a long time ago, when I was an enlisted man and worked in Hawaii. This is a signal corps typewriter that has no small letters and is primarily used for telegrams.
You can see how busy I am by the fact that almost right after I got to the office, I sat down to write to you. There is almost nothing to do no matter what I try to keep myself busy.
I’ll tell you what I’ll do; I don’t know if I’ve ever done it before but if I haven’t, I think you might be interested in knowing it. I have decided that since you don’t know very much about me, I will write you a little bit of the story of my life in every letter to you.
I might start off by saying that actually I have not lived—only since I met you. But I did exist and that might interest you. (By the way, I am most interested in your life in all its phases)
I was born in New York City on 16 July 1916. Of my early years I remember only those things that remain vividly in my mind. I remember when I was about three that my cousin and his people came for a visit and he and I started to go for a walk all by ourselves. We wandered off several blocks from my house to a park close by. I remember that it was hot and I took off my shirt and laid it down on the grass where it would dry and I could pick it up when I came back. The next thing I can remember was that a policeman had me and my cousin and we were on our way to the police station. I know that I had been lost before and so I didn’t mind it but my cousin was frightened and he cried. Sure enough it wasn’t long before my father showed up and took us home.
The next thing I remember was moving to New Jersey and to a little town where my father had a bakery business. I was now 5 and ½ years old. We had 16 horses, the same number of cats, and a dog, and of course, a canary. We have never been without a canary in my house as long as I can remember. It’s not because I wanted one but because my father did. Right now we have a parrot at home that’s 20 years old.
I’m going to stop here because I don’t know if you’re interested or not. In fact, like a woman, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think I’ll write the story of my life until you say that you’re interested. Enough to say that I am now living.
Oh my darling, how I wish I could be talking to you now and every day instead of having to write to you. But in the absence of that, I guess I’ll have to write. There will come a day when writing to you will be done away with and all I’ll have to do is say what I want to say.
All my love forever