I can easily identify 2 out of 3 in this photo: Lt. Helen Eberhart Daley, Army Nurse, and Schnapps, a true-to-life stuffed dog, whose name was a mystery to me before I read the letters I found in the Army trunk. If you’ve read this far in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, you know how the dog got its name.
Mom (Helen) was too generous for her own good. If I complimented her necklace or bracelet, she’d attempt to give it to me. But one day when I was probably 7 or 8, I was playing in the attic and found this cute, black stuffed dog. Thinking I’d add it to my stuffed animal collection, I carried it down and ran to find Mom. “Mom! Look what I found in the attic! It’s kind of beat-up, but the stuffing isn’t leaking.”
She took that dog and smiled at it as if she’d finally run into an old friend from another life. “Take it back to the attic, Dandi.”
“But I wanted to play with it!” I protested.
She smiled again at that curly-haired black dog. “Not this one, honey. This one is special. Schnapps belongs to me.”
I thought about telling her “Schnapps” was a dumb name for a dog. I thought about pointing out that she was too old for stuffed animals. But something stopped me–maybe her expression; maybe having her keep something I wanted. It certainly wasn’t like the mother I knew.
When I came to the first mention of Schnapps in a letter Mom had written Dad in WW2, I’d already started seeing “the mother I knew” as something more–Helen, a young newlywed in a war zone, lonely, missing her husband, caring for so many injured and dying soldiers. Another dozen or so letters mentioned the dog. I finally knew why Schnapps meant so much to her.
As for the real dog in the picture, I have no idea, and you won’t find that one in the book. You’re on your own there.