Archive for the ‘letters’ Category

WITH LOVE, FRANK’S PHOTOS

January 25, 2018

write table vittel fr (2)

My last post showed a picture Helen sent to Frank. On the back of that photo, Helen wrote: “Don’t miss the background–someone always close.” The background showed her pictures of Frank. I wish this photo were clearer, but it’s evident that Frank had the same idea. On the back of this photo, he wrote: “my writing table.” The last years of Mom’s life, first in Missouri, then in Ohio with us, on her dresser she had pictures of Frank. And on the window ledge beside her bed sat their wedding picture, the framed photo above, on the right, the couple in their Army uniforms on their wedding day. It was the last thing she saw every night. I’m looking at it now, as it’s on the wall just to the right of my computer screen.  What special pictures do you keep close?

WITH LOVE…LETTERS & PHOTOS

January 23, 2018

Helen cot (2)

Young Helen and Frank met in basic Army training during WW2. They only knew each other for a few weeks before getting married and then being shipped overseas to the front lines–to different fronts, different countries. For months at a time, all they had to keep their marriage together were 3 things: Love letters (They wrote 2-3 times a day, every day.); prayers; and photos, like the ones you see in the background beside Helen’s bunk. Helen’s bracelet was a gift from Frank. In one of his letters, he mentions that one of the German prisoners was making bracelets out of foreign coins for men to send home to their wives. Frank collected coins from every city where he and his wife pulled off a rendezvous. And now, I have that bracelet.

WITH LOVE…WHEREVER YOU’RE GOING

January 18, 2018
train

Lt. Frank on a German Freight Train

My last post was of Mom (Helen) in her helmet, so I needed to post this one of Dad (Frank) in his. He hated to cover his curly black hair, but he definitely needed to wear his helmet. Here, he’s on a “captured” German train that had carried prisoners to concentration camps. He and a few other doctors are heading to Alsace-Lorraine, and then he’ll move into German battlefields. In case you’re wondering what’s with that odd expression, the only words on back of the photo are: “I’m sucking on a piece of hard candy.”

WITH LOVE…WHATEVER YOUR BAGGAGE

January 16, 2018

baggage (2)

I love the smile on Lt. Helen Eberhart’s face here. This photo doesn’t give her location, but I’m guessing someone snapped the picture early in her WW2 service as an Army nurse in England and France. Look at those un-Army shoes, which soldiers weren’t to wear, and this must have been one of the few times she wore her helmet (She hated all Army “hats.”). And yet . . . look at that smile.

WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE continued

January 12, 2018

Helen and Frank (2)

Guess what! I thought I’d have to rely on photos I posted last year, but I discovered some new ones–if you call pictures from 1944 new. They weren’t in the Army trunk, but in a very small photo album I discovered while searching for something in the attic. The photos are a bit faded and blurry; but if you’ve read the book, you’ll recognize Lt. Helen Eberhart Daley and Lt. (later, Capt.) Frank R. Daley, Army nurse and doctor in WW2, my parents.

“By Order of the Secretary of War”

December 4, 2017

name change

Well, I found this “R E S T R I C T E D” order in that old Army trunk I keep writing about. The first time I looked at the “restricted” label, I expected to see a war report from my Uncle Jack Daley, a spy in WW2, one of the first members of the OSS, which morphed into the CIA. The order had passed through the War Department at the direction of the President, by order of the Secretary of War. It was approved by Marshall, Chief of Staff and Ulio, Major General, The Adjutant General, then signed by Geisler. And what was this secret and restricted order? An announcement of the change of name of: 2nd Lt. Helen Marie Eberhart to Helen Eberhart Daley. It had only taken the Army nearly 3 months to register the change.

WW2 Etretat Mystery

November 28, 2017

Etretat

I found this postcard wedged at the bottom of the Army trunk I inherited from my parents, the one with over 600 letters they’d written each other while serving as Army Dr. and nurse on different fronts of the war. I knew Etretat was a French coastal city, where Mom and her 199th General Hospital unit had to sail to from Liverpool to catch the SS Leopoldville because the major harbor, Le Havre, was destroyed. That’s all I knew and all I included in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE. But on the back of the postcard, Mom had written: After climbing up a steep bluff, one has this view as a reward. Apparently, she’d made that climb before sailing off. Wish I had that story….

ANOTHER COST OF WAR

November 16, 2017

Last night I looked through my parents’ old WW2 Army trunk and came up with these forms filled in by my mom (Helen in With Love, Wherever You Are). You may have to take out your magnifying glass, but each item is something soldiers (and Army doctors and nurses) were either issued or had to buy for themselves. Looks like only 4 or 5 were given. Items to be purchased: seersucker nurse’s cap, nurse’s cape (both mentioned or pictured in the book), jackets, gloves, leggings, overcoat, raincoat, skirts, sweater, some shoes, canteen, and on and on!

I know I’m blessed to have so many items preserved from my parents’ time in WW2. But many things are not in the old Army trunk. Still, I remember their re-purposed overcoats and a pair of old Army boots. And I did find the duffle bag and canteen and sleeping bag. I remember Dad always keeping an “Army blanket” in the car. Now it’s in mine.

MY GRANDMOTHER’S STORIES

October 31, 2017

Cissna

This is the home of my grandparents (Lt. Helen Eberhart Daley’s parents) in Cissna Park, IL. My sister and I loved to visit there twice a year to play with our cousins in fields, corn and coal bins, barns, basement. Mom was one of 11 children, so we were blessed with an abundance of cousins. Grandma Eberhart (maiden name Eichelberger) could tell a great story. Grandkids ate in the kitchen, a swinging door separating us from the long table in the dining room. I remember pressing my ear to the crack in the door, waiting for my two favorite words: “‘Member when…?” These words were followed by the most amazing, but true, stories. My favorite came when one of Grandma’s children would get her to tell about crossing the ocean to come to America. Her job was to carry the little plastic Nativity brought from home in Germany. Little Helen slept with the figure under her pillow. Nauseated from rough seas, she clutched that figurine as she leaned over the side of the boat and “fed the fishes.” The only item I retrieved from the ol’ Eberhart house was that plastic Nativity. It now sits in our dining room.

What family mementos do you have? Do they come with stories you should pass down to your grandkids?

 

Lt. Dorothea Engel

October 26, 2017

scan-of-aunt-dot-in-the-army

When the nurses escaped the Japanese invasion on their island in the Philippines, they were taken to Australia to recover enough to be shipped back to the U.S. Almost immediately, Aunt Dot started writing letters to every officer and politician, begging them to help her find her husband, “Boots,” who had disappeared on the “Death March of Bataan.” She got little cooperation from the Army, who declared Boots dead, after having listed him initially as missing in action. The Army listed Dotty as a widow, but she refused widow’s pay because she believed her husband was still alive. And she continued her calls and letters to the powers-that-be. While she and the world awaited the end of the war, Dotty kept writing her brother, Captain Frank Daley, M.D., and her new and as yet unseen sister-in-law, Lt. Helen Eberhart Daley. Several of those letters appear in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, and it’s easy to see Lt. Doreathea Daley Engel’s determination and love.