During World War II, my dad, Gilbert Steingart, served as a navy dentist. He wrote over 500 letters to his wife, my mother Eleanor. His duty in the Pacific Theater took him from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, Ulithi, Leyte Gulf (Philippines), and Buckner Bay (Okinawa).
After my mother's death, Daddy wanted to toss the letters. I convinced him to give them to me instead. The letters are a memoir of a remarkable time. Most of the letters begin with the words "Dearest Eleanor."
Bitch of a Day
Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O.
San Francisco Thursday 7 December
1944, 7:40 PM
Well, here I
be again.The movie last night "Are
Husbands Necessary" was good but old.So old that though we both had seen it I couldn't remember a thing about
it.It starred Betty Fields and Ray
Milland and was about the dumb but cute young wife and her husband, a bank
second vice president and the troubles the wife got the worse half into.
mail brought that crossword puzzle book and some literature from the medical department.I haven't done a puzzle in months but I know
it'll be fun.
This has been
a bitch of a day.Saw eleven
patients.Four from one ship, two from
another and one from a third.The remaining
four were ship's company.When I got
through I had done eleven fillings, two extractions, two prophys and three
treatments.I finished at 3:00 PM and
then censored some mail.Then I played
checkers from four till five at which time I showered, shaved and changed for
dinner.You know I'm mess treasurer and
I've got it figured now so that our food bill should only run about fifty cents
a day.Nobody believes me but they will
when they see the statement at the end of the month.I can't explain how I'm doing this without divulging
we stood around on the bridge and talked for almost an hour.I remarked this evening that the heat didn't
seem to worry me anymore and we all decided we were just getting acclimated.Still sick bay is full with "cat
fever," several pneumonias and many ambulatory heat rash patients.So far no complaints from me. Thank
you remember how I got sick before taking my physical and doped myself up to
pass without having to go back?Well,
I'm disgustingly healthy even out here and believe me some of the young bucks
are always complaining about something.
Darling.I don't know what the movie is,
but I'm going anyway.I love you, I love
you, I do. Kisses and hugs galore to my two Darlings and my Sweet.