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."
Bringing Piano Topside for Religious Services
Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O.
San Francisco Saturday 25 November
1944, 9:14 PM
darling, here I am again.No mail again
today which makes it eight days since my last letter.I learned today that a ship heading out this
way carrying mail burned and that probably is the reason.You see when the load gets heavy even air
mail travels via ship and the load out here is terrific.Hope none of my packages were on it.
was another routine day.I worked all
morning and took care of my welfare duties this afternoon.The chaplain came over to arrange for the
services and I'm getting the carpenters to build a pulpit and the engineers to
rig up a P.A. (Public Address) system for him. Then we are bringing our piano topside and
we'll have service with hymns and even an accompaniment.I didn't know how much this meant to the men
until I heard and saw the reaction when services were announced.I haven't done anything about the community
sings that I had planned but I'm going to go to work on it tomorrow.I'm planning to make it a nightly affair
about half an hour before the movies.Because
we can't show too much light on deck I'm going to make some slides with words
of songs on it and project them on the screen.We have several musicians on board so we should have a lot of fun
that is new.Sweet, do you remember the
day we went to get our marriage license and met Ben Weinstein?Weren't we a couple of happy kids then?And when I get back we'll go on our second
honeymoon and be a couple of kids again.Is it a date?Okey, dokey dear, I
knew you'd say yes.
And that is
thirty for tonight.Good night honey,
I'll see you in my dreams.
Loving you always,
P.S. The movie tonight was so old and so lousy I forgot to
mention it.Title: "Gambler's
Choice" with who cares.