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."
Can Say We Are a Flag Ship
Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O.
Monday 11 December 1944, 9:45 PM
pieces of mail today just because you're stuffing the mail bag.All from you except one from your mother and
a card from the Southern California Dental Society.Just to show you how the mail is:yesterday's letters were postmarked December
1 and 2, but today's were marked November 21, 24, 27 and 29.
I had hoped
to hear that you liked the corsage I sent you for your birthday but I guess that'll
also come late.Gee, I hope the kid's
dolls come in time for Xmas.You see, I
ordered everything through the Army Exchange Service; they are supposed to be
reliable.Bet the corsage comes for Xmas!Well you'll know it was for you birthday and
I do hope you like it.
haven't been getting your mail chronologically, everything seems mixed up. Now
you're teaching, now you're not.I hope
my letters aren't all mixed up as a result.Anyway you can be sure that I'm writing every day so leave room for any
that haven't arrived yet.
Leon (phooey) has been in the Navy a long time but he doesn't know all the
answers by any means.He'll probably be
in the Navy a long while because he is single and I bet he's beginning to like
the life.Of course, if he gets sent out
again and has to sweat without any women or liquor for relaxation he'll change
his tune and write "why the hell doesn't everybody write--salam!!"
Well as you know by now we aren't on an APA. (attack personnel transport).Now I may say that we are a flag ship but I
can't say what the nature of our duty is.
As far as the
length of service, it varies.Anytime
after a year I will expect orders.On
the other hand, shore based men overseas seem to wait twenty-four months before
new orders-- in spite of what Leon says.And wasn't it thoughtful of him to forget Norma?When this is over and I'm home don't let me
catch you going out of your way for him even if your mother does wish for
"peace in the family."
So Dick is
trying to get into the merchant marine.I do hope he makes it but there are many slips between the dock and the
ship and I won't be surprised to hear the Navy got him.
No dear there
are no native around, not even monkeys.The
only native life I've seen were some ugly looking lizards.They tell me that even the fish around here
are unsafe to eat unless you know the varieties.Many are poisonous.Also there are many sharks.
Teaban account, it should be in good shape.If you couldn't interpret my records, it was because I never could get
you to look at them while I was home.Oh
well, who cares?
picked up a mild cold and have been coughing a little.I do feel much better this evening.I took it easy today though I did see five or
six patients.This evening we had
"Shine On Harvest Moon" and I enjoyed seeing it again.Right in the middle it poured but I came
prepared with a rain coat so I was nice and dry.
do you remember when Edna (no. 1) walked in on our loving. My were you embarrassed!
Was I sore! Well, when I get back I won't let anything stop us.Will you?
darling, I do love you and want you all the time.