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."
Fried Shrimp and Chocolate Cream Pie for Lunch
Lt (j.g.) Gilbert
USS Ocelot, F.P.O. San
Francisco Tuesday 3 October 1944,
everything today?I didn't receive any
letters today but I did get those photos of you. I still can't make my mind up as to which one
I like the best.First I like one and
then there is something I like in the other.I'll play favorites, one day one and the next the other.
This has been
a routine day.A little dentistry, a
number of routine reports and the regular duties to perform.Been trying to cut down on my food intake but
at every meal there is something else I like.For example for lunch today fried shrimp and for dessert chocolate cream
pie. So it goes.We had a swell movie
tonight, "Mr. Skeffington" and it was every bit as good as you said
it was.After the picture I looked in at
sick bay.One of the officers turned in
with a broken finger that he got playing golf.It seems he didn't get out of the way of a ball.
are you still teaching or did you have to drop it because of no one to stay
with our girls?I do hope that the
incident didn't upset you too much and that you'll proceed to forget all about
it.I'm certain that from your letter
you were not happy with that woman or the arrangement and that a change was
inevitable.As far as Mary is concerned
I would proceed to forget it. She is just another woman with some idle gossip.She is still a friend of yours. I sincerely
behavior improving any?I'm sure that as
soon as you settle down she will too. Please Honey don't fly off the handle and
yell at her.She is a good child and
such action just upsets you more and makes her more ornery.
How is Norma
taking all of this?The poor darling is
probably a little young to fathom it all and must be quite bewildered.
sweetheart, write me and assure me that everything is under control. I won't be
hearing regularly from you nor you from me for many more days. It will be weeks
and maybe a couple of months before you hear again.So while I still can hear regularly, I must
know that all is well and under control.It is past eleven and I 'm going to turn in.I won't send this letter off until I've seen
the morning mail tomorrow.Good night my
Sweet and pleasant drams.I love you.
Wednesday 4 October
1944, 9:00 AM
honey.Now that the morning mail is here
and I know that you've gotten over you last aggravationI feel much better.What you went through really upset me.
I'll try and
answer your question and then I must get this letter off.I don't know how long I'll be out.I might be for a whole year and then again it
could only be 3-4 months.We'll just
hope for the best.Miss Rike is just
what you think she is and would be very pleased to hear from you.She is quite nice as is her mother and they
have made Ambie and me feel quite at home each time that we've dropped in.
you have the house looking very nice.Wish I could be there to push the piano and sofa around for you but I'll
just postpone that to a later date.
I do wish you
would try to get out Sweet.You must do
it if you expect to have friends.No one
is going to come looking for you and drag you out.
you remember how I'd come home from the office and want us to go out every night
right after dinner?Well dear, after the
war just to be home with you will be all I'll want.I close dear with oodles of hugs and twice as