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."
Moved Gear to New Quarters
Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O.
San Francisco Sunday 15 October 1944,
darling.I hit the jackpot again today, four
letters from you, one from Deb and one from the Bergmans.This has been a hot, sultry, very busy
day.After lunch I had my gear moved
into my new quarters but it will take a couple of days, probably, before I get
everything squared away.
About 3:00 PM
today it began to rain and has continued on and off for the past four
hours.It was a nice gentle rain and I
stood out in it just trying to cool off.
on there won't be any movie
tonight which is the reason for my writing a couple of hours earlier than
usual.I have all your letters in
chronological order and will try to answer all your questions as fully as
possible.Some I've already answered a
couple of times but will repeat where necessary.
illness does sound serious.Maybe the
Markowitzes have learned a lesson and will keep a close tab on Dick.I'm just as sick of male company as you are
of female and I don't even know where I could find anyone to respond to
overtures even if I wished it.
darling.Mary was not right.She never could have been more wrong.I never wanted to leave and am just living
for the day when I come back to you and our girls.
all the music you sent. (I believe).There were three separate envelopes.I really don't believe Leon will be able to enlighten you any.Tell him for me that he is a flag waver from way
bought many items with no one in particular in mind.Some I'll be able to send on and others
When you get the box pick out what you
want first and then pass the rest on as you see fit.There'll be several duplications.
You are right
in what you read between the lines.Wish
I could explain more fully but that is impossible.Of course, dear, I don't expect you to be
content with our present set up but still we can't change the situation, so we
must make the best of it.It may not be
any consolation but your load is lots easier than many, many service wives.However, let's not rehash that anymore.
Yes dear, I
have that list and will use it for Xmas greetings.Please send me Bruce's address though I don't
think it will reach me in time.
Gee, is Dutchy
still ailing?It certainly has been a
long time.I do try to vary my letters
and then I forget to tell you something that I might write someone else.Then again some of our censors are rabid and
will cut out anything that even reads suspicious even though no information is
passed along.For example I wrote I was
the only man on the ship with two navels and it was cut. (it better not be cut
this time.)I followed: that if you couldn't figure it out I'd explain in my
next letter.The explanation is
simple.It's been so long since I've
been with a woman that my "whozit" looks like a second navel, all
shrunk up.That fling consisted of
dinner and plenty of drinks.I didn't go
to the U.S.O. show myself, hence no details.I don't believe there is a ban on records to service people.None of you mail is ever censored.
We still have
the same number of officers, no change.The Doctor and I are all the officers in the Medical Department.
Honey, do you
remember the letters I used to write you when you went to Philadelphia many
years ago.Your "Impatiently,
Eleanor" reminded me of that.After
this war I hope it'll never be necessary for me to write any letters to my only
Sweetheart.I love you so that you'll
never get away long enough for that.
writing for 45 minutes and it's time to sign off.Good night, Sweet, until tomorrow.