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."
Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San
Francisco Sunday 3 December 1944,
Darling, Sunday at home was never like this.Worked all morning. When the mail orderly returned--not a thing in his
bag for me.Guess I'll just have to be
patient and wait.
Sunday I was a busy man as welfare officer.Got the crews' mess hall arranged for services with piano, record player
and microphone.Sent one boat at 1:30 PM
to bring the Protestant chaplain and an hour later to bring the Catholic
chaplain.We had a better turn out than
last week.Guess the word got
around.Both services were very nice
with choral music and piano accompaniment for the hymns that the men sang.
I sat in at a poker game, 25 cent ante and $1.50 limit.After a couple of hours it was time for
movies, so I quit 25 cents to the good.I only won two pots in all that time so you can see that they must have
been good ones.
what's new?By the time you get this
letter you'll probably be shopping for a tree.Do get a nice one and fix it up real pretty.At least, I do want our girls to have one
even if I can't be with you to decorate and enjoy it.
you remember your first or should I say our first tree with the blue and while
balls and bulbs?And the lecture your
cousin Leon gave you?Well after this
war we'll have many trees on many Xmases and let Leon or anyone else lecture
Good night my
love, parting is such sweet sorrow, till we meet tomorrow. But tomorrow is
still months away.
Note: The movie was "The Lodger" with Merle Oberon,
Lair Cregar and George Saunders.