Calling WA-4074. Is that the correct number? I don’t even remember. It has been too long since I have dialed that number. I will look forward to saying hello to you over the telephone.
I have received two letters from you, Mother; one of them is the letter written on the last Sunday in April; the other one is written on the last of this month, I believe. It makes no difference anyhow. The main thing is that I received them. I have had a busy day at the office. Two fellows are on furlough. And the two that are on furlough are also going home next month. This day went by like jet plane. I could use eight hours to complete today’s work. But it is five o’clock; and at five o’clock I stop unless I am told otherwise by my superior. That is the way I do it, Mother. You must also do it that way. That is a direct order from your PFC son. Don’t you disobey an order now, Mother or Papa, otherwise I will have you court marshaled.
Do you know when I went to bed last night, real late. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. And I slept till this morning at 6 o’clock. That is what I call, getting a good night’s sleep. I was getting one of those silly common colds, and I figured that the best medicine was to sleep it off. I can’t afford to get sick these days otherwise the office will be in a jam. And I love the army too much to let that happen. But tonight, although my cold is not gone yet, I will go to my friend in Zirndorf and play chess with him. Papa, you will be my partner when I get back, so you better start training now.
What all did you ask me in your letter? I do a little reading, not enough to make it a major issue. I have started a book by Pestalozzi and in contrast to that, a crime story. The tan suit has arrived. I have worn it a couple of times already. I’ll check on the Lode mantel (a lightweight coat) when I get into town during an afternoon. I’ll also forward the coffee when it arrives. Congratulations for cleaning up the backyard, Papa. Another thing I want to mention. Don’t worry about me getting into trouble with the scooter or on the mountain peaks. I’ll be in greater danger when you worry about me, than when you wish me courage. I know that my life is dear to you, but it is even dearer to me than to you. So that automatically precludes all worries from your side. The typewriter I am not buying. First of all, I see that I really don’t need it badly, second of all, I have plenty of typewriters in the office which I can use at any time, and thirdly, there are other things I would much rather get. The first thing would be a camera. Maybe next month I’ll buy one. This month I paid the rest on my scooter. Now it belongs to me.
I just want to mention the meat problem in our family. The tensions that are created about it are more conducive to ulcers than any amount of meat you could eat. I have been eating meat right along since the last eight months. Not in the least do I think that it hurts me. I also enjoy it. And I have no reason to stop eating it. It agrees with me fine. Yes, you could say, you don’t know what will happen in ten years. Only then will you feel the results of the meat diet. So what, why should I worry what happens ten years from now? One day I will die anyway. If there are so many tensions connected with this diet problem, then I will give you the advice to just forget about the diet. So you weigh 130 pounds, Mother. Is that a crime? I weigh 155 pounds. Is that too much? Are there not other things to think about, that are much more uplifting?
I received also the letter from Hellmut. I enjoyed reading it. I sure like the initiative which my brother has. Whatever comes out of it, it will be good. You won’t change what Hellmut has started; and I don’t see why you should. Whatever Hellmut or Sonja or Arthur are doing, they are responsible for it. The children are now passed the age where they will listen to the parents. If you do not approve, the only thing you can do is not send him any money. But if it does not hurt you to send him ten dollars a week, then I would also think that it is nice if you send it to him. It is nice to have someone backing you up. I am not putting in my two cents about the way they live up there in the mountains. Everyone lives the way he likes it best. As long as I know they are happy, I will not say anything. I like to see people happy, and if they are happy, then God bless them whatever they do. It has been so long that Sonja has been happy and smiling. It would be wrong to destroy her optimism. Life molds us the way it needs us. You know that about me; I was so sure about the way I was living that I never thought that there would come any change. Believe in the divine plan of the Great God who rules the universe, and you will know that everything will take its proper course. I have always admired Hellmut for his optimism and determination. Do not destroy that. Only someone he loves could shake his belief in himself. We boys are young; our ideas can’t possibly be those that you have.
It has been an awfully nice day. The sun has been shining, and I have been in good spirits. I hope you have also enjoyed your day. I always enjoy a letter from you, but my spirits are not affected either way. When I get a letter, that is just fine. When I don’t have any mail, I am happy just the same. So just write me when you really and truly enjoy talking to me. The only thing I am really only looking forward to is when I can have that verbal conversation with you.
Your son wishes you all the best in the world. I have never seen two people so eager to do the right thing. Our intentions are valued as highly as our actions. You really mean it well.
God bless you for it.
Your son, Peter
May 13, 1954
I received your letter from the 6th this morning. You are right, I really enjoyed Hellmut’s letter from the mountain. So much interesting news is really stimulating. I am happy to see how full of ideas and good common sense plans my brother is. The months and years Hellmut and Arthur are spending in the mountains is as wonderful, and maybe more so then the final results that might and might not come out of it.
I think you might enjoy the picture which I am enclosing. It was taken in our American Club, “The Storch Club.” It is quite a nice place. We can dance there, listen to music, see a floor show once a week, etc. I usually go there once a week with my friends. The little sweet girl is a casual acquaintance that I made a week ago. I had three dates with her. Now she belongs to the storybook of my past experiences. She does not have the mind I need for supplementing mine. But I had a good time anyway. I met quite a number of girls already, more than in the States. But for “the girl” I am not looking over here because I have decided to find a girl in the States. In fact, I have some definite ideas already.
What about Hellmut’s draft? He thinks so surely that his notice will come soon. Maybe he will never be called. I would be very happy if the boy would not be called. Two years living together with a hodge-podge of people is not as simple as it might look. There is where you have to learn to depend entirely on yourself. In most situations Hellmut is able to do this better than anyone else in the family. I would not like to see the boy unhappy. Two years is a long time to be waiting to return to his great goldmine adventure. It will be like waiting for your best girl for two years. I have eight more months to wait for my dreams, an honorable discharge from the US Army; and then I will be a veteran.
Yesterday I went paddle boating on the Dutzenteich (probably a small lake). That was nice. Tonight I will be lying under the blooming trees, and I will be reading and just relaxing. How wonderful! It is a little after five now. I want to change my clothes and take off. I have really been working the last few days. And at ten o’clock I don’t go to bed either every night. I’ll add a few lines tomorrow morning before I start work. Tonight the letter won’t go out anymore anyway.
Well, it is the next morning. I had a very nice evening in the garden. Here are a few, two, to be specific, flowers from the garden. We have had the most beautiful weather you can imagine. Sunday I will go to the park. Next Saturday I am invited to the silver anniversary of my friend’s parents.
Good-bye dear Mother and Father. Don’t you give me this stuff of “your friend Harry and Jo.” You are my parents, and I will always call you Mother and Papa. I got only two people in the world I can call that, and I can call a lot of people my friends.
Happy days are coming our way,
Your soldier son, Peter
May 18, 1954
My dear Parents, Mother and Papa,
I have your Mother’s Day letter in front of me. Thank you, Mother. I took care of the birthday greetings to Vera right away. I wrote the letter during my lunch period. It should arrive in time for her birthday. We do not have any books by Sherman in our hospital library. And if the books can be gotten in the German language I do not know as yet. For Papa’s camera request I have not had any time yet. My hours coincide with the hours the stores are open, so I have to wait until I get a day off during the week. It will be taken care of as soon as possible.
Yes, you wrote me that Clay wrote you a letter explaining the situation. I am sure the boy is often under great strain. We cannot expect a person always to be the same. It is only human to be angry or moody or sad sometimes. If someone tells me something I do not like, I cannot merely say, “Well, the fellow does not know any better, and let is go at that.” You got to have the guts to speak up and say what is on your mind. If I would put all the comments into my hip pocket, I would just boil over. And sometimes I do boil over, believe you me. There are a lot of men that have more rank than I do, then there are men who have the same rank or less than I have. Sometimes I also say “AMEN” to something someone says, because I know that their intentions are good. I surely will be glad to be a civilian again. Yesterday I dreamt of you, Mother. You were happy to see me, and I was happy to see you, and you were surprised to see how well I looked. It was the first time in a long time that I remembered a dream.
I am sending you a couple of pictures that we snapped about three weeks ago when we made a Sunday excursion to the Fraenkische Schweiz (tourist retreat area in northern Bavaria). The boy, called Martini, sleeps next to me. He is a very fine fellow and I like him a lot, but apparently he does not know how to take pictures. Don’t ask me for the negatives because I don’t have them. The other two pictures, where we are in uniform, were taken last year in August. That is the Tratz family; they are very nice people. I saw them about two weeks ago the last time. The other soldier in the picture is another friend from the hospital. He is an alright guy, but that is about all. He works in the operating room. He is also a conscientious objector; that is why I thought I would like to know him.
Thank you for ordering “The Mirror” (newspaper) for me. I know I will enjoy reading something from my home town. I hope that the first copy will arrive in about a week. I also received two magazines from you, one “Rays of Sunshine” and one “Guideposts.”
Today I am not as tired as yesterday, because yesterday I went to bed at six o’clock at night. When I go to bed at six o’clock, you will know that I am truly tired. I usually go for a couple of days very late to bed, and then suddenly it will hit me. Then I just have to go to bed as soon as I have finished at the office. Two weeks ago I once went to bed at four in the afternoon and slept till the next morning at seven without waking up. Isn’t that some kind of a record?
Last Saturday I went to my friend’s house and helped celebrate the silver anniversary of his parents. We celebrated till way into the morning hours. I slept at my friend’s house that night. When I woke up the next morning, I thought I was at home, and I was very happy. But then I realized that it was not that home which I thought it was, and then I was not quite that happy anymore. But it was a good feeling anyway to be sleeping in a private home. It had been over a year since I had slept the last time in a nice private home. Correction please, I remember that I stayed at Harry’s (Herbert, I believe was his last name) house during my furlough.
I do not know for sure, whether I will take my furlough in June or July. We are rather busy in the office and there is a turnover of personnel. So I imagine that it will be more like July before I can take my furlough. I will let you know. Well, seven to eight more months to go. I am soooo saaaaad to leave this sooooo wonderful Army life (Peter is teasing his folks).
Spring is here all the way now. The chestnuts are blooming, the lilacs are blooming, the trees have practically all their leaves now. Time is marching on. It is passing by faster and faster. The swimming pools have opened last Saturday. I am really looking forward to my furlough. I wish I could leave tomorrow. I have sixteen days to the good. I am going to let myself get spoiled by Ruth again. And when I get back to Los Angeles, I am going to let myself get real spoiled by you for a few weeks.
I better stop writing this way; otherwise I’ll be getting the blues. And that is one thing I completely dislike.
You asked me if I wore civilian clothes when I went out with Horst? Yes, I did. It is very seldom that I wear uniform clothes when I am off duty. I feel a hundred percent more comfortable in civvies.
How is the project of buying a new house coming along? I hope there will be a big garden to go along with it. I would also like to buy a house when I get back; that is not a little dream but a big one and a strong one. Why don’t you buy one for me, and then I can pay the rent to you. We can also have the debt put on my name, because I get a cheaper loan as a GI; that is, after I am out of the service. But the house should not be directly in the city. It’s an idea; maybe an opportunity arises to make it real. I would love to have my own home. I am the family man type. I want to have my own place before I want the family.
Mother, is it nice to have a family? Is it nice to have a family, Papa? It must be. I have spoken to a girl here who has a little boy two and a half years old. The girl is not married and would love to marry. The father of the boy is in America. It is one of those sad stories that you hear so often. She said that if the man would have a million dollars and would love her, but would not love the child, she would not marry him. A mother’s love for her children must be very, very great. It gives real meaning to life.
I have seen life now from so many different angles, and so many of them are very sad. Many young people start life with so much enthusiasm and with great ideas, but because of some disappointments they have given up their ideals; because disappointments are the greatest drainage on your strength. The person who has learned to overcome disappointments with a smile and without loss of determination, indeed, has that in him which the whole world needs. You know how it is, Mother, if you don’t lend in good faith a couple of books away and don’t get them back! Your readiness to lend books away has been greatly slackened.
If we do want to achieve something in life, we have to take one little step after the other. Each success will give the strength and the ambition for a greater success. Here is the way I figure now. First I finish the time I have left in the service. Then I will take a little rest. Then I want to have my own home and my family. Those things are definite. What comes after that has not crystallized out clearly. When the time comes, though, then I will know. I hope that you will still be able to play with my children and your grandchildren, Mother and Papa.
Please initiate me into all news concerning house buying. I am very interested. I also enjoy reading Hellmut’s letters. I am throwing them away after I read them. If you want me to send them back, please let me know. Give the boy my regards. There is a debt of three dollars to be paid for the Ephebian Society. I would appreciate your paying it, Mother. I am rather short his month yet because I paid the last 100 Marks on my scooter. Good-bye and God bless you all, the whole bunch of you.
Your sunny boy, Peter
The Edelweiss (a flower that grows in the Alps at high elevations) is from Garmisch.
May 20, 1954
I received your letter this morning. I guess you know which one I mean. I just sent you a letter two days ago, saying that everything was running on schedule. I am feeling as always, sometimes happy, sometimes blue, sometimes grey, but always looking forward to coming back and seeing my big and little sweethearts. Sometimes I feel so that I don’t even feel like eating. But that passes again and then I eat as I always do.
Yesterday I saw a movie that really made me both glad and sad. It was a movie mostly about life in Los Angeles. It was called, “The Golden Garden.” I saw the CBS Television City, the Belmont Theatre on Vermont, Safeway and Ralph’s on Vermont. I was trying to see Constitution where you work, but no luck. Vine and Sunset I saw, the post office in Beverly Hills, Hollywood Boulevard and many places that I don’t even have room to mention. Just to let you know that I am all right and not to worry about me.
With all my love, Peter
May 21, 1954
Dear Papa and dear Mama,
Two days ago I drove downtown on my red scooter and got the information you asked for. I could not get a folder for the camera, but the price is 600 Marks. As you can see, the extra lens costs 77 Marks. I also got a list of used cameras presently available at the Photo Post. A new list is printed every two months (of used cameras). This list is ten days old. See what you can do with it.
Yesterday I spent a very nice evening with my friend Heinz. After business was over at five, I went upstairs and slept till 2030 hours, and then I drove out to my friend. We both needed to talk to each other and confide what is moving our hearts. I did not at first think I could talk with Heinz in such a way, but I was entirely wrong. He has a heart of gold. He told me I could have anything from him except his girl Hildegard. You will see a picture of the two one of these days.
I would like you to explain something to me if you can. How is it possible that I have not been able to cry a tear in over five months? It is a heavenly relief to do this if you are sad or disappointed. You are a bit older than I; maybe you have had this experience also. Sunday I will go with Heinz on another excursion if the weather permits.
Don’t do anything about a house without consulting me also. If you are ready to buy a house, please send me a picture of it. I hope it will be located somewhat out of town – some place where there are many birds and wild flowers.
Your soldier-son Peter
Papa, dear, why did you not write any of your own words in that letter with that poem? You should have said hello and told me how everything is growing in our garden. Say hello to Alice for me and Polly, too.
May 26, 1954
My dear Parents,
Thanks for both your letter Papa and Mother from the 20th, together with Hellmut’s and Sonja’s letter and the stamps. It was a real nice break in our busy schedule these busy days. The monthly report is due once more, and everyone has to be a little more on their toes at that time. Tonight I worked from 7– 9 overtime with no extra pay, but a nice bottle of cold beer from our boss. That was really a good refresher.
I want to send you a line to tell you that I am fine and make use of the stamps which you have sent me. It was a beautiful day today, nice enough to go swimming. But I was sitting in the office and was working. O boy, would I have loved to go outside and drive to the green pastures on my scooter. Maybe it will be nice this weekend; then I will catch up on what I have missed.
Yesterday we had a wonderful show at the hospital theatre, “The Phillip Morris Show.” Little Johnny, who calls for Phillip Morris, was there in person and signed my program. Also something else new happened. We had to turn in all our script money for altogether new money. This is done in order to stop the black-market business which has developed around the military money. The new money looks a lot prettier that the old.
Also, thank you for the pictures; that was very quick service, quicker than with the coat which I have still not inquired about. Thank you also for sending me along Hellmut’s and Sonja’s letters. That is good enough for me if I get their mail through you. I know that they don’t have the time to write every Tom, Dick and Harry. I don’t feel like writing to everyone either. It is an obligation to me and not a pleasure to have such a big correspondence. You can always forward my letters to the mine if the kids are interested to know how their kid brother is getting along in Germany. He is having a jolly good and rough time, depending on how the wind is blowing. As the saying goes; you get nervous in the service. I will need that good old civilian life in order to simmer down again. But I always say, it is a good experience to be living with Tom, Dick and Harry, and to be taking orders from Joe Shmo. I wonder how that independent brother of mine will feel if he is one day robbed of his wonderful freedom of doing what he pleases?
Did you say in eight months I will be sailing? By now it has been cut down to seven. I am really surprised at myself what a good soldier I have turned out to be. I really can be proud of the work which I am doing for our country. Maybe Hellmut and Arthur will be my replacement here. You can never tell, although I do not wish it upon him. I just can’t see my big brother as a soldier and in uniform.
I am sending you three of the many pictures which were taken at the silver anniversary. The girl I have my arm around was my girl for that evening. She is the cousin of my friend; she is pretty with real big eyes, but should be two years older. When I come back to the States, my big brother and I have to go on some double dates. How about it Hellmut? Has Hellmut no girlfriend yet? I bet he is too busy at the mine to pay much attention to them. The other girl on the picture is my friend’s girlfriend. Her name is Hildegard; my girl’s name is Inge. And my friend’s name is Heinz, as you know already. So much for today, dear parents, I’ll leave this letter open until the mailman has come tomorrow. Maybe there is a letter from you in the mail.
Good night my dear Mother and Papa. You are my Father and Mother, are you not?
I have many friends I this world but there are only two people in the world who I can call Mother and Father. Why be only my friends when you are my Mother and Father?