Last Saturday I received the first two L.A. (Los Angeles) paper from the 7th and the 8th of May. I have read, studied and enjoyed them. Thanks a lot. I also received a letter with some more airmail stamps, together with Hellmutís and Nellieís cards.
Yesterday I had off. I went downtown for you, Mother, and inquired about the coat (Loden Frey). The store where I went really had a big selection of colors and styles. The catalogue does not do justice to the selections they have; but it will give you and idea. The plain coat costs 122 Marks. Others with camel wool cost up the 160 Marks. There are also some where perlon is combined with the ďLoden.Ē Just let me know what you would like to have, but be specific and I will buy it for you. The company is also exporting to the States. The people did not know though if any stores in L.A. were carrying the coats.
I have had Saturday, Sunday and Monday free. That was really nice. I did not do much but visit some people I know. If the sun would have been shining I would have been real brown today. The sad story is that the sun is usually shining when I sit in the office. I find that the best medicine for my mind and body is to be lying in the sun.
I have definitely postponed my furlough till next month. Ruth just wrote me that she had no other visitors scheduled at that time. I am planning to take thirteen days beginning the sixth or eleventh of July. I am really looking forward to this vacation. It gives me a chance to relax, recuperate and get real spoiled by my sister.
Bye-bye dear parents, tell me whatís new when you find time. If there is anything new that is. Otherwise drop me a line when you find the time and feel like it.
Best wishes and love from our son, Peter
June 5, 1954
I am herewith forwarding the money which I received this morning. You have something special in mind with it? I also received four LA papers this morning; and I received the edelweiss letter yesterday. The colored pictures from the mountains I will take along to Ruth on my furlough. I hope you are all fine. Yesterday I read a little book I really enjoyed. It was a collection of ten letters written to a friend by Rainer Maria Rilke. Maybe you can get if from the University Library? Sunday and Monday I have off. I can understand why you do not want the conflicting spirit of Hellmut and Sonni you your kingdom. You want a quiet evening. But it is still good that the young people have lots of guts and pep in their veins. They are young.
Good-bye, may that spirit of calmness be in your house that comes after a life lived to the best of your know-how!
Your son, Peter
June 10, 1954
Dear Mother and Papa,
I received your letter from the 30th of May, Mother, plus your letter from the 31st of May, Papa. As you know by now, I forwarded the money because I did not know what you had in mind.
I do not remember the candy which I received from Huebner. It must have been a long time ago that I received it. You also made a hint about writing to Mrs. Bloss. I am sorry that I disappointed you, but you must understand that I donít have the spirit to write certain letters. I know that it would make you happy to know that I write to her. But again, the heart must be in it.
It is a peculiar thing the way I feel about certain things now. I enjoy receiving an order instead of being asked to do something. I like people to speak to me firmly and gently. And that is the way I like to do it. I respect and love people for such a way. My boss is sometimes rough, but the next minute he will buy me a cup of coffee. Under roughness there is a very kind heart. That is the way it is in the army and in life also.
It is difficult for you to understand this because you only know me as being very gentle and ready to make someone happy. It is rougher in the outside world than under the protective environment at home. Great disappointment hit me when I found this out. I was not ready to enter into such a climate. But life has placed me in this position. Now is really not the time to speak about this yet. Everything is still a bit strange. If I talk now, it will probably upset you; so I rather not say anything at all. I donít want you to worry about me. But I want you to leave it up to my good judgment and the strength within my power to do the best I can. There has come the time now when I must learn from life. You have given me the seed and the foundation. Now I must rely upon myself to build from there on.
Maybe you understand me, maybe not. Many people have been misunderstood. The only thing is that it hurts a little if the parents donít understand the growing up of their son. I will trust that you will believe in what I do although you do not always understand it. I want you to feel that you have done a good job on your son. Be happy when your children are sure of what they want to do and are able to take care of themselves. Children do not do wrong if they want to deviate from the way of life the parents have led.
This is not exactly a Fatherís day letter. I will have a different design in my life. The world progresses only if we want to improve on the old system.
No matter what happens I will not forget that you have given me this life and cared for me when I was not able to care for myself. No matter what road a child chooses, the child will always be loved by its parents.
I am happy to read that the evening hours of your life fill you with more peace and joy than you have known before. Each one for himself has to find his way through experience and struggle, joy and sorrow.
My love to you all, but Papa is especially meant today.
I received your letter from the 9th of June this morning. Thanks. Listen, Mother, I perfectly understand if you donít feel like writing because you are tired and not in the mood. I feel the same way. Iíll see you anyway in about seven or eight months and then we can catch up on all the news without any trouble.
I have been having lots of work and responsibility in the last few weeks, because I have become very well informed how our office is run. Last week I arranged for a plane to take a patient to another hospital and did all the transfer work. So you can see that I am pretty sure of what I have to do. Yesterday I had a little disappointment with my scooter. When it was parked in front of a friendís house some kids must have thrown it over and broke off the starter. Too bad! Otherwise everything is fine. I have been happily working and abiding my time. I love the newspaper.
With love, Peter
Fatherís Day Ė 1954
June 21, 1954
I received your letter from the 15th of June today. I can definitely see that conditions at home are not in the best shape. I know that it affects you more than anyone else because your own daughter is involved. I know how much you would like to help, but still are powerless to do anything. That is hard. I do not think that you can do anything. You have to let Sonni go. At the cost of all your energy you might and might not achieve something. You have seen a lot of life and lived a rather normal life. You are doing your work nicely in the office and get along with everyone. That is a sure sign that you are fine. You must assert your position. That is the only way you can preserve your happiness. I am real proud of you if you can and will do this. Sonni is a very difficult person to get along with. I myself will not make an attempt to tell her anything. She is moonlight walking. I am not able to look into the deepest corner of her heart. I cannot say if there is mentally something the matter with her. I know that she has been under terrific strain for the last ten years. She is a very eccentric girl. And with this attitude will not be able to make use of what she might know. The reason why she wants to write is because there are so few people she can actually talk to and find understanding and approval. Although Hellmut is also fanatic in a way, I approve of the way he handles life.
Believe me, Mother, you will be proud of us if you can see that we boys have a solid footing in life. We cannot just copy your life if we donít feel like it. I see that you understand this now. Are you not proud of me when you think of me? I am wearing the best uniform in the world. I am healthy and strong enough to be a soldier like anyone else. And I am doing a good job. I bet you would have been sadder about me today if I was home because of a medical discharge and still pulling on your apron string like a little child. When you married you wanted a man not a little boy. You wanted someone who was strong and could assert his position. Believe me, Mother, it was tough for me at first, because my life at home in no way prepared me for a soldierís life. If you do not rather see me as I am today, then I am sorry that I have hurt you. I must be independent now and decide for myself. If you have the right understanding, Mother, then you will be prouder of me as a soldier then you were previously when I was an ďAĒ student. But it is up to you how you want to feel. I want you to be a happy person. At the moment you might also have your heartache about your son, maybe not. I donít know anymore. But one day, I know that you will be happy to be playing with my little tots.
Life is a fight in a way. You have to assert your position. Know what you want and donít let anyone confuse you. I am happy that I had my time in the army now. This has placed me in life with both feet. I have my struggles, too. But shucks, I am not going to let anything get me down. Donít let anything get you down, nothing. Did you hear that? For my sake, be yourself. The way you get along with people at work is a sure sign that you are a courageous woman.
Now comes something else. I need the money which I sent home from over here. Either Papa will let me keep the German money or I will stop my allotment. It does not matter to me which way it is done. But the money I get from Bremen this month I will keep for myself, because I cannot stop my allotment this month any more. Let me know which way you want me to do it. In two weeks I am going on furlough. I am really looking forward to it. I am going to have the best time in my life.
Your letter today has really made my happy, because I have seen that you are more sure of yourself than ever before. Let Sonni go. Let Sonni work for her living like any other human being has to. If she has no roof over her head and nothing to eat, she will get down to business. You need not support her anymore. I am proud of it myself that I am old enough and strong enough to shift for myself. If she supports herself, she can be like she wants. Only little children canít shift for themselves.
So long, Mother,
June 24, 1954
Dear Parents, dear Brother, and dear Sonni Ė you are included if you like to listen to such worldly talk.
Yes, Sonni, you can take some advice from the very youngest brother of the Laue tribe. You know the saying, ďthe one who laughs last, laughs the best.Ē Well, the one who is born the last will love and live the best. Yes, folks, you have a son who wants to see the job finished and done right. If you are looking for satisfaction, that is the way to get it. But you wonít get it by leaving your job half done. Isnít that right, Hellmut? If you stop your mining business now, you would be in a real mess.
That was really an accomplishment for you to write me such a long letter. And I am not even your girlfriend. How is that explainable? Are you trying to get me interested in the mine? Or is it just plain brotherly loveĒ Whatever it was, I enjoyed the letter. But you know, I also am not crazy about writing letters. But I write you anyway once in a while to let you know how everything is progressing.
It looks as if the mine will pay off one day. Hellmut, if your mine pays off when I am still in Germany, send me about a thousand bucks. There are a couple of things I want to buy here if there is some money flying around loosely. Otherwise donít send me nothing. I am going to earn everything that I really want to buy.
My scooter is a 1951 model, NSU make. It is a lot of fun to ride it. But I will not bring it back. The newest and the best I will only bring back. Your girl looks cute, just like a real ďLauser.Ē You need a tomboy kind of a girl who will love to wear Levis, Hellmut. You canít use a princess. You need someone full of life and fun.
I am having a lot of fun with work lately. Tonight I am playing tennis. And maybe after that I will go swimming in the river. Two days ago I went after work to a cafť by a lake together with a friend. We listened to a fine outdoor orchestra there. And while listening we had good cold beer. I am sure I will miss that good German beer when I get back to the States. It tastes better than a coke.
On the fifth I am going on furlough. I will use my own transportation. I have gotten American plates now. Now I can get a ration book for gas. I am entitled to 20 gallons per month. Twenty gallons cost me three dollars and twenty five cents. That is not bad at all. Boy oh boy will I have a lot of fun. I am a good worker, but also a real adventurer, just like Hellmut, only with a different angle to it.
As you will notice by the abrupt finish in my letter, I am going. I will play tennis. That is a lot more fun than sitting in a stuffy office and pounding away at the typewriter. I have been pounding away at it all day anyway already.
Mother, you can write me anything you want. What I donít like or canít agree with will go in one ear and out the other. And I will be honest to tell you about everything that I cannot agree with. Fair enough?
Have I told you yet that I will send no more money home? I am going to keep the money from Bremen, or if you donít like that setup, then I will stop my allotment.
I canít work anymore, but maybe I can bring a letter for you together. I received a letter from you today from the 23rd. Things donít look too cheery at home. I am glad you got your own room where you can preserve your good cheer and a healthy way of life. One thing I will tell you, Mother, if things have not straightened out by the time I get home in January, then I will get a place of my own. Your son Peter is one boy who can stand on his own two feet. They are pretty large, too, size ten you know. And through the marching in basic training they have been enlarged. And the ten fingers are well trained to shift for themselves. They are so well trained that they can even feed two mouths. If Sonni does not straightened out and begins to shift for herself, she is going to drop off of my list. If she would be my child, she would not have gotten a penny since she was 21. Supporting her for such a long time was a big mistake you have made. I would be ashamed to take money from my parents if I would be that age and had two healthy hands. Just look at yourself, Mother; your one hand is crippled and you donít depend on anyone. That is wonderful. I am proud of you.
Well, well, well, Hellmut has taken Barbara for a ride. I wonder if Hellmut is still the same bashful fellow that he was two years ago when I went out with him. Maybe he is not. It comes all of a sudden sometimes.
If you want to call me Dieterle (endearing, diminutive name for Dieter), I wonít be mad at you. I have grown up, thatís true. But you have not seen me for such a long time that it might be hard for you to know how your Dieterle really is.
Your foot will be alright again. You can have it operated on if it does not go away by itself. In our hospital all operations are done, from the biggest to the smallest. I had a cyst taken out of my head four weeks ago. It did not hurt a bit. I even had a couple of stitches put in. There was nothing to it. We got good doctors here. Only once in a while someone dies. My hair is grown back. You canít see a thing today anymore.
That is about all. Keep up your good work and the good spirits, just like the Irish.
So long, Peter
It does not pay to get a post office box. I will be the only one who will write you there.