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Letters from a Soldier

Active Duty in Germany
November 1954


November 1, 1954

Dear Parents,

Do you know what it means when the eagle drops his load. That is payday for us. I invited myself to a German and to an American movie over the weekend, plus a couple of hamburgers, plus a few beers. I am very satisfied with my weekend. A date made everything even sweeter. And it is also November 1st today. I can say that next month there will be a change of surroundings for me. Itís great indeed. I can hardly believe it is getting near the time. I am glad that I did not quit ahead of time. But it is about time now for me to come back. I am having too much fun. That is not good in the long run, so they tell me.

I have a lot of buddies, and it is always fun to gang up together and have an evening of fun. Yesterday I sneaked my friend out of the hospital. He is a patient at the moment. He had a knee operation. He was discharged today; but he is still on crutches. Martini Fleming and myself went out yesterday afternoon. We had dinner at a nice Gasthaus (pub), plus two bottles of beer. After the dinner we went for a drive through the countryside. The forest is very beautiful at the moment. I picked a bouquet for the vase in my car. It looks tops. After the drive we picked up our dates and headed for the movies. We saw a picture you may also have seen, ďMagnificent Obsession.Ē Everybody enjoyed it 100 percent. We were home about 2315 hours. Martini was marked AWOL by a stupid sergeant who happens to be German whom I know. The nurse, a lieutenant, was covering up for him and a stupid sergeant took down his name. I am going to have a talk with him. But Martini was lucky like always and nothing happened. If I would have been caught for every time I stayed out after bed check time, I would have a pretty black record. In the army the saying is that you can do everything, but donít get caught. But boy, will I be glad when I donít have to worry about MPís and bed check anymore, plus inspections, maneuvers, and everything that goes with it.

What time is bed check at 12 North La Jolla Avenue? If it is at midnight, I will be in sad shape, because I am used to staying out a bit later. And I am even used to going right to work after I come back to the hospital. It is half as wild as it sounds, but it is wild enough. The army is sure a funny life at times and a big joke. I take my work serious, but after duty hours I am a clown. But after 21 months, and that is exactly how long I have been in the army, you get tired of clowning around. And that is why I am very interested to come back.

I would love to go to Paris for a week yet, but I cannot do this unless you make it possible for me. What do you say about twenty-five dollars would be wonderful? This will be the last chance I can find out what the French girls are like and go to the top of the Eifel Tower. It would be a rather nice finish to my vacation in Germany. If I go, it will be about the 20th of this month. I expect that I will have to bring up my car to Bremerhaven about the beginning of next month. If I should get another three-day pass this month, I will also take another trip to Garmisch. I really love that place. I am very eager to see the new ice show which started two weeks ago.

Thanks for your letter, Papa. You know what I mean. We got secrets, too, Mother.

Do you know, Mother, that I have become a real coffee baby. We will have our cups of coffee together from now on. Do you like Hamburgers? Now you may tell me, Mother, if you are looking forward to my coming back. You are not imposing in any way on me if you say anything that direction. In fact, I would enjoy hearing a remark in that direction from you now. Are you marking the days of on the calendar like I have been doing lately? Tell me the truth. Or are you glad if I am gone for a while longer?

The fall is very beautiful here this year. It is cool but sunny. I feel like going outside every day and take in the fresh air and watch the leaves turn all different kinds of colors.

My car is running very well. I have had very much pleasure with it already. If I would have known a year ago what I know today, I would have bought a car right away. You can have so much fun and see so many places. I am still a motorcycle fan as far as that goes. But I would not want to have one now for the sake of having transportation, but only for sports reasons. But donít worry; I am not buying another motorcycle. It is four oíclock now. I have one more hour in the office and then I am finished for November 1, 1954.

About getting another stripe, it looks very bad. About getting promoted in the army it does not go according to what you do and what you know, but how many months you have been in grade. I would have enjoyed to have another stripe, but, nix can do.

So long,
Your Son
My nickname is ďStromerĒ Ė Peter Stromer (tramp).



November 6, 1954

Dear Parents,

Today I received your package, but I have not opened it yet. I have also received two letters from you which contained Hellmutís letters. I am sorry, but I threw Hellmutís letters away.

I do not know yet if I will have any money left for pins. I calculated the money for the car to the last penny. But if I do, I will bring them along. I have not received any money yet for the car. I am waiting anxiously and I am wondering what is holding matters up. In four weeks I am taking the car up to Bremerhaven to be shipped. But it is a funny feeling to do this before having received the money. I signed my card yesterday for going home. I am leaving within six to seven weeks. I do hope the car matter will be cleared up by then. I received the last two hundred Marks this morning. I thought I might have been the other money when I saw the envelope, but it was not. If I get a pass next week I will visit Garmisch once more.

Best regards and love, Peter



November 9, 1954

Dearest Parents,

I received your letter from the 4th of this month plus Hellmutís letter. I enjoyed the correspondence.

I am hoping for a three-day pass for the coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If I do get it, I am going to surprise Ruth. It is not 100% yet.

The money for the car has not arrived yet. And I canít understand what is holding up the works. In three weeks I have to bring up the car to Bremerhaven, and I certainly like the matter to be straightened out till then. Papa, how about a little pushing from your side? I have to count on the 2,000 Marks for sure, otherwise I am lost. Please send me the $200 you are speaking of as soon as possible, so that in case I do not get the whole amount, I am covered for the 10th of January payments plus a few incidental expenses which may arise. If I donít need the money I will naturally bring it back. We cannot do much talking about the money business per letter anymore, because before an answer has traveled back and forth, I will have to leave for Bremerhaven.

Donít worry about the $5 for the pins. I will have that money available. I thought later that it was pretty squeamish of me to quibble about five bucks where you have given me so much.

If you can tell me something definite about the money, I would appreciate such information, because I cannot get any definite idea about when the money may come from what Papa said about the money traveling from one bank to another, etc.

Yep, it is true, I have not written for a couple of days. But I am feeling fine except for being real hyper about the upcoming trip home. By the way, I wrote Hellmut a letter the other day. He should have received it by now. You know, I just thought the other day, it would be a swell thing for Hellmut to pick me up in New York. It is an expensive idea, and I am going to let the three of you hash it out together. Hellmut will probably argue that he can use the money for the trip a lot better for the mine. That is certainly true. I will take two soldiers along in the car from New York so that they can help me drive. As you know, that is my original plan and actually the most sensible. In about four weeks I should know the definite day of debarkation.

Not much new these days. I spent a nice Sunday. I went to a concert with a date and two soldiers. From there we went to a very nice cafť where Viennese music was played and had a bottle of wine together. For relaxation and pleasure I am just reading a book called: "The Naked and the Dead". It is very realistic. I enjoy it because it is about soldiers, and I am one of them. But donít you read it, Mother or Papa, otherwise you will get red in the face.

Mrs. Schnuphase was very happy about the coffee, but especially happy that you had sent it extra for her.

I am very satisfied with the car. Tonight I will stay in, because the car is at the garage, plus the fact that I can use some extra sleep. I am having fog and back-up lights installed, plus a grease job, etc. I would be very happy if I could still get a radio for it. A German Phillips radio would be better than the one I could get at the PX. They all donít fit.

Otherwise there is nothing new. I hope I can give you soon some good news about the money and the debarkation date.

So long, your son Peter

Please let me know what the new telephone number is. I want to call you from New York when I arrive.



November 15, 1954

Dear Mother,

I received your ďhastyĒ letter this morning after returning from Pyrmont. And an hour later I received the letter in which you retracted the statement of the yellow note. You will be surprised to hear that I donít have the time to visit Paris. I wanted to go very badly and would have gone if circumstances would not have prevented it.

But you will also be surprised to hear that Ruth and Renate are with me here in Nuremberg just taking it easy. They are living with Mrs. Schnuphase, and she is doing everything to make it a real vacation for Ruth. She told Ruth last night when we arrived that she will get breakfast in bed. Ruth was overjoyed to come along. She will stay here till the firs of December when I will bring her back with the car. You should have seen Ruthís face when I came. She practically fainted. I will try to make everything as nice as possible, circumstances permitting.

By the way, the money has not arrived yet. It seems like a very sloppy organization. You know that I have at the most only five or six weeks left here, and possibly only four.

Renate is badgering me to give her a tour of the hospital. The trip is a big thing for her (Renate is Peterís niece Ė 10 years old). As soon as I have time I will take her and show her everything.

The next favor I want to ask of you is to inquire if you can get Cortisone ointment (translated from German). Chucks, I wrote German and did not realize it at the moment. That is for a skin disease. I know a girl who has the disease since a couple of years and canít get rid of it. That medicine can also be given in injection form. Please inquire for me if you can get it and how much it costs in both forms. It is a new medicine, and we donít have it here at the hospital.

Otherwise everything is here under control. There is a mountain of work at the office at them moment. I is a shame, especially since Ruth is just here. But she is happy if she knows that I come in the evening. She sleeps as long as she can and goes to bed early. But you know that money would have come in handy to enhance Ruthís stay here. Too bad you did not send it. I may get a loan from Mrs. Schnuphase and pay her back payday. If you still decide to send the money, I will not send back.

I am also wondering if Papa is intending to pay the whole amount on the car? You people surely let me dangle in the air.

I feel it was a mean trick from Papa to write Ruth the way he did. I can judge better than anyone else what her physical condition is, and it is not a hundred percent. She does not have the vitality I have. She was feeling very sick the first two hours of the trip. The girl really does not have a strong heart. And it looks to me that her heart will give her a lot of trouble. She is very eager to find a husband who fits to her and who will be able to support her. But it is not as easy as it looks. Ruth is a girl who needs love. She is more eager to be independent of Papa, than Papa might be. Ruth is not mentally sick. You are making a big mistake to write such a thing. You can only say that she is a sensitive girl. With anything else you say, you are wrong. Well, that is the way I look at it from here, if you want my opinion, and if my opinion means anything to you. I know that Ruth will be eager to come over on a visit proposition for a year. If I had the money, I would give her that chance. And if she is able to adjust herself to the new surrounding, then she can always stay. It was hard for us to adjust at first, wasnít it Mother? I am personally feeling O.K. You donít have to be concerned about my welfare. So long for today.

Your son, Peter



November 24, 1954

Hello Folks,

I am sitting with Ruth in the snack bar; it is 1800 hours. Ruth just had a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich), plus a cup of Java coffee. I had a Coke. For dinner I had roast pork. Today I did not do much work, just a lot of kidding around. Everyone talks of orders. A friend of mine who gets discharged a week before me got his orders today.

This morning I brushed my teeth with brushless shaving cream Ė what a mistake. I am losing my head these days.

I wish you all a nice Christmas. I am looking forward to a good party with enough booze to keep everyone happy.

Your Son,

Peter



November 24, 1954

Dear Mother,

Ruth went downtown yesterday and inquired about the sweaters. A Berchtesgardener sweater costs 20 Marks; but Ruth does not advise that one at all. She looked at a lot of sweaters and says that in order to get something good you will have to spend 75 Marks. But then you have something good. A fairly good sweater you can get for 55 Marks. Ruth suggests a size of 44. I donít know. What to do you say? You will remember the German sizes yet. Ruth also bought five very cute pins for 17 Marks. She forgot about the earrings and will get those this afternoon. This afternoon she is going to a movie, and after work I am going to pick her up. Nati is going to a play in the Lessing Theatre. She will see ďTishlein Deck DichĒ (Brother Grimmsí fairy tale Ė Table-Be-Set). Tomorrow we will have our Thanksgiving dinner.

Next Tuesday I am going to have my car serviced once more and a radio built in; and a week from tomorrow I will take the car up to Bremerhaven. The people trust me all the way, and I am going to send the money from the States as soon as I get discharged. I may also ask Oma (Grandma in German) for 2,500 Marks and let Papa straighten things out with her. I expect to bring about $350 home with me, plus I will get $100 each month for the following two months. So, if Papa wants to arrange to give me the money in Marks, he can have approximately $500 from me. It really does not make any difference to me at all if I change the dollars to Marks or give Papa the money and get his Marks from here. But one thing is sure, that if the Marks have not arrived by the time I am in the States, I am going to make my payment in dollars.

Alice wrote me a very nice letter. Along with the letter she sent me two nice ties. The ties are nice, however for my young age too conservative in their design. I like alive and colorful designs. The letter was really swell. I always had a soft spot for Alice. She said I should save myself the trouble of writing her a letter, because it wonít be long that I see her now. But you can phone her up anyway and say hello. And you can tell her that I am expecting a dinner invitation as soon as I come back, and I would like to have a tender steak; and after dinner I would like to relax in front of the television set and drink a glass of wine and talk about all the fun I had. You can tell her that I did not lose my heart over here. You know, these girls that GIís have a chance to meet are nothing for marriage. You can have a lot of fun with them, but that is about it. It looks to me that these girls are so used to running around with men that they canít stick to one anymore.

It has gotten pretty cold here already. We have admitted 17 frostbites to this hospital the last two days. I also had a vase in my car which busted because the water froze solid. That reminds me of the time Hellmut and I went to Big Bear Valley skiing.

Everyone envies me because I am soon going to sunny California.

By the way, Ruth is continually sending her best regards, but I always neglect to mention it.

So long, folks, take care of yourselves,

Peter



November 30, 1954

Dear Mother and Papa,

I received a letter from both of you today. You will be happy to hear that Ruth and Renate are still with me. And tomorrow I will find out if they will be able to stay for another week. You see, it is this way. I heard on the radio last night that the port at Bremerhaven was not accepting any cars for shipment until the 9th of December again. So I wonít be able to bring up my car until the 9th and that is when I will take Ruth and Renate along. I will personally confirm those reports, though, myself. Maybe I can squeeze out a three day TDY order anyway, because not everybody knows about this. And if I can do this, this will just mean a three day pass for me because after three days I will come back and just say that I was in Bremerhaven and they would not accept my car. And that way I would get another three days next week. That would be great. My sergeant is pulling for me.

I sent the pins off today. They are very nice. Ruth bought them for me The Hummel figures cost 15 Marks a piece. If Ruth is still here when the money for the sweater arrives, I will let her buy it. She will know better what is best for you.

Ruth has been very happy with me here. She has no pains or aches although we go to bed late. She probably told you that she won twenty dollars playing bingo at the club with me. She gave me half of the jackpot. I was very happy. She bought herself a handbag for the money.

You have a different approach toward life than I have, Papa. It is your privilege and mine to live the way we want to. I am not going to change my way of life; I will only improve on it as time goes along. I have been very happy the last few months, and as long as I am happy I will not change anything. I am very sad that you have so many struggles. I like to see my parents happy; but I will not change my life in order to accomplish this. Life is harsh and brutal often, and if we take notice of this and become sensitive to it, it is mental suicide for us. I am going to work and enjoy life, have a family later on, and a lot of dates now. More I do not want.

I will certainly support that Ruth shall come to the States as soon as you can arrange the papers. Ruth would have loved to go along with me. She wanted me to stay here until she can come along, but I am not willing to do this. Ruth is willing to work and very willing at that. Nati is also old enough now that she does not need such close supervision. She will be in school until three oíclock anyway.

By the way, the money has not arrived yet. But von der Heyde wrote me that the money arrived from Bensheim and that he can forward it to me now. I have agreed to make this arrangement. I will pay my monthly payments from the Sates until Papaís money is available. And then the rest is paid in Marks. You still have to understand that these are monthly payments, payable on a certain date to the bank here. And in a case like that it is not possible to tell the bank that your word is as good as the Bank of England. You understand this, donít you, Papa?

Today was payday. I drew $57. Ruth and I will play bingo tonight again. It is a lot of fun.

Your Son,

Peter

Peter-The Lords Scribe and Storyteller






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All writings by Peter, the Lord's Scribe and Storyteller and all paintings by Rebekah, the Lord's artist are copyright free.