Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The stuff that dreams are made of

More from the diary of the Rev. Edmund Randolph Laine of Stockbridge, Mass. From Jan. 5-11, 1942. When I began transcribing the diary entries, from Laine's handwriting into something a bit more legible, more than a decade ago, many of the Internet resources were not available, and with a couple of exceptions, such as his mention on April 3, 1945, of Philip Bonsal's book "When the French Were Here," I didn't research the books or radio shows he mentions.

Now, with resources such as Project Gutenberg (which already was around when I started doing this), the Internet Archive and Old Time Radio Classics, I'm able to put sounds and images that bring the diary to life. That said, the radio excerpts are generic in nature, rather than the broadcasts of the date they were mentioned, although some of the shows have the air dates of the recordings, and I hope to get lucky in future entries. I'll point it out when I do.

Previous entries from the diary of the Rev. Edmund Randolph Laine:

December 29, 1941-Jan. 4, 1942

December 22-December 28, 1941

December 15-December 21, 1941

December 8-December 14, 1941

December 1-December 7, 1941

January 5, 1942

Monday, Jan. 5, 1942: Gray, cold, snowing a.m., some sun at 3. Up 12:15, shaved. Radio - news. Eleanor Dusenbury phoned about tea at annual W. Aux. meeting. Phoned Mrs. Davidson about press notices for meeting. 1:10 - to bank. Cut nails. Read "Eagle" & in Hammett's "Maltese Falcon." Read "Times" & "Converted Catholic." 4:15 - to call on Mrs. Stinson at the Actons - back 4. Read in Maltese Falcon in study. E - read "Eagle" there. 6 - news. Eve - E. to First Aid Class. Destroyed some old receipts. Mrs. Kimberly phoned names of sponsors for baptism tomorrow. Finished "Maltese Falcon." Radio music. 9 - Quincy Howe. Had sandwiches & oranges. Wrote book review. 11 - News. Shower bath.

January 6, 1942
 Tuesday, Jan. 6, 1942: (Tuesday - Epiphany) Very cold (coldest of winter so far), sunny. Up 9:15, shaved. Radio news. 11 - Holy Com. (9). Sent Mrs. Derrick some medals. Mrs. Kimberly phoned. Read "Times."Made out baptismal certificates. 1:30 - "Vic & Sade." 1:45 - "Road of Life." 2:30 - had tomato soup & liverwurst sandwiches. Dozed in chair in study till 4:15. Read "Eagle." Fr. Jones phoned. 4:30 - changed clothes. 4:50 - to church. 5 - Baptism of Kimberly children - then to Kimberlys - back 6:30. 7:15 - to dinner at the Kimberlys (Mr. & Mrs. Dwight, Mrs. & Mrs. Raphael[?], Dr. & Mrs. Schroeder, Mrs. Schermerhorn) - home 10:15. Very cold. Made entries in Parish Register. Ate two oranges. E. to Lodge. 11 - News.
January 7, 1942
Wednesday, Jan. 7, 1942: Very cold, sunny. Up 11:15, shaved. Wrote 3 letters (Mrs. Frelinghuysen, Jr., Dr. Kimberly & Rev. Dr. Stowe). Read "Times." 3 - "Against the Storm." 3:15 - "MaPerkins." To church - C.M. clearing out Christmas decorations - then to Library - on to call on Mrs. Drake & Mrs. James at Buck's - back 6:10. 6:15 - news. Wrote letter to Mr. Hans Johnson for Sir Galahad literature. 8 - Donald Wood came to see about being a leader in the Galahad Order - went 9:40. 10 - Raymond Gram Swing. Wrote note to Mr. Steve Burghardt about his receiving Masonic medal. Had corn beef sandwiches & oranges. Wrote 2 letters (Mrs. Acton & Mrs. Stinson). 11 - news.

January 8, 1942
  Thursday, Jan. 8, 1942: Very cold (12 below zero), sunny. Up 11:15, shaved, shower bath. Had creamed corn beef for breakfast. Read "Times." Wrote press notices. 2:45 - dressed. 3 - annual meeting of Woman's Auxiliary - Miss Canning elected Pres. - arranged for Galahad Supper - Mon. eve. 5 - walked & called on Father Finn - then to Shaw's Garage - saw Jimmie about Galahad - walked home 5:45. 6 - news. Very cold - 2 below zero. Fr. Finn phoned. E. to Lodge installation. Wrote 2 letters (Mrs. H. M. Parsons & Rev. E.H. Nichols). 8 - Fannie Brice. 8:30 - Henry Aldrich. 9 - Quincy Howe. Had oranges. Terribly cold. 10 - R.G. Swing. Ate oranges. 10:30 - to bed.

Fanny Brice

January 9, 1942
  Friday, Jan. 9, 1942: Was very sick all night, vomited at 2 a.m. & 6 a.m. Ate nothing all day. Dr. Campbell came - 4 - I have intestinal grippe. Slept much - in bed all day. Miss F. & E. made my bed at 9:30 & I slept for night. Very cold.

January 10, 1942
 Saturday, Jan. 10, 1942: Still sick in bed - very cold - 6 below zero at 9 a.m. Slept hard most of a.m. Dr. Campbell came noon. 1:30 - had some milk and crackers. Slept. Read "Times" & "Liv. Ch." in bed. 7 - had dropped eggs & toast. E. to Occ. Club. Very cold. Got up & sat in Study, wrapped up. Miss F. got Fr. Jones & Mr. Barnes to take services for tomorrow. Read in Sir Philip Gibbs' "Since Then." (pretty terrible.) 10 - had junket, eggs & toast. Miss F. made bed. 10:30 - back to bed.

January 11, 1942
  Sunday, Jan. 11, 1942: (Epiphany I) Very cold, snowed at times, very bleak, gray, below zero. Feeling better. Stayed in bed till 3:45. Had some breakfast -- 11. Fr. Jones of St. Edmund's took Stockbridge service. Read "Times" in bed, Miss F. sick with same malady, Nellie French in to see her. Up 3:45, shaved, shower bath - dressed -downstairs - first time since Thurs. night. 5:45 - Wm. L. Shirer. 6 - news. Helped Miss F. make my bed. E. took 3/4 hour at Air Raid Station. Wrote letter of congratulation to Bp. (5th Cons. ann. - Tues.) Miss F. to bed 8 - sick. E. studied first aid book in kitchen. I sat in study & read in Girard's "Face to Face WithKaiserism." 9 - Ford Hour (pianist). 10 - had junket, milk & crackers. Not feeling too well. Cold is very excessive. 10:30 - to bed.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Last Letter Home

   "Obbly-obbly-gattigo, why, you probly got a wobbly-obligo!" Like listening to the "B" side of an old 45 rpm record, I often glance at the flip side of old newspaper clippings. Last week John Caruso, my co-author on the forthcoming book "Semper Fi, Padre," or really it's more like I'm his co-author, showed me a faded clipping from a Hartford, Connecticut, newspaper that contained the text of his brother Mathew's last letter from Korea to his father, Michael Caruso. The flip side of the article contained the latter half of three comics of the day, one of which was one of my all-time favorites, Pogo, by Walt Kelly. I have no idea what this particular strip was about, and not because the first two panels were missing either. In the first frame, which would have been the third of that day's strip, Howland Owl, with his wizard's cap, and Cherchy la Femme the turtle, with his pirate cap, seem to be reciting something musical in nature, as evidenced by the presence of a couple of musical notes. "So when Miami plays pianda on the very same veranda, why, you get a git what gotta-git-an-go!" In the next and final panel, the character Porky-pine the pig, leans in and says "What'd you say?" while Howland wipes sweat from his brow and Cherchy leans on what appears to be a musical instrument.
   The comic above Pogo contains the date 1-16 but not the year. It's likely 1950, which means it would have been barely a month after Matt Caruso was killed in Korea.
   The article is titled "Good afternoon/ A personal chat with Art McGinley," who was the sports editor of the Hartford Courant.
   "Dear Pop," Matt's letter begins, "Please don't worry about me for I am taking good care of myself. I am confident that some day I will come back to all of you.
   "I have an awful lot to live for -- there will be my wife and baby waiting for me when I get back to the States.
   "Of course I can't tell how long it will be before we are home again, but I do know that I will be one of the many guys aboard the ship heading back home when it is all over.
   "I have enclosed a couple of pictures taken by a photographer at Inchon just before we left for here. I wish you would send me one of yourself, for the only ones I have of you and the family are in my album back home.
   "I still am working for a chaplain, only this time it is a Catholic priest I am with. He really is a wonderful man and we get along fine. Every day when it is possible he says Mass for his boys and I have seen him give Holy Communion and administer the last rites under heavy machine gun fire by the enemy.
   "My job is to do the administrative and clerical work for him, write letters of condolence to the families of boys who have died out here, aid the wounded and assist him at Mass.
   "There have been plenty of times we have said the Rosary together in our foxhole. No sir, Pop, no guy could be his equal.
   "My wife is a wonderful person -- she has made me the happiest guy in the world."
   "Love, Mathew."

   Actually, the newspaper misspelled Mathew's name, printing the more common version with two t's. Matt Caruso died saving the life of the Rev. Cornelius "Connie" Griffin. As machine gun fire penetrated the side of the ambulance in which Father Griffin was administering the last rites to a dying Marine during the breakout from the Chosin Reservoir, Matt, according to most accounts, threw the chaplain onto the floor of the ambulance and shielded him with his body. Matt was killed and Father Griffin was wounded but survived.

and the flip side:

The comic strip on top is "The Cisco Kid" (and to think I was a member of the Cisco Kid fan club in junior high school), while the comic on the bottom could be Dan Hale, by Norman Marsh, whose work, according to Comiclopedia, influenced the comic strip Dick Tracy.