Monday, May 13, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: "I am your Pop (Ma is included in this)"

In 1943, when my Uncle Fred enlisted in WWII, the entire family geared up for a lively stream of correspondence to keep him company wherever he was posted. (The same steady stream of correspondence flowed to Fred's sister Dorothy Schwartz the WAC, and to Fred and Dorothy's first cousins in the service.)

Here's the second page of a letter to Fred from his "Pop" (my grandpa), Theodore Schwartz, written on November 9, 1944. Grandpa learned English after arriving in New York from Hungary as a teenager, and his spelling/punctuation weren't always perfect. He and my grandma ran a busy grocery store, which in wartime had the added burden of having to collect and sort ration coupons for many foods.

Instead of ending his letter to Fred by signing off with "love" as so many parents do today, he says something much more old fashioned: "With best wishes to you, I am your Pop" and adds: "Ma is included in this."

This letter reads:

Dear Fred,

Your 3 letters in a row at hand and been glad to hear that you, at last got what you wanted and also received the klippings [sic] describing in detail the work. It must be interesting, at least from the beginning. You will only have day work and nobody to rush you. There is not much news here. We are all well--just got a letter from Bobby F___ he is on the other side [meaning he's fighting in Europe]. Received a few letters from Dorothy, she is well, of course she does not get any steaks for every dinner but she is getting ours.

We had a nice [family] meeting at Ella's [Fred's uncle] Sunday. [Uncle] Albert's father-in-law, if you can remember him, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I am slated for the next presidency in the family tree.*

With best wishes to you, I am your Pop
   Ma is included in this.

*The Farkas Family Tree was created during the 1930s, with members being the descendants of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas, along with their spouses and kids. Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz was the oldest daughter of Moritz and Lena, and Grandpa Theodore's marriage to her made him eligible to serve as president of the tree, as he boasts in the final sentence of his letter to Fred. One of the fun rituals at each tree meeting was singing a family song written by one of Fred's aunts. More on this tree in future posts!

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