Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Memphis 15, Tenn

29 December 1944 Friday

Dear Mom, Harry & Izzy:

This is Christmas afternoon (Mon) in my barracks. I woke up about 10 o'clock to find on top of my locker, a foot away from my head, a package from Mom and Harry and a Christmas card from Izzy. These couldn't have arrived at a more appropriate time. The package contained a billfold in mich I found the amazing sum of $20. So much money was unexpected, I now feel like a hoodlum who has found a fortune and doesn't know whether to spend it quick before someone finds out or to save it for a rainy day. The billfold itself is even better than the old one originally was.

The chocolate covered peanut clusters and shelled nuts would be tempting to anyone here. I believe I may have to display them sparingly before the other boys or else I may not, have any left for myself.

Also I received a batch of brown socks. I don't believe I'll have any shortage of them for a long time.

Thanks for all these gifts.

This Christmas was quite a contrast to the one I had Last year. One year ago I celebrated Christmas in one of the biggest blizzards I have ever experienced. This Christmas turned out to be the warmest I have ever experienced. The temperatures last night hovered around 50 or higher and instead of snow we had a drizzle which turned into a heavy downpour with lightning and thunder during the early morning hours of Christmas day. When I awoke I found the weather changed into a steady drizzle again. Detroiters are probably envious of the South's winter warmth and occasional sunshine, but the natives of Memphis are jealous of Detroit's occasional white Christmases. They hear and sing the song "I Am Dreaming of a White Christmas" and mournfully realize that dreaming about a white Christnas is the closest they'll ever come to one in this part of the country. Snow and Christmas have been advertized together so much by the North all over the South, that Memphians are made to sigh yearningly over what they are missing. They are in a peculiar situation. They are tantalized by not being far enough south to keep from hoping am far enough north to expect that during one of these Christmases their hopes may come true. Say, do you know that I started this letter Christmas day and came to a dead standstill at this point because someone asked me to go bowling. I just couldn't resist the invitation. I did not have a chance again to resume writing until December 29. Now that I have some time, I think it will be best for me to shorten my letter to make sure I'll finish it and send it out today. I know it has been quite sometime since you have heard from me and for this reason I want to play safe and not encounter any more chances for delays.

I wrote something previously about one of the colonels knowing that I raised mink. This colonel mentioned the fact to the other colonel who is the big boss in our section and who I, believe, will become a brigadier general. Several days later this big boss came over to my desk and asked me if I am the fellow who raises mink. I told him that I was.

"Come over to my desk," he said. "Pull up a chair and tell me about it." I pulled up a chair, sat down, and told him about the whole business with the confidence of a salesman who knows he has an interesting article to sell. It's easy, of course, when you know your listener is fascinated by your subject. The mole Quartermaster Section, I suppose, was conscious of the fact that I seemed to be getting a good foothold into the inner sanctum of the high and mighty. Even the captains and majors consider it a rare privilege to sit themselves next to the big boss for an amiable chat. And here I was, a mere two-bit corporal talking to His Highness as if I were a colonel myself. "What the hell has he got on the ball," everyone, I guess, was saying to himself.

The boss said that he was intending to take up some kind of hobby and thought he might try raising mink. Evidently he is thinking of retiring. If he does, he will be in an advantageous position to take up almost anything because he isn't too old--somewhere between 45 and 50, I suppose--and his pension will be big enough to pull him through if he fails even more than once. In talking with him, however, I found that he doesn't know anything about the laws of heredity. All my talk about the results of cross-breeding of mutations had him puzzled. Of course, I didn't attempt to go into any detailed explanations because it would only confuse him. He told me about some ranch he visited in Alaska when he was stationed there. He said that this ranch sold something like 1000 pelts for $27,000. I suppose from that time on he couldn't forget mink. After talking about 15 or 20 minutes, we were interrupted a few times by phone calls and as things seeme dto get a little busy around us, I thought it best to slacken my conversation to give the colonel the opportunity to end it if he wanted to. He thanked me for the talk and I left to resume my status as a two-bit corporal, and he as a colonel about to become a brigadier general. Now the terms upon we meet consist of impersonal glances and some words like: "Thomas,take a letter", "Yes, sir", "How many copies do you want, sir", "You are wanted on the phone, sir", "Yes, sir", "No, sir", "Hut, two, three, four", Snap", "Click", the latter words, of course, being in my imagination as I walk to and away from his desk.

Mom, I received the letter in which you told me you had sent the two
packages containing all the things I left home on my furlough. I believe
I received everything I expected, The only thing I missed later on was
the map of Memphis. Of course, I never expected to have it sent to me because I hadn't told you about it. If you find it lying around
somewhere, send it to me with your next letter.

Have you checked up on my Writer's Digest magazines yet to make sure
what issue was the latest one mailed to me? There is no hurry about this,
but as soon as you know definitely, please let me know and then I'll send
in an order for the issues which are missing.

Also I would appreciate it if you would look into one of the Etude magazines and give me the address of the publisher so that I could send in an order for a few pieces of meet music. I sometimes have opportunities here to find a piano with no one around and in such cases I muster up enough courage to sit down and play. There are some very good pieces the Etude Magazine has published which I would like to try out.

Harry, I was glad to receive another letter written on a letterhead
of the famous Thomas Mink Ranch. The bunch of calling cards you inclosed
was a staggering surprise to me. It made me feel as important as Amos's
friend, Andy, when he checks his future financial status by mumbling to himself,"One million, 2 million, etc."

You asked for my idea on a half-page ad for the American Fur Breeder.
Inclosed you will find a sample*. I don't know whether it will shock you or
not. It doesn't look any too dignified or conservative, but it may attract
some customers. If you think it needs any changes, go ahead and make them. You probably may want to add or cancel some parts or possibly change the whole thing entirely. Maybe you will feel it's better to mention the prices in the ad. I don't, hcwever, think it's advisable because then you couldn't change the prices according to the demand.

The prices you mentioned in your letter seem to be OK, but I knos
they can't be definite because we don't know what the platinum pelt
prices will be. Whatever prices you decide upon will be OK with me. I suppose you will check some of the prices of other ranchers and try to undersell them just a little.

Izzy, you have often given me your bowling scores and so far I haven't. Therefore I'll make up for it now. During the past few weeks I have bowled more games than I have ever bowled before during the same length of time. Here are the scores of all the games played by me in Memphis since I retumed from my furlough:

      1st Sunday      2d Sunday      3d Sunday                         Christmas
      152                    166                159                                   124
      156                    170                1O2-(What happened?)      154
      141                     130                138                                  152
      147                    162                148                                   194
      145                    131                 140                                  155
    _____               _____            _____                              _____
Av. 148               Av. 152           Av. 137                            Av. 159

The Antiaircraft Section moved out of our headquarters and they left an Opening in the bowling league. Quartermaster agreed to take their place and chose 4 men. The fifth man was a warrant officer who bowled previously for Antiaircraft and who chose to remain on the team. I was one of the 4 chosen from our section and did my little bit to help Antiaircraft lose three straight games. Considering that I worked under a strain with one foul against me and a ball I didn't like, I believe, I didn't do so bad. The scores are as follows: 132 - 153 - 151, - Average - 144.

I seem to have difficulty in finding balls with a large enough finger
length. After playing for a while, my fingers seem to stretch and balls with
the widest finger spans I can find are too small for me.

You will note that one of my scores was 194. That was a heart-breaking game. I missed making my first 200 game in the 9th frame when I failed to make a spare.

Mom, I am enclosing a menu which tells yeu just what I had for Christmas
dinner here at the mess hall. After reading it, you may think that this
dinner was a very good treat, but it wasn't that at all. It wasn't seasoned
like your home cooking and fell very short of the tasty dinners you serve.

Christmas Dinner 1944 - Memphis Fairgrounds, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennesee Army Christmas Dinner 1944 State Fair Grounds

With that $20 you and Harry gave me, I am going to see some of the
expensive performances to be given at the Civic Auditorium. The first one
is Sigmund Romberg's opperetta, "The Student Prince", which is coming here today and tomorrow. The next event is a Russian ballet. I don't know whether to see that or not. I may miss it. A stage play follows that. It is "The Doll's House" by Ibsen. I understand that Francis Lederer and Lyle Talbot are in the cast. They are second rate movie actors, but still I think I'll enjoy the play because "The Doll's House" is quite famous--almost as famous as any of Shakespeare's plays.

"A Doll House" play in Memphis Tennessee, Jan 1945

Tell Gertie, Gene & Genie that I'll write than in a few days.

So Long, You All
Dixie Land Sig~ning Off Eddie
P.S. Harry, send me Richard Barrigar's address. I owe him a reply.

* I decided to withdraw the ad because I believe it needs improving.
An improved copy will be sent in a day or two.

30 Dee 44 (Saturday)


Here is the ad which I should have inclosed with
my letter of Dec 29.

The size and style of print I leave to your good
artistic judgment.

Remember, I don't want you to send this to the
magazine if you think it's too much beneath the
high dignified standards of our company. If you
think it can be improved, improve it. If it's

so bad that it's beyond Improvement, destroy it.

If anyone should ask you what we mean by "enriched"
tell him it's the effect of the $100 bills we grind
up and mix with the food.

If anyone should ask you what we mean by "vitalized"
tell him it's the result of a secret dope formula
we use to shock pelted carcasses back to life so
that a new coat of fur can be grown.

Eddie's ad sketch

Letter to Eddie - Jan. 1, 1945

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