Berlin, Dahlem, Bachstelzenweg 11, Germany.
(That’s the way the Krauts would write it)
11 October 1946 (The way the Army writes it)
Just a bit of an experiment. I’m making a carbon copy of the first sheet or so of this letter and then adding personal comments on each of the copies I send to the homes of my two daughters before I wind up the epistle and call it an evening. Soooo – I’ll answer your two letters, Blanche and Ade, at the end, thus reversing the customary order of things. But that’s not hard for me to do after the past nine months during which, under army tutelage I’ve learned to do everything in the cockeyed way – tempered, of course, by the German influence which is always the least natural and logical manner.
Well, your Dad has gone social during this past week, yielding to the influence of the dependents, God bless their sweet souls, but a bit of the Berlin atmosphere lards everything one does over here, dependents or no dependents. But the old order passeth, and never again will we have the Berlin of last winter and spring. Ho hum, it was grand while it lasted!
Last Saturday John Watson and I went social and repaid some of our obligations. We invited Maja Purves and Lulu Dupes to dinner – Martini cocktails (a rare treat here), champagne with the dinner (not nearly so rare as in the States), and Benedictine, Cointreau and cognac with the after dinner coffee. We were just preparing for this last course when Peg Sarle called up and invited herself and Harold in for wee nippies before we all adjourned to the Harnackhaus for the dance. We had such a good time that my rare liqueurs were almost exhausted and it was about 10:30 before we bestirred ourselves and strolled a half mile through the park to our dance. About midnight we left and stopped at John’s where we sipped cognac until near two, when the Sarles and I phoned for a taxi (at the absurd price of 20¢), dropped them, and then I saw Maja home to her bombed out billet on Grazerdamm, Berlin District. It was an awfully swell evening and I was very loath to awaken when Erika forceably shook me for a ten o’clock breakfast the next morning, in which I was joined by John and my newest billet mate, Mr. Trier, who is deputy to Symcheck, formerly governor of the Federal Reserve Bank, and more recently appointed chief of the Trade and Commerce Branch of our OMGUS Econ. Division.
Sunday, I really got off a good long letter to Heath Onthank, something he has been importuning me for for lo, these many weeks. Then for a good walk with my Ahyaks, ending at Frau Hoch’s for the regular Sunday afternoon tea. Herr Bly (that’s the way it is pronounced, anyway, I haven’t the least idea how it is spelled) with his delightful wife and youngster, a handsome boy of about six with the original bedroom eyes, Maja, Lulu, John and Capt. Bob Broemer, U.S.A., a friend of John’s in from Dusseldorf, were also there. Herr Bly was an official combat artist with the German army in the campaigns in Crete (landing from a parachute), north Africa (with the Afrika Korps), Albania, Yugoslavia, Russia and Brittany. He had with him about twenty or thirty of his crayon, pencil and pen sketches, done on the spot in action, and also some very lovely water color paintings done in all of those areas. They are perfectly stunning, and I’m hoping to be able to buy a number of them and bring them home with me. The Blys and Frau Hoch are coming here to dinner some evening next week, at which time he is going to bring them back for me to make a selection and dicker over the price. Maja and I left early to go to the 7:00 o’clock concert of a rarely wonderful Russian choir, but we couldn’t get taxi transportation to get us over to the Russian Sector in time, so we had a leisurely dinner instead, followed by a quiet evening.
Monday, one of the little gals in the office (wasted away to about 240 lbs) had a birthday and a surprise party was being thrown for her at the Harnackhaus (6 to 8), just cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, but plenty. Wally Dietz had an evening engagement, so I went home with Jack (his frau) to visit with her until Wally came back and could run me home in his Buick car. We talked, and did a bit of drinking, until 2:00 A.M., and then I decided that if I was going to get any sleep at all, pending the morrow I had better pull stakes and use Shank’s mare. Heaven only knows when friend Dietz got home. But I had a fine chance to get well acquainted with Jack (Jacquelaine – or isn’t that the way to spell it?) and Susan, their five year old daughter – a dead ringer for Wally, not to mention their three Boxer pups.
Tuesday evening I rested up – a little – but stepped out again Wednesday, cocktails, formal dinner and bridge at the Harnackhaus, three tables, guests of George Clark. There were three couples, the Beviers, McMahons and Neales, three single gals, Bert Randall, Dot Rudd and Mildred Bicklin, and George, Hugh Wolff and myself. Of the whole crowd the only ones I knew in advance were Joe McMahon (West Point ’23) and the three single gals (Dot is a WAC captain and came into Berlin with the first wave of Military Government folks a year ago last July – a swell girl). The six girls were all fussed up in their long formals and the whole atmosphere of the party, thoroughly enjoyable as it was, took me back completely to the old Montclair society and the countless evenings wasted in the same manner under those suburban conditions. Nimmer mehr for this chicken – as a regular diet, at least. Gosh, what an unimaginative life we used to lead – getting nowhere.
Last evening Maja was over for dinner and the evening, with a full showing of John’s and my 35 mm. color transparencies in my new Leitz projector and home by taxi under the glorious full moon, the first time we’ve seen that lady this month, thanks to a spell of continuous bad weather. And to-morrow I’m taking Maja (I believe I’ve mentioned her before) to the Barter Market, which she has never visited, to Harnackhaus so she can arrange for a BD party next Wednesday, then to the Dietz’ for dinner and back to Harnackhaus to the formal dancing where we will be joined by the Vadneys, the Sarles, Paul Powers and Betty McGuire, and John and Julie Hymen. That, my children, is what your old Pop calls a social week, in Berlin, at least. Thank God, we have our quieter moments. Next Saturday all I have on is an afternoon wedding, a cocktail party from 5 to 7, dinner with Maja and some Rumanian friends of hers and then the Harnackhaus dance. And between the two Saturdays the only social dates I have at present writing are Frau Hoch’s tea Sunday afternoon, followed by a concert at Onkel Tom’s Theater given by a group of about 18 colored G.Is, who are just finishing a round-the-world concert tour. I can see that I need the quiet life of 49 Curie Ave. to rest up in. Ich bin ganz müder!
In the office things remain in a complete fog, and we are all wondering where we are going and how it is all going to end. The Personnel Office reorganization continues and if Col. Duke knows how it will turn out he is the only one and he tells us nothing. I go through the motions and get my work done, but the joy of work has been dissipated – for the time being, at least. I wish, and many others join me, that we had Heath back at the helm. But he’s frying bigger fish back in the OSW, and has plenty of problems of his own there, if his letters are any indication. I’m nearing completion in my task of getting 3500 military and 3000 civilian employees of Military Government on the IBM machine reports – and as of November 1 we take over the entire Berlin District set-up, now partly USFET and partly OMGUS, and shall have about 8000 cards to change or add to the list. It has been quite a job, with each individual requiring about 26 items of information, wait a minute, with about 26 items of information to be collected and coded about each individual. Thank Heaven I’m then turning it over to the Reports Section to maintain.
We’ve all been going through a wave of colds, sinus trouble or what have you here in Berlin, what with the changeable weather we’re having and the sudden switch from no heat in the billets to altogether too much. My trouble has been more a bronchial congestion than a cold, similar to what I had for about three months last winter, but I feel that I’m licking it early this time. Dotty has been out several days this past week and my two Germans are sniffling around the office. I’m afraid the poor Germans are in for a tougher winter this year than last, with less heat and less food to sustain them. My friends, war just doesn’t pay, and these folks are certainly learning it the hard way. – No more word as to my future plans, – I’ll let you know when they jell, and darned glad I’ll be able to come out of the vacuum when they do.
And now for the individual parts of your two letters – so kindly turn the page:
Yes, Ade finally crashed through with a good letter, and says she wants to clean the slate and start anew. I’m all for it, and hope that it will last. She told me in her birthday letter that she was looking for a job in New York, but your letter, sweet, was the first intimation I’d had that she had arrived. God bless her, I hope she and the airlines can make a worthwhile go if it and that it is the beginning of a new day. And I hope that she doesn’t run into too many social diversions in her life with the Pinkertons in Montclair. I know that she is counting a heap on the help and moral support that you two kids can give her and I also know that you’ll never let her down. Here’s to a brilliant success for you all.
The picture of the youngsters, mainly Jeff, were prima (a favorite German expression, virtually slang to them) and I’ve enjoyed them by myself and with all of my friends. I’d love to blow up the negatives of Jeff on his bike and kneeling on his wagon. How’s about sending me the negatives for a try? And how’d you like 8” x 10” enlargements of ‘em?
Thanks for the supplementary birthday greetings which reached me just a week after your cable. I’m glad to have both evidences that you were thinking of me on that miserable day which rung the gong on another round with the old man with the hourglass. I’d like to trade in the old model for a new streamlined 1947 model, but halt, lame and blind though I may be I still seem to be getting something of a kick out of this mortal existence. Golly, I’d like to go from here to Japan for a year or two and see what it is like on the under side of the world. How about coming with me and writing up the story of the new East for Life? But the way I feel now, we wouldn’t fly. Two of my good friends here lost their families in that horrible Newfoundland crash and, tho I may go by air, I want my family to stick to surface travel for awhile yet – or until they have radar and all of the other gadgets installed and working perfectly in the commercial planes.
Yours was a fine letter, sweet, and gave me lots of sound news to chew on. But what a shame you’ve had so much sickness – I hope it is all out of your systems now and that it won’t be necessary for you to see the doctors again all winter. But you can’t do it by getting tired out. Sure, I want letters from you, as many as I can get, but not at the expense of rest and healthy recreation. —- It sounds, however, as though you had made good use of your time, Rog, and the house must be shining like a new dollar by this time. And you seem to have been doing your share of entertaining and being entertained, too, in your “spare” time. Go to it and God bless you, you’ll only live once, but for Pete’s sake don’t tie down the safety valve – and take it easy when the danger signal appears. Congratulations on achieving the position of a writer on the “Life” staff, Rog, I’ll be looking for your name coupled with all of the other celebrities in the line up, and will be proud to see it rise higher and higher as genius is recognized and Roger Horatio Alger Garrison forges ahead. Strength to your elbow, son, and may you never run out of ink and ideas. I’m waiting now with great interest to the next word of the progress of Lucy Thurston. And congratulations on the raise – I’m quite sure you can make good use of money in that strange land where cigarettes are not the medium of exchange. (Cigarettes, by the way, have gone down – they are only worth 45 barter units per carton now instead of 95. What we need is a good, healthy inflation). — I’m glad that you’ve weaned Dick, sweet, I’m sure that, along with everything else it has been too much of a drain on your strength to have to provide nourishment for two during the past seven months. There are darned few girls who can do that these days.
And that must do for this sitting – more next week, if I’m still able to function. Right now, with things at the office in a nerve-wracking stage, the opportunity to blow off in a social whirl has really been good medicine. My very best love and good wishes, as always,