Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote to you the following in December, 1944:) Happy New Year! I don’t know why you are still Missing in Action. Mimi and I heard a lady on the loudspeaker announce, “Attention, attention, if you have a lost or missing child, please come to the Mezzanine.” Mimi said that if we are separated while shopping, to tell the nearest saleslady and she will take me to the Mezzanine. Do grown-ups get lost?  How are they found?

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Uncle Eddie said  that when he served in World War I, no soldier was left behind; all are accounted for. He made many friends in Washington, DC when he was Illinois Commander of the American Legion, and he went there to investigate your whereabouts and also to find out more about his son, Cousin Raymond, whose plane was shot down over Austria.


(Uncle Eddie and Aunt Libby)

Uncle Eddie made a date to take my sister and me to the circus. He wanted us to see the animals, the acrobats and meet a famous clown up close. Mommy said he should cancel after he learned that Raymond was Killed in Action, but Uncle Eddie  wanted to go for himself as well as for us.  We got there early, were the first ones in the stands, when a hobo came up the stairs, started picking up cigar butts from the floor, put one in his mouth and lit it. I had to keep myself from holding my nose closed because of the smell.  The clown was very sad-looking, wore rags, and when he opened his mouth to say, “Well, if it isn’t Ed Clamage and Maxine,” I guessed that he must be the famous Emmett Kelly that Mommy said we would see.

I didn’t know how to tell Uncle Eddie that I was sorry that his son Raymond  was killed in action, so I just held his hand as we watched the show.

Uncles Eddie and Lester visit us to see if we need ration stamps and are eating enough. They say that growing girls must have new shoes and they share leather ration stamps. We visit the cemetery with their families on some week-ends when it’s not too cold and they take Mommy, my sister and me along. I try not to be scared walking around the tall gravestones so I look at photos of our ancestors on some of the markers. Last time Uncle Eddie asked me what that shiny thing was on the ground. We walked over together and he said, “Look, by my foot.” I picked up a twenty-dollar gold piece. Mommy held out her hand, I said “Finders, Keepers,” but had to give it to her for safekeeping anyway.

That's what I wish for you, Daddy, that somebody is keeping you safe, you are no longer missing and good news will come to us soon. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach that you are lost and unable to find your way home until I remember the long drives we took in the country on Sundays when we were lost until you stopped at a gas station, got a map and drove home before my bedtime. Remember we used to stop at Prince Castle for ice cream? I listen to “Let’s Pretend” on the radio where the actors read stories from my Grimm’s Fairy Tale book. Many of the stories take place in castles and all have happy endings.

I am praying very hard that 1945 will be a Happy New Year, the war will be over, you will return home safe and sound and we will have a happy ending.

Love,
Maxine


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