Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote to you in January, 1945) Mimi says it’s good that the Russian Army is moving west to defeat the Nazis. “The Russian soldiers and Nazis hate Jews, are brutal the way they treat people, will hopefully kill each other off and then we’ll have world peace.” Mimi remembers escaping from Russia when Jews were no longer welcome. I asked Mimi why they hate Jews and she said we’re not a loved people. Why aren’t we loved? “You’ll have to figure that out for yourself, Maxine.”

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I know who loves me and that’s Aunt Miriam. Next week, when she goes to the hospital for an operation, Mimi and I will stay at her new house and take care of Cousins Harvey and Joey. I’ll read her Child Kraft books, play the piano and have fun.
Her husband created a rumpus room in the basement and they have square dance parties there. I was invited to one and learned:


Hands, knees and a boomps-a-daisy, I’ve got a bustle that bends
Hands, knees and a boomps-a-daisy, what is a boomp among friends?
Hands, knees and a boomps-a-daisy, let’s make this party a wow.
Hands, knees and a boomps-a-daisy, turn to your partner and boomps-a-daisy, turn to your partner and bow, bow-wow.

I saw grown-ups act silly and I think you’d like to square dance, Daddy, but not Mommy. I asked her if I could take a tap-ballet-acrobatics class after school because I love to dance, but she said we couldn’t afford it. She is sad all the time. Where is the Mommy who baked checkerboard cookies and marble cake and let me help? Mommy used to take me to puppet shows and children’s theatre performances. She once paraded me around the neighborhood so I could recite the poem, “My Pocket” to her friends and I saw her smile then.

It feels like she is also Missing in Action. The last time she came to my school was for kindergarten graduation when I played the triangle in the orchestra. She talked with the other mothers and the teachers, but has not attended PTA meetings, open house exhibitions or teacher conferences since then and I’m in second grade now. My teacher says it’s good that I’m doing so well and getting all “E’s” for excellent and she wants to encourage Mommy to allow me to read your books in the living room.

I asked Mommy why I couldn’t read the books in your chair and she said I could take one book and read it in my room because the blackout curtains in the living room should be closed in case we have another air raid drill. The air raid warden saw a crack of light through our curtains during the last drill and told her to be more careful, so she keeps the curtains closed all the time. I picked the book “Best Loved Poems” and my favorite is “The Children’s Hour,” by Longfellow. We have air raid drills at school and some students are afraid, but my teacher said it’s just like a fire drill. Although we haven’t had fires, it’s good to be prepared in case of an emergency. When I grow up, if the Nazis don’t come to Chicago and kill me first, I will tell people to talk things over instead of having wars, making fathers leave their homes to fight, and causing mothers to cry all day. I want to believe that those soldiers who aren’t lost will find Hitler before he orders more people killed and I’m glad the Russian soldiers are on their way to help win the war.

The newsreels at the movies show the tanks and explosions and soldiers running. It’s very loud and scary. If the war is over before your birthday on January 25th, you can come home to celebrate. We’ll have a cake (without sugar or butter) with 38 candles – 37 for your age and one for good luck. When you blow out the candles you can make a wish. I’m wishing and praying for good luck.

Love,
Maxine

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