Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote to you in January, 1945) I’m sneezing and coughing and have a fever. Mommy switched bedrooms with me so I wouldn’t infect my sister and I’m sleeping in your bed. I’m too sick to go to school, but not too sick to write to you. You have a pretty bedroom to come home to with rows of red and blue roses on the wallpaper. I’m sad that you aren’t here for your birthday, but glad that you are only Missing in Action and not Killed in Action.

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Mimi brought me a bowl of chicken soup, a box of cough drops, a radio, Kleenex and a wastebasket. Last night she mixed a hot toddy for me to drink before bedtime. It had tea and lemon, honey and a shot of whiskey. That’s against the law I told her. She said it’s the only medicine we have. When you and your brothers each had a shot of whiskey after saying l’chaim, I wanted a taste and you said it was against the law to give liquor to children. I’ll never drink that stuff again because it burned when I swallowed it, but I did have a good night’s sleep and I feel a little better today.

Bepa said if I am well tomorrow he will take me to the Chicago Stock Exchange, but I’d rather stay in bed and listen to the radio. It’s noisy there and people get excited when the tickertape spits out of a machine on the wall and a man writes numbers on a big blackboard. I suppose someday I’ll understand what the numbers mean, but I’m not interested now.

I’m listening to the news about the Russians occupying Warsaw, Poland and the Allies winning the Battle of the Bulge. There are good songs, like Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters singing, “Don’t Fence Me In.” But there are also silly programs that Mimi and Bepa enjoy listening to, like the Marx Brothers and Fibber McGee and Molly. I don’t want to go to the movies on Saturday afternoons anymore to see pictures with Abbott and Costello or The Three Stooges doing foolish things like hitting one another on the head and making each other fall down. Everyone laughs but me. My father is Missing in Action and everyone is laughing over actions of clumsy people. I’m crabby today.

Being sick reminds of getting my tonsils out when I was only three years old because my sister had tonsillitis. Grown-ups and doctors can be dumb. The doctor told Mommy that I’d eventually need to have my tonsils removed, so why not have both daughters share a room in the hospital? He said Mommy could sleep in the same room on a cot. I wish you had put some sense in their heads, Daddy, but you weren’t there. I screamed Help, Murder, Police! when the doctors and nurses tied my arms and legs down in the operating room and pushed a rag with ether in my face. When I woke up, my throat hurt very much. Mimi was the only one who was kind to me at home. She kept bringing me milkshakes to soothe my throat until it healed. Mommy fussed over my sister because she had been hemorrhaging and ignored me because I was strong and healed quickly. That’s what I’m going to do now.

I’m glad to be in your warm bed with the covers pulled up to my chin, but I miss school. We have assemblies and see movies from the Encyclopedia Britannica about animals all over the world that I haven’t heard of before, like lemurs. Sometimes our class takes trips to the Chicago Natural History Museum, the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute. There is so much to see and know. Remember when we used to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo? We can go there again and to all the other interesting places when you return. I have big plans for family adventures and surprises right here in Chicago. Please come home soon.

Love,
Maxine

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