Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote in March, 1945) My sister and I aren’t getting along.

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She had her 12th birthday, and is angry that we didn’t have a party. She said it wasn’t fair because I had a party, but that was before you were Missing in Action and a Prisoner of War. She is miserable because Mommy wants us to walk to school together and hold hands when we cross the streets. She runs ahead and ditches me. She says she doesn’t like having a little sister.

I told Mommy I can take care of myself, but that made things worse. I don’t want to complain when you are a Prisoner of War and I may not mail this letter to you when we learn your address. My sister didn’t called me names or pick on me when you were home. She talks back to Mimi and Mommy is too tired to interfere. Mommy smokes one cigarette after another.

My sister bites her nails. Mimi is weary from shopping and cooking. She visits Aunt Miriam, who is still sick after her operation. Bepa smokes smelly cigars and drinks whiskey, which he claims is for his heart. He threatens to send me to boarding school if I don’t behave. What am I doing wrong? I ask him. My sister doesn’t want to share a room with me and tells me there is a bogeyman in the closet.

I can’t help crying when she scares me. Mimi says we are having our own war right here. Where can I go until you return home? I thought of sleeping on the couch in the dining room, but Mimi and Mommy sit there talking past my bedtime. Maybe boarding school is a good idea, but I love the school I attend.

My teacher says “the Illinois Board of Education ruled the primary grades should remain a haven of refuge from the emotional turmoil and stress due to the war.” She wants me to talk with the school nurse and suggested that my sister is irritable because she may be going through puberty.

I asked, what’s that? “Didn’t your mother tell you about the birds and the bees?” I told her that Mommy doesn’t talk to me about anything. When I ask her a question, she says: “Look it up in the Encyclopedia.” I am happy when I go to Brownies and visit my relatives and friends.

Every Saturday Mommy gives my sister and me 25 cents for the movie and candy to share. I like the cartoons and serials and my favorite movies this year are “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and “Meet Me in St. Louis.” I look for you during the newsreels. My sister is supposed to walk home with me, but I can’t find her because she doesn’t want to sit with me at the movies.

It’s dark outside and I’m afraid, but I make up a story to tell in case a robber jumps out of the bushes. “My daddy is a policeman with a gun and he’s going to get you if you bother me.” So far, so good. My teacher gave me an idea about the bogeyman in the closet. She said to get a flashlight and shine it there if I’m afraid. I love my teacher, my friends and my relatives.

I want to love my sister but she pushes me away and says she hates me. I hope that she will change her mind when you come home. We were a happier family before you left to fight in the war.

Don’t people who start wars know how hard it is for children at home? Don’t they care about us? I know you didn’t have a choice when you were called up and I’m not blaming you, but things have not been the same since you went away.

I’m trying to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, like the song. I hope President Roosevelt hurries up and ends this war so you can be free to come home. Then all will be well in our family and the world.

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