Letters to a Lost Soldier: Cautious optimism for 1945

 Dear Daddy,
(I originally wrote to you in January, 1945) I can read newspapers now! Not just the comics, but the front page, too. Bepa said I ask too many questions, so I’m learning by myself. My second grade teacher lets me check out books from the school library because I read well and finish my work early. The librarian showed me how to use the dictionary but I had trouble finding “maitre d’” and she laughed when I asked for help. “It’s a French word. Do you know what it means?” she asked. It’s the man who takes your money at the restaurant when you ask for a good table. I’m writing to my father that Uncle Eddie gave the maitre d’ a green bill and we got a table where everything was beautiful – the white tablecloth, the shiny silverware and the lit candles, just like at Aunt Miriam’s house on Shabbos. 
(Uncle Lester, Aunt Shirley, Cousins Herble and Nancy, and me) 
Mimi and I took the streetcar to visit Uncles Eddie and Lester at their floral business on Randolph Street. They gave Mimi a beautiful red rose from a display behind the counter and wrapped green tape around a wire so she could wear the rose on her coat. Aunt Shirley and Cousins Herbie and Nancy met us for Herbie’s early birthday dinner. He will celebrate his 16th birthday with his friends on January 13. After dinner with my cousins we all went to a bagel factory. I never knew where bagels came from before and watched them bubbling away in boiling water as they rode a little ferris wheel. Uncle Lester gave me a big bag to take home and said these were the best bagels in Chicago. It was good that I wasn’t hungry so I could share with Aunt Miriam the next day. She loves when I visit her after school with Mimi because I read stories to Cousin Harvey. Her husband parks his truck in an alley near her house when he comes home for lunch. Aunt Miriam is lucky that he isn’t in the service and doesn’t work in a defense plant even though he is five years younger than you, Daddy. Harvey is 3-1/2 and baby Joey is 4-1/2 months old now and I love playing with them. When Aunt Miriam prepares Shabbos, she invites us to join as she lights the candles. She gave me a beautiful white lace hanky monogrammed with an “M” and said I belong to the M Club, which includes her, Mimi and me. We hug each other a lot.
If I don’t have a Brownies meeting, I go to the Red Cross after school where Mommy is rolling bandages when she isn’t typing. The ladies talk about more soldiers dying and being captured. I’m beginning to think that Missing in Action means being captured, but we still don’t know where you are. If you are lost in a forest, where they say some battles take place, and you see a castle where the King and Queen stay, you can entertain them with your jokes and stories until the war is over.
The newspapers and radio report that the war should be over this year. President Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term and will give his speech on the radio where we listen to his fireside chats. In his State of the Union speech four years ago, he spoke of the four freedoms, which are painted on the wall of my school: Freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and fear. Many people say that he isn’t doing enough for the Jews in Europe who are suffering and others disagree.
I hope that you aren’t suffering, Daddy, and that being Missing in Action and possibly captured means you are “it” for now, but won’t be for long. Many American GI’s were captured in December and the Allies are working hard to liberate them, win the war and save our four freedoms. Then you will be free to come home. I am hoping and praying for a happy ending!