It’s been more than a dozen years since I rummaged through the disorganized, unorganized, and just plain jumbled piles of memorabilia that we pulled from my mother’s closets prior to prepping the house for sale. So it wasn’t surprising to me that I’d forgotten about the 8″ square brown envelope my dad had sent to my mother in 1941, courtesy of the PepsiCola Co. and, I’m guessing, the USO.
For half a cent postage my dad mailed the three-minute recording from Camp Claiborne, LA to Minneapolis. Gritty, noisy, scratched and distorted…the voice is distorted but his northeast Minneapolis accent and the cadence of his speech brings back powerful memories of my childhood.
There is so much I find charming in this little recording. HIs discomfort in needing to fill his allotted three minutes is palpable but he soldiers on (no pun intended) in his opportunity to let his new fiancee know that her soldier was thinking of her. In fact, so hard-pressed is he to think on his feet (my dad was not much of a speechifier) that he resorts to a brief song: “I’ll be loving you, Helen, with a love that’s true, Helen.”
But the real charm in this is that he had recently given her an engagement ring. “He gave it to me on the anniversary of my mother’s death,” Mom told me one long ago wintry day. “He said he hoped it would help soften the loss.”
I wonder what my folks would have thought of 21st century in-home technology that allows me to play a recording that was made 74 years ago and transfer it to a CD. And how I wish I could have heard from them the stories that little recording would have evoked.