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August 8, 1944

Letters from Harold J. Dahl

Letters from Harold J Dahl August 8 1944

France - August 8, [1944]

Dear Mom & Lou,
I wish I had a 5 & 10 cent store with me. Why? So I could give it all away, bit by bit, and watch the people’s faces.  Especially I would like to (my pen ran dry) give toys to the children, poor kids - they have not enough to eat or cover their backs much less to play with.  We, of course, feed them to the best of our ability - and give them all our chocolate, gum & life-savers.  Incidentally, that’s where most of Mrs. Roming’s gum went - so thank her for me on behalf of Yvette, Annette, Nanette and all the other little ones.  One family in particular we take care of consists of a man & wife, their 4 little children, and 5 others, all under 10, whose parents have been killed.  Yvette & Annette are 2 of the refugees - sisters, and so cute & lively!  One is about 7 - the other 9.  Yvette, the older, looks a lot like Joan Pentz - but all are undernourished and ill-clad.  When we take them “bon-bon” they look at us like we were God Almighty.  The other night Yvette gave me a fine German compass she found.  If I had time & materials I’d like to make them some little toys, and I do wish there was some way of giving you their name and addresses so that you could possibly get something to them thru the Red Cross.

Children and GIs playing together WW2

GIs and group of children

It is quite a thing to see the refugees on their way back to their homes - some of which are in a sorry state - not only because of battle but it seems the Germans had a way of smashing glassware & furniture & whatnot on their way out. The people certainly are glad to see the Americans, even though we must have been the ones who leveled many a poor soul’s home.  The French know what they were about when the coined the phase “C’est la guerre”.

I can understand now why Nana was always so excited about the things for the kitchen in the dime store - Yvette & Annette have to take turns eating because there are not enough cracked old plates for their soup nor enough spoons to eat it with.  I’d love to bring one of them home with me - how here eyes would pop in New York!  If we can find some time and some ration boxes we’ll make them some toys.

You have probably read about lots of things in the papers and seen pictures of all the places I’ve been in. June 17 is our latest “Life” - the newer ones must contain some interesting pictures,  - they seem to manage alright.

Last night I got the 4th small package (nuts, chocolate & kool-aids) and as yet, have received just the one large package.  Not much use sending Kool-aids, Lou - they take far too much sugar.

I already received your letter of July 26th which is pretty good service, don’t you think so?

Lou, the $25 I’m sending is thru an Army Service that seems to take quite awhile so don’t be surprised if the money doesn ‘t show up for a month or so.  I am enclosing a money order for $20.00 with some of which you can buy the books I asked for.

I wonder where Joe McLaughlin is to be worrying about so much hard candy - personally I haven’t seen a bit except Life Savers - could do with some peppermints if you should care to send them.

Right now I’m way behind in my mail - have letters from Claire [Van Duyne] & Wilda among others.  Frank Baisden wrote saying he was familiar with the beachhead areas in France because of certain work he did in one of the chateaux.  Too bad he isn’t with us to speak French for us - you can imagine what we must be like when I have to translate for some of the others.

One amusing practice over here is that of wearing a scarf of parachute silk under our wool shirt - some of them are mottled green - mine is Dutch Blue.  It is easier to wear than a shirt collar.

Hovel did a grand sketch of little Annette sitting on the threshold of her shell-torn house and I am going to send it to Rober Duvoisin for him. If it is used, the money is to go to the Red Cross.

Well, that’s about all for now -

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