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England

June 1, 1944

Letters from Theodore Katz

sketch of older man with cap and pipe

Ted's sketch of a dock worker, dated 5/15/1944

Thursday 1 June 44

Dear Helen,

After nine days the ice has broken and a letter from you finally arrived – the one with the rose – also containing the news of your becoming an aunt. How does it feel? You sounded almost disappointed that the twins you’d expected didn’t arrive. But then, on this subject, your mind always seems to run to twins, triplets, platoons and baseball teams. Thank God, it stops with baseball.

It’s the first of June but it feels more like February in Tennessee. What an unpredictable climate. I can readily understand now why I’ve never seen an Englishman without an umbrella or raincoat. As I write it rains and as it rains I write. Forsooth, a pox on this miserable weather.

In the course of my meanderings with sanction of pass, I’ve been able to visit [white out – Stratford-on-Avon?] which is as you know the birthplace of one [white out – Shakespeare?] a very beautiful place where quaintness prevails – Tudor and Elizabethan architecture, thatched roofs, etc. – I also managed to catch a [white out – play at the Royal Shakespeare Company?] – which has been the high point of entertainment I’ve experienced since I’ve arrived.

There is really very little to do – movies are far and few – with attractions dating way back, the pubs are crowded and usually run out of beverage very early in the evening, and night life consists mainly of walking up and down the streets, and with the blackout it takes on the look of a ghost town. Autos are a rarity and bicycles are the most popular means of locomotion, that is next to one’s pedal extremities.

The men all wear caps and scarfs – even when they are working they wear a regular jacket – never overalls, leather jackets or the usual workmans garments one sees back home. The women seem to be a few years behind the styles in dress and hairdo – and I have yet to see one who has mastered the art of applying cosmetics. They just seem to smear it on until they look like circus clowns.

But for each person in mufti – there seems to be five in uniform – Czechs, Belgians, English, American – and the womens services, ATS, WAACS, WRENS, Land Army Girls – who help at the farms – and a flock of other uniforms whose nomenclature is beyond me.

So much for the unillustrated “Guide to England.” Here it is about a month since I last saw you – a measly month and though the memory remains strong, time drags on with leaden feet. I’m sure it must be a year, but the calendar is no stranger from the truth. As I look back, all the times we’ve been apart take on the aspect of eons, and the times we’ve been together all-too-short, but wonderful just the same, especially that last evening, but I needn’t dwell on that. Your memory is as good as mine.

And now back to my witches brew where I chant “Toil and trouble, when shall we meet again in thunder, lightning and in Washington –“

Regards from Sam & Dave and to your folks – roommates – and new “addition.”

Love,
Ted

updated: 2 months ago

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