20 June, 2012

20 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
20 June, 1945      0900
Reims, France

Dearest darling Wilma –

It’s another fine sunny day here – and France is supposed to have lots of them. But I’d gladly take New England’s uncertain weather if I could have all that goes with New England. But I’d better not start getting blue again. Yesterday was a low day for me and I’m trying to feel better today. Of course – the fact that our mail situation is all fouled up – doesn’t help one bit. The mail orderly implied we might not get anything for a couple of weeks. I sure hope he’s wrong.

I can see already that things are going to be pretty tough for us – or me now. Oh – the life will be easier and the food better – and all that – but with the war over and no real incentive – time is really going to drag. I’ll just have to keep telling myself that despite our continued separation – I’m – we’re still better off than if I were on my way to the Pacific. Perhaps I’m fooling myself; maybe I’ll have to go anyway. No one has the slightest idea over here. I’m just trying to do it by common sense. There must be enough MC’s in the States and enough over here with little time in service to cover the needs of the Pacific.

I don’t know what you’re thinking about all this, sweetheart, – but I can imagine that “impatient” is putting it mildly. I can understand it – what with the build-up given you by the radio and press. It must have been an awful let-down and everyone in this outfit – at any rate – feels very badly about the reaction of his family – because all reacted in the same way. I read yesterday that the 86th Division had arrived in New York and received a tremendous reception. It makes a guy kind of mad. They were over only about 7 or 8 months and they didn’t even go into action until after the Rhine crossing when there was little close fighting to do and the Germans were always falling back. And an outfit like that gets the reception – while one like the First Division, which is still in Czechoslovakia by the way, sweats it out. By the time they get back, people will be a little fed up with returning troops – and they really fought the war – with outfits like the 4th, 9th, 3rd Armored and a good many others. At any rate – the 86th will go right to the Pacific – and they can have it.

Another thing that makes us kind of mad is to see how much better rations the troops back here get. You read in the Stars and Stripes that everything goes to the combat troops and you believe it. But it isn’t true. We’re seeing for ourselves. And to top off everything we find that the troops in Reims were awarded the Campaign star – Battle of the Rhineland! We couldn’t believe it. It means that they got a star and 5 points for being here and we got the same. The only difference is – we had to sweat out the mud and the incoming artillery, and they didn’t.

Well, darling, this is a sort of “bitchy” type of letter – but the views I’ve expressed are pretty typical. Everybody here is all dressed up, clean and smart and they walk around as if they just got thru winning the war. Our Colonel says it was the same after the last war. The rear areas really had a time for themselves.

Last nite, dear, still in our combat clothes – because we have no facilities for getting dressed up – a few of us went down town. There was a U.S.O. show – with Grace Moore and Nino Mantini – in person. We got in at the tail end and heard a couple of numbers – well done. We then found an officer’s club where they had cokes and we had a couple – and then we came back to our bivouac area – sat around and went to bed. Today – the battalion starts its 5 day M.P. school – which ends Sunday next. How soon after that we’ll move to Nancy – I don’t know – but I believe soon after.

Meanwhile I’m just aching to hear from you, darling, and to see how you’ve reacted to all this. I’ve been worked up to a pitch these last several weeks and I know you have too. All I know is that I love you no matter where I am or what the situation is. You must remember that always, sweetheart. And someday, somehow – I’ll be coming back and telling you and showing you what I mean.

So long until tomorrow dear. Love to the folks.

All my everlasting love


USO Performers Grace Moore and Nino Martini

Grace Moore (1898 - 1947)

Mary Willie ‘Grace’ Moore, the internationally famous star of the Metropolitan Opera, Broadway, motion pictures, radio and recordings, was born 5 December 1898, in the community of Slabtown (now considered part of Del Rio) near Newport, Tennessee. Her family moved to Jellico, Tennessee when she was a young girl. She attended Jellico High School where she was captain of the girls basketball team in 19l6.

Grace Moore's first Broadway appearance was in 1920 in the musical Hitchy-Koo, by Jerome Kern. In 1922 and 1923 she appeared in the second and third of Irving Berlin's series of four Music Box Revues. In the 1923 edition she and John Steel introduced Berlin's song "What'll I Do". When Moore sang "An Orange Grove in California," orange blossom perfume was wafted through the theater.

After training in France, Moore made her operatic debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on 7 February 1928, singing the role of Mimì in Giacomo Puccini's La bohème. She debuted at the Opera-Comique in Paris on 29 September 1928 in the same role, which she also performed in a royal command performance at Covent Garden in London on 6 June 1935.

In the 1930s and 1940s she gave concert performances throughout the United States and Europe, performing a repertoire of operatic selections and other songs in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and English. During World War II she was active in the USO, entertaining American troops abroad. Moore was at one point chosen by Florenz Ziegfeld of Ziegfeld Follies as one of the ten mostbeautiful women in the world. In 1935 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her motion picture, "One Night of Love".

Grace Moore was a "rebel" of her time. She broke many rules of convention and sometimes even shocked the small town she grew up in. She left her mark on the world, and such a mark it was that Elvis is said to have named his beloved Graceland after her. She was widely criticized in December 1938 when, in Cannes, she curtsied to Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor (who was not royalty, and therefore not entitled to a curtsy). Upon her return to the United States , Moore defended her curtsy, saying:
She would have been a royal duchess long ago if she had not been an American. After all, she gave happiness and the courage of his convictions to one man, which is more than most women can do. She deserves a curtsy for that alone.

On 26 January 1947, Moore died tragically in an airplane crash in Copenhagen Airport, at the height of her career. She boarded a KLM DC3 to fly to Stockholm. The aircraft taxied out to the runway and was cleared to takeoff. The aircraft rotated and climbed to an altitude of about 150 feet. The aircraft stalled, crashed to the ground and exploded. On the evening before her death, Grace Moore had sung to a packed audience of more than 4000 people in a concert which ended in a standingovation and countless encores. Among the other plane crash victims was Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, who was at the time second in line to the Swedish throne and who was the father of the present King of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Moore's life story was made into a movie, So This is Love, in 1953, in which Kathryn Grayson portrayed the "Tennessee Nightingale", as Grace was called.

Here is a YouTube recording of Grace Moore singing Vissi d'arte
live at the New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1946:

Nino Martini (1905 - 1976)

Nino Martini was an Italian operatic tenor and actor. He began his career as an opera singer in Italy before moving to the United States to pursue an acting career in films. He appeared in several Hollywood movies during the 1930s and 1940s while simultaneously working as a leading tenor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.Martini possessed a warm lyric tenor voice that had a wide range and considerable amount of coloratura facility.

In 1925 he made his professional opera debut in Milan. Shortly thereafter he toured Europe as a concert artist appearing in many of the continent's major music centers. While in Paris he was discovered by the film producer Jesse Louis Lasky who engaged him for several Italian language speaking roles in short films.

In 1929, under the influence of Lasky, Martini immigrated to the United States to pursue a film career. His first appearance was in the all-star revue film Paramount on Parade (1930). Further forays into film were postponed, however, as Martini decided to continue to pursue an opera career. He made his U.S. opera debut in 1931 in Philadelphia. This was followed by several broadcasts of opera for radio. In 1933 Martini joined the roster at the Metropolitan Opera, making his debut on 28 December. He appeared in several more productions at the Met over the next thirteen years. His last performance at the Met was as Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) on 20 April 1946.

While performing at the Met, Martini occasionally returned to Hollywood to appear in films, mostly appearing in pictures directed by Lasky. His film credits include Here's to Romance (1935), Music for Madame (1937), and The Gay Desperado (1936). The latter film featured Ida Lupino as his co-star. His last film appearance was in One Night With You in 1948.

In the late 1940s and 1950s Martini continued to perform as a singer mostly on the radio. He eventually returned to Italy where he lived in Verona until his death in 1976.

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