Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

According to the San Francisco Museum's website, the Pepsi-Cola Center for Service Men and Women opened on March 5, 1943. The center offered telephones for troops to call family members, stationery for writing letters, and wire recorders to make voice recordings to mail home.  It also served hamburgers, hot dogs, and--of course--free Pepsi.

My dad arrived there on November 27, 1943, after a long train trip from Camp Hood, Texas, where he'd been in the Army Specialized Training Program.  He was en route to Camp White, Oregon for more training and eventual deployment to North Africa with the 91st Infantry Division.

While in San Francisco, he took the opportunity to record a greeting to send to his mother back in Grantsville, West Virginia.  I don't think the mailer it was sent in got preserved, but there are some great images of a mailer and its enclosed record here.

There's a similar recording posted on this blog, too.  Incidentally, the author there notes that his "Dad would never pass up a free deal, especially one that involved advanced technology." Sounds familiar. I'm quite sure my dad didn't even notice the writing paper or the telephones as he made a beeline for the wire recorder.

We've posted here before about other recordings  my dad made before, during, and after the war.  While we knew about dad's Christmas 1941 greeting, and had heard the interview he did for Armed Forces Radio while in Italy, this is one of a stash of recordings that the family never knew about until Mom came across them after Dad died.  I'll try to post some of the others later, but this is probably the best of the lot, both sound-wise, production-wise, and content-wise.

By the way, I love the fact that my dad spends ages in this recording describing the Salton Sea (its size, its depth below sea level, etc., etc.), but crams his adventures in Hollywood into just a few seconds at the end of the recording.  As a budding scientist, he was clearly more interested in the geology of the passing landscape, which must have seemed positively alien to a 19-year-old kid from green, rural West Virginia.

Still, I'd love to know what stars he saw at the Hollywood Canteen.  It's so like him to leave 'em wanting more.

video

4 comments:

Christy said...

I was just in NYC and started channeling Eliot Blumenstein's mother's recording, when she was fresh out of high school, I believe: "I'm here on top of the Empire State Building and I'm having a terrific time!" (delivered in a thick New York accent).

You're so lucky to have these recordings, as was Eliot.

Rosemary said...

Christy, I don't think I ever heard that recording! Was it a touristy-type thing, where you could make a record during your visit? Or had she actually had the presence of mind to take a tape recorder with her? Regardless, how fabulous.

I hope *you* had a terrific time in NYC, BTW.

Christy said...

I believe it was a tourist offering for those who reached the top of the building. It was wonderfully grainy, but unmistakably Eliot's mother. Just fantastic!

Rosemary said...

How cool! And how good of her to think to keep it all those years. I hope Elliott still has it.