Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I have been off this blog practically forever, which is not good.  I am trying to turn over a new leaf here!

I will be offering a workshop next month at the Connecticut Storytelling Festival on the use of primary sources to craft historical stories.  I think I will begin by asking people to compare four accounts that I have of the incident in which my father was wounded on August 22, 1944 (ironically, 47 years to the day before he died) and discuss how to craft a story from them.   After the Festival I will post about how it went. For now, I will post the first account, the telegram which his parents got from the Army

Here is the text of the Telegram:; yes, it is all capital letters. 


RECEIVED AT GILSON’S CENTERDALE PHARMACY – AGENTS.

AKA134         CHECK 56

GOVERNMENT WASHINGTON D.C.      SEPTEMBER 8 3:38 P.M.

ARNOLD A. PRITCHARD
36 WELLESLEY AVENUE
NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I.

REGRET TO INFORM YOU YOUR SON WAS SERIOUSLY WOUNDED IN ACTION 22 AUGUST IN FRANCE.  UNTIL NEW ADDRESS IS RECEIVED ADDRESS MAIL FOR HIM QUOTE: FIRST LT. ANTON A. PRITCHARD S.N. [1]  (HOSPITALIZED) CENTRAL POSTAL DIRECTORY A.P.O.[2]. 640 C/O POSTMASTER, NEW YORK, NEW YORK.  UNQUOTE.  YOU WILL BE ADVISED AS REPORTS OF CONDITION ARE RECEIVED.

                                                                        J.A. ULIO
                                                                        ADJUTANT GENERAL


[1] Serial number
[2] Army Post Office


And here are some questions: 


What facts do you learn from the telegram? What dictates the selection of facts?
What does the Telegram leave out that would be vital to any story?
What do you learn that is not explicitly stated in the Telegram - not just about simple facts, but about the world of 1944?
Do you imagine yourself in anyone's place as you read the telegram?
Does this remarkably dry and factual document produce any emotions/feelings in you?  Why?

Incidentally, to learn about the CT Storytelling Festival, see

http://www.connstorycenter.org/festival.htm


Thanks for your attention!



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

First Post on "This Business of FIghting"


Hello Dear Reader.  If this is your first time on this blog, welcome!  I suggest you start out at the "First Timers Start Here" page, then explore this and any other pages that take your fancy.

I expect much of what I post here will be excerpts from my father's letters. I'll start with one he wrote to his parents from England on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  He hasn't been in any combat yet but he is clearly thinking about the issues.


                                                                                                        England
                                                                                                        June 6, 1944
Dear Mom and Pop: -

I’m pretty God-damn fed-up, - and kinda tired too, so I’m just going to say “hello”, - and good night.


That’s a pretty auspicious date, - that one up in the right hand corner, - “D-day”!  We were out on an RSOP[1] (in the field) this morning when an old duffer walked thru the field we were occupying to tell us that the invasion had begun.  Excitement ran high for a little while, but it’s beginning to taper off a little now.  The British seem to be taking it well in their stride, and to all outward appearance the day might be a normal week-day, - uneventful and just chilly enough for comment.  The usually great air activity has increased, of course, and for hours at a time the sky will be filled with the drone of planes.  I got up for reveille this morning to the full-throated roar of the 4 motored jobs going out with their load, and a guard passed the comment that they’d been roaring over since three in the morning.  It’s a great day, - but oddly quite unexciting to me, - I’m afraid I can’t get too happy about it all.

I can’t discuss our part in the thing, of course, - when I anticipate it might be, that is.  But I can say that I’m quite undisturbed about it, - and as yet have only one death to die, - even if it comes to that! (I’m not being grim, - just want to try to acquaint you with my feelings.  Not a Helluva lot of sense in beating round the bush is there?)  If we get into it, I shall undoubtedly be scared half to death for a while, but I’m quite confident of an ability to overcome that!

So, trust me, have some faith in me, don’t worry unnecessarily, (you’ll do some of that I know, regardless of my pleadings to the contrary) and lay in a Helluva big supply of rye!


G’night,


Anton


I’ll try to write a decent letter this weekend.  I suspect that mail is being or has been, delayed somewhat, so have patience?

A.


The only package I’ve received to date is the one with the two boxes of chocolates in it.


Can you start another on the way, - candy, gum, Lifesavers etc. etc.?


[1] “Reconnaissance, Selection, and Occupation of Position”.  The term appears to still be in use in today’s military; see http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/accp/ad0717/index.html