Anne Bosanko Green: "Write me a pep talk"
Letters from home helped to lift the morale of even the most bored and homesick of soldiers. Anne Bosanko Green, stationed at Birmingham General Hospital in Van Nuys, California, usually wrote lively, upbeat letters home to her parents and younger brother, Mike, but in the spring of 1945 she was tiring of the routine of life in the WAC (Women's Army Corps). Missing her family over the Easter holiday and longing for some fun, Anne begged for a letter that would boost her spirits. Her parents, Paul and Blanche Bosanko of Minneapolis, complied. View original letters.
2 April 1945
Mammy & Pappy –
Things are as dull as ever. I don't know what has come over me but life doesn't seem very interesting. Pliz write me a pep talk to snap me out of this condition because I'm making myself and everyone else unhappy. The kids and the ward boys ask me if I'm sick and the patients ask me why I go around looking like the end of the world but I can't for the life of me say.
I have a wonderful job now – in the operating room, and permanently, too. That's always been the thing I wanted to do. There's lots of work and it's been interesting and requires some intelligence and effort. Not like taking TPR [temperatures] or making beds. In a few weeks after they train us a little more, we will be sterile technicians, and can assist the surgeons. Today the nurse showed us where everything is and demonstrated how BGH [Birmingham General Hospital] makes up towel, sheet and gown packs. I suppose the first week or so we'll mostly be learning the set-up and after that we can take over.
Saturday night we – Lena Green, two other kids & I, went in to Hollywood by dint of much effort and waiting for buses – streetcars. The bus driver got out at one stop and picked us some orange blossoms which have a wonderful sweet smell.
At the "Film Capitol" (guff, guff) after much wandering around we made our way to the Canteen. It's a barny affair with a stage at one end and a small bar at the side, and was packed with sailors. Walking was like trying to make a beachhead on Iwo Jima. But we finally battled our way to the foodstuffs, where Sydney Greenstreet (sinister type) offered us sandwiches, and Charlie Chan's son gave us milk. Marsha Hunt signed our souvenir postcards, and it was just like in the moom pitchers [moving pictures], thrill, thrill.
At this time we bethought ourselves to go to the sunrise service at 4:00 AM and so set about looking for some place to stay. We walked miles and miles up to the hotel section and a fatherly clerk at the Roosevelt referred us to a friend of his who ran a tiny hotel two blocks off the boulevard. Four of us squeezed into a tiny room with twin beds, with no bath, and guess how much? Five bucks. It was a swindle but split four ways it wasn't so bad. We bought some milk and doughnuts to save for breakfast, and proceeded to sleep soundly until 10:30, missing the sunrise service, natch. But it was Easter, so we leaped up and went to church. Green and I found an Episcopal one on Hollywood Boulevard but it was packed with fancily dressed so-and-so's. ...We spent the afternoon at a movie and that was my Easter Sunday. I missed you all so much. I thought of wormed eggs and a nice service at St. John's, and a walk around Lake Harriet in the afternoon. So like a sap I came home and lay around brooding and feeling miserable.
This evening we had a Company meeting and our CO gave us the low-down on ratings, ha, ha. Seems there is no separate TO (Table of Organization) for WACs, and the Ninth Service Command is crowded with ranks coming back from overseas to the Service Forces, and there is no hope whatever. ...Bradley and I went to a corny movie on the post and howled like mad. I feel rather better now. Tell EC if you see her to write me before I go bats from loneliness. I guess this is enough griping to unload on you for one letter.
Goombye and much love
[Signature: sketch of a "bug."]
12 April 1945
Dearest Family –
This situation is still not a bed of flors but life drools on somehow. The main blight of my life at the moment is that we are restricted to the post Sunday & have to be in at 12:00 Sat. eve because of some patients coming in. Blast! Not that there is anything to do on Saturday nights but it's the idea that gets me. Nothing exciting ever happens around here. Life is very dull. We get up at 6, rush like mad to be to work at 7. We work on cases all morning and then go to mess. The operations are very interesting – that's the only time I feel alive. Today was my first time to be a sterile technician – that's the one that passes the instruments & stuff. There was another more experienced fella helping me so I didn't make too many mistakes. After a few more times I orta be pretty good. After lunch we wash & oil instruments, put up supplies to be sterilized, fold linen & clean up generally. Then fellas come in to be prepped (shaved) for the next day's cases and we stagger back to the barracks about 4:00. At this time I wash clothes, take a sun bath or read till 7:30 when I & me unhappy companions go to the cinema for a couple of hours of escape from the Bastille... Only here I don't have any gay little chums to play bridge with.
Last Sunday we broke the monotony somewhat by hitchhiking to Santa Monica as I believe I mentioned. The day was very cold & grey so the view was not inspiring. We shivered along the beach, stared at civilians in nude bathing suits, and then hitched back 25 miles to the post. Fresh air but not much more.
Tuesday Bradley & I went to hear Charles Laughton – he comes out every Tuesday to the library & reads aloud – This time he read Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and a long funny bit from Pickwick Papers in which Dickens take lawyers through the mill. Laughton is wonderful, especially at close quarters & with few people present. He's very informal & intersperses everything with little comments & anecdotes of his own.
And that, dear family, completes the history of my week. You can see that nothing happens that could even be enlarged to make an interesting letter.
Well – Oh yes – just thought of something – Got a note from Grace Arthur Seymons who very graciously invited me to come to see them any time I wanted to. Which was all very well but vague & I never could find my way to their house. Then amazingly a PFC Denton in our Detachment turns out to be a very good friend of Mrs. Seymons. Denton is an older woman (probably 45 – heh!) – an ex-school teacher & very interesting. She went abroad in '38 & her experiences of Germany in the early Hitler days make the whole story more real, coming from someone who saw it.
But with this Sunday business I don't know when I can get off to see Mrs. Seymons. Gosh I'm vague – the point about Denton is that Mrs. Seymons called her & told her to take me under her wing & show me how to find the place.
Now it is 20 after 10 & way past my bed time. I'm usually safe on the sack at 8. I got Mike's post card – tell him I'll do my best to procure some authgraphs for him.
Goombye & much love
from a very
Disgusted, dejected, down in the dumps
[signature: sketch of bug]
It ain't spring fever Pappy dear – it's this horrible place. I sure wish I were home or somewhere else...It's too bad this had to happen after 6 months of gay times.
April 17, 1945
We had your letter (at long last) yesterday. I'm awfully sorry you were still feeling low. It's too bad the hospital is rather far away from things and that there is not much to do. By this time you must have received the radio & the books - & if there are any other books we have that you'd like us to send, let us know. But I do feel, dearest, that you'll have to make a real effort to cheer up and adjust yourself. This is just one of those situations that you knew ahead of time might arise, and it's too bad. But you will have to try really hard to be cheerful; it has to come from inside, not from outside. You probably are saying to yourself, "But Mother doesn't know what it's like here – she just doesn't understand." I don't know just what the situation is but I do know you and I feel you are too smart to let a few externals get you down. Surely you have resources of the mind and spirit to carry you along. Buck up, honey, it really could be much worse. You maybe can be glad you aren't off on some dreary Pacific island. We love you lots and hate to have you miserable, but you really must try not to give in to an orgy of self-pity.
The weather here is vile, too – cold, grey, gloomy, rainy, interspersed with snow flurries & high winds. You were lucky it was so nice while you were home. ...
...Friday Pop & I went to the movies – that's the only place I have been for over a week. We just came home from having dinner over at the Legion Post. By now even they are requiring 1 red point apiece for dinner, but that's not as much as buying meat enough for three.
I suppose Dad wrote you about his State Guard thing on Saturday, in the memorial service. I didn't go down to it.
It must have been fun hearing Charles Laughton read – The article in Vogue really was true, then?
I had a letter from Grace, too. I know she really means she'd love to have you come any time. If she's at all as she used to be she is very casual & informal, & she'd be happy to have you any time you could come. As soon as you have a Sunday off you must try to go in – or let her know you are coming & go in on Saturday aft. and stay overnight. It will be something to do!
Lots & lots of love, dear – you know I love you even though I have lectured you! How about writing an extra card once in a while even if there is no news and even if you are in the dumps?
April 22, 1945
What a very ge-lousy week this has been. You know what it was up to Wednesday and it has been about the same ever since – On Friday your Maw and I took in a movie at the Uptown and a drink at home – Yesterday Mike and I did some errands and [had] Spaghetti in town and in the evening while Mike was at a jam-session, we had supper and a pleasant evening...
Today we have had a combination of cold rain and thunderstorms. We did church and nearly froze. Following Service the Vestry voted to raise $1500 to build a garage and fix up the basement, which needs it – I foresee some hard work to get the Faithful to kick in. After a bit of sack time, I policed the Kitchen area, read your Maw's paper on Japan (which is quite good) we walk to the corner for cigarettes, supper. Charlie Mc. And I did up three small packages for you and here I am. My pipe is drawing well (I cleaned them all yesterday!), the rain is beating against the study windows, Mike is in the amusement room getting in a few licks on the clarinet and your mother is going to bed with a book and a hot-water bottle – Things might be a lot worse, but family morale is not too high. A change of weather is much in order.
I am glad to hear that the radio and our various packages came through properly. The radio should help in off hours. Take a brace on the fact that the place does not suit you and remember that you are a soldier in a war and not a girl on a vacation. If your work is interesting and of real value, both to you and your country, that's the main thing. If you are comfortable and safe, that's about the maximum you have the right to expect. Most soldiers are neither, so snap out of the grouch, be a soldier and make the best of it. I can remember some fearful holes and jobs I had to put up with in the last war compared to which you are in the seventh heaven of luxury and interest. Look for the good points that every place has an overlook the others. ...
Now for a bit of peaceful reading and bed early for tomorrow will be the usual long Monday. Keep your chin up, Pvt. Bug, be a soldier and make up your mind to have some fun in spite of it all. And piles of love from all four of us – Midge [the family dog] insists on being included – and why not?
Green, Anne Bosanko; Blanche Bosanko; Paul Bosanko, Anne Bosanko Green and Family Correspondence, 1944-1946. Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection.