Arriving in Brooklyn

On Veterans’ Day, BLDG 92, the historical museum of the Brooklyn Navy Yard opened.  I haven’t been there yet, but was reminded of one of the letters my great-grandmother saved that my grandfather sent home during World War I (all of them collected and presented, along with newspaper articles, documents I found in the National Archives, and much more, in a book I published myself called For My Foot Being Off).  It is a small, crumpled slip of paper wrapped in another:

738 Ten Eyct St.
Brooklyn, NY
Jan 19, 1919
Dear Mrs. Barlow,
The enclosed paper was thrown to me, from the boat on which this “War Hero” arrived.  He is well and happy and will write to you as soon as he reaches camp.
I am a member of the Mayor’s Receiving Committee of New York and we meet all the incoming transports, ask Alfred about them.
Wishing him the best of luck.
–Anna Graife

The note inside reads:

Mrs. Eva Barlow1066 First Ave.Gallipolis O.
Arrived in New York today.  Wire Grace to look me up.–Alfred

Grace was his aunt, his mother’s sister.

My grandfather would not be going home, not soon.  First would be months at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC: on the boat over, gangrene had reappeared in his leg and another few inches had been taken off.  In 1959, at my grandfather’s funeral at Arlington, a man walked up to my father.  “I saw the notice in the paper,” he said, “and I just had to come.  I remember him from the boat back.  I had to help hold him down.  There was no anesthetic, of course….  I never could forget that poor, pale, brave lieutenant.”

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