Friday, September 5, 2014

3. 'A bonnie little lass'

My grandfather, Evert F. Nordstrom, selling war bonds.
The previous post in this series consists of two letters written the day Elizabeth Jeanette (Bonnie) Pride was born. During the war Bonnie became a talisman for the family. My father, Charles M. Pride, and my mother’s two brothers, Joe and Carl Nordstrom, all went to war in 1944. Bonnie was the daughter my father could not hold; she was the baby daughter of Carl and Joe’s kid sister, the first Nordstrom child of her generation and the third Pride (my Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean had twins born in 1934, Don and Ron). In a personal sense, Bonnie represented the future for which the boys were fighting the war.

But as will be seen here and in future posts, the family letters also disclose class differences between the Prides and the Nordstroms. My dad’s father, Royal D. Pride, had lost his job during the Depression and become downhearted. By 1943 he was a quiet man who disliked the menial jobs he could get. By contrast, Evert F. Nordstrom, my mother’s father, was a successful businessman in his late 40s and an active figure in the campaign to sell war bonds. In 1940 he had built a large house in Fairfield, where my mother and Bonnie lived with him and his wife, Frieda.

Here are two letters written to my dad, who was stationed in Oregon, shortly after Bonnie’s birth. The first is by Frieda, his mother-in-law, the second by his father, Royal.

Evert and Frieda Nordstrom flank their daughter Bernadine (my mother) on her wedding day, Sept. 2, in 1940. She was 19.
                                                           Saturday [Sept. 25, 1943] Bridgeport
Dear Charlie,

You may appreciate a few lines from me too. I’m afraid it will only be a few tho. This has been a busy week. Now I’m cooking and baking to be ready for the callers tomorrow. They may all come here as they are prevented from coming to the hospital. I know things will taste good to Bernadine. There is no time in a womans life when things taste so good as after having a baby.

I dont know just what condition she will be in. The doctor said she could come home tomorrow only because she is assured of care here. Premature babies dont make the easiest kind of births. But she will be alright. The reason the baby isnt gaining is because it was early, the doctor said. Once it gets started she will also be fine, Im sure. Ive had considerable experience with premature babies, and I’m not at all afraid . 

Bernadine seems worried about the baby tho, which is natural. They make a little more work, and you have to be very careful of them when they are early, thats all

Dont you worry about anything. She will be a bonnie little lass when you come home.

After I see her Ill write you again and try to describe her. Mean while we will take pictures, if I know grandpappies.

And here is the letter to Charlie from his dad, Roy:

                                                                                   Bridgeport, Conn. 
                                                                                   Sept. 29, 1943

Dear Son,

Received your letter Friday and was going to answer Sun but thought I would wait until I saw your daughter. That hospital was tough and Berns Mom & Pop was the only ones who got to see her all last week, they are short of help up there and don’t want visitor.

Bern came home Sunday and Bob [Charlie’s older brother] came down Tue afternoon and took me up to see them. Well Bern is fine and the Baby is a beaut, rather tiny with long legs and perfect small hands and quite dark hair. Bern wanted to know how she could get fat when you pour her dinner in one end and it comes right out the other, but I guess Bedelia will do all right with all the attention she gets. Mother has not seen her yet. She went to N.Y. Sunday a.m. to her convention and will not be home until Thur, but she went to see Bern several times last week.

This is Wed morn, 8:00 a.m., just got home from work. Back on a twelve hour shift and feel like a zombie. Got a new job now as boss of filing on receivers and have a gang of women filers and they are an awful headach. If I don’t get eight hours soon will chuck the whole thing overboard and take a month off to catch up on some sleep. Well I don’t feel too ambitious right now so will try the bed in about five mins.

You have a great wife and fine daughter and at last we have a girl in the family so you do your job out there and later you will be glad that she will be proud of her Dad.

There are some other things to write about but am crossing my D’s now for T’s so will write again soon.
                                                                                   Mother & Dad

Next: A letter from a passing acquaintance.      


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, son. Lots more to come, including several letters from the Pacific war.

  2. Replies
    1. My sister Pam had trouble commenting on this site so sent me this email: I am really enjoying seeing pictures and hearing stories that I have never before seen or heard. I hope you keep this series going, Mike.

      And my response: Thanks, Sis. The wartime posts are coming soon -- Dad wrote some amazing letters from the Pacific islands. Then there will be poignant postwar story told through letters. And just this morning, I scanned two pictures of you and me that will illustrate one of the last posts a few weeks from now. That's the plan anyway. Of course I didn't have a job when I started transcribing the letters and researching the stories behind them.