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Donald F. Rodawig Papers: Transcripts - MS 1048

Donald F. Rodawig Correspondence - June 14-30, 1944

June 15, 1944

6/15/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary and Children,

Col Parsons has gone to a rest center on the seashore for a few days rest, so once again I am in charge and there are so many patients to attend to that I find myself occupied most of the time. I certainly wouldn't like this environment for a steady job, too much administration

I have examined and reexamined that snapshot you sent of the family and I just cant get over how many changes have taken place in the children during my absence. They have really developed into fine young men and ladies. They must have been a real pleasure for you.

I am wondering if the lakeshore crowd has arrived as yet? Do you think the season will be as large as ever?

Phil has certainly been grand to you and from all appearances he has fulfilled his end of the agreement to the fullest extent and this has kept us from taking any financial loss. Of course if he had it all my share would all go for taxes so it helps both parties.

Devotedly Roddy

June 16, 1944

6/16/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Sweetheart

When Col Parsons returns Joe Mallo, Henry Carney, Father McGonigle and I are due to leave for a 5 day rest at the seashore. We are trying to arrange a trip to Rome in its place. Father attended school there for 6 years and knows all the interesting places to see. He now has his own jeep so the final O.K. will rest with Col Wells. I have always wanted to see Rome and this will be my best opportunity. Through his parochial school he will try to arrange an audience with the pope. This should be the high light of my stay in Italy. Will keep you well informed as to our final plans.

I took a long walk up to the city this afternoon in an attempt to get a little suntan. Stopped at the Red Cross and had some delicious ice cream, cake and coffee. Patients are now reviewing limited supplies of beer, Coca Cola and occasionally fresh milk. Our food is generally improving especially with the fresh vegetables that are available now Lots of Love. Roddy.

June 18, 1944

6/18/44
52nd Station Hospital

My Dearest Wife and family.

This has been a rainy quiet Sunday without much activity at the hospital. It is the type of day that I dislike very much, it offers you too much time to think. We spend much of our spare time at the radio keeping up with current events - our offensive seems to be going along very well which is so encouraging to us all. Col parsons will probably return tomorrow and arrangements have all been completed for us to leave Tuesday. I plan to receive a papal blessing for our Catholic church at home which I will send to you to give personally to Father (I forget his last name)

Bill, I gave Buddy Bennett your letter and he seemed so happy to receive it - he is leaving the hospital today for duty. It was surely nice for you to remember him. We have had several good shows at the hospital of late tonite Danny Kaye in "Up in Arms". Our shows come about 3 times a week which is our only entertainment the rest of the time we are either working or at the apartment playing a little bridge + writing letters - It gets a little monotonous at times to say the least. Devotedly Roddy.

June 19, 1944

6/19/44
52nd Station Hospital

My Dearest Sweet.

Can you imagine receiving an air mail letter from home dated June 12 1944? Just 7 days! It certainly proves that we are living in a small world. Your letters of the 6 and 7 arrived telling me your impressions of the western invasion. I could just picture your staying close to the radio - rightfully it should have been a day of prayer as there were millions of persons at home wishing some loved one the best of luck on such a hazardous mission. Now that it is an apparent success we can look hopefully into the future.

I am so happy that Don has such a fine boss, from your description would picture him to be a man similar to Mr. Zager. He understandably will have a fine influence on Don and his work will be profitable in many ways.

I am disappointed that Bill is not taking enough interest in his music lessons. Had hoped that he would be able to appreciate music at least. Was so sorry to hear that Mr Klein is failing so rapidly - I suspect that Alice is almost a nervous wreck. I want to get away tomorrow on my trip lets look forward into the future hopefully Dearest Roddy.

June 25, 1944

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary.

I have certainly neglected writing to you the past few days but our recent trip to Rome was so filled with events that I never had the time to write Father McGonigle, Major Carney, Capt Mills and I left early last week for Rome traveling by jeep and have returned to our station after having seen all the recent fighting fronts. I just don't know how much I can write about as I am not aware of any of the censorship regulations on a trip like this - I do hope that all is allowable I felt rather badly that we didn't go to Rome on our trip abroad especially after seeing so many interesting sights During the trip we collected over a 100 snap shots of scenes that I will never want to forget. I am trying to organize the material and will forward it in to you for a [---- ----] record.

We have seen such towns as Cassino, Valemante, Frosinone, Anzio, Nettuno, Formia, Itri, and can now appreciate full well the tru costs of war - Sights that will linger in my mind forever and I can assure that we must continue until militarism is stamped out of Europe forever. Love Roddy (continued)

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary II continued

It is hard to describe a city of 20,000 completely demolished without a single building left standing with only a small winding road through the town with mines on either side of the [----] and huge craters when the bombs have dropped. It presented a ghostly appearance with - the town laying on the side of a hill with the monastery abbey completely in rubble at the top of the hill where the Germans were so deeply entrenched and firing at almost point blank range upon our soldiers below The sides of the road were littered with destroyed German tanks, guns, trucks and German 88's. Every once in a while you would see a native in a wagon drawn by oxen with all his earthly possessions making back toward what was once his home. Many were traveling by foot. I can never forget the appearances on their faces - half fright and half anger, they would hardly look from the right or left. It is most important that the American people can not get a more vivid description of these catastrophies [sic] These wars must be stopped and we must win the peace at all costs. Love Roddy (continued)

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary III. Continued The city of Rome is a marvelous city and has not been touched by war with the exception of the bombings in the outer portions of the city. You could almost mistake it for an American City - the people are well dressed, the shops are very elaborate and the peoples tastes are very similar to our own. They are much taller in stature than in the lower section of Italy. There is very little begging and this is much a contrast to where we are now. The streets are wide, clean and the city is studded with beautiful cathedrals that cannot be compared to any other city in the world. You approach these monuments with a feeling of reverence in that it is the Eternal city and the birth place of Christianity. I am thoroughly convinced that the city was spared by an act of Providence for the natives will tell you the Germans were prepared to defend the city street by street and that the Pope successfully intervened and persuaded the Germans to leave the city untouched. Love Roddy (continued)

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest May IV. (continued)

Father McGonigles school the Propaganda College is on a hill directly over looking the Vatican City and he found many of his former class mates still at the school being unable to leave because of the war and we all so enjoyed their company. He had the honor to say mass one morning in the chapel. They live such a true Christian life spending much of their time in meditation and prayer. This is an international order, in fact 36 nationalities are represented even Japanese are there. They have had very little contact with the outside world for the past 8 years. Every order of the priesthood has a mother college located in Rome, the same is true of the sisterhood and there is literally thousands of priests, monks and sisters in the city all in some teaching capacity.

Henry Carneys cousin a Father Driscoll now deceased was an assistant general of the Augustinian order representing the American College. He contacted the school and we were shown every courtesy in the world. Love Roddy (continued)

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Family V (continued)

We had dinner with them one day and even though food was scarce the best was provided for us. The rector arranged for an audience with Pope Pius the 12th which was probably the high light of our visit - A private audience had been arranged but the time was too much in advance for our stay so he arranged that we were near his altar when he addressed 5000 Americans in the Royal Room in his quarters. He receives and has public audiences daily for the thousands who are now in the city. We were among the privileged few to kneel and kiss the ring of the Pope which is the lifes ambition of all good Catholics. He conversed with me asking my name and where I lived and invoked his Divine blessing on all present and asked that we all become better Christians and closer to God and prayed for an early end of the war. In the room adjacent (the ducal room) he received the French troops Love Roddy (continued)

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Family VI (continued)

There is no question in my mind that the Pope has more authority over the Catholic than any other living man regardless of the country he lives in. It was a beautiful spectacle to see 5000 Americans kneeling before his altar in prayer - He is a man about 60 years of age wearing white robes and a white beret a very kind face with a marvelous understanding of human beings. He blessed all religious objects on our person - I had 11 rosaries and a large Catholic Cross (for Hattie) that were blessed and I am sending them to you to distribute among our Catholic friends upon my return. I have arranged for some papal blessings that will arrive later that I am sending along. The Catholic Church is a powerful political instrument that will and should be considered in the making of final peace in Europe for this is the only uniting bond in Continental Europe today Love Roddy (continued)

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary VII (continued)

I have no way of reckoning the amount of property owned and controlled by the church in Italy, but it must be tremendous. This of course is tax free and when you see all these beautiful edifices that have been erected you can just visualize the financial strain it has placed on the people in the ages past, of course this was changed in 1870 when all powers were taken away from the Pope except over Vatican City proper prior to this date the Pope ruled all of Italy.

I will not attempt to describe the buildings I saw in detail - my vocabulary is too limited and I have purchased books that will describe them in detail. I was most impressed with the 4 Basilicas - St Peter, St Paul, St John Lateran, and St Mary's Cathedrals. St Peter is the only basilica in Vatican City. All the work is mosaic and the architecture and complete planning was done by Michael Angelo in 1512 as you recall. Love Roddy continued

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary continued VIII

St Peters is the largest Cathedral in the world its columns of marble work and papal altar (taken from the Pantheon) is too brilliant to describe. You are too awe struck to make many comments - From the cupola 426 ft. in height a beautiful panoramic view of the city can be had. We visited the Cistine Chappel adjoining the cathedral where the popes are elected - each cardinal having a vote. The circular colonnades of marble in front of St Peters forming the handle of a key is something you can never forget - Quickly then we saw the Pantheon, Roman Ruins, The Kings Monument (the marble was taken from the old Colosseum) the Coliseum, the Popes summer villa at Albano, the Statue of Moses, and innumerable smaller cathedrals. Perhaps most interesting of all was the Franciscan Church in whose basement is buried some 4000 monks who had died up to 1870 and had been buried in soil taken from Jerusalem. Love Roddy. continued

6/25/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary IX Continued

After their bodies had decomposed their skeletons were taken up and corded like wood and many bizarre patterns were made from the bones. Here each day the monks come to meditate and pray over the death of their brothers.

I will be writing more each day about this trip as you doubtless will become tired of so much ancient history.

I received a nice letter from Hattie, Burn La Doux and you that arrived during my absence. Burn really has ideas of grandeur about his lake shore home and I am wondering if we wont have a little difficulty trying to keep up with the Jonses. I am sure that they will be grand neighbors and friends.

You must have enjoyed the visit with the Cains - cant understand why they would want to return to Spirit Lake after their failure in business. Did the boys receive their birth day letters - If not may I wish them a happy birthday - War news has been very good Devotedly Roddy.

June 26, 1944

6/26/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Wife and Children.

Received your letter of June 15 today and from all your activities I can readily understand why you haven't been able to write letters The children are so active and require so much of your time and rightfully should have it I loved your description of Sues first romance - Your life surely doesn't lack variety with such a live bunch around you. Don's work this summer sounds very interesting and should be very worthwhile from a general educational viewpoint.

Back to my trip - While in Rome we of course saw the Mussolini Forum where all sports events occur, the Palazzo Venezia from the balcony of which he has made so many speeches, the fountain of Trevi (it is said that if you through [sic] a penny into the water you will return to Rome.- I didn't do this) On our return we visited Anzio, Nettuno, the Pontine marshes which the Germans had flooded, Gaeta, Formia, Terracina, Itri, Littoria, Fondi and finally the American cemetery at Carens where 1200 of our American boys are buried in a beautiful well kept cemetery with rows of white crosses that are in a line from any angle that you can look. There are 1100 at Anzio and we have to expect far more. I love you dear - Roddy (continued)

6/26/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary II. Continued

The graves registration companies are doing the grandest job in seeing that our boys that have paid the superior sacrifice are properly buried and their graves marked. They take maps and go over every inch of the battle grounds in search for bodies, all personal affects are removed and sent home to the families. The day we were there some 19 bodies had been found in the surrounding mountains and were being prepared for burial. I cant think of a more unpleasant job, the odor was terrific - but they felt that some one had to do the job and it was their duty to see that everything was in order and that good records should be kept. It is so important from our insurance standpoint.

If some of the people at home that are nite clubbing spending money hand over fist that has been made from the war effort, could see some of these things they just wouldn't be able to take such a placid attitude toward the war. I am not in favor of protecting the American people from the horrors of war - Devotedly Roddy

June 30, 1944

6/30/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary continued

We hear reports repeatedly from home that the greatest percentage of doctors will remain in some form of government medicine after the war. Of course this leaves our fortune in the laps of Gods - it would be nice to anticipate such moves and have our hospital included in the government project and continue my work at home - This is just a thought to prepare for any eventuality. I certainly hate to think of giving up a private practice for a government job. Perhaps with a change in political control this fully socialized medicine might be forestalled for some time yet to come.

Another pay day has rolled around and this one at home for you should be $350oo. If not the next month should be $450oo so watch for this as occasionally there has been some trouble when allotments have been changed. I hope that you are having a pleasant summer at the lake shore, it certainly is a grand place to raise a family. Love Roddy

6/30/44
52nd Station Hospital

Dearest Mary

Received rather a peculiar letter from Tiny - some of the things she mentioned hardly makes sense. Is she a little on the wacky side? She said that the best damned [cook] in the country is about to be fired. I have been away from all this petty gossip talk for so long that I would hate terribly to become involved in it at the present time. Your suggestion of cleaning house when I return will most assuredly be carried out for by then I will not be in the mood to deal with a lot of peculiar responsibilities. We have had to put up with them in the Army for we had no other alternative but the day I become a civilian I will be able to do as I see fit.

I am glad to learn that Phil has been real busy and that the hospital has remained full. He has done a great job at home - am only afraid that he will become tired of carrying all the load at home and will want to get out of his partnership arrangement - I know I would feel that way after two years if I were in his place - Then too continued. Love Roddy

MS 1048 - Donald F. Rodawig Papers | List of Transcripts
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