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1944 V–MAIL from My Father

July 11, 2017


Words of My Father on the 104th Anniversary of His Birth


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa, daughter of James F. Massa (July 11, 1913-December 1, 1997)



A few years after establishing a new home in the United States, Italian immigrants James and Elizabeth (Liza) Massa welcomed into the world their second son, also named James and most often called “Jimmy” and later “Slim.”  Eventually, he was brother to five siblings.  Of the six siblings, only my Uncle Jules (age 91) and my Aunt Kathy (born 24 years after “Jimmy”) are still living to join my sister and me in remembering my dad on this 104th anniversary of his birth.  To honor my dad on this special day, I will share with you at the end of this Wordwalk blog post some words of my father–words which he wrote during World War II.


When, on a rainy day or other inclement weather day in the 1950s to early 1960s, my sister and I had exhausted ideas of something to do, we grabbed the stepstool from the kitchen and dragged it into my parents’ bedroom.  Built in 1914 by my maternal grandfather, our house was of the architectural design with two front doors, one which led into the living room and one which opened to the bedroom of my parents.  Another architectural feature of this house was a large closet above the clothing closet in my parents’ room.  Each of the closets had a typical, solid wooden door with a knob handle and hinges; the upper closet was not quite as tall as the lower closet.  Nevertheless, the storage closet was very spacious for holding the Hudson Bay blanket, other winter blankets, some old clothing, and family heirlooms.  Among the keepsakes was a cardboard box which contained “V–MAIL”–letters which my dad wrote to my mother during World War II (before my sister and I were born).  The V–MAIL stationary measured only four by five inches; thus, not many words could fit onto one page of the V–MAIL.  The one page did arrive in an envelope marked “V–MAIL Service.”


Climbing the two steps and then balancing atop the seat of the stepstool, my much taller sister could reach the doorknob of the upper closet.  Opening the door and handing down the box of the letters from my father became a special treat of which we never tired.  Somehow, reading these notes from my dad was more exciting than reading someone’s diary.  As the years passed and I matured, I did wonder if my mother had not saved all of the V–MAIL letters from my dad or if she kept some of them in a lesser known spot.  Now, my sister and I have only three of the V–MAIL letters from my dad and one from his older brother Charles (Charlie), along with one post card from Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s Camp Shelby and two post cards from Nice, France.  Another treasure from my dad’s days in France is a Christmas card which he sent to my mother in 1944.  While I wish we had more of these mementos, I am grateful for what we have to better keep in touch with the various stages of my dad’s life of 84 years.


To help, in a small way, preserve the memory of the V–MAIL Service of World War II and to hold even closer my dad to my heart on this July 11, I share with the family and friends of James F. Massa and my Wordwalk readers one of the V–MAIL letters which my dad (sergeant in the 638th Tank Destroyer Battalion) wrote.


* * *


November 20, 1944


Dearest Wife,


Haven’t heard from you in some time.  I am now somewhere in Holland.  It is much nicer than France.


How are Billy and Donald Ray [nephews Bill and Don Binole]?  Tell them I said “Hello.”


Honey, don’t expect over one or two letters a month from me now.  I guess you can understand why.


Have you been down home lately [my paternal grandparents’ farm house in Klondyke, Indiana]?  Tell the folks when you go down that I won’t be writing so often, from now on.


Honey, don’t worry.  I will always love you.


With hugs and kisses,

your husband Jimmy


* * *


In the comment section of this blog post, you are invited to share a remembrance of my dad or a remembrance of your loved one who wrote or received V–MAIL letters during World War II.


Wishing you warm memories of your loved ones of “The Greatest Generation,”

Alice Massa and Leader Dog Willow


July 11, 2017, Tuesday



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  1. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    Thank you for this touching tribute to our wonderful dad, who was also clearly a remarkable son, loving husband, and caring uncle. The two words that stand out for me in Dad’s V–MAIL message are “Don’t worry.” Although I know Dad did his share of worrying through the years, I remember his giving me the advice not to worry many, many times during my life. Being the unselfish and generous person he was, I know that he wanted to relieve any burdens we had, however large or small, and shoulder them for us. How blessed we were to have been so loved!
    Love to you and Willow,

  2. Carole Morgan permalink

    Yes, Uncle Jimmy was a very loving and friendly person who always displayed his care, concern, and respect for others. His energy, distinguished appearance, and stature made him stand out in a crowd. He enjoyed life to its fullest and was well-liked by all.

    Happy Birthday to you, Alice!
    The Morgans

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