Toronto – June 25, 1944 – Part 1

(Dodging Shells gave you Tommy’s letters to his sister, from the front. Kathy’s letters in response tell of life in wartime Toronto.)

June 25, 1944

Dear Tommy,
…..I read with amusement your account of the Germans’ misguided attempt to rattle your brain. Shell shock. As if that could make a difference! No wonder they’re losing the war in Italy….they clearly don’t know their enemy. Now, if they ever learn to aim lower down, they might be able to do some real damage.
…..And…could you just explain to me again how your transfer to the mortar platoon was going to keep you out of danger?

…..Summer has finally arrived over here, too. The lilacs are blooming in the backyard, people are starting to fight over window seats in the streetcars, and just yesterday, I went across the street during my lunch hour to buy one of those soft swirly chocolate malted ice cream cones they sell in the tunnel between Eaton’s and the Annex. I love those things!
…..I tried to pick one scene that would let you enjoy summer in Toronto with me for a moment. Here it is:
…..I was strolling past City Hall last week when a woman appeared on the steps. She was immaculately dressed: pale blue gabardine suit, perky little hat, white leather shoes and clutch purse (for which, believe me, she paid plenty), neat white gloves…the works. She was about half way down the steps when the button must have burst on her pink silk panties (no elastic – the war, you know) because they fell to the ground around her ankles. Without looking down she deftly stepped out of them, kicked them aside and walked on, barely missing a beat.
…..That’s Toronto. In summer. And I think I’ve found a worthy heroine.

…..I met Lucy Angelino the other day, (She’s married now. She used to be Lucy Maglietta) and she gave me a bit of neighbourhood gossip you won’t want to miss.
…..“Do you know Agnes, over on Claremont Street?” she asked. “Bleached blonde…must be over sixty if she’s a day….”
…..“Sure, I said. “She works in the lingerie department at Simpson’s, selling corsets.”
…..“Yeah, that’s her. She has a trim little figure…draws plenty of whistles from guys who catch a rear view. It’s always worth the wait to watch the expression on any fellow who moves in for a closer view…no makeup in the world is magical enough!
…..“Well, my brother-in-law Tony went downtown one night to spend some unanticipated black market earnings at a…house of ill repute. Tony’s a pig. And who did he end up with? Agnes.”
…..“Oh, my God!”
…..“No kidding!”
…..“So what happened?”
…..“Well, Tony couldn’t high-tail it out of there fast enough! At least, he says he did. But Tony’s a pig.”
…..“How embarrassing!”
…..“It gets better. Tony lives right across the road from her!”
…..Oh, well. I guess in that line of work, you have to have a thick skin.


About Wendy Bertsch

I’m a Canadian author—a pragmatic optimist with rather eclectic interests and a pervasive sense of humour. Toronto born and bred, I live by the lake with a motley array of dogs and a cat, all but myself being of unknown origin, in a comfortable old house filled with books. Over a thousand books. Books in every nook and cranny. And now, since there can never be too many books, I'm writing more. Once More, From the Beginning highlights the women in the bible. It's about time! And believe me, they see things quite differently. And in Dodging Shells, you'll meet the irrepressible Tommy, as he fights his way through Italy in World War II. You'll love Tommy. I do. Next? Well, that's a secret yet. Stay tuned... I recently initiated the fledgling Ocean Highway Books, providing editing, formatting and cover design services to authors wishing to self-publish.
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