(Dodging Shells gave you Tommy’s letters to his sister, from the front. Kathy’s letters in response tell of life in wartime Toronto.)
…..Last Saturday afternoon, I strolled over to the Jewish market at Kensington Avenue with Jennie (next door…remember?) I wanted to buy a slab of halvah. It’s an amazing Middle Eastern confection that just melts in your mouth. She had brought some over when I was ill for a couple of days in the spring and couldn’t be tempted to eat anything at all. Well, I nibbled a few crumbs, and thought I’d died and was being welcomed into heaven! Her mother insists that the best food in the city finds its way to Kensington Market, and Jennie was going to show me where to look.
…..After we bought an embarrassingly large chunk of the stuff, cut off a mammoth brick and wrapped in brown paper, we wandered around a while enjoying the atmosphere. It’s like nowhere else in town, really…a slice of Europe. Stuff sold on the street and spices and sawdust and crowds of people who take food selection really seriously.
…..When we started back we were in no rush at all. It was a lazy kind of day everywhere that wasn’t Kensington. As we were sauntering along Markham Street, nibbling the corners of the halvah and being silly and criticizing other people’s front curtains, we noticed an old couple, sitting side by side on their front porch and enjoying the sunshine. It was one of those houses that are built in pairs with a double concrete walkway between…like a driveway. A truck was parked on the concrete in front, backed up to the passageway.
…..“Look, Moishe,” the old lady was saying to her partner, “those next door people must be moving out…and they have furniture just like ours!”
…..We could see men bringing pieces of furniture out of the old couple’s back door…and loading it onto the truck, right in front of them!
…..By the time we got home, we were laughing so hard we could hardly speak. Dad was reading the newspaper in the living room when we walked in, so we choked out a description of the scene.
…..He grinned. “So…what did you do?”
…..The grin disappeared. “That’s all?”
…..“Well…yes.” It was starting to look just a teeny bit less amusing.
…..“Oh, for God’s sake! Which house was it?”
…..“We didn’t really notice…it was between Dundas and Queen.”
…..Dad beat it out the door in his shirt tails and slippers to try to stop it…but by the time he got over there, the street was quiet. There was no sign of a truck. There were no old people. They must have been inside, wondering what happened to their stuff.
…..I’m sorry…but it’s still a little funny.
…..You need to guard against getting a swelled head over any victories you guys may achieve in Italy. The German radio broadcasts are now informing the German people that they never intended to beat you in the first place. No, the German command only intended a delaying action. And you’re still there, aren’t you? So you see how successful they’ve been!
…..Meanwhile, the German prisoners you’re taking can always hope to be sent to a prisoner of war camp over here. Last month, a driver in Ottawa picked up a hitch-hiker wearing a prisoner-of-war uniform. The fellow was “fed up” with working on a farm in the area, and decided to bum a ride back to the internment camp at Hull where life, I guess, is easier.
…..Please don’t think I’m encouraging you to allow yourself to be taken prisoner. That could be risky. I suspect conditions may not be as favourable in the German camps. We hear far fewer stories of people attempting to enter those of their own free will. And when prisoners get out…they tend to try to stay out.
…..Remember the Strand Theatre at Dundas and Spadina? Well, three years ago, they changed the name to the Victory Theatre, in anticipation of an early victory over the Nazis. Okay, that might have been a bit optimistic, but with the great job you guys are doing over there, they’ll certainly never have to regret the name change.
Your most devoted fan,