Thursday, May 31, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Fight

Monday 18 September 1944, 9:15 AM

Dear Eleanor,
     Good morning, Sweet. Just got a letter from you, the first since Friday and already I feel better. I've been quite busy since I wrote yesterday morning. With having liberty every other day, my working days have been pretty full. In addition one of our boys got into a fight with a Marine and got his mouth all cut up. I had to use five sutures to sew him up. Then one of our boys stepped through an open hatch and fell down the equivalent of about four stories. He had a couple of ugly cuts in his scalp which were taken care of but seemed unhurt otherwise. However he later developed symptoms of skull fracture and was sent to the hospital.
     Last night I attended the New Year Service here at the base. The Chapel is lovely and it was filled to overflowing with enough men left outside to fill it again. I got there late and stood through the whole service. There were at least 350 officers and men including two nurses. The service was very simple but we did enjoy the singing of two Marines and the organ accompaniment. The only similarity between this service and the ones at home was that it was hotter than Hades if that is possible. As I looked around I could just pick out the homesick faces. You just couldn't miss the faraway reminiscing look on their countenances. The sermon itself was informal and to the point. No lectures on sin and the punishment for those who imbibe in it. No pleas for money or other support. Just a heart to heart talk between one Jew and another. If we had more sermons like that in civilian life, religion would take on another meaning, at least to me it would.
     Got another letter from Libby this morning. She writes about twice a week whether I answer or not. Yesterday in a few spare moments I dropped a line to the Gindoffs, Gelman and Rabbi Lifschitz. Gradually, I'm catching up.
     Now for the "Eversharp program." When I'm at sea again I can study and will. The accordion belongs to one of the sailors but he is letting Hansen use it and that gives me the chance I want. We have music but the numbers are pretty old. By the way Dear, talking of music, as Welfare Officer, I am making plans for recreation when we are at sea. Will you buy and send me some song books suitable for community sings for men. I've looked all over but can't find any. If I can get the words and music, we'll mimeograph a batch and have a little fun while we are out. Yes the rash is gone. In fact I'm sure now it was not a rash but an insect bite. We all had the same complaint. No shots yet.
     I wish you enjoyed a drink now and then.  Really when those you love and need you are far away and you are in a place like I am, having a few drinks is the least of the "bad" things a fellow can do. From the plans we are making however we'll be quite busy after this war is over to make up for all the things we are missing now.
     Do you remember how I would wake the whole family up Sunday morning when I went to play golf? Well after this war, I've got other plans for Sunday mornings.
     Well darling, my love, my own, time to go back to work.
Your lover
Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O. San Francisco 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Pearl Harbor--World Gets Smaller

Saturday 17 September 1944, 9:45 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Just got back from liberty and decided to write a few lines. Breakfast, as usual this morning, then a little work in my office. Before noon I chased down to the prosthetic lab to pick up some castings for that bridge I'm making. Returned to the ship for lunch and then Hansen, Cox and I went on liberty. We had a couple of drinks in a couple of bars and then went to the place I described to you in detail last time. We spent the afternoon there and didn't leave until 7:00 PM.
     While we were sitting there, in walked three couples, and one of the girls looked familiar. Do you remember the McCloud girl who taught Hy and me tap dancing? Well it was she. She came out here to get married and the big event is coming off next week. I just said, "Santa Monica." She looked around and when she saw me came over and shook hands. This world gets smaller all the time. We left and got a bus to go back to the ship and who would get on but Dr. Matson who was in San Diego with me and then sent to the Sea Bees. He's on his way but doesn't know where.
     So much for now dear, I've had quite a few drinks and am pretty high. Will finish in the morning. Good night my darling and pleasant dreams.

Sunday, 8:45 AM
     Good morning, Sweet, how are you today? Note the difference in the writing? Last night I wrote on my cot, now I'm at my desk in the office.
     By the way I picked up a newspaper, a day or two old this morning. There was a picture of the young lady I mentioned having met last night. I evidently got the name wrong. It is Valerie McCoy. I believe Babs took "tap" from her.
     Tonight I'll attend the Rosh Hashanah service here. Today, although it is Sunday, work goes on a usual. I have a patient in the chair and am waiting for some Novocain to take effect before I go to work. No mail yesterday so I hope to get a couple of letters today. If not I'll probably hit the jackpot tomorrow.
     Sweetheart today is the 17th and our home is now available. Gee, I wish I was there to help you get settled. Please take it easy. If you can't get moved in in a couple of days, take a week. There really is no hurry. You still have a roof over your head.
     Do you remember the Stevens Hotel in Chicago overlooking the lake? After this war let's go back to Chicago and maybe go on from there to Canada and visit with Belle and Charlie. Have you heard from them recently?
     Well darling, I must go to work now. I'm always thinking of you and love you so.

Your impatient husband
Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O San Francisco

Stevens Hotel Chicago (Hilton Chicago)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Envelope

16 September 1944
On this date, there is no letter from Lt.(jg) Gilbert Steingart. Apparently, Eleanor mailed a letter to her husband Gil that day. How did the stamped, cancelled, empty envelope, end up in her collection of letters from him?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Go Native

Friday 15 September 1944, 10:10 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Just came out from the movie. Saw Spencer Tracy in the "Seventh Cross." It was intensely interesting and the suspense carried on to the very last scene. See it if you get a chance.
     Got letters from Earl Bubar and Libby this morning and two from you this afternoon.  I immediately answered Earl and also wrote to Dr. Sieger, Dr. White and Miss Earnest. Worked in my office the rest of the day. That is the way I passed my time today.
     You ask many questions in your Monday letter so here goes. Yes, I received the taffy and wrote Linda and Norma a note. You should have it by now. I'll try to look up Al and Wally. Can't write and tell them where I am or where to meet me because then I would be disclosing our whereabouts. It may seem silly but that's the way it is. Yes, I took something to the Rikes, a two week liquor ration and they were very pleased. I get all the current news via newspaper. I've read a few mystery books but nothing exciting or worth talking about. No cards thank you, but I do play checkers quite often. The ship is a subscriber to several magazines although they are a little old when we get them. No periodicals of a professional nature so far.
     No Darling the way things are now I can't do any studying. Not even much chance to play the accordion. However it won't be long before I have all my comforts again. Then maybe I'll do some of the things I've wanted to do.
     By the way, young lady, stay away from that male teacher or papa will go native. I'm beginning to see why some men go native. I really need you dear, but I'll put up with it as long as we can have our daily visits.
     I'm glad to hear that you are back teaching. But Dear, even though you should keep busy, remember you have two girls to care for and you can't always find an Edna to care for them, even at $25 per week. I've also made a note of the rings for my girls.
     Goodnight, Sweetheart, I love you, truly I do. Do you remember eating cookies in the lower berth on the train to Frisco? After the war we'll try that lower again.

Loving you always,
Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O. San Francisco

One evening in September 1944, Eleanor was at the Florentine Gardens

Left to right Nick, Eleanor, Deb, Dave and and Sol

For more about Florentine Gardens see

Friday, May 18, 2018

Pearl Harbor--B'nai B'rith Lodge

Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert Steingart
 U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Friday 15 September 1944

Dear Earl,
     Just received your letter and am answering immediately. I sure wish that I could attend the lodge meeting Past Presidents' night and help initiate the new members. That being impossible will you please act as my proxy and convey my best wishes to the lodge and my congratulations to the new initiates.
     Through the bulletin and the news Eleanor writes me I am keeping up on lodge activities. However, I have been wondering how the War Service Committee is getting along. You know it was my baby last year and at the present time I feel it is as important a committee as any that we have. How is the letter writing project going? I never realized how important that was until I shipped out. When a fellow is thousands of miles from home it's amazing to see how much of a lift a letter brings. I sincerely hope that my not having received letters is no indication that the project has fallen by the wayside.
     I'd like to tell you all about my ship duties and whereabouts, but the censor would cut most of it out. I can say that I am the only dentist aboard and that my office is as modernly equipped as was my office at home. In addition to my professional duties for the ship, I act as Welfare Officer which includes arranging recreational activities. In fact just recently our ship had an all day outing at a nearby beach. All the beer and coke the crew could drink was on the house (ship). Also charcoal broiled steaks and hot dogs. We engaged in games of volleyball and baseball and swam in the ocean. Everyone had such a good time that I'm planning another outing as soon as possible. I am also acting as Division Officer for the "H" or Hospital Division. All officers take turns censoring mail. So you see with my extra professional duties, I manage to keep busy.
     Recently I stopped in at an Officers' Club for a drink and ran into Abe Weinberg. What a jolly reunion that was. As a matter of fact I am constantly running into people I knew in the states.
     I know you and the men are interested as to whether I've run into any discrimination. No! As a matter of fact I'm very surprised at the total absence of it. The officers and men aboard seem to be very fine and accept men at face value.
     There isn't much more I can say now. Convey my best wishes to all for a victorious New Year. I do hope that when the next Past Presidents' Night is held I shall be able to attend personally.

Sincerely and fraternally yours,
Gilbert Steingart

Gil always wore his B'nai B'rith ring

The ring has disappeared.  The design was similar to this pin.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Beautiful Home

Thursday, 14 September, 11:00 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Had liberty today and just got in. First I stopped at a dental supply to get some teeth for a bridge I'm making. Then Hansen and I had a couple of drinks and tried to do some shopping, but with no results. I saw a cute house coat in a print for Linda but I wanted to get Norma one to match and they didn't have one. I'll keep on looking until I find something in both sizes.
     Do you remember the dining car steward on the Challenger when we went east? A jolly Irishman. Always kidding. Well we sat down for a drink and there was this civilian sitting there and kidding around. We got to talking about the states and our home towns and all the time his face looked familiar. When he mentioned being on the train I knew immediately where I had seen him before. Anyway he told us about a place to go for a drink and a bite to eat. We had a hard time finding it, but it was really worthwhile. A beautiful home with gorgeous grounds was my first impression. Umbrella tables and chairs were set out on the lawn and then there was a pagoda-like structure with more tables in that. Besides this structure was a large pool just seething with fish of different varieties that I don't know. But there were goldfish more than 12 inches long. We threw bread on the water and the fish practically jumped out of the water to get it. After spending a pleasant few hours there, Ambie and I returned to the ship.
     You've probably gathered by now that Ambie and I are pretty friendly. Well, we are and we make all our liberties together. He is a Swede, about 31, married with a daughter of six. He is one heck of a lot of fun. Good night dear, I'll finish in the morning.

Friday 8:15 AM
     Good morning darling,
     Did you sleep well?
     At breakfast, Ambie and I were telling the boys about the place we found and they all laughed at us. You see Ambie is a"Baron Munchhausen" and they think he dreamed this one up too. However we'll show them.
     This being the 15th, I drew my semi-monthly pay and am wondering what to spend it on. Since I left the states, money doesn't mean anything to me anymore. I've got it and feel like spending it, after all that's what it's for. You mentioned a wristwatch. What kind would you like? I'd like to get you one for your birthday. No use waiting until after the war.
     Got another note from Libby and one from Earl Bubar about Past President's Night at the B'nai B'rith. I guess I'll have to write to the lodge now even if I don't feel like it. In a few days now, Linda and Norma should be receiving their little surprise. I hope they like it.
     Sweetheart, here I've raved for three pages and said very little but nonsense. Do you remember the Colonial Mansion we stopped at in Upper New York with the twin double beds and I had a cold? After the war, after Chicago, on our way to Philadelphia let's stop there. I won't have a cold this time.
     How is school? How did Linda like going back again? Does Norma fuss when Linda goes or does she understand? It's nine o'clock and I've a patient waiting. So darling, goodbye until later. I love you so.

Your husband

Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O. San Francisco

Because of censorship, Lt.(jg) Steingart couldn't reveal the name of the beautiful home.  It was the Willows restaurant founded in 1944. and is still in business. A link to their website:

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pearl Harbor--In the Groove

Wednesday 13 September 1944, 5:10 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Another buy day working in my office doing what I came into the Navy to do. Dentistry and lots of it. When I came aboard they all said I'd change my tune but I still feel the same way about it. I'd rather keep busy than sit around doing nothing. The time passes more quickly and I keep my fingers "in the groove."
     There has been so much favorable comment about our beach outing that I'm going to plan similar activities whenever possible. Believe me, the training and experience I got in B'nai B'rith and A.Z.A. work is standing me in good stead.
     I've been writing letters for a change. Wrote to the Corsos, Duncans, Libby, Ruth and my mother. Will try to write a couple extra each day and get caught up with my correspondence.
     Got five letters today. Two from you, one from Linda, one from Ruth and one from your mother. I hope by now my letter has reached my mother and her fears about me have been allayed.
     Leon made some pretty good guesses but no one knows for sure. In any case mail will be coming regularly for a while yet. Wherever we go I feel that we'll be as safe as anyone can expect to be in time of war. And, as I told you previously, as far as I've been able to find out sea duty for dental officers usually is for a term of 12 months.
     Well dear, (10:00 PM ran out of ink) so much for small talk. Do you remember the cozy cabin at the Grand Canyon? Well we didn't stay there long, so after this is over in between home and Chicago let's stop there and relive those hours we had together. Since the "well dear" at the beginning of this paragraph, I had supper and saw a movie aboard. "Marine Raiders." This picture is better than what we've had lately.
     Good night my darling. I'm going to be with you in my dreams (I hope). I do love you and miss the fun we could be having together.

Your only,
Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O. San Francisco

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Jack Benny USO Tour

Tuesday 12 September 1944, 10:15 PM
Dear Eleanor,
     Another busy day, but not doing any dentistry. As welfare officer, I arranged an outing a to a nearby beach for the crew and did we enjoy it. All the beer and coke we could drink with charcoal broiled steaks and hot dogs for lunch. We left at 8:15 AM and returned at 4:30 PM. Played 5 games of volleyball, swam before lunch and again after lunch. We had a lot of fun and I really think it did the men a lot of good. I got a little sunburned and now I'm plenty tired. Guess I'll survive OK.
     Jack Benny, Carol Landis, Martha Tilton and some others whose names meant nothing to me recently put on a USO Camp Show here. I obtained a couple of tickets so the Captain and I went. Benny really can play the violin.  Do you remember the harmonica player* at Earl Carroll's when the Old Home ran its benefit there? Well that man was also in this show and he was really good. Of course Carol Landis with her well built chassis and suggestive songs and stories stole the show. However they were all good and I enjoyed being there.

*Just remembered. Larry Adler is his name.
     My mother won't worry about me so much because by now she should have received my last note. Sorry to hear Deb is ailing again.  She really has had a time with her bladder. Hope you enjoy teaching, but really if you find it difficult, forget it.
     There should be more than $134 in the reserve account. You'd better check with the bank on that. The balance is in the back of the day book. Deb or Miss Earnest could help you find it.
     No I've not taken any more shots and won't unless the locale we are in demands it. Well darling I'm really pooped and must turn in.
     Do you remember the moonlit rides we used to take in Catalina, music and all?
After this war let's go back and take some more. Just you and I.

Goodnight darling,love

Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart

U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O San Francisco

2 links to YouTube footage of Carol Landis/Jack Benny 1944 USO Tour

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Shipboard Duty

Monday, 11 September 10:15 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello my darling. Here I am again. This has been a busy day for me. In addition to the men aboard this ship, I've been getting patients from another ship tied up nearby. Worked all morning and most of the afternoon doing dentistry. After dinner tonight, I saw the movie we had aboard. The title, "They Live in Fear" with Otto Kruger and a mess of juniors.  Be sure to miss it. So much for my routine of today.
     No Dear. My bowels are OK. In fact I'm as fat and healthy as can be. I'm writing now on my cot because it's the only place that I can find now. You asked so many questions and "no" is the answer to all of them. I don't know where we are going next or when except that it's not back to the states. I'll just have to ignore some of your questions because of censorship. Shipboard duty is usually a year for dental officers, but you can't count on that either. It all depends where you are and what you are doing at the time.
     By the way, Jimmy told me McPherson had been stationed where he is for about four months and then requested duty further south and got it. That is the only change one can get for the asking. Bet I keep quiet. Also that questionnaire had nothing to do with my present duty.
     Look dear, don't you think you are making a mistake staying away from those meetings? Seeing people and doing things is what you need. Think it over. It is 10:35 and I do want to write to Linda also.
     Do you remember that week at Lake Arrowhead in July of '34? After this war is over let's go back there and relive that week. Is it a date?
     Good night my darling and pleasant dreams.

Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O. San Francisco

Lake Arrowhead
Gil and Eleanor's Honeymoon
July 1934

Friday, May 4, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Roller Coaster Safer

Sunday 10 September 1944, 10:00 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Just got back from liberty and hoped for a letter from you. There was none so I'll probably get yesterday's, today's and tomorrow's all at one time. Received a note from Libby asking about Jimmy and I answered immediately. I recently saw him and we had quite a visit. That is all I can say except that he looks well and hasn't aged a day.
     I keep on running into people I know wherever I go. Ran into A. Weinberg and Dr. Jackson again. Wish I could run into you next, but that really is some wish.
    Well dear, with no questions to answer I hardly know what to tell you. I recently rode in a bus operated by a native. The roller coaster is slow, safe, and sane compared with that trip. Curves and oncoming traffic meant nothing in his life. The passengers lives meant nothing to him either. However, we all enjoyed the ride and the scenery which you are going to see with me later.
     Linda must be about ready to start school now or has she already started? Probably telling Norma all about it if she has. Gosh, I wish I could see all of you tonight. Just to play with my girls and put them to bed would be so much fun. And then--well fun would be putting it mildly.
     One of the officers aboard had a porcelain bridge broken and I've the problem of making a new one without any laboratory facilities. However I expect to have him fixed up in a couple of days.

Monday, 11 September, 9:20 AM
     Good morning Sweet. I thought I'd have plenty of time to write this AM but have been busy till now. Have a patient in the chair, one waiting and another due at ten so I must hurry because I want this to go in this morning's mail.
     By my darling, will write again this evening. Until then will all my love.

Your one and only,

Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O. San Francisco

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pearl Harbor--Jeep Ride

Saturday 9 September 1944, 9:20 AM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Good morning Sweet. My office is being torn up for a change, and I am still in temporary quarters. I'm writing on my cot so excuse please if any scribbling is worse than usual.
     I'll try to answer your questions as fully as possible. Greys or tans are worn both at work and when on liberty. I'm hoping to see those you mention but for reasons I cannot mention I haven't been able to yet. Having no work to do this morning I'll try to catch up on my correspondence. I'm glad you liked what I sent. That package went through OK but the kid's package got held up. Will get that off as soon as possible.
     Hansen and I got a jeep yesterday and for three hours we drove around. Do you remember the ride around Catalina? Well much of this country is surprisingly similar but I saw some things which we must enjoy together once this mess is over. And by the way, I still expect to take a refresher course before returning to private practice.
     After our sightseeing tour we stopped at an Officer's Club and who do you think I met? Abe Weinberg--in person. So far from home and yet look at all the people that I've run into. This is really a small world.
     I hear there are some packages at the post office for me but they were closed when I looked in. Will try again as soon as I'm finished writing. Received the B'nai B'rith Bulletin yesterday so you can forget that item.
     Darling, if you get a chance to go to San Francisco go ahead. It is fairly certain that we won't go back to the states for some time. I'm running out of small talk so I'll have to sign off.
     I love you Sweetheart and miss you and Linda and Norma more and more all the time and writing about it makes me feel all the bluer. You'll have this letter in a few days and yet weeks and maybe months may pass before I'll have you and the girls with me.
     Bye, darling till tomorrow.

Lt. (j.g.) G. Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot
F.P.O. San Francisco

Photo of Gil