NATICK, Mass. — Visitors to the Museum of World War Two are getting a taste of what life was like back in the 1940’s after Rian McMurtry donated his grandfather’s congenially racist, homophobic, and sexist letters to his grandmother nearly 70 years ago.
The letters, reportedly found inside a tattered steamer trunk covered in European luggage labels, was tucked away in a dark, inconspicuous corner of former Army sergeant and Boston native Rian McMurtry’s attic.
“I got real excited because I had seen movies that started like this, you know?” the younger McMurtry said of the letters he found after his grandfather passed away last month. “At the very least I thought I stumbled on some exotic Nazi war relics or unexploded ordnance.”
However, after he jimmied open the innocuous foot locker with a screwdriver, his excitement quickly dissipated.
“Turns out it was just a bunch of letters complaining about how he had to share rations with the ‘coloreds’ in the 761st Tank Battalion.”
November 7th, 1944
Today we had some coloreds attached to us. Not really “attached” physically, because we are not sissy boys, but their tanks support us. Now, I know you got a beef with negroes because one looked at you one day, but boy can they fight! I thought those Christ Killers were Grade A soldiers, but I think these boys have them beat! Oh, and how is the old neighborhood? I hope those dirty whop dagos haven’t been coming around. Keep sending unfiltered cigarettes and stag reels. The boys love them! See you soon!
In addition to describing the harsh conditions and unyielding physical and emotional toll of being on the front lines in the second world war, McMurtry also courted a young Fallon Callahan from over 3,000 miles away.
“Rian always had a way with words. Here,” McMurtry’s widow said pulling out her reading glasses and unfolding a piece of tattered, yellowed parchment. “This is where he proposed to me.”
December 17th, 1944
My Dearest Fallon,
You are the only broad keeping me alive. Things out here are tough. A couple times we thought we were done for, but we said “to hell” with the Geneva convention and let those Krauts have it. At this rate, if I don’t buy the farm, do you want to get hitched? I know what you are thinking — I ain’t no dreamboat and you’re the cat’s meow. A ducky shincracker like you has no business being with a dead hoofer like me. But, I ain’t no queer, and a stacked share crop like you is going to settle down with a creep some day and that creep might as well be me. What do you say?
“That big galoot,” Mrs. McMurtry said, fondly remembering her late husband. “I always was ‘khaki wacky.'”
Mrs. McMurtry added that not a day goes by she doesn’t think about Mr. McMurtry’s letters fraught with chauvinist undertones, detailed descriptions of his encounters with French call girls, and the constant reminders of the shame she would face if she dared leave him for another man.
“What makes me most proud,” McMurtry’s grandson told Duffel Blog, “is that even with inferior technology and backwards, bigoted worldviews, my grandfather’s generation still has a better win rate than today’s modern military.”
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