The Family Historian

Lovers, Missing Brothers, Enemy Destroyers

January 19, 2011
Marguerite Pace

Marguerite PaceMy beloved Grandma
b. 10-14-15
d. 11-07-10

Marguerite Elizabeth Pace of Harrisonburg VATo:

Nicholas Joseph DiGiovanni of Revere MAFrom:

Letter from Nick DiGiovanni to Marguerite Pace July 9 1942

Letter from Nick DiGiovanni to Marguerite Pace | July 9, 1942

The year was 1942.  It was July, and the United States was seven months into World War II.  The day before, on July 8th, the Navy Department, under which my grandfather served, issued the following communiqué*:

North Pacific Area.

1. On the afternoon Of July 5th a U. S. submarine, operating in the Aleutian Islands, torpedoed and is believed to have sunk a Japanese destroyer in the vicinity of Kiska.
2. This is the fifth enemy destroyer to have been sunk or damaged by our submarines in this area during the 2-day period, (July 4th and 5th).
3. Low visibility continues in this area.

That is what was going on in the world while my grandfather to be wrote this letter to my grandmother to be:

July 9, 1942

Dearest Marguerite, I am so pleased to receive your letter that words can
not express this joyful sensation. Time has never before been so slow, to me
it seems that each day you been away has been a year (without any exaggeration).
I have missed you so, that I’m down right lonesome.

Do you recognize the symptoms?

You said something when you said you are on the go. By your letter it
appears that you are in Princeton one day and in Harrisonburg the next.
You will need a vacation when you get back. Just the same it must be
fun and I am glad you are enjoying it.

It’s a pity your brother Lawerence is being called to the service. I can imagine
how he feels to give up so much.

Yesterday I had dinner at the Malitos. They were sorry you were away and
not able to be there because their invitation was extended to both you as well
as myself. The other happening of interest is, I started my new job on July First.
If it wasn’t for the hard work I would like it. I was planning a surprise visit to
see you but now it’s impossible because there is so much that I have to learn
about the new work that it would be silly for me to even ask for time off.

No, we have not had any word from Auggie {grandpa’s brothers} since the last letter
which you know about and read. Mother keeps worrying about him. Which (truthfully saying)
I cannot blame her. Aside of being lonesome for you and worrying for Auggie we are all well.

My personal regards to Lena {grandma’s sister} and all the rest and lots of Love for you,
I remain Sincerely yours, Nick.

P.S.- Please let me know when you will arrive Washington and
what station – I would like to meet you. I can’t wait untill the 15th.

And so… while far away lovers missed each other, they worried about a brother called to serve, and a brother they hadn’t heard from.  Where was Auggie?  I do not know.  I also don’t know where Lawrence was stationed.  It’s these stories I so wish to piece together.  Perhaps I’ll learn more as I delve further into my Grandpa’s letters.

Life Magazine Cover July 1942

Life Magazine Cover July 1942 | Credit: The Katy and Peter Gwillim Kreitler Collection

Foreign Service Magazine July 1942

Foreign Service Magazine July 1942

to be continued…


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  • Reply Laura DiGi January 19, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Hey Ang--I think you would really enjoy that book Em and I just finished “Unbroken”. It is a memoir of this era and would give you a good feel for the time. Thanks for sharing!


  • Reply sue digiovanni January 19, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    Awesome Ang, how great for those who don’t have the actual material!


  • Reply Jenny DS January 19, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    I LOVED reading this letter and can’t wait to see the rest. So beautiful.


  • Reply Dad January 19, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    The picture of Mom is so typical in that she always had a “care free” demeanor; this is also evident in the early picture of Dad & Mom walking down the street with Dad in his Navy uniform -- I just love that picture.

    Also these letters from Dad, I believe, really shows his true self in a way that most of us did not truely see [the cares of this world has a way of getting in the way]. It is so refreshing to read through these letters and to get to know Dad in a whole new way.


  • Reply Barbara Norris January 20, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    This is awesome, Angie. People often tell me I live in the past and maybe I do, but you can see how alluring it is! If you haven’t looked at Sue’s 3 genealogy CD’s, go ahead and do so and make copies for yourself. Will be working on your pay it forward and hopefully hand deliver in June.


  • Reply angela January 20, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I’m glad you all enjoyed this post! Many more of these to come. I’m loving documenting these letters and seeing what was going on in the world at the time to put everything into perspective. I think that is a key part to understanding our family history.

    Laura -- you have me intrigued, I will check out the book :-)


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