America is pretty empty without you kids
Groucho Marx wrote this lovely letter to U.S. troops stationed in Suriname in 1943, in response to a request from a Corporal Darrow to send a morale-boosting message. Groucho doesn’t disappoint, and cracks a couple of gentle jokes about life back home and his attempt to grow some vegetables; there are even a few genuinely touching remarks towards the end. The icing on the cake has to be the paper on which it’s typed — a sheet of the comedian’s unmistakable letterhead.
August 18, 1943.
Dear Corporal Darrow,
You asked me if I have a message for the soldiers in the jungle. I could probably send one but it would be collect and would only run into money. I imagine it’s difficult enough to stay awake on those lonely islands without having to read messages from me.
I don’t want you to worry much about the 4-Fs back home — true, we have been deprived of a few things but nothing of any importance. We don’t get much meat any more — the butcher shops have nothing in them but customers. Fortunately, I don’t rely on the stores for my vegetables. Last spring I was smart enough to plant a Victory garden. So far, I have raised a family of moles, enough snails to keep a pre-French restaurant running for a century and a curious looking plant that I have been eating all summer under the impression that it was a vegetable. However, for the past few weeks, I’ve had difficulty in remaining awake and this morning I discovered that I had been munching on marijuana the whole month of July.
Anyhow, we miss all you boys (I have a son in the Coast Guard) and we wish you were all back again raising hell and children. We are doing what little we can to further the war effort — we buy bonds, play service camps and short-wave broadcasts to our soldiers on the foreign fronts. We drive carefully, we take no vacations and, in general, do what we can. God knows it’s little enough. We all know that you boys are doing the real job.
In closing, all I can say is good luck, God bless you all and hurry home — remember, America is pretty empty without you kids.
Cpl. Jerone G. Darrow,
U. S. Army Forces in Surinam,
Camp Paramaribo, Surinam,
via Letters of Note.