Lt Mary Jane Little, Nurse in WWII
One of many letters received by the local Rural Newspaper In Dryden, Tompkins Co, New York while she was serving in Aftica, Italy & France.
Lt. Mary Jane
January 27, 1944
I'd like to thank my Dryden friends for the lovely Christmas cards and gifts that arrived for Christmas Day. It surely helped to make a pleasanter Christmas for me than I expected it to be. Packages arrived just before Christmas and a few cards are still coming. I must have received 60 Christmas cards.
I worked Christmas Day and evening. Our patients, officers and enlisted men had an excellent turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The Red Cross sent a portable organ over to my ward, and I played a few Christmas carols, and the boys sang. Apples and doughnuts and hard candy were passed out. Each ward had a Christmas tree and the decorations for the tree and Ward were made by the patients from Christmas paper off packages we had received from home.
We are busy at the hospital. We are working 8 hour shifts -- 7:30-4:00, 3:30 - 11:30, 11:30-7:30am. Many of our patients are brought from the front and others come from evacuation Hospitals. It sure keeps us busy at times.
I saw my first opera the other evenng, "Madam Butterfly." The singing ws in Italian and very well done. Since then I saw "Rigoletto" which was vey colorful and enjoyable.
On Sundays, symphony concerts are held in a famous old opera house. I'v been a few times. Wish I could describe the beauty of the inside of this old opera house.
Frequently we have celebrities here. Joe Brown and Humphrey Bogart and his wife gave a show for the patients. Left Gomez, Cacoran, and J. Sharkey came thru the Wards the other day, and visited with the patients.
We are living in an apartment house. It's the first time we've been able to unpack and make ourselves comfortable. I live in a 6 room apartment with 4 other nurses. We have a kitchen, bathroom, 3 bed rooms living room and vestibule. We have a couple hot plates to cook on, and a wood stove in our living room for warmth. We have lots of fun. Believe it or not, we even have a maid. She speaks Italian and no English, but we manage surprisingly well.
The weather is mild over here compared to the cold weather you have. Tangerines and oranges are plentiful. Nuts, vegetables such as carrots, radishes, lettuce, endive, onions, potatoes, and cauliflower can be bought at little markets nearby us. Eggs are very high- 50 cents as egg -Potatoes are high, too.
It is an in between season for flowers but a month ago you could buy orchids 40cents a flower-- Camellias were plentiful, too.
Well, Fletch,, I've rambled on enough to tonite. The Rural News is coming thru fine. Say hello to Mrs. Fletcher for me
Sincerely, Mary Jane
ED: Dear Angel of Mercy: I'm sure glad we have a girl in the services of the United States Army Nurses. (In fact we have two haven't we Enid) It give this column a needed femine touch -- and all the boys like it too. Mary -- from the Pacific 'round the world to England, Africa, India and of course, here at home.
Most all the boys tell in the letters about "chow time" how nice it is to read about eggs 50 cents a piece, plenty of oranges and vegetables, an apartment and a maid. How does that sound to you Duane Mead and all you men in the Pacific? But underneath it all -- Mary is just like you -- hiding the worst of it from us and penning letter of beautiful operas, Christmas packages and carols with her patients down in her ward.
We like to hear from Mary and Enid too, and no kidding we like to hear all about 'chow time' from the long line of camps and war theaters.
Write again Mary
Proudly transcribed and submitted by Mary Jane Little's daughter Sandra Gardner Benward