Dr. Donald T. Matter, Jr.

My Dad and Ernie Pyle

On  the back of this picture are the words

My Friend, Ernie Pyle.

As the years go by, I have developed a keener interest in my father’s war. He left our home in Paterson in January 1942. I was nine, he was thirty-one. He wrote letters every day. Those fragile documents would arrive two or three at a time and mom and I would sit in the kitchen and she would read until she couldn’t see through her tears, then I would finish, as best I could. Each one ended, “Thinking of you, love Donald.”

When my Dad returned to New Jersey in November 1945, he had four things he called his war souvenirs. First there was a red Nazi banner with a swastika in the center of a white circle. Eventually Dad used that flag to polish the car. “I don’t want anything around here to remind me of those bastards,” he would say. Second, was a watch that he wore until he was well into his fifties. Third was a heart-shaped medal on a purple ribbon. It was years later when I learned how he got the purple-heart. The last of the four items was a plastic (I think in the 1940 this kind of plastic was called eisenglass.) sleeve with a real photo postcard and two photographs. There was a photo of mom and me – I remember the day it was taken at Palisades Park. Another was of a group of ten men – my dad was second from the left, and the real photo postcard had a picture of a man named Ernie Pyle.

I still have the Purple Heart and the photographs; I don’t know what happened to the watch. But get this – two months ago I found this postcard at a show in Massachusetts. It is identical to the one my dad had.

On the back is written,  My Friend Ernie Pyle.

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