Donald T. Matter, Jr.
Written: Spring 2002
Second: SJPCC Newsletter, October 2002
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Number of words: 350.
Illustrations: 1 photograph and 2 postcards
My Dad and Ernie Pyle
by Donald T. Matter, Jr.
My father died twelve years ago and I doubt this story will interest you, but here goes.
Do you recognize the man in this picture? On the back, in my father's own hand are the words: My Friend, Ernie Pyle, some place in Normandy, 1944.
As the years go by, I have developed a keener interest in my father's war. He left our home in Paterson (NJ) in January 1942. I was nine, he was thirty-one. He wrote letters everyday. 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 wartime treasures. 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 - I never saw that watch again
until we cleaned out his top dresser drawer in 1990. Third was a heart-shaped
medal on a purple ribbon. It was years later when I learned how he received
that purple-heart. The last of the four items was a plastic sleeve with
three photographs. There was one of me and mom - 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 third was the picture of the man on
which he wrote, My friend, Ernie Pyle.
I still have the photographs, I don't know what happened to the watch or the Purple Heart. But get this - two months ago I found this postcard at a show in New England. On the back is written, My Friend Ernie Pyle.