3rd Marine Division Emblems - Collection of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley - Gift of James Fecht - 2007
In 1919 a popular song asked American families about their servicemen, "How ’ya gonna keep ’em, down on the farm,
After they’ve seen Pa-ree? How ’ya gonna keep ’em away from Broad-way; Jazzin’ a-’round’,
And paintin’ the town?"
The following letter to his sister Dorothy in the little town of Mexico, Missouri from Jimmie Fecht lays the groundwork for the many reasons thousands of G.I.s moved to the San Fernando Valley after World War II.
Pvt. Jimmie Fecht
Battalion D, 3rd Special Weapons
3rd Marine Division
Camp Elliot, California.
Wednesday A.M. 1942
Dear Dot (Dorothy Fecht Fetterhoff),
Well here we are standing by with not a thing to do but smoke and read. All our equipment is on our ship and we expect to go aboard ourselves in a few days. Have received your letter and the B.P. News. Thanks a lot for the paper, got quite a lot of enjoyment from it and knew many of the men.
Got a letter from Aunt Julia (Fecht-Hogan) saying that the package they send me for Christmas had been returned. She also sent me a picture of her and Uncle Hugh (Hogan). I see that Bill Fecht's boy is planning marriage before entering the service, I could change his mind easily for him I think.
Sister Veronica (nun of the Order of the Precious Blood) wrote me along with Lois (the school paper's editor) in appreciation for the compliments I save the Shamrock (school newspaper). Sister writes that she knew I was cut out for great things in life. I believe she's right - ha! She certainly wrote a nice letter. Lois' letter was good also. She said that she gave Pauline Gavin my address and will hear from her soon. Gee Dot what am I going to do with all these girls?
I spent my 62 hour last liberty of the States in Hollywood last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It really is a beautiful city. I stayed with Joye (Barnes) in North Hollywood. We had an awful lot of fun in her Packard. Now don't get me wrong, its not entirely the card, although driving a 5 passenger coupe' with a ration card suitable for a thank full of gas on her Dad's bill every time we get low may have a little to do with it. She is a very sweet girl and really knows how to entertain. Well you see I had ten bucks and we spent together over $45 and I came home with $2 left - still can't figure out how I did it.
We ate dinner at Earl Carroll's' again, later dancing at the Palladium to Tommy Dorsey. We went to Universal and Warners - saw the making or rather the finishing of "Casablanca" with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Billy Gilbert at Paramount. That should be there before long. Sunday morning we went to Mass at Saint Charles in North Hollywood. She is a Catholic too. We drove all over Beverley Hills and San Fernando Valley seeing the homes of the stars. We went to the Jade Room in Chinatown, Los Angeles. Really is enchanting and beautiful. Saw Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom's cocktail club, also Eddie "Strangler" Lewis' bar. He was that famous wrestler. There are so many nice places to go, you can't find time for all. As a whole, my leave with lots of fun.
Just received a letter from Aunt Florence (Fecht-Sullivan) saying that Bernard (Jim's first cousin) is going soon. Hope that he gets into something that he likes in the Army.
Well just got finished with a lecture on enemy weapons and discipline. We get paid Friday here so will probably will be either Saturday or sometime next week early when we board ship. Have most of our personal items together just ready to pack - all are in pretty good humor but very anxious to get started. Don't think I'll have much time to write for quite a while. Hope you make out ok (Dorothy was pregnant) but don't name him after me - ha. Good luck and lots of love till I see you again.
Your brother Jimmie