June 1945 was an important time for the Ivany family. There was family excitement about the impending wedding of Frances and Sid, thanks for a parcel Ernie had sent home, the ongoing work on the family farm, along with concerns for Ernie and Frank in terms of their service in the army.
In a letter written to Ernie (June 7th), Frank, who was stationed in Holland, wrote of his concerns for his brother. “I’ve volunteered for the Pacific Theatre & am just awaiting for my call to go back to Canada for leave & for further training. You keep out of it and don’t tell anyone. I’ve decided to go through with it and as I have not enough points to get out of the army I might as well go around the world if I’ll be lucky enough to make it.” Later in the month, Frank wrote again expressing worries for Ernie, warning him against volunteering for the Pacific, “… you better stay out of it, it’s no place for a para. (paratrooper) in the jungle & you haven’t got the chance of pulling through as you would over a more open country.”
Mary wrote to Ernie early in the month. “… thanks for the 20 packages of gum (Boy! my favourite). honestly I never knew you were so thoughtful of us to send gum. Thanks a million again. The cushion, too, is really pretty, and Mom sure likes it, she is thanking you very much.” She goes on to tell him how they’re looking forward to him coming home in July on furlough and that she was looking forward to attending a ‘Bundle for Britain’ dance. A note added by his brother, John, told of the work being done on the farm. In another letter that month, John wrote, “So your coming home sooner than I figured, well that will be fine. I need somebody to help me pick ‘stink weeds’ as I’m out almost everynight an hour & a half to 2 hours & there’s still some left … the hay is blooming nicely … Bring some souvenirs back with you when you come, eh? Shells, cartridges, gum & chocolate bars & other things.” And toward the end of the month, Mary writes once again. She tells Ernie about the wedding shower for Frances and that they’ve started to cut hay. Then she finishes with, “Ernie you didn’t even send me a present. I’m mad at you. It’s my birthday tomorrow, the 23rd. I’ll be ‘sweet’ 17. Boy! I’ll be old pretty soon. You had better send a present or else when you come home I’ll shoot you.”
Ernie’s sister, Frances, who was getting married that month, wrote to him out of concern for his safety as well as for the need the family had for his help on the farm. “Dad says by all means do get that form for farm leave, as we can’t count on Frank. Frances tells Ernie that Frank had transferred back to Germany to “his old job of fixing electrical vehicles. So we had better get you out & help us. So get that form as soon as you can. Also Ernie don’t join for the … Pacific but try & get out of the army or Infantry if you possibly can.”
Dot (Dorothy) said in her letter to him, “I guess you’ll be nearly thru training by now and more-‘n likely trying to wait to catch that homeward bound train. After your furlough – does that mean you are ready for Overseas duty? Omigosh and you not even a man yet. Whoops. I’m sorry Peanuts – your darn sight more of a man than some of the guys that are 21.”
The final letter we have was written by Frances on July 4, 1945. Frances talks about her wedding but finishes with, “Did you pass the jumps and get your wings? Hope so.”
Interwoven in all the letters in this special collection was talk about their friends, addresses to help one another stay in touch, who was coming home, who was missing in action, who had died… By the time I had finished reading them, I felt I had begun to know about this family, this group of friends. I had some sense of life here on the west coast at that time in history, some sense of decisions that Ernie and Frank faced… My curiosity had been piqued and I’m wondering if there are any of the family members or their descendants still living. To that end, I’ve continued looking into this story and may soon have something exciting to report; if you have any information you might be able to share, please connect with our Museum!