« Stable-Cleaning 101 | Main | Here's to Golden Come-What-May »

In Spite of Hell's Might

The following letter was written on September 26, 1940 by my aunt, Beatrice Warde, an expatriate New Yorker living in London through the Blitz. It appears in her collection of wartime letters, Bombed But Unbeaten (1941). The letter pays tribute to the ordinary workers of the city struggling home through the disruptions of bombing barrages, and then, this:

…There are suburbs and outskirts-streets around New York; there are miles of Brooklyn and Jersey City in which the streets have always seemed hideous to Manhattanites. Tell them from me that some day the Little Men may be trudging down those streets with fighters roaring overhead, shrapnel falling, fire-engines clanging by, and the sky all melon-pink; and they’ll be coming home in spite of Hell’s Might, because it is their home, and seeing nothing in the world so beautiful as Number 57 still there with its windows all shiny with unbroken glass and the still unbroken Family waiting under that roof. And when they ask the Little Men, and the little typists, “Why go back to Jackson Heights to-night? Why not sleep in the office shelter?” the answer will abash the questioner: “But I must get back to my family.” If and when that day comes, you’ll find that the people of the Bronx would rather pick their way past craters and crowd into a neighbor’s house when their own goes, rather than leave the Bronx! You’ll know what the word Brooklyn means, and it will never sound funny any more.”



With prayers and gratitude to all those who have sacrificed to protect our families and homes, and with inextinguishable love for the city of New York--BLB

Illustration: Woodcut, Beatrice L. Warde, by Bernard Brussel-Smith, 1950

Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 08:56AM by Registered CommenterBrenda from Brooklyn | CommentsPost a Comment

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.