Happy Father’s Day

My grandfather Eddie Erdelac was killed in a tank in France in August of 1944. I only have this picture of him, taken outside his barracks, probably in Ft. Knox, Kentucky. There’s another one of him holding my infant father.
grandpa
I know that he did some boxing (but, I was told, he quit after fighting an Irish guy who kept getting up after being brutally knocked down over and over), and I know he once handcuffed Harry Houdini at a show at Navy Pier, and there’s a pic of him goofing around with his pant leg rolled up on the running board of a Model A a la ‘It Happened One Night.’  I’ve seen letters from him to my grandmother where he would cover the envelopes in drawings of things he saw in Europe, churches, cottages, etc.

My dad and I never knew him.

Before he shipped overseas he recorded his voice to a 7 inch vinyl record via the Pepsi Cola ‘Your Man In Service’ promotion. Pepsi sent mobile recorders, I guess like the 300lbs RCA recorders folklorists like Alan Lomax used, to military bases across the country. Servicemen would record for a minute long message, pack it into a cardboard envelope, and mail it to loved ones.

record
My grandfather recorded one of these, and my dad had it for decades, but was always afraid to play it or send it off to be recorded, for fear it would be destroyed. We felt out various places over the years, Chicago NPR, various local stations, but never really got anywhere till this year, when I contacted a place called Summit Video Services in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, whom I found via a local news story about a woman with a similar record getting hers played.
record_jacketMy parents drove down to Lee’s Summit from Indiana this past week and my dad heard his dad’s voice for the first time. Thanks to Chad at Summit for recording them so I could see it happen.
erdeclac.jpg

 

Audio’s a little scratchy given the age, but he says;

“Hello sweetheart. How’s my baby boy, Jerry? I hope you both are in the best of health. I miss you both very much. How does it feel hearing Daddy’s voice? Please [write him?]. The army is OK but it’s you and Jerry, [sweet dear], that keep my thoughts turning back home.  Remember sweetheart, keep your chin up and I’ll be with you. Whenever you get lonesome, just play this record over and over. I’m sure it will cheer you up.  I love you, sweetheart. God bless you and Jerry.  Your loving husband, Eddie….Hullo Mom and Pa, how are you?  I miss you very much. I’m glad I had a chance to talk to you too. Take care of my loving wife and my loving son, Jerry. I’ll try to talk to you again some time. Goodbye now, and take care of yourselves. God bless you both. Your loving son in law, Eddie.”

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Published in: on June 16, 2019 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  

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