Early in 1950, Addie Cannon Howells, editor of The Children’s Friend, received an unusual letter from a 12-year-old boy in Germany who had unexpectedly found a copy of the magazine.
Dear Editor Adele Cannon Howells:
Excuse me of my letter! I got a magazine “The Children’s Friend” from July 1948 years which I find in forest, when I was seeking old iron. Maybe a soldier of U.S. who was in forest of hunting lost it. It was torn, but for me a fine magazine. I read it and it was for my shield-soul a refreshing. So much poems and news and educations, methods and true words I never find in a German magazine.
Dear American lady, this children magazine would be very good for German children. So much children in the world no difference, and I think we can all be friends, because the future a peace world stay in the hands of youth! When I will become a man, I shall work against the wars. I shall work for a better life. The folks must play music, sing, do care of flowers, farming, do care of corn, vegetable, animals.
I am proud of American soldiers which played in the world war II, the best role and gave us now, 5 years peace. Gen. Eisenhower was a fine general, also the Lucius Clay was for Germany a big man and have done much for to save us, children in Europe. We children in Europe had a cruelty time. We experienced very much danger, grief, and was all ways suffering, in need of food, not to speak of clothes. our childhood was destroyed. The Americans do very much for German children health and education. In Germany Americans houses, organizations and women sociate. The American Military Police every day do looking for children on the streets. Much boys from 2-11 year smoke cigarettes. We see now in big German towns neglected, dirty, hungry children out of home. 1946-1947 in all German schools the pupils got American breakfasts, it was tasted, fine and good, what we children don’t had all the war time. Now in Germany, in all shopping windows, much more, also made in U.S.A., but it is very expensive. I can’t buy it my life.
I am pupil of 7th grade. I get always high marks. My best subjects, math., history, geography, piano play, song, drawing and cut-work. After my school I go in the village forge, so I earn something. I seek also old iron and sell it to collecting depot. The money what I earn I buy books, copy-books, paper, pencils, blades. Outdoors I go in my small vegetable and flower garden in my self-made cottage. There-in I have much tools, and I make airplanes, ships, children play things. I am diligent and ever busy. Before the cottage is a small brook, therein can only swim ducks, geese. In the evening hours I play piano, sing. I like American folk songs from Foster.
I am 12 years old, born [edited] 38; boy, blond, blue eyes, 1 metre 52 cen. tall, 85 pounds, true, and cute. I don’t never lie, cheat. I am thankful for the Heavenly Father, which gave my mother courage, health and love in heart for to educate me, for a good character boy. I love my mother, she is my diamond in the world! My mother is a practical woman, sew, knit, crochet, make nice ladies clothes, models, paint, can do darning, was a society woman. Know 4 languages, write short true novels, stories, play piano, sing. She was a daughter of a book printer. Traveled through much world cities, Africa, India, Russia, U.S.A., Northern States. She is born in city Riga 1903, January 3. A beautiful woman. My sweetheart. My father is potter-master, builder, also farmer and know much work, is born in City Riga, 1881. A strong healthy man.
We are from northern-East Europe, refugees. Through the Russian communists territory my parents lost all his fine nice happy home, farm, potter-job. We fled away through Germany and were billeted in a small village. We are not D[isplaced]. P[ersons]. but German-citizen. My father is 5 year out of work and get a little rent for us which is to less for live. My daddy help some people to make caskets, barrels. My mother is gathering scrap of material, rags, and sew pillows, gloves, slippers, doll-garments and sell those on market. So she earn some for day buy bread! Sometime I am hungry, sometimes I am satisfied – Never mind!
My parents have got from American Consul in Germany emigrate quota numbers, and we hope sometimes for a voyage to U.S.A. We have not relative there, nor a sponsor or missionary who could help us to come to U.S. – to a farm or other job.
Dear Mrs. Cannon Howells! I have a request to you, if you can please send me a children magazine “The Children’s Friend” – from the year 1949-50, please, please. I have interest for this magazine, but I can’t buy it. I have no money. I would very much glad sometime to get from a Mormon missionary some Mormon songs what the children sing in Tabernacle-Temple. My mother was a singer, soprano-solo in year 1925-1928. The Russian communist town, and burnt. My mother reach library 300-books in city Riga; there also was much music, songs. We are Lutheran-Protestant, but all people have one God, and we are equal. Dear American Lady! I am hungry for news, and books, but I am so poor, that I can’t buy one! With my gratitude heart to you, I send you my drawings, it is what I can do for thank, and when my mother come home (she is in a farmhouse now and help for two little children cook) I will say to my mother that she will send you a nice needle-work, crochet work. Please excuse me and I hope of your answer. With love to you, and many greetings to you. God bless you!
Germany-Bavaria US Zone
As you might suspect, Arnold got his subscription to the Children’s Friend, and he remained in contact with the magazine for a time — in 1953, he submitted a silhouette to the page dedicated to children’s poetry and artwork:
Arnold did emigrate to the United States, and he lives here now, at age 71. A little internet sleuthing put me in contact with his daughter, and I’ve sent her an invitation to comment. (Should anyone with access to the old magazines happen to look up Arnold’s full name, please respect his privacy by not using his full name or other identifying details. Thanks.)