A scrapbook's tale - a brother, an Islander, and death far from home
On the cover of a large blue scrapbook, there is a piece of tape, on which Yvonne (Berube) Sylvia wrote: "Brother Edmund J. Berube. Born August 18, 1918. Killed March 3, 1945."
On the inside title page Mrs. Sylvia inscribed, "In loving memory of a loving brother." There is a large valentine, with a felt heart and bow reminiscent of a simpler time, pasted on the facing page. "From your son in the service on Mother's Day," the valentine message reads. Mrs. Sylvia's brother signed the valentine, "Love Edmund."
The book, its pages frail and yellowed over time, contains photos, letters, documents and clippings Mrs. Sylvia assembled to preserve the memory of her brother and to document his accomplishments. At this it succeeds admirably, but the scrapbook also provides a glimpse of Martha's Vineyard and the ways in which the war years affected Islanders.
By all accounts, Edmund Berube was a gifted athlete who excelled at track and basketball. Beneath a team photo of the
1935-36 Edgartown School basketball team is the notation, "won 14, lost 3, won trophy."
His high school report card for the same year shows a curriculum of six subjects: U.S. history, civics, chemistry, gymnasium, music and citizenship. He did well.
He entered the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in the spring of 1941. Various photos show him on the streets of Boston with fashionably dressed young ladies and with classmates, including his roommate Raymond Gosselin of New Hampshire, who later became the president of the college of pharmacy.
The scrapbook contains 15 letters Mr. Berube sent to his sister between the time he arrived in the Pacific and landed on Iwo Jima with the Third Marine Division. The first envelope is dated October 7, 1944, the last, February 15, 1945.