Love letters from World War II

Love Letter from the War on Memorial Day

This is a composite of the letters my father wrote to his girl the day before and the day after Memorial Day, 1943. Trivia: In 1943, Memorial Day was on May 31—the latest date it can occur. In 2015, it is on May 25—the earliest day it can occur.

(For background on the letters, and to read the letter posted on the 70th Anniversary of VE Day, go here.)

Bronx, N.Y. to Spokane, Washington

Stellajoe darling —

A year ago tonight, we were watching a May full moon from Mt. LeConte, as you seem to have remembered, too. Most of my pleasure today has been derived from that trip 12 months ago. Very few trips are so worth while as that.

Today has been a beautiful day. I wanted so badly to go somewhere, but I couldn’t get anyone to go with me. I should have started off by myself. Don’t know why I didn’t. Every time I wait around and adjust my plans to someone else’s, it turns out that we’re too late or can’t make connections. One of the fellows said he’d go to Mitchell Field with me. First I had to wait for him to go to church (I never will understand the Catholic viewpoint) and eat dinner. Consequently we arrived at Penn Station just after the train had left and no other one until too late to make it worthwhile.

We ended up taking a sightseeing boat around Manhattan Island. It was a three-hour trip and fairly pleasant, but certainly not so good as last Memorial Day, nor so good as what I hoped for this. We did see the Queen Mary docked and the Normandie, also.  The intense activity in New York harbor is most interesting to a land lubber.

How I wish that you were here to do things with me. Things which I like and which I know you like. Why fellows want to stay out all night Saturday and sleep all day Sunday I’ll never know.

I bought me a tropical worsted summer uniform yesterday. Paid $12 for a shirt! What a super deluxe heavy plaid wool shirt that would have bought me. And that’s something that I wanted awfully bad, but never felt that I could afford. Now I’m buying one that I don’t want at all. Figure that one out.

I also bought you an overnight bag. I’m afraid I didn’t match your set, in fact I’m sure I didn’t. The fellow told me that if the pattern was as much as a year old, I probably couldn’t match it. One super salesman tried to pawn off a case on me which he said “was very practical for a young lady.” It turned out to be a make-up case about a foot square and six inches deep and filled with bottles and cases and Lord knows what all. I had to restrain myself to keep from telling him that I didn’t have a New York girl that needed a shoe box full of makeup and half a day to look beautiful.

Gee, a lot of cadets are getting married in June. It isn’t helping me much—their getting married. Wish I could see you.

For some reason or other, I haven’t been able to look on the bright side of things. There’s so much complaining (bitching) among the fellows that I guess it’s catching. Though I sit by and don’t say anything, I hear complaints about the food, the quarters, the studies, the regulations, etc., etc. It seems to have gotten the better of me for the past few days and I long to talk to someone who takes things as they come, finds something good in them. Perhaps you don’t realize it, but that is one of your many fine characteristics and I really love you for it. For me the very basic and fundamental things about this army and this war, are the things that trouble my mind. It makes it so much worse to add to it the petty, inconsequential, passing things that in the long run can’t hurt anybody.

Mom sent me a clipping from the Ann Arbor paper. Her family made quite a feature story, what with four in the service. I guess she’s pretty proud of it.

I hope I get more than one letter from you this week. I know you must have a good reason for not writing, but please tell me about it. Then I won’t feel so badly. I wish I knew if we were going to get a week off. If I’m going to be home, the letters you write next week should be sent to Ann Arbor. Maybe I’ll know in time to inform you. I’d hate not to hear from you for week.

Goodnight darling,

L to right: Melvyn (youngest child, just 18 when he enlisted), George (4th child), Helen (3rd child), Walter (husband of sister Ruth, 5th child), Donald (2nd child). All are gone now except Donald, who will be 105 in August and still lives on the family farm, where this photo (date unknown) was taken.

3 thoughts on “Love Letter from the War on Memorial Day”

  1. These letters are remarkable for the glimpses they give in to both your parents’ psyches, what mattered, how they felt about it (or at least how your dad interpreted how your mother felt about it. And for the tidbit that “bitching” was a term used in 1943.


    1. Yes, indeed. I find myself a bit angry at both of them. He for his neediness, her for her apparent inability, or refusal, to give him what he needed in such a bereft time. I am amazed that he used the word “bitching,” especially in a letter to my mother. I hadn’t thought about it even being a word then!


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