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Frances Farnsworth, 1943

Frances Farnsworth, 1943

Alice’s sister Frances, mother Mary Jane, brother Bill, and Alice. 1943.

Alice’s sister Frances, mother Mary Jane, brother Bill, and Alice. 1943.

November 4, 1943

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Darling:

With greatest apologies to and profound sympathy with anyone, you or the censor, who may be compelled, by duty or devotion, to read this, I’m going to give you a few technicalities on tonight. If it should be on the insane side, well - after all, can I help the condition I was born in? to say nothing of Alaska being an improving ground along these lines.

To begin with, it is twenty minutes past 12:00, midnight. But that is beside the point and purely irrelevant. The point is - it is a beautiful night. (I sorta hope old James Curwood is buried somewhere around here. He was the bird to fill my foolish young head full of illusions on the “Glory of the Great North.” May his soul rest in peace, damn his hide.) But to get back to the point, which we have not come to yet, the old dump is changed a bit since a few days ago. Seems like someone ought to start singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” For the earth looks as if it was so scared that it lost all its color and became a deathly white.

I had some hours of my own today and took them as such. I grew so tired of everyday routine that I just went to town and saw a show. What is town? Well, it is just another place like this one, only more so. The show? A sad case. A flop called “Girl Crazy.” I was rather disappointed in it. But so was everyone else; so I wasn’t the only sucker to go to it. I also decided I’d just spend a lot of money and be carefree. I would have too, only I couldn’t find anything to spend it for. I believe I would have got drunk too, but I thought of you. Besides, I could not have found anything to drink. This place is practically world famous for its absence of wines and liquors. It breaks my heart, too, for, frankly I don’t use the stuff. But I am straying from the subject.

To get back, (back to where, I am sure I don’t know) this is one of those nights you read of in the story books. The snow floats lazily down to a carpeted earth, as if it had no place to go and no set time to get there. Of course, I left out a few details. For there is the villainous wind that makes up the snow flake’s mind on where to go and how fast to get there. And this wind is always in a hurry. But on the way to work tonight, the wind had stopped to rest and the stars shone through holes in the clouds. And for awhile, the glory of the Great North, as depicted by Rex Beach and James O. Curwood, was very evident. Great white nothing was stretched out before you. All the fictional objects were in view, star light, barrens, loneliness, cold, etc, except the wolf that always howls on such a night. But, then, most of the fellows were in bed or there might even have been a few “wolves” out prowling. Yes, when Rex Beach was along here, it must have been a clear night. Else, he would have had a far different trend in his scenic views in his (I gotta admit it) great novels.

For awhile I stopped and turned off my flashlight, to stand in silent praise of the beauty of it. And I hate to admit any beauty about this hole. And usually, can’t if I wished. But tonight I caught the old place off guard and saw the glory of it, before it was aware of it.

Honey, I received your letter with the picture and card with the imprint of the most adorable pair of lips I’ve ever kissed. I shall keep that card among my souvenirs. For I am sorry to say, I can’t fill your request for finished the card out and returning it. For we have a censor regulation that forbids sending clippings, comic cards, picture cards, etc. I am sorry to say this card will come under that law. The idea is that messages could be carried out that way. I am sure I don’t know what there is here to be kept secret, but I ‘spect we’ll keep it secret anyway. Ha. However, I’m glad, personally, for now I have not only a memory of, but the actual imprint of, the lips I have never been able to forget. To say nothing of twenty nine pictures of the “Girl that could not be forgot.”

Well, My Darling, the night grows old. The news grows short; so I must close. I hope you’ve heard from your brother by now and have learned he is safe. Dee is O.K. after a fit of excitement. I’ve heard from him twice since it occurred and he only laughs about it. Neil is back at Greenville and thinks he may stay there awhile. Tell Fran hello for me. The fellows think she is cute. Of course she is, too.

My love forever,

Shorty

"This is Frances and I. She has grown up so now I doubt if you would recognize her. If I remember right you were rather foolish about dogs so I am sending this one."

July 16, 1943

Note: this letter was written before the one posted yesterday, which is dated July 21, 1943, but they were both postmarked July 22, 1943 so I just discovered that when I took it out to transcribe it.

My Darling Alice:

I haven’t felt so far from home and familiar places and faces in a long time as I have today. All day you have been on my mind along with so many other thoughts. I tried twice to write today, but it trailed out into nothing and I destroyed the unfinished letters. I’ve been very homesick and lonely, despite the fact I’ve had very little time when there wasn’t a crowd around me.

I know it is bad to let thoughts of home and loved ones get too much of a hold on you. I usually try to prevent it. But today was one of those days that it couldn’t be controlled; when all bars and guard are slacked and I feel very alone. Do you remember how I used to hate western plays, with all their melodrama? Well, today I saw one. Or rather sat through one. Instead of seeing the characters on the screen, I was seeing another set of characters. I even now see Dee as we used to mount “Smokey” and “Prince” to ride fifteen miles to say hello to his friends at Antioch. Or the times I used to saddle “Queenie”, my favorite, and the queen of the herd at home, to ride eight or ten miles under pretense of getting some books. And all the time knowing it was because I wanted to ride like wild wind and she was the only one of the bunch that never seemed to grow tired. Again I see the woods and trails we so often followed. Especially the woods. I loved them so much. Remember one night we, you and I, were going down a moonlit road; and you showed me a large oak tree that you and Frances used to go to and talk over your days activities. I still see the tree and still today wonder what you talked about. If my name was mentioned in that chosen rendezvous. It was near that same place that we said our last goodbye, officially, remember? There are so many other things I remember about that night, too.

As I’ve said, I’ve also had many other thoughts today. As you may already know, Roielee is back in Texas and Dee is in Alaska. I don’t know where he is, yet. But I am very unhappy about the whole thing. Yes, I am afraid. Not for me, but for Dee. I can’t say much more and stay in limits of censor regulations, but if anything should happen to Dee, a part of me would die. He is more than a brother to me. He is a real friend as well. If only I could know where he is, it would be of some help. But I must keep wondering. He says “for a long time.” I think I could laugh at death, my own, but not his. My prayers are that he is not going where I think he eventually will.

I suppose this letter has not been a happy sounding one. I just had to say something to someone and this is one way of saying it. But I am not so unhappy as it may seem. For I still have hope that this war’ll end someday. All of us will return and you and I can carry on where we left off, and carry out that long hoped for marriage. I am keeping the ration book you sent me in anticipation of the great day that I return to civilization.

Darling, it’s getting late and I must rise about 5:30 in the morning so I better hit the hay.

I love you and miss you more than words can say.

Yours forever,

Shorty

June 15, 1943

Dearest Alice:

Received your letter of May 24th. I have been lucky lately. We have had mail call quite often. I wish it could always be so; for I get so anxious for your letters. Especially so, when they are like the last one. It was such a wonderful letter.

There was one flaw in it, however. You said “if I believed in you and loved you —-” My Darling, you can not doubt that. You know I love you more than anyone I’ve ever known. I live for the day that we will be together again, and to use your own words - “This time forever.” It is too late to regret the past, but in the future I think we will both think twice before we say “goodbye.” I have fully learned my lesson concerning a stubborn pride. Before I left, I wanted to tell you everything and try to get a new start, but I was stubborn. It is too late now to be grieving over spilled milk, but it is never too late to profit by experience. Yes, I love you as I did the day we met - that fateful July night.

I found a picture here that was taken quite awhile ago. I have removed the censorable part of it. I guess you know which one is me. The other fellow, known as “Pop” is a friend of mine. Of course, as you can see, he is a “runt,” but maybe he will grow someday. Ha.

Well, Dear, I must close for a lack of news. I’ll try to write more next time. Tell the girls to watch their tempers. Two days and not speaking is too long. Give Frances my congratulations and tell me if I know the fellow.

With love and best wishes.

Forever,

Shorty

June 6, 1943

My Darling,

It has been two weeks since I have written to you. So it was with a pain that I read your letter asking if I had quit writing. Dear, just as there have already been a few times that I could not write, so there will be others. Please, My Love, don’t lose faith in me. All those two weeks that I was unable to write, I was thinking of you, and wondering what you would be thinking. For a few days late here may cause a letter to be a few weeks late arriving there. We are in an isolated place and the mail can only go out when transportation makes it possible. In those times that you don’t hear from me, just tell yourself that all is well. That is the only way.

Now by way of explanation, I’ll try to tell you why I haven’t written. It was not because I was ill. In fact, it was vice versa. As I have told you before, I am in the communication section. Well, there was a line out and I went out to help repair it. I walked about twenty five miles that day. I walked, it seemed to me a thousand miles, and returned the third day. But I went about twelve miles that afternoon and returned a second time to camp and packed my rucksack (a back pack) and set out for another trip, which was some ten miles. Then, at last, I finally returned to camp and found that I had changed jobs. Probably you won’t understand why changing a job could affect my writing, but you’ll just have to believe me when I say it did. So, during the week I was on the trail and the few days of rehabilitating, I have been unable to write. So, Sweetheart, when I cannot write, don’t lose faith in me. Just remember that I truly love you and am always yearning for you and hoping and praying that the day will come soon that I can return to you, and hold you in my arms instead of those visions of you that come in my dreams.

I am enclosing a couple of the pictures we took while on the trail, just to prove I wasn’t sick during the time I didn’t write. The background is a sheer rock cliff in one and a small cavern (in the same rock cliff), in the other. There is quite a sad story concerning this near location, but I can’t tell it. Remind me to tell you next time I see you. Ha. But, as for the other picture you mentioned, I believe I explained it earlier. However I expect to have some better ones made tomorrow night and will send you one, without fail.

So Frances is wearing an engagement ring? It makes me feel so very sorry that her sister isn’t also wearing one. Oh, Dearest, why did we have to waste those last days disagreeing and quibbling? Had we only realized then, as we do now, that life has no room nor time to spare for disagreements! I can send gifts by mail, I can assure you of my love long distance, but I can’t put rings on your fingers while we are apart. When I see you again, I will have the ring. If we argue then, I shall force it on and get a small size so you can’t pull it off.

Alice, I am getting to be an old man. I have become 25 years old. I felt that I wasn’t forgotten when I returned to camp and found that I had gifts  and congratulations awaiting me. Among them was a very nice pen and pencil set. So now I can write to my hearts’ content. Ha. Sorta like a dream. I was wishing I had a pen and then find I have three pens. Ha.

Well, Love, I’ll close for now and write again soon.

This love of mine goes on and on,

Your Shorty

March 6, 1943

My Dearest Alice:

Your letter of February 17th arrived a while ago. I never appreciated a letter or more gladly read one than I did that one. I was on the banks of despair and in an awful mood when I got the letter. It seemed that I was at least a hundred years old and that life had no end of woes. ‘Tis amazing how your letters can lift me out of those moods. And, My Love, the pictures were just wonderful. I have looked at them so much already that I have almost stared holes through them. The one where you are kneeling between the twins is just too wonderful for words. I quite agree with you and Pat. They are very cute kids. But so is the one kneeling between them. It is really a picture I can’t forget. I can almost visualize the angels standing guard over the three of you. I am a lover of children, but I have never seen so inspiring a picture as that one. It is a good thing you told me who Frances was; for I would never have recognized her. She certainly has grown up. It doesn’t seem that I have been away that long. I guess I have more or less expected people to be the same age and size as when I left there, or I had not stopped to think that time and tide waits for no man.

Yes, you remember right, I’m still foolish about dogs. But how could I see the dog when you were in the same picture? I did, however, finally get around to seeing the dog. I have missed my dog in this forsaken place more than ever before. There is only one dog here and it will not as much as let me near it, much less play or go hunting. It is the first sergeant’s dog and has a first sergeant’s temper.

You said you had changed jobs, and that you had told me about it in the previous letter. Well, that was one of the letters I did not get. You see, there was once an accident. Some of the mail was lost. Then there was once a delay, and as yet, the mail has not arrived. Part, if not all of that load of mail will reach us someday. I hope. Maybe when I go to see Davy Jones, or whoever keeps our lost letter, I will get them. Ha. So, suppose you tell me all about it again, eh? I am glad thought, if you like it better and especially since you got a raise. But I hate to think of you working such long hours.

My Dear, I am sure you were kidding when you mentioned the Savoy girl. I only put that in the letter as I thought the letter rather funny. I didn’t even answer it. Besides, there is only one girl as far as I’m concerned. The only one that means anything to me is you. If I were in the heart of the Amazon Country, you were still be my only girl. The dream that someday I’ll see you again is all that makes these lonely days bearable.

Despite the fact that it doesn’t help any to worry about me, I am glad you do, in a way. And as for getting fooled in the future, that is impossible. If I have a future, you will be part of it; even if that part has to be only memories. You are as much a part of the past as life itself. You are a part of the present, though it has to be memories and hopes and dreams at present. As for the future, well, I just can’t see one if you are not to be a part of it. Yes, I believe you. If you say you did not write because of war, I believe you. I have never doubted your sincerity. In fact, I have never doubted you in anything or any way. You are the one girl that I put absolute faith and trust in. Nothing anyone could say would change that save you, yourself. And though I didn’t give you much reason to do so, I hope you have faith in me and in what I say. For that period of inconsistency that I suppose every boy goes through has passed for me. I have dedicated my earthly life to you and will do all in my power to be the man you once tried to make of me.

Do you see Roielee very often? I hear that Linda Joyce is a very cute baby. I sure would like to see her. If you see Roielee, tell her my address is still the same and tell her I’d like to hear from her. I haven’t heard from her in ages and since I don’t have her address, naturally, I can’t write her.

I was sorry to hear you had given your brother to Uncle Sam. But I hope him the best of luck and in my prayers I’ll pray he comes back to you safe and soon.

Well, I must close for now, but I’ll write again soon.

Will all my love,

Shorty