Letters Home

December 29, 1943

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My Darling:

Received your letter just a few hours ago and again received that life giving inspiration. You are such a constant bunch of mystery and surprises, My Love.

I had just waded through some deep snow covered tundra, facing a cold wind. (This time I won’t call it “a little cold”) But when I read your letter, I was all warm again.

Honey, you say, and I agree, that Nature is God’s creation. But the closer to it, the more you love it. Well, that depends on the nature. Ha. And that remark about was I getting wild or was the fox tamed. Ha. The answer is I don’t know. Is it any sign that I am wild if I grow long ears and a tail and howl like a wolf when the moon comes up? Anyway, I don’t think I’m a gentleman, since I heard what one is. They tell me a gentleman is a worn out wolf. 

I have not seen the picture “Report from the Aleutians” yet. I want to see it if it ever comes here, so I can see if they filled it full of propaganda. The shrill wind sounds very familiar. If they’ve filled it with propaganda and false information we should sue them. Ha.

In the letter before this one, you sent some clippings and a joke or two. Said if I wanted more you would send them. Well, next to getting your letters, my greatest pastime is jokes. And the poems were swell. I like to read poetry, but it is scarce as frog hair around here. You also asked me if I got the catalogue. I did and thanks a lot. I guess I forgot to mention it. I also thank you for the gum in the last letter. Though I felt like a pig chewing it. They tell me you can hardly get gum down there and we can buy it by the box here, if we like. Now, I believe that old propaganda about “No sacrifice too great for the boys over there.” For if a woman will sacrifice her gum, they would sacrifice their life. Ha. It also has got me to worrying You see, it’s like this: it reminded me of a poem I read someplace, and I can’t remember what the poem was or where I read it. It was something like this:

"The rose you gave to me

That you took from your hair

Smelled, not of the rose, but thee.”

Can you help me out? Ha. 

As for my hair, it isn’t any darker. It’s getting almost a strawberry blond. It must have been a trick of the camera. Now if you had asked if I were getting grey, I would have said I wasn’t surprised. Ha. But I deny any frown. That was taken when I first got here and I was full of (as the fellows here express it) hell and vinegar. So the mischievous look was a possibility, but the frown could only have been caused by the sun’s glare.

You said you could see the beauty of this forgotten land reflected in my letters. I am sure I don’t know how you do it. Ha. Really, though, if I were to see this place on a sunny day or moonlight night; and know that I could leave it when I wish, I could see beauty here. I’ve often stood in the cold to see the mountains bathed in white array of moonlight or to see the setting sun (seldom seen) painting the clouds and mountains golden. But most of the time grey skies are predominant.

Well, My Love, I’m out of paper. I close. Please pardon the slow letter, my stamps are about 1/2 mile from here. 

Yours forever,

Shorty

December 18, 1943

My Dearest:

Received your letter tonight before coming to work. It was swell to hear from you - and at just the time I needed your letter so.

Honey, you wrote as if you were very tired. I know just how you felt. Ten hours a day is too many hours, My Love. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Maybe you ought to take awhile off. Go places, do something different. It breaks monotony. Then you can go back to work with a new zest. Why, a few nights ago, I rode a truck in a blizzard, staying up all night - just to break routine. It’s nerve wrecking. There is such a thing as staying too close to home. The next thing you know, you’ll be saying “what’s the use?” And that, my Pet, is just what I don’t want to happen.

You said you didn’t get the idea of something I said about a hopeless feeling. Well, whatever I said, must have been said in a period of dejection. I am sure I do not feel hopeless now. 

Often, we may become so bored that we think we have lost faith in everything. But usually after I reach bottom, I rise up and begin to fight back. True - there are times when I would not believe even a promise of the U.S. Gov’t. But even then I know that I have supreme faith in it. You said you couldn’t understand. I do not expect you to - no one could. Remember, I have often said you couldn’t understand this life unless you had been here? This place does things to you. You may catch yourself telling your best buddy to go to ___. But, then, at night, sometimes, a moon will rise above a snow capped mountain, casting its glow on the water, and the place becomes a place of beauty. Or the sun (seldom ever seen) may set behind the far off hills and the ever present clouds will be painted gold. Then, as you see God’s own art, you realize that He is even here, in the world’s most forsaken land. And you can’t feel hopeless.

You said your brother had moved. What was his last A.P.O.? Of course, he can’t tell you much, but if he had gone to Sicily, I am sure he could tell you that. For I got mail from there, telling me of the people, scenery, name of place, etc. That may be changed by now, as censor rules are set to fit the circumstances. I hope him the best of luck, wherever he is.

Some of the guys from Alaska have already gone back to the States on this rotation deal. It may work out, yet. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Gee, but I’d love to see civilization again. More so when I read such lines as in your last letter “—and we can be together forever.”

Yes, Dear, I’ve had quite a bit of experience at going to work at midnight. I have grown so used to it. It has been 20 months, now, that I have been on a shift duty. But after the war, no one is going to put a night duty job off on me. Ha. Here it is all the same, and you get to where you don’t pay any attention to it. I can sleep as easily by day or by night.

One more week and Christmas will be here again. My third one in the Army.  It will sure look funny with all the G.I. socks hanging up. “‘Twas night before Xmas. All the G.I. socks hanging in neat military row. Midnight! A form looms up in the door! Is it Santa entering? - No. It’s a dog face going out for fresh air.”

Three years ago, this was a gala week. Long gone relatives returning, laughter, fun. But this year, as so many others are doing, military and civilian alike, I get my Bible out and read Luke Chapter 2:11-15, alone. Yes, I can still feel some of the Xmas spirit. “Peace on Earth, good will toward men.” Though you go to bed with a gas mask in handy reach and a rifle by your bedside, you say a prayer for those you love, and say “Lord, thy will be done —-“; you also know that someday the children will laugh again. There will be no anxious tears, heartbreak, and loneliness. And Shortys will have their Alices. Smile, fair maid, for ‘tis Xmas time! “May God watch between thee and me while we are absent from one another.” 

Yours,

Shorty

August 1, 1943

Alice, My Dear:

I received your letter of July 18th, and it sounds as if you must have been very tired, or sleepy or maybe the hot weather is getting you. At any rate, the letter has taken on an unprecedented tone. Dearie, don’t let war nerves or anything else worry you. It does no good.

I have been rather on the busy side lately. You could probably tell that by the way my letters have been. But, if all goes as expected, I will be back at routine duty after a few more days. Then I can catch up on my lost sleep. So until such time comes that I can get back in the groove, please excuse my very poor letters. I am sure you understand how it is, sometimes. A letter written under strain may as well be left unwritten. But I will, at least, try to write you and mama regularly, regardless. I have so many letters here that have accumulated that I’m going to have to call “time out” some day and answer. I have as high as three letters from the same person and all unanswered. Shame on me. Ha.

But, hard as it is to believe, and far away as it seems, this will all end someday. Then I can tell you everything. We can be together, forever, you for me and me for you. We will have that little house under the trees behind the white picket fence, and no black outs. Little Alice II won’t have to worry about ration stamps and rented rooms, and our only fear will be of God. There will be no rushing through life and dreading tomorrow. No hash house meals, for you will be my mess sergeant, cook, and all. Ah, if I could just once sit me down at a table prepared by you alone, it would be enough to ask of life.

Excuse the short letter. Another one soon. Also excuse stamp. I haven’t one right now.

Love always,

Raymond

May 21, 1943

Alice, My Darling:

At last the long expected mail has arrived, and I got four of yours! They were dated April 29th to May 6th. And they could never have come at a better time. I was beginning to feel sorta low. Those pictures ended that, however. they were just too wonderful for words.

Very little of the landscape in the pictures was familiar to me, but I did recognize the buildings behind you and Sybil.

Sweetheart, you spoke of not being able to write long letters. Of course I like long letters, but I also realize the time element these days, as well as a lack of news. When you can’t write a long letter, just write a letter. Your handwriting means very much to me. Even a few lines with your name signed to it. As long as you keep saying you love me, it means everything to me. Your every little thought and action means more to me than you will ever know.

You said you were depending on me and trusting in me. My Love, I will try never to fail in that trust. I loved you when I knew there was no response on your part. Now that we have a mutual love, that love has increased. I have been tried. If I were ever going to forget you, I certainly would have done so since I’ve been here. That, alone, has been enough to convince me that it was neither music nor moonlight that made my heart skip a beat when I saw a vision on a stairway. That was Fate, not Chance.

You spoke of hearing “You Would Be So Nice to Come Home To”. That is the number one song here and she, Dinah Shore, is the number one gal. I never hear the song without thinking of you. That is my dream. I am always dreaming of the time when you will be at the end of my day, my better half and inspiration. When that time will be, no one knows. We only know that in the end we will come out victorious. There is not one doubt in my mind as to that. All we can do now is trust in God and America. But as long as you are waiting, I have two victories to win, for America and you.

No, Dear, I have not written Nina and have no intention of doing so. I couldn’t see the advantage of writing to her. I liked her and she was lots of fun when she was Neil’s girl. She never was anything more than a friend, or barely more than acquaintance, to me.

You said you thought I had been sick. Dearest, I have never been so healthy. Sometimes I wish I could get sick; for there are nurses up here now and it wouldn’t be so bad to have their soft hands rubbing your feverish forehead. Ha. I have seen two or three of them, but they tell me some of them are quite young and pretty. Oh, yes, I guess I told you that two girls came by here with a U.S.O. show. One of them once danced for Hitler.

Alice, I told you that I was going to send you a photo. They were not so good; so I am going to try again. Maybe these next will be better. But, My Dear, you must not be feeling well! To pay 5.50 to get a picture of me enlarged!?

By the way, we can get anything we want, now, without approval. You only have to present this envelope and this request. So you can send me that photo now. I will be anxiously awaiting it.

I’ll try to have one made within the next week. My love and best wishes to you.

Your devoted,

Shorty

May 15, 1943

Dearest Alice:

For three days I have been trying to write you a letter. Maybe you will say that should not be such a hard task; but, My Love, you can not understand this place. We not only run out of anything to say, but we have to watch our way of thinking. For instance if I had gone on and wrote the letter I started night before last, I would have said a lot of things that I would have regretted today. I was too much in the mood for expressing my opinion of a lot of people and things. Of course, I am allowed to think anything I please, as long as I don’t let it get me enough to tell it to other people. Today, I got so fed up I had to explode or laugh; so I laughed. (Now I feel lots better).

I have been expecting mail for a long time, but I have been continuously disappointed. So we at last have something to look forward to. (Namely, the day mail will come in). We have had no word from the States since April 15th. So you can imagine our difficulty in writing.

Maybe I’ll get out of this mood when your letters arrive. I always do. Even though I sometimes get in a worse one. Sometimes the miles between us don’t seem so far. That must be the days we are thinking of each other at the same time and your assurance reaches me by mental telepathy. Ha. But, oh the other times, when I begin to be doubtful if I’ll ever see you again; and human lives are not worth a nickel a dozen. There are days when I even begin to lose faith in humanity. But thank God, there are people like you to contradict such thoughts before they are really started.

Well here I go again. I started this letter last night, but didn’t get to finish it. Also, today I do not feel so hopeless. Besides, I have just had reason to expect mail by tomorrow.

Dear, do you realize it has been almost two years since I’ve seen you? I try to forget that time is going by so swiftly, and trying to keep the belief that each year will be the last one I have to stay away from you.

Well, I’m going to close for now, and start sweating out a letter from you. Maybe the next letter will not be do dreadfully monotonous as this one.

Regardless of how monotonous life gets or how hopeless, my devotion to you does not change. You are everything to me.

Yours completely,

Shorty

April 27, 1943

Dearest Alice:

As I sit here with your pictures before me, I can not help but be happy. And to make me even more so, I have four of your letters before me, dated from March the 24th to 30th. If you write so often, you will have me spoiled and I will expect a letter every day, for your letters are such joy to me. The more I get, the more I want. If I should continue getting so many letters from you, I’d begin to believe you care. Ha.

In all seriousness, Alice, I do love to get your letters. There can never be too many of them. But if I didn’t get them, I would still believe you care; for I want to believe it so much that I can’t doubt you. The photograph came in the last mail. It decorates my bedside table in plain view, so I can see it anytime, day or night. The more I see it, the more in love with you I become.

I had a very happy Easter, considering all. I had expected a very drab one, so I got quite a surprise. The night before, we had gone about ten or twelve miles to see a movie. (That is, four of my friends and I). We went through some pretty nippy night air and over some of the roughest terrain you could imagine. But the show was such a new one and such a good one that we all of us decided it was worth the trip. It was “The Crystal Ball” with Goddard and Miland. Then Sunday we got the mail we had been waiting for. Poor me, I only got twenty letters. Ha. To make the occasion a greater treat, there was your photograph. So at the last, we went to church services. So, we did not have a dull Easter. In fact, I felt the Easter spirit more than ever before in all my life. The chaplain told us once that when we got to feeling low to call on our imaginations. Maybe we did, for the day that meant so much to me certainly would not have been enough to break the monotony at home.

Now, my love, about that letter of propaganda that I mentioned. You seemed to take it rather hard. Please don’t think I believed on bit of it. I even thought it was funny. Whoever wrote it should have known me better. Nothing short of your own lips could convince me that you were not honest as the days are long. If I were even easily persuaded (which I am not) then I would not heed an unsigned letter. But, now, hold your hat, as well as your temper - I got another one. Ha. This one said that I should have enough experience by now not to be too sure of myself. So if you consider that statement, you, as I, will probably have some idea of the source of the propaganda. I am not going to say where the letter was post marked, for you may draw the wrong conclusion and accuse the wrong party. The last letter had conspicuously changed in handwriting, though there was a very close resemblance of the first. It was signed “the she-” (something or other). The last word was practically illegible. so let’s just say it was “cat”.

If I have figured the right person into this, it is some one who has seen you, but doesn’t know you. It would seem that, shall we say, “it” doesn’t want me to be happy at any cost. If you figure out for certain just who sends such trash, send them a postal card and tell them their plan has failed, and if they will send a Dime Western Magazine, I would come nearer to believing the fantastic stories therein. For such letters take up space of letters that I want to get. I can not enclose the letter because of the censor. It would double his work as he would have to censor it, as well as mine. Besides we can’t send letters written on both sides of the paper, I hope this will not affect you as the other one. For they really can’t hurt you and it gives me something to do. I can play detective and try to solve the mystery of “who is the villain”. Will I solve it in time to save our little Nell? Does the villain leave a clue? Continued after I get the next propaganda. Ha.

Now, seriously, My Dear, if you go letting this have any effect on you, I will not let you in on the next “thrilling episode of Who’s Yehudi?” You are the past, present, and future for me. Don’t ever say such things as you said in the last letter about you were trying to be good enough for me. It makes me feel like such a heel. If there is anyone not good enough, it is me. But I love you and am trying to be the kind of fellow you want me to be.

If you recall, there was once when you yourself told me not to darken your door again, but it didn’t stop me from loving you. It only stopped me from seeing you. So if you couldn’t drive me away, then how do you suppose anyone else, with loose propaganda or any other way, could do so? As long as you are there waiting for me, I will be striving to come back to you.

You gave me your word of honor, but I did not ask for it. I do not need a word of honor where you are concerned. All your words are words of honor, as far as I’m concerned; for I love you so. This war can’t last always. Someday, with the grace of God, I’ll come back to you. Then we can truly say our love has been tried and found true.

I must close for now, since I guess you may be tired of reading this.

One who loves you,

Shorty

P.S. The letter you mentioned came through without a postage stamp. I got it first.

February 15, 1943

Dearest Alice:

Received your letter of January 25th and 29th and the Valentine greeting yesterday. I waited about answering them, because we usually have two or three days mail when we get any at all. But the mail carrier says it’s all over this time. So we still have some mail written between the fourth and thirteenth of January. We often get new mail first that way, and then weeks later receive the letters written in between. I can tell by the last two of your letters that I still have some mail from you somewhere on the way.

I was glad to hear you have a more pleasant job. How do you like your new home? I can’t imagine where Reiger Ave. could be. I don’t suppose I’ve ever seen the section.

I hope it is close to your work, with transportation as it is.

My Dear, you will never know how happy your last two letters made me. Your words were fresh air to a drowning man. And you can bet I’ll not be getting in hot water again. Not here nor at home or any place else. I’ve grown up. For now I know what it means to wait. I thank God that you had the foresight I lacked. I would not ask it to be any other way, now. I was one of those modern kids who said let tomorrow take care of its own worries, but no more. I’m glad I have no more strings than I already have. We may never see each other again. We just have to face what tomorrow brings. And - I’m thinking the tomorrows will be bringing more worries than the yesterdays have. But whatever comes, I’ll trust in God and face it. With His divine help. I should never be afraid.

You spoke of the night we met and the remark you made. You said that “somehow” we met. I often think that meeting was predestined. For just as I looked toward those stairs, you were smiling and all other faces were lost to me. The Collins girl asked if I’d like to be introduced and the remark just jumped out, “No, I’ve got to go to work at midnight.” I guess you heard her, and as we were dancing later, when she said to remember that I went to work at midnight.

Now I find I’ve “gone to work” at midnight again. But day will surely dawn. This time for good and we will never part again. When I think of the possibility that we will never meet again, it becomes unbearable; so I don’t think of it much. But there is one thing certain. However long it may take to win this war or where ever I may go, there is one thing certain. I will be true to you. Our old song, Be Honest With Me, could be our motto. God forbid that I be any other way with you.

Dear, from the way your letters sound you must be working too hard. You should take time out for diversion. It’s not good for to work all the time. And as for saving money, how can you do it? With living conditions as they are, it seems saving would be hard. I can’t save any. Of course you know my parents don’t live together; so I support Mama. She tries to save part of my check, but I told her to stop trying. Goodness only knows she will have a hard time living on $40, much less trying to save any. At present, she is staying with my sister on the Gulf Coast at Baytown. She can save house rent that way, so I guess she will get by.

Well, Dear, it’s time I prepared for breakfast. I’ll close for now. I’m well, cold, and lonely.

Faithfully yours.

Shorty

January 22, 1943

My Dear Alice:

Oh, glorious day! For two days now mail has been streaming in. The glory of going without mail two months is the recompense of getting a lot at once. As I started to answer your first letter, I got your second one! And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if before I’m finished here, I’ll have still another of your life inspiring letters.

Believe me when I say your letters are inspiring. A few lines on paper, meaning nothing to anyone except for the one to whom they are written. Believe me, Dear, when I say that your letters have the power to make my darkness turn to sunshine and my tired and weary being to take on new life. I guess it must be true that back of every man’s actions, there is a woman to urge him on. Life has had a fuller and happier meaning to me since you let me out of the dog house. I got a letter yesterday from a girl in Savoy, Texas. She proposed marriage. Do you think I should accept the offer? Ha. She also asked “how much insurance do you have?” Ah, such heartbreak, and just as such beautiful romance was starting. Ha. I have never seen her, heard of her, or even heard her name before; and probably will never again. I ought to have told her yes, just come out to camp. Ha.

Alice, you should not stay at home so much. You need diversion. Life is too short, or rather too long. There is enough loneliness at best, but after you have come to the point where you no longer can be one of those carefree and laughing youths, you will always wonder if you could not have been happier had you followed the gang. One can never really choose between two lives until they know both types. Be young, Alice, and have no thought of tomorrow, except where your soul is concerned. Above all, have no thought of me, except where our friendship is concerned. When we ever meet and start over again, I hope we can meet on frank and well understood ground. Let no uniform or war talk be the cause of our re-union.

Speaking of movies, it may sound strange, after telling you what sort of place we are in, but we had a good film here the other day. It was “Holiday Inn”, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. This is the third one we have had in the last two months. They had planned to show one every week, but films, like mail, come when convenience allows. We see the shows free, naturally, and only part of the men can see them. There are four of us on this job, and we have arranged it so that we each only miss one show out of every four. You see, we never, for any occasion slack vigil. Regardless of the occasion, some of us are on duty. Well, that is the law of war.

I guess you have heard that my home is not in Sulphur Springs now? Sounds silly, but what I mean is that I have no relatives except Roielee and Linda and my dad living there now. Pat and Nancy moved to Ft. Worth. Neil is in the Army Air Force at Greenville and Mama has gone to Baytown, on the Gulf Coast. She distributed her household equipment and went to stay with my sister. I am just an orphan child. Ha. Ah, but it will be grand when I can reassemble the scattered family after the war. If Neil gets married, as I fear he will, that will only leave me and Mama out of a once big and happy family. Well, I guess it won’t hurt to dream of a brighter future, will it? The present is pretty enough to dwell on. The only certain thing we know now is God. Life is like trembling quicksand. You may be spared permanently or have your life taken in a period of minutes. so why plan for the future too much, or spend any time worrying about the hills we have to climb before we reach them.

Alice, I have quit hoping for a furlough. They are still giving them, but they are doing it so slowly that even if they are not stopped completely (a little later on), I still would not be up for furlough for nearly another year.

I have some more pictures being made. If they turn out O.K., you can have ‘em. By the way, about sending pictures that you wish to retain. As much as I would enjoy it, and as hard as I would try to get them back to you, I would not advise it. Mail can be lost too easily. Even if it were not lost it damaged, it may be a long time before you got them back. But thanks a million for the offer. I’m sure you understand why I advise you not to send them.

Yes, Alice, I’ve been writing every week, but I’m sure you get my letters as I get yours - all at once. I must close now.

Forever yours,

Shorty