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Gowen, Winter 1942

Gowen, Winter 1942

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

Staggs, Alford, Patton. Cold Bay, 1943

Staggs, Alford, Patton. Cold Bay, 1943

Griffin, Gowen, and “Greasy” - Cold Bay, 1942

Griffin, Gowen, and “Greasy” - Cold Bay, 1942

Floyd Diggs Alford of Greenwood, Miss. Bank of Cold Bay opposite side in background. 1943

Floyd Diggs Alford of Greenwood, Miss. Bank of Cold Bay opposite side in background. 1943

Koch and Quade. 1942, Cold Bay

Koch and Quade. 1942, Cold Bay

Love and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. All well. - Raymond J. Gowen

Me - with a set of caribou antlers - Cold Bay 1942

Me - with a set of caribou antlers - Cold Bay 1942

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

R. Gowen taken at the end of a hike of about 30 miles. Exhausted? yes! - August 8, 1942

R. Gowen taken at the end of a hike of about 30 miles. Exhausted? yes! - August 8, 1942