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Darling:

As my heart runs rampant with loving thoughts of you, I am all by my lonesome and it’s very cold and dark out there, and a miserable screeching wind is screaming murder. But I’ve hardly paid any attention to it. Why should I? I have your letter and it is such a sweet one. I rather expected you to tell me a thing or three after that dreadful letter I wrote. Instead you’ve written one of the nicest letters I’ve had in ages. You are a very special type of Darling. I will always love you for that letter. Now here I sit with the “moon in my eyes” so to speak, and you in my heart, and more anxious than ever to come back to you. I have lived over again every day since we met.

Just this once, we’ll forget that Grace was to be left out of our lives. You asked if she were the cause of the gossip. I must come to her aid. It was not. She has left me out of her life as much as I’ve left her out of mine. I have not heard anything of her since she and I were finished. So please don’t think Grace to be that cheap. She is not. I don’t mean that in a sentimental way, for we neither have any thoughts of sentimentality toward each other. She played square and never broke any of our rules and regulations. I hope you can truly believe that I am not saying this because I am still holding any feelings about her. I only want to give her credit for being a good woman. You see, I can sit here and discuss her as I would any person I’ve ever known and have no pangs. That is because my heart belongs to you. My mind and my all is yours without reserve.

Honey, I promised you a picture; so I am sending it now. It is only an enlargement of a smaller one I’ve already sent. The other one did not come out so well.

This next month will be the month of your birth. I have strained my thinking powers on what I can do about it. I can’t dream up anything. My Sweet, if you will forgive me, I will admit that I don’t know the exact date. Is it the sixteenth? Maybe by then, I’ll be able to send a gift of some sort. If not, I’ll be thinking anyway.

I saw a movie the other night wherein the heroine reminded me so much of you that I felt like getting out. So many memories of you came rushing in that I could hardly bear it. It was hard to distinguish between pain and ecstasy. Well, My Pet, I’ve gotta close. Duty Calls.

Your ever loving,

Shorty

July 22, 1943

My Dearest Alice:

Received your three letters of July the 2nd, 7th, + 10th. Was very glad and excited since it had been so long since I’d had any mail. The pictures were wonderful and no little enjoyment and pleasure for me. I just sat and drank in your loveliness. They caused quite a few nice compliments among the fellows here. They were all just tops, but the best one (and everyone who saw them agreed with me) was the one where you were standing by the flowers in the white dress. Or rather it appeared white in the picture. But I bet it’s blue. The two where you were wearing hats were next best. I’m glad to see they were becoming and sensible, and not a bowl of fruit with a cactus pitched in for good measure. Ha.

My Love, I must admit that I had not told Mama about our reunion. I had told her about you before we disagreed. I knew that I would have to tell her and had been wanting to do so, but could not find the words. I guess I had not seen it as you did. I hoped that maybe I could get to see her and explain it personally. But after reading your letter I knew I had been running away again. I’ve just finished a letter to her, telling her, as you suggested, everything. It was not easy to tell her that Grace and I had been fools enough to plan a marriage on friendship. But I had to tell her that part to make her understand that I do really and truly love you and that it wasn’t a “correspondence affair”. I have told her everything. Mama is a very wise and understanding person. I love her as she does me - devotedly. But I wonder if even she can understand my being such a fool. I am sure you will love her and do hope you two will be great friends. You are the two great loves in my life.

She knows that we disagreed and that I broke off with Grace after I met you and returned to her after I lost you. She knows that it was you that I kept trying to forget, and couldn’t, even as Grace and I planned that foolish alliance. My Dear, I spared myself nothing. It was hard to tell my mother I had been such a fool. But it had to come and if you say it should be now, then that’s how it should be. When you meet her, you will find her to be kind and understanding and sympathetic.

Alice, in your last letter, you mentioned waiting for the picture. It has had ample time to be there, so I guess it got lost. Anyway, I will get another made and send it. But, as you can see. if by chance you have received the last one, they are no good. As I’ve said before, we only have amateur photographers here. There is an enlarging apparatus here and we can get enlargements of a kind. Taking pictures here is no easy job. Usually we have to take them on a cloudy day. Sometimes, under even more appalling conditions.

My Love, you say time seems to pass so slowly - the time we are apart - and I agree. It seems unbearable at times. But I feel very sure that I will come back to you. Don’t ask me why I feel so certain, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I love you so, I just could not die. Maybe it’s because I just have to see Dixie Land and the “Southern Miss” again. But I do feel certain. You are the beginning and end of love for me. You represent moonlit lanes under spreading oaks, rippling waters, everything. In fact, it’s you that makes my world go ‘round. Then you could say “you do believe me, don’t you?”. My Dear, I have never doubted a word you say. Some day I’ll prove it. I must close now. Will write again soon.

Yours - heart + soul,

Raymond (Shorty) Gowen

March 27, 1943

My Dear Alice:

I received four of your letters yesterday evening. I was so happy I could have shouted from the house tops! You are a darling to even think of me, but to love me is more than I hoped for.

My love, you asked for a true and frank opinion of what I wanted our relation to be. Well, it is hardly necessary for me to answer that. For I have not changed in my devotion to you. Unless indeed that love has grown even greater than before. I was so happy when I read your letter that I probably would have answered by wire had it not been impossible to get to the station. Please, don’t say that I “may have changed” or “there may be some one else.” It sounds as if you were accusing me. There is no other but you. There will never be any other until you tell me it is all over. Then there’d not be one who could take your place. You are in my heart to stay, regardless. If you were to grow tired of me, I may close the door on my memories and keep them only in secret thoughts, but I would not forget you. I know it’s hard to explain mine and Grace’s relation. But believe me when I say we would never have married. Grace could tell you the same thing. She told me that, in so many words, in the last letter she wrote. When we parted, we parted as friends. It left neither of us hurt or disillusioned. We were planning a marriage that we both secretly knew would not hold. I’m only telling this so you will not believe me to be a drift-with-the-tide sort of fellow. Some day, when I can talk to you personally, I will tell you all about it. Then you will see why we planned such a foolish and child-like mistake. But now I only want you to trust in me and believe me when I say our love, mine and yours, is one that won’t die. It will go on forever.

I don’t believe in gypsy fortune tellers, but one day in Marshall, there was one told my fortune. Two friends of mine and I were at a carnival and went in to see her for fun. She told me then that I would meet a brunette in my home town, that at first there would be a misunderstanding, but as we grew to know each other better, we’d be deeply in love and it would end up in matrimony. She also told me that within two years I’d leave on a long journey. Well, it has, strangely enough, been as she prophesied so far. I’m going to hope and do whatever I can to make the rest come true.

Dear, you wanted to know if your letters make me lonely. It is quite the contrary. It lifts me out of a despondence that sometimes gets to be quite terrible. Of course I get more impatient for the war to end so I can come back to you. But I wouldn’t call it loneliness. For letters are the closest thing to talking to you. But if it’s loneliness I feel when I read your letters, I would like to be lonely every day. True, it makes the miles between us seem so much further, but we have to bear that. And I pray to God that the time will be soon when the miles will no longer lay between us.

When there’s no mail, we usually get in a corner and grouch. That may be why I wrote the last letter. Don’t let it worry you, for I was blue, tired, and very low in spirit. I hope the censor cut the letter up, for I was sorry I wrote it after I thought about it. This place often gets on our nerves. But seldom as bad as it was the other day I wrote that letter.

I was glad to hear of your raise in salary. But you deserve it. You can’t tell me you put in so many hours and not deserve it.

I am enclosing another snapshot. You can put them on the gate post to frighten tramps away or write underneath “Beware – Bad Dog”. I learned the law down on sending permits for packages. They have to be necessities. So the only way I can get the picture would be to mail it in a large envelope. If that won’t work, then I’ll just have to come get it. Ha.

Mine Love, I must close for now. Good luck and God bless you, always.

Forever yours,

Shorty

January 2, 1943

Dearest Alice:

I have had you on my mind almost constantly since the New Year arrived. In fact, I was on duty when the old year made its exit. I was thinking of you while the change was being made. I have been trying to write you ever since, but I just haven’t been able to find anything to write about.

The radio was just playing “Since You Are Not in Love With Anyone Else, Why don’t you fall in Love with Me”. It is a good suggestion I think. But thoughts like that got me in hot water once, didn’t it?

How has life been treating you? Are you still at the same place? Tell me all about yourself. As for me, I am still at the same place. I think I will stay on awhile. Ha. The silence is so loud here that its driving me goofy. Curwood could write novels on the silence of the North that were amusing. But after you are in it, silence is the last thing you want to hear. Ha.

Dear, you said when the war was over, we were going to start all over. If you are serious about that you will never know what it will mean to me. You haunt my days, and all thoughts the long nights. You can’t know of the times I go get your pictures out of safe keeping and look at them. I have been trying to figure out whether it cheers me or makes me more lonely. Though I get high blood pressure, when I think that you and I will start over again, I get so lonely and want to see you so badly when I look at your pictures. But whatever else I feel, I always get a firmer hold on life; for I realize there are things worth living for, worth putting up any sacrifice for. There was one time I thought I could never feel this way again. I never told you of it, but some day, I will. It was under that condition that I met Grace. It was under those conditions (and fully to her knowledge) that our friendship progressed. I know now that friendship is all we knew. I just wasn’t cut out to be a batchellor, and she was not to be an old maid. I think it was more under those conditions that we decided to be more than friends. I realized the folly of that decision as you came down the stairs at the Big House, two years after it was all over between me and someone that did matter to me once. I am telling you this just as a matter returning your frankness; not that I expect you to be interested. Some day when we can talk and I can tell you all of it, I’m sure you will understand the whole thing. And see it as being unimportant, except to explain some of my later actions.

But until I can see you again, I must say so long.

With all my undivided Love,

Shorty

December 18, 1942

Dearest Alice:

Received your letter of Nov. 23rd today. As glad as I was to hear of you again, I was a little bit sad when you wrote that you had not heard from me in over a month. I hope you are not beginning to doubt me again. I’ve written so many letters that it is driving the censors frantic. In time you will get them and then my alibi will be proven. Sometimes it takes over a month for a letter to reach you from here but when it does, you can rest assured there will be more than one.

You say that if I were home, things would be different. Then I will do all in my power to come back. You said you had grown up. Well, so have I. For I have even a greater love for you than ever before, if that is possible.

You asked me if you may call me by my nickname. I have always gone by it. You may call me anything you like, as long as you call me yours. I’m afraid you did not believe I was serious when we were going together. I was never more serious with anyone. I still am serious. Had you accepted my offer that night at the Big House, things would have been so different today. Maybe they will never be different, but I’ll always have hope. For that hope, I can bear this quandry in which we have all been cast. For that hope, I will be able to forget that I am in a hell of ice and snow, but that I am on my last trek across country. For I am ready to stop and forget the rambling life I’ve led. I was glad to learn you have changed your opinion more than you can realize.

I can almost visualize you in the new clothes. But I’m sure you can never replace that black one you wore the night we met. You ask me if I remember! How could I forget. I never forgot the slightest detail or expression of yours. The night you came down those stairs and, smiling pleasantly walked across the hall, my entire scheme of life was changed. Grace, whom I had known six years, faded from my memory, never to be thoroughly reinstated. After I had made the mistake I did, I tried to tell myself that you would soon fade away. But it wasn’t to be that easy. I had to talk of marriage to Grace, and yet my dreams were of you. That is why my first thought was “I’m free”, when she said she was getting married. I had announced our engagement to Mother and my family. Then I wonder what they must have thought when they realized that it didn’t matter to me when she gave me the sack. All except Dee was probably surprised, but Dee wrote me soon after and told me that you were the one for me, anyway. I wonder how much he really knew. For at his wedding to Rosielee, I as best man, and Grace as the Maid of Honor, as he said those words, I do, that was to make him forever true to only Rosielee, that I looked at Grace and knew a strange fear. I realized then more than ever, that once I said those words there was no turning. I was glad all eyes were on Dee, for I think I must have shivered. And now I thank God that it wasn’t me that night that took the final step.

Incompatibility put us apart, but it took a war to bring us back together. And, God willing, I’ll return after the war to state my case and to be true once more.

Till better days, I remain yours.

Devotedly,

Shorty

December 14, 1942

Dearest Alice:

It seems to be my red letter day. First I get your letter, the first one I have from anyone since Nov. 17th. Also, I saw a woman, in fact three women. They were the first I had seen since we got here some months ago. If I were permitted to say how many months ago, you would see the enormousity of such event. They were with a U.S.O. show that is touring this area.

You asked me if we have any recreation or any place to go at all. The answer is an emphatic “no”. Our diversion is what we can do without deserting our post or shirking our duty. If we want to take a hike, we can usually do so. Or for recreation we can play ping pong, read, or play poker. My recreation is reading. That was all right until I grew tired of it. I grew tired of it because I didn’t want to read the same books all over again. Ha. I took up hiking, but twenty miles is a long hike and about all I can do in one day. I have seen all that is in twenty miles of here. We aren’t allowed to go hunting, besides we are not permitted to leave camp alone. One shot will not stop one of these bears around here. If the bear is very close it would take at least two rifles, firing simultaneously and making crack shots to down him in time to prevent a disaster. One can not go on an overnight outing because it is too cold, besides other reasons.

You say I don’t say anything about myself. Well, there just isn’t anything to say. I was never in better health than I am now. Even if there was some contagious and ravaging disease here I couldn’t tell it. But there is no danger of that happening. I have seen less illness here than ever before. I guess the outdoor life agrees with us.

Gee, you said you wished I could come to Dallas; and that we would go dancing. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get to dance again. I remember so vividly that last time we danced. But unlike you, I have danced since then. I don’t believe anything could ever stop me from wanting to dance. For dancing is a medicine to me. It will ease an aching heart, or it will dull the memory of things that are better forgotten. When I feel good, dancing makes me feel better. So you may guess that all the things I miss, dancing ranks pretty high on the list. And dancing with you would be my utopia.

Dear, you mentioned the two phrases in my letter. It is best that some things never be told; so I’m glad you didn’t understand them, for I have wished that I had never put them in the letter at all. I guess I just remembered too well the last time I saw you. though I knew my affection was not welcomed and that some day you would say “Go fly a kite,” I was quite let down and felt as if I were never to be happy when you just smiled and, in a friendly way, said we were going different directions. I saw you later that day, but I’m sure you didn’t see me. As for that last pledge in Callan, “Wherever I am, whatever you may do, you can believe me, I will be someplace, awaiting your slightest beckon.” You can never say “no one cares”, for I will be on hand for that. I made one mistake that, had it been carried out, would have wreaked havoc, not only for me but Grace. I like Grace, she is a good girl. That isn’t enough for the thing we planned. So I still thank God that she met Summers. Marriage has always meant a life time job to me. It still does, regardless of how many disappointments I may find in it. A divorce can never find a place in my life.

Dearest, I wonder if you really mean all you put in your letters. I can not doubt it, for you have never been a coquette or deceiver. I only hope you didn’t write it as a matter of form. You signed the letters in a different way than ever before. Gee, but it thrilled me!

Just got your Christmas card and the photographs! Hurray! My day is complete. It is indeed a red letter day! How can all this be happening to me in one day? They are lovely. The one where you had let your hair down is my favorite. I always wanted to see you with it down. But you never gave me that pleasure. But you have said we would start all over. After the war is won. That is the term I would add to the treaty when it is signed, “just another chance.” I will be everything that you want me to be. I will be patience and devotion itself.

Yes, Alice, I have been trying to send you some pictures. Some have passed the censor here, but they have to pass a second censor. I have not got them back. So maybe they are on the way to you. But some that I sent, and didn’t get back, never reached their destination; so I can not definitely promise you will get them. Anyway, I am trying again this time and will keep on trying till maybe some day, you will get them. If there is not one in this letter, you will know the censor objected.

There is so much I could tell you if I could only see you, but alas, I can’t. So I will close for now and write again soon; and hope you do likewise.

Under present conditions, my only Christmas gift or greeting can be my best wishes for you.

With all my devotion,

Shorty Gowen

P.S. Just got still another letter. Mama and Nancy “ride” to town together - on foot. Nancy is well and still living with Pat. Ha. They and Mama live together.

October 6, 1942

Dearest Alice,

I have been weak with happiness since you wrote me. I got your letter a few minutes ago and I can hardly be still long enough to write now. Would I write you? I can hardly see how you could doubt it! They said I looked funny when I read your last letter; and I guess I did, but not nearly as I felt when I answered it. I hardly know what I put in that letter. All I clearly remember is that I thought, “She has found some one she cares for more and she must be happy at any cost.”

Blame you? I never did and can not in the least. It was my negligence and haste that did it. I realized that as I read that last fateful letter. Though I expected the end long before it really came. You were the most patient, gentle, and truthful girl I had gone with. The only thing I can see that you were wrong in was my true intentions. The thing that has rung in my very brain since I got that letter was this phrase - “you carried me to that old deserted house”. And one of my faults was not explaining that. We started to a dance that night and I had no idea we would end up there. The rest of the things that happened were as harmlessly meant, though I could never blame you for feeling as you did.

So, Alice, let’s start over. I could and I would be different. But I don’t know if you will forgive me the things that happened after we quit. I tried to do exactly the thing I’ve condemned others for. Grace was willing to take me back and I decided to make a try of it. Then I fooled myself into believing I was serious. I told myself that she was my choice until I believed it. But I realized the truth when she married, for I had not the slightest bit of sorrow. The strangest thing of all was that when she told me, my first thought was “I’m free”! I’m not asking you to come back to me as we were. All I ask is please write me as a friend, and let me prove that I am truly repentant. Just the fact that I’ll be getting your letters is more than I deserve. Your picture is a treasure to me. Thanks a million times.

Yes, Pat told me that he and Nancy were to wed. I’m very glad, for I like Nancy a lot. You caused the wedding. For if you had not been at the Big House, I would never have been there and so Pat would not have gone with me. Therefore they would not have met. Ha.

Have you been to see Nancy since they were married? Give them both my regards when you see them again.

I have a lot of pictures, but they will not pass censorship. So when I get my others back, if they pass censorship, I will send you one to show you how much I’ve changed. Whereas I weighed 121 before I came in the army, I weigh 140 now.

Well, as you can see, I ran out of stationery, borrowed some and now am out again; so I must close. Till I return, I remain,

Sincerely,

Jones Gowen