Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain
Writing a letter with candle on clipboard, see Oct. 16 letter

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 12, 1944 Thursday

Somewhere in England

Dear folks,

Once more the situation is well in hand. I have been in a state of flux for sometime, but now I seem settled, at least for a while.

I am in England, no doubt of that, and am getting in a lot of experience in English ways. I have had “tea” in some of the best cafes around and came out hungry but educated. I have an English made pipe that has a cherry bowl. My moustache is thicker and better than ever. Color; indeterminate. Black some days, and white others.

I spend most of my time with the company, but pass policy is liberal and I am seeing quite a bit of this part of England. I am due for a pass to London in a week or so. I can mention towns, etc. that are 25 miles away or more, by name. The area right around here has a lot to offer, tho, and I wish I could tell about it. One town is especially good, historically. It has a wonderful cathedral that dates from 1215, and is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty. As an old history major, it is of great interest to me. There is another place I can’t name that I plan to visit. It is known for its extremely old ruins and monoliths. I know it well from my “ancient civilizations” courses t U.N.H., and am looking forward a lot to seeing it. I’ll tell you about it if I do get there.

It does make me feel good to get my degree. I’m going to plan on getting a master’s, if possible, before I start teaching. That’s if the war lasts long enough for my finances to reach the right state. This “G.I. Bill of Rights” may finance some of it for me, too.

My mail is coming thru now. Got a letter dated Sept. 26 today, that’s 16 days. Expect they’ll come faster now.

Everything is rationed in England. I mean everything. There is very little you can buy in the towns, because the ration cards we soldiers get are for P.X.’s only. We get a ration for 1 cake of soap per week, I package of gum, 4 candy bars, and so on. It is plenty for me, but seems funny.

Give my love to Bob and all.

Your loving son,

October 11, 1944 Wednesday

Dearest Marjorie,

Today has been a typical day for me, so as to give you an idea how I spend my time, I might as well tell you how it went.

I woke up warm and snug in my blankets and had the usual struggle between will and desire before I could get up and straggle to breakfast and to the company tents by 8 a.m. The E.M. tents are about a quarter mile away. I was only a little late today. First I went to the supply tent to see how our latest requisitions were going. Found that good little Sgt. Fee was in a dither over some stuff that had been turned in, but was still serviceable. So we went together down to battalion supply to see if it could be exchanged. We found that it couldn’t and came back to re-issue it to the men.

Then I went to the orderly room and censored mail for a couple of hours. That made it nearly 11:30, so I came down to dinner. At one, Lt. Fairbairn and I got a big bag of English money and set about paying off the men. He counted out the pounds and I, the shillings and pence. That took nearly all the afternoon, because we had to get some info on soldier-voting from each man. At 4:30 we had an officers’ call down at Battalion Hq. We took notes on current business and coming events. That was over at 5:30. Then supper, then to the men’s mess hall to check their mess kits for cleanliness. Then here to build a fire (all by myself) and write to you. Depending on my energy, I may shave, shower, and pick up dirty clothes before going to bed. I am the only one in the tent now, but Buk will be in soon, and Oley later on. Tent life is very comfortable. You are in fresh air all the time. Consequently, I have an enormous appetite, and sleep very, extra comfortably in my nice tight drawn blankets.

Christmas has been on my mind some today. In view of my own laziness, I am going to ask you to look after most of our gifts. To my family, your mother, and I guess that’s all. I could say that things were hard to buy here and harder to send. They are, but if I didn’t have you I could probably manage it. I will pick up some little stuff I can, but I wish you’d look after the real gifts. Oh, and let’s not forget Laura and Justin and their little children.

As for me, if you can send anything, make it stationary, soap, and shaving cream. Those things are hard to get here. Also a scarf (warm, O.D.) and a hood—one of those knit things that go over your head and tuck into the top of a sweater or something. Covers head and neck with just a little face opening. I expect a ha-a-a-rd winter, so anything warm would go. And little practical things.

Our P.X. opened today, also our barber shop. The battalion is making quite a home for itself. We have ration cards for everything we buy at the P.X. Soon we expect to have our battalion movie operating. We get the daily “Stars and Stripes” newspaper. It is a small 4-page job, but it has the news and comes regularly. I hadn’t seen a newspaper for a long time, until that began to come. Has “Little Abner” in it, too! Division special service is arranging for special trains to London, too; so if I get a pass for any length, I’ll be off to the big town. There are also some extremely famous historical places near here that I want to see very much. If they are over 25 miles away, I can tell you all about them; if not, I can only describe them generally. This is quite an education, all round.

Well, I must write to the folks sometime soon. I do appreciate Ma’s inimitable style – just as natural as if she were talking! She seems real worried about Bob and Lorna. “We’re not old fogies, she’s just not the one,” she says. I refuse to form any opinion. I respect old Bob’s judgment implicitly, and figure he knows what he’s after.

This sure is an interesting old world! I have been getting some tremendous thrills out of it lately, and can’t think of a single aspect of it that isn’t just as fascinating as it can be. People, places, things I do, folks back home, history, psychology, art, you. It’s all very wonderful. I wouldn’t miss it for anything!

The fire is going out and there’s no more fuel, so I better go to bed now. Nite, honey. I wish you were with me so we could share all the things that are going on. But knowing you love me and thinking how I love you make me feel very satisfied. I sleep very soundly and have no doubts that we will always be together and share everything. It’s so good to know, isn’t it? Bye for now,

All yours,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October 10, 1944 Tuesday

Somewhere in England

Dearest Honey,

Surprisingly enough, things seem to be settling down to a normal pace and routine here. I may even get a chance to write frequently. I sure hope so. I feel as tho I was getting way behind on things. Same way I used to feel when I didn’t write in my diary. It makes me feel guilty because so many things have happened now that I can only tell a few of them.

Fine as the British people are, don’t ever think they are the same as we are. This is really a foreign country. I hadn’t realized this until yesterday. Until then I had been in a U.S. camp and the country had seemed no more different than the sections of the U.S. are from one another. In fact, the weather and countryside seemed less foreign than Georgia or Texas did to me.

Before yesterday I saw enough of English ways to be interested, but not enough to appreciate how different they are. I played around a lot with British money when I was made exchange officer for the company and had to change over $850 from American to English currency and re-issue English money to the men. Got pretty fluent at talking pence, shillings and pounds.

I had a unique conversation with a little English girl. She was out by the ‘”ablution” place, and I had heard that she was there soliciting laundry, which we have been doing ourselves. Naturally, I ran out right away to see if she would take mine. “Are you the girl that wants to take in laundry?” She shook her head no. So I started back to my tent, baffled. I had gone about half way back when she called after me “But my mother does!” I went back to arrange it then. She said the house where she lived was one of two on the other side of the woods. I asked her which one, and she paused and said, “That all depends on which way you’re going. One way it’s the first, the other way it’s the second.” Well, we finally got by all theses obstacles and I found the place. Olewine fascinated them with our “funny” American money, and they said we could have laundry done for three-pence a piece. That’ll keep me from getting dish-pan hands, or whatever it is you get on wash day.

I went around with Olewine most of the time after we landed and were shuttling around. Once we almost got to ride in a glider towed by a C-47. We became acquainted with a lot of pilots at the officers’ club of one place. Arrangements were all made for us to go on a practice flight with a glider squadron, but our outfit moved out the morning we were supposed to go up. We were both disappointed, but anyway, we learned a lot from the pilots, all of whom had been on many missions—carrying invasion troops—and had “short-snorter” bills yards long. They are bills of foreign countries stuck together, you know. The man with the shortest string, buys the drinks.

That was the club where Olewine gave the English waiter a 50 dollar bill. He casually tossed it back, and explained that that was worth 50 cents,--or ‘alf a crown, and not enough to cover the bill.

After we moved into this tent camp things were just like any army camp getting settled—issuing blankets, lanterns, stoves, etc., as supply officer, took most of my time. We C Company officers live together in one tent; we have made it very livable by a series of nocturnal patrols that have yielded a stove, fuel, various items of furniture and, wonder of wonders, an electric light! We “acquired” everything from wire to plug to light and shade for same, and tapped in on a line going by our tent. My capitalistic respect for property is taking an awful beating, but we’re comfortable. We sleep on folding cots that are legitimate issue. That is, we didn’t steal everything.

We eat in a type of building known as a “Nissen Hut;” semi-circular, long, made of sheets of galvanized iron. Very warm and economical.

Just as I forgot that I was in a strange country, I drew a 12 hour pass. I cannot name the city Oley and I went to [Salisbury], because censorship does not permit us to mention any place within 25 miles of this camp. It is a fairly large place, tho, reached by a crowded bus like the one we took to Barkeley from Abilene, except for the English driver and ticket-taker.

As soon as we stepped down off the big two-story bus, Olewine and I walked in a foreign country from then on. We didn’t grasp a thing for the next three and a half hours, when we landed at an American officers club and caught our breath on coffee and donuts. We took off down a narrow crowded old street that didn’t look like New Orleans, but was closer to that than anything we have seen. We were hungry as wolves and looking for a place to eat. On the way we window shopped for Xmas presents for our wives. Saw some fine silverware, but not much in “our” style. Went into an antique shop and bought a bronze medal with a university coat of arms on it for 2 and 6. It is a silly thing—prize for a bicycle race at Cambridge in 1880. Don’t know why I bought it. We passed by typical “tobacconists” shops, and dropped into one. They had many kinds of tobacco, but none of the aromatic kinds. The result of war shortages. I have some English tobacco and it is no better than American. They have an excellent mild cigarette—“Player’s” Navy cut medium, they call it.

We didn’t find a restaurant that was open for a long time, and found out in the meanwhile that we just couldn’t get our uniforms pressed, and needed ration coupons that we didn’t have to buy a cheap pair of gloves. English waiters do not seem very aggressive. We entered a store and would have waited all day before anyone volunteered to wait on us. The waiters just ignored us until we went up and asked them for something. Then they were very polite, however.

Finally we found an open café. It was plainly the best in town—refined and crowded. We dashed in to order something extra big in the way of meals. We forgot that it was four o’clock, tea time, and that England was short on food in a way we don’t know about in the U.S. Consequently we were a little startled when we were put at a teeny-weeny table with a silver tea set and four cups already on the table. I was in the pourer’s seat, so I solemnly poured Olewine’s thimble full and we began munching on the little pastries they had there. We figured that when they brought us the menu we could order something big. The pastries would keep up from dying meantime. The menu did come, too. It was about the size of the menu at that Mexican food place in Abilene, was it Comidas Mexincanas? This menu was in pencil, tho. We ordered Welsh Rarebit very happily and returned to our tea, now reinforced with plain hot water from a pot. Finally our meal came—a thin slice of bread with a cheese cream on it. Olewine said, “huh, in the states we call it a cheeseburger.” All in all, we felt about as silly as you and I did at Antoine’s, and we left a great deal hungrier than you and I did.

We prowled around some more, and had “tea” at a couple of more nice cafes, but still couldn’t get what would equal one meal. Came to one conclusion—either you cannot eat at “tea-time,” or there is just no food to buy in England. Guess it’s a little of each.

We gave up finally, and went sight seeing. Without direction we found the old part of town. A section about two blocks square completely walled in by a tall parapet or the stone sides of buildings. We entered through an enormous archway of stone that looked like something out of the middle ages—and was. We went down a short street to a flat, green square. In the center was the enormous, graceful cathedral, and on the edge of the square were old taverns and stores—The Bell and Crown, The Red Lion, etc. An Anglican priest walked by, and a long legged boy went by on a bicycle. Everything was very, very European except for one thing—the boy was singing “Pistol Packin’ Mama”!

Then came the high point of the day, and I believe one of the most moving experiences of my life. We went into the cathedral. It was interesting from the outside—Gothic, old, large and majestic. It had “flying buttresses” and stone carvings and everything a cathedral should have. But it wasn’t until we went inside and looked up that we caught on to why people have been so enthusiastic about cathedrals. It was the most striking thing I have seen for a long, long time. The tall windows with the sun coming through, the high, high ceilings, the stone floors, the inscriptions that date back to long before the crusades. We got there in time for “evensong” and heard the organ playing. The acoustics were perfect, and the organ seemed to come from nowhere. We saw the robed choirboys march in, and heard the priests chant and the choir sing the responses. You can see how big a grip the church must have had on people in the old days, when it was all the had of art and culture. I was awe-struck in a way that is hard to describe.

We left soon, but I hope to go back again. We went back to the main part of town, and spent the evening at three officers’ clubs. One, to have a good American supper, a Red Cross O.C.; one that had a bar and a radio. We drank some good cherry brandy and some sherry as we listened to the sixth game of the world series. It was 2 o’clock in St. Louis, and 8 o’clock here when it started. We went to the third club to read and meet a Lt. who had agreed to take us home in his peep. We got home to our tent before midnite.

The pass was my first real look at England. It is a strange place, with very deep rooted customs. We Americans won’t change it too much. I have noticed that almost every young girl has a baby carriage. Not that there is any necessary connection, you know.

Since I started this letter my first mail has come in. I took time out to read every word two or three times. I got six letters. Four from you, one from Ma, and one from the University. The last tells me where to sit at graduation! All were written before I got on the boat, but you seemed to catch on that I was on my way. Gee, it was good to hear from you, Bunny. How did you know to put U.S.A. on your return address after Sept. 20? Every word you wrote was true, Hon. I do feel about like a boy that makes me very sick when I censor his mail. Every single day he tells his wife in 8 or 10 pages that he loves her (I quote) “madly, madly, and so very madly.” Well, I’m not mad at you, or anything, and I won’t risk driving anyone else into madness by being like that. But I can see how that boy feels, Hon.

Now, you see, this Abilene N.H. deal really shows very deep foresight, as I see it. I felt that by the time the card went out you might be either in Abilene or N.H. By compromising in this fashion I gave the postman some clue, regardless of where you were. Not many people would think of that, now, would they? And you got the damned thing, didn’t you?

Olewine and his wife have adopted “I’ll Walk Alone” until the war is over, too. It does fit us, a great deal better than I realized when I first went for it. I’ll walk alone, Honey, and I am lonely, too. And no mistake. I love you such an awful lot.

Probably you are in school now. Whatever you do is O.K. with me, Hon. I am waiting to hear about your doings after Sept. 20 or so. Ma says you are looking swell, which is natural, and I don’t see why she seemed surprised that your stay in Texas was good for you. (Did you ever tell her about the neat way you threw your dressed around the sidewalks of Abilene when we came back from New Orleans?) I will be glad when those pictures you took come through—I hope they’re the small kind.

Now, goodnite, Honey. I love you more than anyone in the world. I am so glad we had our summer together and came to see just how close we could be in reality. Before we had thought we could be close, now we are close and understand each other well. With that we can pass the time we are apart without worry and with great faith. I love you, Honey.

So long, every bit of love,

October 7, 1944 Saturday

Somewhere in England [V-Mail #2]

Dearest Honey,

Hello, Hello! My lecture on England is now being prepared and will take about three years to deliver. I am having more fun than anything looking and learning. We live in a tent city and it’s cold, no foolin’, but we are close to civilization. My nerves are being shattered trying to dodge to the correct side of the road when a car comes at me on the left side. Also am waiting to get the “hang” of English money. We have seen quite a share of England already; it’s very pretty—neat, well-cultivated countryside. Like New England, but more populated.

Am still waiting for some mail, but am patient. Have had a hard time keeping up with myself. I love you, Bunny, very much.

All yours,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

[V-Mail #1]

Dearest Marjorie,

I have written several letters to you since we have been at sea. They will be mailed when we land, as this will be. This should get to you quicker, tho, so here it is to let you know I am safe and healthy and young and handsome and rugged and very much in love with my wife. If I weren’t all those things when I left, lay it to the ocean air.

Put it down on our list of “things to be done by us,” to cross the ocean and spend some evenings on a moonlit deck. The sea is very big and beautiful at night.

Maybe, too, this trip will make our trips in the U.S. seem pale. It has been most interesting so far, but I do miss you and love you very much and all the time. So long, my honey.

All my love,

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dear Mrs. Russell,

Land ho! Yes, we sighted terra firma off the port bow today, so our trip is on its last legs. At least this portion of it. I couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant voyage. Naturally, many of us are getting restless from lack of activity. I am a good loafer, tho, if you want to call it that. I enjoy reading, talking and just looking. Everything about the trip has been exciting, and much of it actually beautiful. There’s nothing like looking out across the sea as clean and blue as you see in pictures, or watching the white, white foam made when the swath cut by the ship’s prow breaks into the swell of the ocean. At night, the moon makes it just as nice—it’s a gibbous moon, they call it. Between half and full.

Now that we are close in, and sitting in the harbor, the water is yellowish green, and strangely enough, rougher than anything we saw on the open sea. Sea gulls have been flying around us all day, and I have spent a lot of time watching them with my binoculars. Scanning the shore line was fun, too. Picked out a lot of details on the first foreign land I’ve seen. Some delay is keeping us from disembarking right away. From here, tho, we can see the ships of several different countries coming and going.

Have just finished reading “The Great Impersonation,” an entertaining story about secret service in the first world war. It didn’t take me long to go thru that. Now I am putting a lot of time on the a book on early Am. Hist.—“The Struggle for American Freedom,” by Morais. The book just came out this spring, and is interesting to me for quite a few reasons. It follows up “Western Star” with something more interpretive of the same period. Morais is a liberal writer, a little in line with Marx, something of an economic determinist. Don’t necessarily agree with him, but he interprets qs well as presents facts. Finally, the man who loaned me the book is a member of my platoon named Sokol, an ex-labor leader. His is a strong union man and plans to into organization again after the war. An Ohio State man, husband of a woman who is a book agent. That’s how he gets these new books—anything he wants. He really thinks about history. May try to bend everything to fit his theory about the power of the organized worker, but he goes deeper than anybody I’ve met in this outfit.

So many things are going on, I wish I was keeping a diary. But that would involve dates and places that are taboo now. I’m afraid the sequence of things from Barkely to P.O.E. to here is already hazy.

‘Bye now, Bun. More later.

All my love,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dearest Honey,

Time goes by easily at sea. Nothing much to write about as far as what we do is concerned. I like the sea a lot, what I’ve seen of it; and I’ve had time to do a lot of reading and thinking since we got on board.

Finished “Western Star.” It was very good, but I didn’t feel it was in a class with “John Brown’s Body” at all. It was originally intended to be 5 or 6 books long, they say, and this is all that was completed. Consequently the story doesn’t live up to the prologue, or go with it very well. The prologue deals with the westward movement on the continent; the story, with Jamestown and Plymouth only. With just these two to worry about, there is still so much history to cover that it has to be done hurriedly and incompletely. And the story isn’t as well tied together as “John Brown.” Too many subjects to tie together in one complete theme without leaving loose ends. Like biting off too much for one mouthful. Also a lot of the outline, method and even similes were the same ones used in “John Brown,” so they didn’t have the effect they did the first time. Benet’s poems are really good, tho, and both books let you “live” history.

Now I am reading a book about the Philippine insurrection after the Spanish-American War in 1898. You wouldn’t like it a bit, but it does have some military history that means a little to me. The army was the army, even in those days.

How are you today, Bunny? Happy? I hope so. I wonder if you are going to K.T.C. now, and if it is like it used to be. I love you very much, honey, and enclose a hundred or so kisses. I would swim back for one hug right now, if they’d let me. Gee, I miss you.

Always all yours,

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dear Folks,

I am writing you to tell you next to nothing. I spend my time censoring other people’s mail and am a hard-bitten, wizened-up, old meany when it comes to letting thru information. So I can’t help but practice what I preach.

We are on the high seas now, en route to an unknown place. But we’re having a good time at it. The officers have it very easy and live in excellent quarters. There are thousands of books floating around. Good ones, and free. I have been reading a great deal. Fiction, history, poetry. Feel almost as tho I was back in school.

Don’t remember that I told you that I liked the picture you sent of silly Aunt Nettie and grinning Bob. He was wearing his jacket in which he keeps the “one rose that lived in his hear,” I see. Ask him if he still has it there. You know that I got to see Laura and her beautiful, bouncing babies before we left. Greg is the best little boy I know.

I hope everything is fine with Marjorie and that she is happy with Grammie and you folks.

I am very interested in the doings of old Bob. Maybe he has a new and better job by now. I figure he’ll do all right, anyway. He always knows what’s best.

I understand I graduated from U.N.H. a few days ago! That’s good. I intend to aim at a master’s degree next. In educational psychology.

This sea-sickness theory is just a lot of talk as far as I’m concerned. Old “sea-legs” Russ they call me. Sea life really appeals to me—it’s beautiful. (Hope I don’t have to regret those words some stormy day.)

You loving son,

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dearest Honey,

Since I have been aboard ship I have been writing one of those continued letters we use when we are out of contact. However, I have just received some new information on censorship that throws out a lot I had written—about dates, descriptions, etc. So this is an expurgated rewrite of what I have already written once.

Soon after I went to see Laura our unit was alerted. Consequently, we were out of contact with the world from then on. I got around quite a bit the last minute as supply officer, tho. I was kept so busy that I did not get a good chance to react emotionally to the thought of leaving the U.S. That is a good thing about being an officer. You have so many things to do that you don’t fret about yourself.

When we finally left, loaded down with equipment, I was in charge of one fairly large group of men, and had to check continually to see if they were all there. I left the men at the pier eating Red Cross donuts and coffee. I drifted around aimlessly for a time; they were anxious to care for enlisted men, but nobody seemed to care where an officer went. A man finally told me I could do nothing but go to my stateroom and go to bed. So I hunted up an officer’s gangway, checked in, and went aboard. A steward showed me my room, which I share with a mess of other 2nd Lts. It is a swell room, tho, and compared to what the men have, it is heaven.

As soon as I was settled I went down to where our men are. I was on a regular shift with them from midnite to 6 a.m.

Now I have to skip a lot of stuff I had describing our ship. Suffice it to say, it is a good one. We all get a chance to be on deck. It rolls gently with the waves. I can appreciate how a person could get sea sick. I have felt well, tho, all the way.

They always let us talk about the food, and as far as the officers’ mess goes it deserves to be talked about. We have two meals a day and they are really meals. I don’t mean just plentiful, but served in style. We have eaten in some swank places, honey, but never have we seem the amount of silverware and plates they give us. Three knives, three forks, and three spoons is par for a meal, with more added at the slightest excuse. None of them are “standard gauge,” but differ in size from our American ware. An old English custom, our waiter says. English preparation is not much different from our own. The officers have had big thick steaks with all the fixin’s and other meals, not better than we have had in restaurants, but comparable. No wines or anything. They always have a fish course just before the entrée.

I am not too busy now that we are on board, and am having quite a nice time. Today is Sunday and I went to a Protestant service, with communion. Seemed good. Got real wine. First time I have in such a service, I think.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army, U.S.O. and Army Special Service are busting buttons to make us happy. Today the Red Cross gave everybody a little kit with just about everything in it—soap, shoestrings, cards, cigarettes, a book, razor blades, stationery, a pencil, sewing kit, etc., etc. The bag itself can be used for toilet articles.

There is plenty of reading material in little readable books even smaller than Pocket-books.” Right now I am reading Benet’s “Western Star” in a little vest pocket version—but complete. They are all good literature—classics and best sellers. Very, very good idea.

I am writing this on deck. It is quite pleasant here, but the landscape looks just the same—sky, sea, and ship. One of my room-mates keeps running to the porthole to look out—we ask just what he expects to see new each time.

We carry life preservers all the time, and have daily boat drill. The last is just like fire drills in school!

We had a mail call yesterday and I got some letters taken with us the last minute from you, Laura, and Ma. You seem to be getting back into the Keene “groove” again O.K. You don’t know how relieved I am to know that. I feel so much better knowing you are there, and not really alone, since you have your mother and my folks and al the familiar things in Keene. Now as soon as we see that our things arrived in Keene O.K. from Abilene and that your allotment is reaching the banks on schedule, we’ll be set to “wait out” whatever we have to.

I know this won’t be mailed until the ship gets to its destination, and I can’t tell when I’ll get more mail from you. But I’ll be waiting anxiously, honey. I do love you more strongly than ever and nothing in the world can make me forget you for a minute. I think of you all the time, especially at night just before I go to sleep. I love my wife more than anything.

I suppose I have graduated from U.N.H. now; at least I was invited to their senior “tea.” I had other engagements at the time, however. I thought about it at the time of the commencement, tho. I don’t mind missing that as long as I get the “sheepskin.” In fact, it was a custom in my “Don Richards” set a school not to attend commencement. It signified something or other.

That’s all for now, hon. Hope you are fine. I love you a thousand times. ‘Bye, bunny.

All my love,

Undated [before September 20, 1944]

Dearest Marjorie,

Well, I have my new pen now. It cost me all of 70 cents at the PX, but writes pretty well. Probably would be a dollar or so in civilian life. Anywho, it’s the best I could buy.

Things are going much easier now. I am getting enough sleep and not being too rushed during the day. Don’t expect leisure time now, but appreciate working at a more normal pace. Got thru censoring at 10 o’clock last night.

Got a letter from you yesterday saying when you got home. I am very, very relieved to know you made it without the loss of an arm or leg or anything. Also your disposal of Muzzie was the best way to do it. He will have a home, and that is good to know.

I am not starting this letter on the wrong side to be cute, but because I started it during an officer’s meeting and wanted to appear to be taking notes!

The reason for continuing in this strange place is to demonstrate the army way of writing on reverse sides. You see, no time is lost turning the paper over—just invert this end and continue reading.

I am hoping to get another letter from you today giving more details on your trip. Wel, got to run now already. I love you.

All yours,

P.S. I wrote this before we left, but didn’t get to mail it. Here it is, a little out of date. Had to cut out the date after we left.

September 18, 1944 Monday

Somewhere on the East Coast

Dearest Marjorie,

I received your big day-by-day letter from Abilene and read every word. Was glad to hear what happened after I left, but am anxiously waiting news of your trip home.

Being apart and not knowing just where you are is pretty “rough.” I have been taking myself very seriously as supply officer. It’s quite important and I feel responsible for each man. That job usually takes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.—then Fairbairn, Bukovenac, Olewine, Young, and myself get together and censor mail until it’s over, usually around 1 a.m. Seeing that the men’s mail gets thru keeps me from getting to write you usually. We Lts. can do a lot to help out the men and you feel like a heel if you don’t do all you can.

To get away from business, I got in to see Laura Friday night. I found the place all right, and Justin stayed home from work. Had a swell evening of talk, and some Chinese food. Laura’s babies are the best in the world. Greg is fat and snuggly and cheerful. Most lovable baby you ever saw. I had loads of fun with him. Merellyn is a picture of Laura, and Greg, of Justin! As usual, they were very hospitable and Justin funny. Nice couple.

Gee, Hon, you better be in Keene by now! If so, I hope you get started right away on courses at K.T.C. You’ll want to keep constructively busy, I know. Bet your Mother was glad to see you! Has the place changed much? I don’t imagine it has. No matter what happens in Keene, it always seems like home when you get there.

I lost my pen somewhere this last week, so I’ll have to get another if I can. Or maybe it will turn up again; my things do peculiar tricks, you know.

When I last left you at Abilene, I strongly suspected that I wouldn’t see you again, but was not certain. No use saying goodbyes, anyway, they are so futile. I hope that is the way you wanted it. I thought it would be easier. I tried to get things pretty well lined up with you, but I have feared that maybe I left too many things for you to do. I will feel so much better when I know you are O.K. Our unit left Berkeley that Wednesday night. I was Div. Officer of the Guard on Tuesday. That tied me up so that I couldn’t get in. Of course, I could not telephone and tell you what was going on.

I have told of our train trip, and that I have been very occupied since I got here. I have been appointed ass’t. defense council for a courts-martial. Have had several cases already. I have lost them all (!) but don’t let that change your estimate of me as a lawyer. I’m good! But the court is determined to get convictions in spite of what goes on at the trial.

Please do not let the fact that I cannot write often make you too sad, Hon. I hope to write better later on, but anyway, I love you and think of you just as often as ever. Everything we have ever planned is just as real as it was when we were together. We have plans and memories to lean on and believe in. You are my wonderful wife always. I’m awfully glad of that and never forget it. Bye now.

Every bit of my love,

Undated [September 1944]

Somewhere on the East Coast

Dear folks,

Believe me, I am sorry if you have been worried over me. As you see, I have taken a train trip to an undisclosable destination. For some time we have not been allowed to write, and now that I can, I am so extremely busy second lieutenanting that I have almost no time to write. I am the company supply officer, and here that is a 24 hour-a-day job. I live in a warehouse and am dealing in big figures, but really good training, if I ever want to run a wholesale firm!

Also today I served as asst. defense counsel in a courts-martial. I am an excellent lawyer, but have to prepare my briefs between midnite and 6 a.m.!

When the current rush is over I expect to get a pass and may get to see Laura. Sure hope so.

Marjorie will no doubt be in Keene when you get this. At least our plans call for that. We made arrangements before I left, but I haven’t heard that they worked out yet. I am anxiously awaiting news on that. She is scheduled to arrive Friday night of this week.

Well, it looks like this “awful old war” will fold up sometime, so don’t fret. I am strong as a bull and feeling very powerful bossing so many people around. I love you all and enjoyed the photo a great deal.

Your loving son,

P.S. 1. My signature on envelope means I have censored this.
2. How’re ya doin’, Russ?
3. It’s rainy as can be here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

September 12, 1944 Tuesday

Somewhere along the East Coast

Dearest Honey,

I thought I would never get a chance to write you. We bump into censorship now, you see. As an officer, I censor my own mail and it is subject to spot checks only by a base censor. That means that much of it will be censored only by me, but I have to be strict with myself! We were not allowed to write during the trip here. On arrival I found myself suddenly appointed supply officer, and I guess you know what that means at this time. Remember, Olewine had it back at camp and worked 24 hours a day. I have it now and work twice as long each day! However, my big troubles will be over in a few days and after that there won’t be much to keep me busy nights. I’ll write regularly then.

Well, let’s see, what can I say? Haven’t done much yet that is discussable. Had a luxurious pullman on the way up – about ½ full of officers – rest empty. Breakfast in bed, actually, all the time we were on the train. Passed thru Louisville and Buffalo, but did not get off anywhere.

I am worrying myself a lot over you and will not be happy until I hear that you are home and safe. I know you will write as soon as you can. I feel pretty helpless, but am hoping that the baggage and your transportation came thru as we planned.

I love you even more than I thought, Hon. Please do not feel alone because I am talking to you all the time, and thinking of you. I will get to write a real letter very soon now. (Being so busy here has really made me a part of C Company, tho, so it’s good that way.)

Of course, I am feeling excellent and am as safe as ever in the arms of Uncle Sam. So don’t worry at all about me – just look well after yourself, please.

Every bit of my love,

September 4, 1944 Monday

Labor Day

Dear Folks:

While some of my laundry is soaking,, I’ll drop you a line about our weekend, not very exciting but that’s not important.

Wallace came in early Saturday afternoon so we turned around and went right back out. A Lt. Myers (we’re friendly with) has access to the Hammond organ in the battalion chapel, so we went there to play. Seemed wonderful! We had to stop around 5:15 so the chaplain (Catholic) could have a mass. Meanwhile we and 4 other “lieuts” had “chow” in the GI’s mess hall. Sure was an experience! I got a big kick out of it! Had hue servings and all we wanted – mile-long spaghetti with a delicious tomato-cheese sauce and meat. Also cantaloupe, cinnamon buns, and cake. Everything was typically GI. Then until 7 we sat aournd in the officers’ huts and gabbed. Great sport! Then we could go back to the chapel and play some more so, while Catholic boys sauntered in and ou for prayers, I got a big thrill playing “prayerful” music for them! Had a date at the Supper Club at 8:30 or 9 so we left, or rather, started to leave camp around 7:30. I said “started” because it took us 2 hours to get in from camp which is only 14 or 15 miles from Abilene! Because of this we called the whole thing off, quite disappointingly. Needed the sleep anyway ‘cause W and I are having a cold or hay fever in good shape. We were both much better this a.m. tho. Saw some wonderful and beautiful sites out at camp while we were trying to leave. For instance, the sunset and full moon rise. Really undescribeable. It’s so flat that they both just suddenly disappear and appear, pop right up over the horizon. Certainly would like to be an artist at such moments—great big balls of fire!

Yesterday we both got up around 10:30 with very sore throats and whirling headaches, but after a good breakfast and being up awhile we really began to feel like ourselves. Spent all afternoon reading the paper and listening to the symphony. Last nite we went to see a very good movie about Dr. TWG Morton of Boston and ether—“The Great Moment” with Joel McCrea and Betty Fields. Then my husband felt “crazy” and wanted to go down the street to see Bob Hope in “Never Say Die.” Also Fri. nite we went to see the much-advertised “Hail the Conquering Hero” which was very funny and noisy and full of confusion and commotion.

Had a good sleep last nite and we really felt more like ourselves this morning.

Now, for the “big” news of the weekend!! Saturday was our “D-Day.” Wallace received word that he’d get his B.S. degree at the next UNH commencement, probably Sept. 22, and he acquired us a dog!! Yes, at last we’ve an old white mutt. Just plain dog. The cutest white 6 weeks old puppy. He just couldn’t resist and when I saw it at camp Saturday, I couldn’t resist either. Don’t know what we’re going to do with him, but we’ve got him now! That’s our problem!! He’s (the dog, I mean) about 8” long with one floppy brown ear and sleek-haired. More of this acquisition is a “military secret” but will tell you about it later. The boys are going to make him a nice home and Wallace will be tugging him home tonite! His name is “Muzzle-blast” which needs an explanation I’ll also give later.

Guess that completes the news in review from the Russells at 745 Hickory—now on to my washing.

How go the Russells at 23 Pleasant—Papa, Mama, Carlton, and Bob?

Love from us’ns,
Marjorie and Wallace
(only 2 sheets of paper come with each envelope in this box!)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 28, 1944 Monday

Dear Ma,

Maybe you are still in a fog as to the leave that Marjorie and I have been spending. I was just lucky. I applied for a leave on the right day, and it came thru. I had no idea I’d get one, so Marjorie and I were as surprised as could be. We recovered rapidly, tho, and Marjorie finished her course at A.C.C. a day early and we set out in a Greyhound bus for New Orleans. We thought of going to Mexico, but decided to see America first.

I got 11 days off and we spent almost a full week in New Orleans. You never saw a place like it. Very old and French, with houses that look like dumps on the outside and have patios with palm trees and fountains in the middle. New Orleans is famous for its restaurants and we just ate and ate the best meals you ever heard of. Rich, creamy dishes with long French names, and the very best sea food. The best place was “Antoine’s,” where we had pompano in papillote—a kind of fish cooked in a paper bag—and crepes suzette. They brought this to us in a pan and burned a rum sauce over it before us. They turned out all the lights in the place so everybody could see the pretty blue flame it made! The menu didn’t have a word of English in it, and we had to giggle over the formality of it all.

We saw all the historical places in New Orleans—its history is full of pirates and Spaniards and Frenchmen. Went in a big steamboat on the Mississippi—once during the day and once at night when they had dancing. Went rowing in a mossy Louisiana bayou.

The DeSoto was a fine hotel right in the middle of things. We did lots of other things. Generally walked on a big white cloud all week.

Now I don’t know if there was anything “sinister” about the leave. My future as usual is a big question mark. Now the question mark is a little bigger. Marjorie and I sure have had a wonderful summer, and neither one of us wants a divorce quite yet! We laugh so much that sometimes I think we must be a new generation of silly Thrashers.

We took quite a few pictures in N.O., and you’ll see all our souvenirs sometime.

The day we got back we went to a night football game between the Brooklyn Tigers, the professional football team, and the Army All-Stars. It was a real football game—the pros won. They were very fast and skillful.

Was very glad to hear that Bob is safe back in 2C. Don’t let him get out of it again. Would be nice if he could get away from Dodds and maybe get a start on his own place. Also glad to hear tat Pa is getting a vacation.

Little Pleasant St. sure did itself noble in the Union, didn’t it? Whole swarm of pictures! Yes, I think it is “lovely,” Ma. Thanks for watching out for “orders” during my leave. I gave your address in order to get travel time to there—altho traveling there and back would have taken most of the leave.

Well, I go back to work tomorrow. Marjorie is all thru school and tho she thinks she’ll be busy washing my uniforms all the time, I think she’ll have time for other things—namely, ironing my uniforms.

I have slept most of today while my spouse has been working and preparing luscious meals. Had corn on the cob and steak for dinner, also chocolate cake (which I didn’t make! [Marjorie’s handwriting])

Appreciated your fine letter.

Your loving son and daughter-in-law,

Wallace and Marjorie

Saturday, August 16, 2008

August 22, 1944 Tuesday

New Orleans


Never thought we’d land here, but very interesting and unique—everything very French and old. Went sight-seeing Saturday. Boat ride up Mississippi Sunday and more sight-seeing today. Going to a high spot in society tonite. Will tell you all about it when we get back to Abilene.

Love, Marjorie & Wallace

August 19, 1944 Saturday

New Orleans


Marjorie and I are spending a short surprise leave here in New Orleans. We just got here this morning after a Greyhound bus trip from Abilene. Seems like a great place to “see” things in.

Wallace & Marjorie

August 14, 1944 Monday

745 Hickory
Abilene, Texas

Dear Folks,

Trying to catch up on my correspondence some—12 cards and 4 letters yesterday and 4 letters today. Golly, didn’t believe I’d have so many people to write to me. Nice, tho. Very welcome.

Well, how goes everything in Keene and vicinity? Received our “Sentinel” today so I had to take time out and catch up. Lots of news. Never before read it so thoroughly!

Did a big Monday morning washing, as usual, this morning—a sheet, 2 pillow cases, few towels, 7 pr. socks, a dress, 2 blouses, 4 pr. shorts, 3 panties, a slip, 7 hankies, a uniform, and 2 fatigues. Glad there is not much to iron, I only do those underlined.

This afternoon I finished a dress I’ve been making—navy blue faille suit—skirt and bolero trimmed with white pleated pique. Quite cute, I think. Now I think I’ll make a little Dutch cap to match. Very nice dress shops here, but dresses are awfully expensive, I think. I bought a black glamour dress (guess I’ve told you) for $10.95. Thought it was terrible, but it’s pretty!

Now, I would a word with you! I’d like this little matter of my husband’s mustache cleared up! It is like none of those mentioned! Why didn’t you ever think of Clark Gable or Robert Taylor? That would be more like it. He shaved it off a while ago, but now he’s growing another. Some of the very pert officers are wondering when he’ll be old enough to shave! Such audacity. He just replies that he’s growing it by popular request, namely his wife! Believe it, or not.

Wallace and I had a big time Saturday nite. Wed had a real, true Mexican dinner at a real, true Mexican house with all the fixings—hot tamales (“from way back”), ensalada Mexicana, fritos, frijoles, enchiladas, chile con carne and good old American iced tea. Needed it—everything was plenty hot and peppery, but good.

Then went to the Am. Legion park to a dance in their very typical southwestern pavilion—stone with porch and lovely shrubbery and trees. Like a country club. Met friends there and had a grand time. Say, if you ever read about the dancing team—“The Rustling Russells,” it’s us! We sure can trip a mean fantastic!!

This is my last week of school and I sure have enjoyed it as well as getting a lot out of it, including many interesting acquaintances including some Mexican and Japanese students. Colorful state, this.

Had a nice letter from Laura Saturday with a picture of “Greg at 6 mos. And Justin at 25 yrs.” Very cute.

Well, it’s almost our bedtime so will close for now. Wallace works pretty long hours and gets pretty tired, but he gets in evenings which means a lot, and we sure do have lots of good times.

Nite for now. Want to hear all about the “Keene Russells.” Take it easy.

Love to all from us both,

Sent some snaps to Mom for you. Be sure to get them.

August 9, 1944 Wednesday

745 Hickory St.

Dear folks,

Well, howse youse all been? Things are about the same with the Russells of Texas. I am instructing on the Expert Infantry Course again, after spending a week on duty with “C” company. We are working longer hours this time, which makes it less pleasant. Am still getting in to Marjorie every evening, tho. Our radio has come and it is all we needed to feel perfectly at home here.

Last night we went to a piano recital at A.C.C. It was very good. Tonite I am writing letters while Marjorie is playing the piano here. She’s getting really good.

I lugged home half a watermelon tonite from a place four streets down from our house and we ate it all first thing after I got home. Had Mrs. Watts’ little niece or granddaughter or some such help us on it. But even so, we don’t go in for little slices of melon here in the deep south. It comes in big hunks of 1/8 or ¼ of a melon. Real Texans eat it with salt, but I can’t see that yet. Do go for the quantity, tho.

Don’t ever talk about “90 in the shade” to me again. I only wish we’d have a day as cool as that—how refreshing! However, the heat isn’t as stifling as it was in Georgia last summer. You just sweat and keep going here—there it made you weak. We drink loads of water and soft drinks.

I wanted Carlton to have those guns, even tho I don’t recall ever having had such a pair when I was a __________. Tell him we see real cowboys in Abilene, with everything but the guns. Boots, hats, shirts, and all. Quite a coincidence that Carl will start his long years of childhood at Fuller School!

Your last letter spoke of the coming vacation for you all. Hope you get thru it all right!

Love to Russ, as well as all at 23,

Your son,
Wallace (Addy)

Friday, August 1, 2008

July 30, 1944 Sunday

745 Hickory St.
Abilene, TX

Dear Ma,

I have been planning to write to you all along, so don’t believe that Marjorie is solely responsible for this letter—tho she may have hastened it a bit. One day I even wrote a letter to you while I was working, but I lost it before I finished it. A lot of things have been going on and I’ve been pretty busy, too.

You will notice that our address is now 745 Hickory, instead of 1941 Grape. Thursday a store clerk asked Marjorie if she would look at a place on Hickory and she said yes for no real good reason. That night we wandered down just to keep our word and found the place to be a lot more convenient than our Grape St. room. It is easy walking distance from town, and we have much more to “do” with. We have a kitchen that we share with the lady we rent the room from, and they have a piano that Marjorie can use any time. Mrs. Watts and her daughter live in the other part of the house. They are fresh from living on a farm, and very homey folks. Marjorie likes this place much better than Terry’s. We feel so at home here—we run the place, really, they are so deferential to us.

Since I got back Bowie I have been in to Marjorie every night. Getting real domestic and having a lot of fun. Last night we went up in an airplane! We went to the airport and took a pleasure ride in a two passenger red cub cruiser. It was a big thrill for both of us. We flew over Abilene and Marjorie found our house but I didn’t. We went 1400 feet up, and the pilot did some dips that were fun.

Did Carlton get his present form us all right? We thought of him last night, and wished him a happy birthday. I think about big Bob a lot, too, and hope the Russians keep him out of the service for us.

Speaking of the Russians, Marjorie and I have a big war map in our room now, with all the towns the papers ever mention. We can follow the news very well with it.

This morning, as last Sunday, we went to church. Marjorie got breakfast before church—and it was our first meal in our new home. We just moved in here yesterday p.m.—took about 2 hours and taxi cab.

Out at camp, I am now running a rifle and carbine range wher we test enlisted men on field proficiency with weapons. They go thru individually, choosing positions and firing at silhouette targets. If they pass this and some other tests, they become “expert infantrymen” and get $5.00 more a month and a medal. It is hot work in this weather but the hours are regular, so I like it.

Well, I’ll try to write on my old schedule from now on, so write me too and let me know how things are at home.

Love to all,

July 13, 1944 Thursday

[From Marjorie}
1941 Grape

My goodness, Honey, do you realize what time it is? 10 minutes before 11! And I have to get up at 7:30 or so. But it’s a wonderfully cool , comfortable nite to sleep wo maybe I won’t mind. Just hope to goodness my legs don’t itch. They are coming along, tho.

This afternoon Mrs. Terry equipped us with some of the necessary dishes, utensils, etc. that I can do light meals. In fact, beginning in the morning I’m going to get my own breakfast. I bought some coffee, sugar, milk, and butter today—oh, and a canteloupe. I’ll have lots of god things for you when you come in. I love it! I’m very happy, contented, and relaxed now. Hope you can be, too. By doing this seems as though we could eat much cheaper. I’m keeping a day-to-day account of my spendings just to see where the money goes and where I can save.

I came in to town earlier today—around 1:30, had dinner, and came home. Then went back down to Derryberrys ‘cause Fredda and I had a tennis engagement. She drove us out to Fair Park. We played from about five to 6:30. Had lots of fun. Then she took me to the zoo! Got home about 7:30, took a bath, got supper, and have gabbed with the Terrys all the rest of the evening. Really quite interesting—he was a traveling salesman.

Tomorrow is a big day, too. School, swimming engagement with Max and Fredda at Legion pool, and then concert and dinner with Annabelle and someone else—one of her friends.

Saturday I’ll probably clean up around, and maybe wash and iron some, too. Still haven’t done your uniform. Max heard a rumor that some of you were coming in Sat. eve. and some Sun. eve. Is that anywhere near the truth? Sounds good to me. But I shan’t really expect you till I see you. That way I won’t be too disappointed. Can’t wait to see you, however! Golly, I’ve missed you—just sick and tired of being a widow! I’m keeping busy, tho and things really look OK to me.

Sorry this is so short, but I’m kind of tired. Just like I like to be so I can go to sleep quickly.

Nite, dearest. See you soon, so I can really tell you how very much I love you and how very glad and happy I am to be your wife.

All my love always, Honey,

Bring in sheets, if possible.

July 11, 1944 Tuesday

[From Marjorie]
1941 Grape

Dear Folks,

I started to write you last nite but the sandman got the better of me. Right now it’s 5:45 p.m. and we’re witnessing a typical sand, hail, rain, and electric storm. Real close, too! Freakiest things—gets very black, wind starts to blow, whirlpools of sand rush down the street, hail stones as big as marbles fall—all accompanied by thunder and lightning—then finally the “rain pours down on me”! Definitely not a New England one! One sees it coming for hours and miles and when it does come, it is very close—no mts. to divert its course.

Received a letter addressed by Mrs. R and written by Mrs. N today—wonderful collaboration up there, I’d say. Mom has asked a lot of questions so for hers and your benefit here are the answers:

No. 1—Re: air mail vs. regular mail? A. the former maybe a day or two shorter.

No. 2—Re: eating in diner on train? A. Only had 2 meals—breakfast Friday and Saturday mornings. Other times stops were so I could eat in stations—Friday and Saturday noons (St. Louis and Fort Worth respectively).

No. 3—Re: meaning of Wooten? A. man’s name. When I was at 1516 ½ No. 3rd, their home was right across the street. Very beautiful brick estate—lawns with sprinkler system underground, colored caretakers, wonderful cars, Venetian blinds, and lovely shade trees. But don’t ask me what kinds yet!

No. 4—Re: change of time on way west. A. Not sure. When I woke up Friday morning, it was an hour earlier than when I went to sleep. Probably somewhere between Buffalo and St. Louis. Definite, aren’t I?

No. 5—Condition of baggage upon arrival? A. Fine. It arrived the following Wed. or Thurs., I would say. $6.64.

No. 6—Nearness to Mrs. Patterson and others? Distances? A. Living in same house that Mrs. P did! She returned home last Fri. and we wanted their apt. but one couple too late, per usual. But thanks to my very wonderful psychological husband we got this room. (More about that later.) Probably about a mile outside center of city—maybe like upper Court St. Very systematic, but different to me, way in which town is laid out.
[Sketch map of Abilene with street grid and comments]

Distances mean very little, tho; there is such good bus service. Run to about everywhere every half hour.

Now, about our room.
[sketch with furniture layout]
It is the coolest room in house; very light; nice furniture; good lighting; and away from rest of the house. We may do light lunches and breakfasts—have an ice box of our own so I can keep peanut butter on hand! Also, milk, cokes, bread, fruit, etc. Stuff for cold drinks and snacks mostly. It’s a little steep but maybe my husband can talk ‘em down when he gets back. Also, excellent bus service, as I’ve said before.

Today I went out to register at ACC (Abilene Christian College) for a music appreciation course. Guess I’ve told you this before, so don’t read it if I have. My course if from 9:30 to 11 with a blind professor about 35—Alea Templeton Burford. Also I rented the use of a piano out there to be used when and as long as I want for only $3 for 6 weeks in private, individual practice rooms. There are probably a half dozen or so.

After class I shall probably practice or go to the libe which is a very good one. I think it will be wonderful. I’m looking forward to starting tomorrow very much.

Also today I got a permanent at a very nice shop run by a man—“Blondie’s.” Appointment was at 1:30 and I was out at 4:30. Very short time and fast! It’s a feather cut type. Short and cool—just what one wants and needs for this weather—101 degrees Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and that or over yesterday. Now that we’ve hd this shower, it’ll be cooler for an hour or so!

Maybe you’d like to know about your son now. Perhaps you’d think I was down here alone. I’m beginning to wonder, however. Guess I told you or Mom or someone he’s out on this division test near Camp Bowie. He left last Thursday and expects to return next Monday or Tuesday. I had letters from him written Friday and Saturday but didn’t know as he’d be able to write again. Even tho we haven’t been together too awfully much, we don’t regret my coming a bit. I’m glad to be this near and see him whenever possible and I do believe he’s a different fellow for having me here. It makes all the difference in the world. The only possible regret we have is leaving Mommy. Hope she’s getting along O.K. She’s so brave about it all—dear soul.

Well, Mrs. Terry just called in saying they were going out to a party and that I could use their kitchen for my supper and play their radio. Typical friendly Texans.

So long now—how’m I doin’ for length of letters? Be good—Love to all,

My questionnaire:
How’s Carlton, “Dad” Russell, Bob, Aunt Flossie and Uncle Carl? What is happening to them?
What’s the story on Nancy and Jerry?
How’s Laura et al? Must write sometime—ashamed I haven’t, but I’ve had to house hunt—no picnic, either!
Thought I was all thru, didn’t you? Ha, Ha!
Awful about the circus—read every account with interest.
Haven’t got any “Sentinels” yet but it’s because my husband hasn’t been able to get them in. And he isn’t forgetful either—much!
Going to get a Sunday N.Y. Times tomorrow (I hope). Quick service!
Guess I’m thru now.
‘Bye again.
Here I am again.
What’s the story on pictures? Couldn’t understand Mom’s list.
Also I’d like these things, please. We’ll send the postage money.
Grill toaster
Hot water heater
No, guess I’ll wait to see what Wallace has to say. Could send along the radio, tho, please.
It’s 7:05 and it’s still lightning and thunder like nobody’s business—right on my door step!
Note envelope: don’t you think I write like Wallace? Don’t answer that!

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 10, 1944 Monday

Dearest Marjorie,

The music course and piano you can rent sound like just the thing. Suppose you are all started on it by now. Do you get to listen to much music there? Hope so.

I got a letter from UNH and I guess my degree is in my pocket. Remind me to write to the Registrar once more just as soon as I come back, will you?

Your letters re coming thru fine, and things are rolling along very well here. Still can’t tell just when we’ll get back yet. How good I feel depends on how good you feel and vice-versa, it seems. I feel very well after this letter No. 2, so let’s both stay that way.

All my love,

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 8, 1944 Saturday

Dearest Honey,

Good morning! I got more sleep last nite than I have in a long time, and it seemed good! The division problem really starts tomorrow, so I don’t know how often I’ll get to write after that. But you know I’ll be thinking of you all the time.

The mail service seem to be operating efficiently, more so than when we are on problems around Barkeley. So I have hopes of getting some mail from you soon. Mail service is one thing I appreciate out here. It’s the only thing we have to keep us in touch with the world of houses and mattresses.

Have you started making any notes on your adventures as an officer’s wife? I like the idea of writing things down—it clarifies things for the writer even if nobody else can read it. You are well acquainted with that kind of writing from my own letters. I often wonder how much my vague metaphors mean to you. I always feel as tho you understand, anyway.

So long, Hon, I love you with a PURPLE PASSION—all yours,

P.S. Watch out for the surprise on my upper lip when I come back!

July 7, 1944 Friday

Dearest Marjorie,

Well, of course, the main thing on my mind is you. The room we didn’t get left me a little groggy for a long time. That was really a mean break, and I had a hard time making myself accept it. I do wish I had been able to see the landlady battle-axe some more—I feel as tho I could have talked her into it again.

If this was a vacation or some kind of make believe I’d call it quits about now. But it isn’t. Your coming down here is a real part of our lives to me, and I’m going to take an awful lot before I admit that the thing is too tough for us. I still do not think it is—all we need is one break—a room to live in, and the thing is licked. We’ve come close enough to know that rooms do exist. Now we have learned that rooms don’t wait—the thing to do is to forget everything when you get a lead and don’t stop chasing until you are in the room with it all paid for. I’m sorry I goofed off and took a chance on the receipt for the room. Now I see we should have taken the receipt and at least moved some baggage in that very night. We won’t rely on a promise a minute more than necessary hereafter.

It’s like waiting for Christmas to wait for a room—your emotions tell you that everything is wrong and that you never will get a room. Reasonably, tho, things aren’t so bad—our income makes a good safety net so that nothing really big can go wrong. We can’t end up worse off than we were—you can always return to Keene and status quo—we’re just investing some time and money into making something better than that. And it will be better, too, Hon, tho it may be hard for you to see that now. I can see it very plainly—regardless of how this episode turns out, you and I will have shared something big. Just you and I are sweating this thing out together. We are a unit now, bucking a problem that is pretty big to us. We are bringing your world and my world together. You are learning something of the way I live and I am learning to consider you as myself. Perhaps it’s too bad that “our” team is starting off in such a tough game. We’ll get to be a good team quicker, tho, and learn how to operate as the “mobile” outfit we want to be. We’re going to have our cake and eat it, you know. By being a little different from the average, we are going to have a home together, but at the same time we will not get encumbered with domesticity enough to prevent our getting an education, doing things and finally tying ourselves into the niche we choose to be in.

Maybe this new world of ‘ours’ doesn’t seem nearly as comfortable and nice as the old one. Of course it doesn’t! All it is now is a framework with a lot of rough edges. We’re in it to put on the finishing touches. Remember that foundation we built when we were engaged? –Of understanding and tolerance and love? Now we’re married and have the first important beams all up. It will be drafty until we finish it up some more, but look at the prospects. All the elements are here to make a much better world for us than either of us has ever seen—and think of the fun we can have making it the way we want it. Don’t let the newness or the bareness fool you, Hon, it’s the start of a wonderful place.

Oh, out here everything is very much as usual. I got a letter from the Colonel about that time he said my platoon was not on the alert, and maybe I’ll get a week’s restriction the way Lt. Fairbairn did. I’m mad about it because I know I haven’t done anything more amiss than he had, either. We’ll see, there’s nothing definite as to when it will be yet. Otherwise, everything is under control. I am healthy and vigorous, and love you more than I ever have. I want you to eat a lot, drink a lot, and be a rip-roarin’ Texan when I get back.

All yours, always,

P.S. Have no mercy on the checking account. What you want, get.
Love, Wallace

[a postcard from Marjorie to Wallace]

July 7, 1944 Friday a.m.
Hello, Honey,

Want to keep you posted on your wife’s doings, etc. Went up to Terry’s yesterday a.m.—got my money back, but I may move in Mon. Her brother and wife may come this weekend. This is her proposition now—how does it sound to you? She wants an understanding verbally that we’re renting it by the nite, but she’ll only charge us what we were going to pay by the week and after all her visiting, etc. is over, we can have it permanently by the week. I guess that it’s just that she doesn’t want a fuss when her company does come and we might balk about moving out. I want it so much that I think I’ll take the chance. However, unless you hear more definitely report here first. Going to ACC this p.m. with Fredda. Think I’ll take Mus. App. From 11:30 to 1:00 Tues. thru Sat. $15 per course. Tell you more details tonite. News this a.m. that Ringling Circus had big fire in Hartford, Conn. yesterday—about 150 dead. Awful panic. Happened between 1st act (animals) and 2nd act (the aerial bicyclists-Wallendas). I love you. Be careful, Bunny

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 6, 1944 Thursday

[from Emma Nelson]

7:20 am

Dear Children,

See how early I am up to write to you—out in Texas with a rock (?) or a suitcase for a pillow. Sorry Wallace had to be away last week—house hunting is great sport if you can stand the disappointments.

Mrs. Russell shared your letter with me. I supposed you could stay at the hotel as long as you could pay your rent. Great world these days. The pictures came Monday and I have done my best to sort them out and give them to who you wanted. There wasn’t enough of the bride and groom and I am getting an enlargement of it. I like the one you ordered so much. I will let you know who gets them. Emily called up yesterday. I was planning to go up there next week but she said Ralph could get me Sat. so that is when I go, Sat. and come back either the 14 or 16 so as to be here if Chandler wants anything.

Peas are ripe and I want some. Haying is done. I will have my mail sent to Emily’s but I hope I get a letter from you this morning telling me how nicely you are situated. Glad the ladies are so nice.

Margaret and her mother are planning to go to N.Y. for a week. Bud is there going to a trade school. I was up there for supper on the 4th. Hazel Lewis is visiting the Joneses so she and Alice took me up in their car. A most brilliant sunset but thundered most of the time.

Alden is in Australia. My but he gets around. Grace and Aunt Florence were in yesterday morning and said they had over 200 at Parker Pine. Kitty is doing wonderful work and about the youngest there. Dwight Augier said only two boys showed up at Plymouth. He and another had no place to go so were put in with the teachers [?]. Mrs. A telephoned and told me about it.

Did you get the Sentinel [Keene newspaper]? Probably you will get home before I know the answer. I sent it to Wallace. His address seems to be the one to use. I am going to get Miss Brown to mail this and Goodnows doughnuts have just come.

I hope you are together this week. Burdens are lightened when two share them.

Of course I wonder if you took any decent shoes to chase around in – in that hot country your feet will be blistered.

[on same sheet, in Wallace’s hand]

Dearest Honey,

Am writing this on the fly, but do want to say for you to take the room right now without any hesitation. We are hunting a room, not choosing one. Make any verbal agreement she wants, provided the room will become permanent in a reasonable time. We can woo her to our way once we get in there—she is bendable. We can settle down if we know it will definitely become permanent. He who hesitates is lost—close the deal, make a payment, get a receipt and move in as soon as you can. Don’t wait for an O.K. from me. Attack! Attack!! Attack!!!

How to go on the music course! Do start on that anyway. I love you,


Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 27, 1944 Monday

Dear Hon,

We know the army too well to be surprised that I’m not coming in when I said I would. That doesn’t stop me from tearing my hair because we’ll have to plan on my coming in Saturday night now.

Please don’t be too discouraged because we haven’t seen much of each other, yet. These are not normal things, even for the 12th—and by staying out here now, we will be in for next week. After the Corps test things should return to routine, and this change in schedule gets us to Bowie and back much earlier than we have planned.

I love to have you so close now. Get very exasperated because I can’t get in to you, but it is a much less serious kind of feeling than the loneliness I felt when you were in New Hampshire.

I am very worried over your housing situation. Am praying that you have reservations for next week, or a room somewhere else. You can write to me out here—same address. Please let me know how you are and what you are doing.

I get paid next Sunday according to the new schedule.

Funny thing, I don’t know whether I am happy or not. It all depends on you—of you are finding it hard to get along or find nice things to do, I feel completely lousy. If you are busying yourself well and are comfortable, I never felt so good. I love to think of my wife in Abilene, happy; but I am miserable thinking that you be in Abilene, unhappy.

Monday morning I found a very fine way to ease up on the bad feeling of leaving you! Just by thinking over again the things we did together. Wasn’t our weekend just perfect? It was wonderful, honey; worth a lifetime. Please write.

All yours, always,

June 27, 1944 Monday
Dear Honey,

Read the other page first—this came later.

This is my mother and father’s anniversary, a pretty big numbered one, too. Wonderful to think of us being together that long, by then there’s nothing we couldn’t do.

I got a letter from your mother—very, very nice one. She is a real lady. Do have trouble making out some words.

Don’t worry the least little bit over me. The only claim I have to be out of heaven is that I wonder how you are. If I knew you were O.K., I would feel perfect—in a state of dynamic equilibrium as some psychologists say. If things are not O.K., let me know and I’ll do something if I have to pull rank on General Brewer to do it. I would, too.

Bye for now, my very special wife. I love you more than you can imagine.

Love again,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 23, 1944 Friday

[From Marjorie to Wallace, a postcard of St. Louis’s Union Station]

St. Louis, 4:45 pm
Not doing any site-seeing—staying right here! Hot, is putting it mildly. Very interesting trip and not really bad, but better from now on. Lots of flat country with corn, wheat and clover fields, and as many pigs as hollyhocks, and there are plenty of hollyhocks! Have met some very nice and friendly wives!

June 21, 1944 Wednesday

[From Emma Nelson, Marjorie’s grandmother, illegible in places]
Keene, N.H.

Dear Wallace,

Happy Birthday, Wallace, may you live long and prosper.

I am sending my most precious possession to you as your gift, one I have held dear for 22 years and enjoyed every minute of it, the dearest gift in the world, always good and kind to me. I think she will be good and love you dearly too—your dearest friend at any time.

I expect you are going to take care of her and not leave her. Come back with her so we can all be happy together. [I..bother you] to me to have you starting on your new life on your birthday—hope you will at least have 22 years of happiness. I am going to try […] that you come back soon.

Excuse mistakes you know I can’t see—if the sun doesn’t shine soon I will lose all use of my eyes it is so dark.

I wish I could write a verse like the Russells do, wishing you all the nice wishes that are in my heart but I am not smart that way, nothing original in me.

I was glad to hear what became of the case of olives I showed you and didn’t show up at your last dinner.

I will be anxious to hear how you get settled, I know it will be OK. Lots of love to you and Marjorie,

June 21, 1944 Wednesday

Dear folks,

Am writing rather spasmodically lately. My duties here aren’t so that I can have any kind of schedule. Something new every minute. Work hard a while, then have it very easy.

At present I am platoon leader of the 2nd rifle platoon of “C” company. Expect to have them at least a couple of weeks, but they change around very often.

If they didn’t have a rule that bars infantry officers from transferring now, I would have had a swell break. They wanted me in G-2 (Intelligence) work. They tested my French and were all ready to sent me to Camp Ritchie, Maryland, for a course in Prisoner of War interrogation. They had to stop proceedings because I was an infantry man! Got to know a Major in division G-2, tho, and someday something may come of it.

A belated father’s day greeting to you, Pa. I’ve been neglecting everybody this spring! Been so unsettled, and away from civilization. I’ll get into stride again soon.

Last week our division field test was a flop. We worked our ears off all week on a full scale maneuver with live ammunition, but nobody high up was impressed.

Sure will be good to see Marjorie down here. Maybe we’ll buy a ranch, who knows?

What is Bob’s status? And what’s new in New England?


Friday, June 20, 2008

June 19, 1944 Monday

[One of the few letters included from Marjorie to Wallace]
8:55 p.m. Keene, N.H.
Hello, dearest,

Guess we’ve been keeping the wires hot from Abilene and Keene! Telephone last nite and telegram this morning. They all came so fast and furious that I was stunned. But they were worth it—guess we understand each other now concerning my trip down and conditions in Abilene. Ought to go very smoothly. I’m so all excited and thrilled to be on my way to you. And I’m almost all ready—much to my relief! Had a big day of ironing and fixing some clothes. Tomorrow I’m planning to wash and iron some more tomorrow [sic], also really and actually get at my banking. Intended to today but it has rained so all day that I did things inside instead.

It seemed so wonderful to hear you last nite. The connections weren’t so clear as Louisville’s had been (or maybe I was still half-asleep or half-awake), but you sounded very natural and I did feel very close in spite of 2000 (?) miles. (By the way, how many miles is it?) It was awfully nice to go back to bed and sleep after just hearing you.

Well, here it is Wednesday morning. We had company come in Monday while I was writing so didn’t get to finishing this, and yesterday I worked like mad every minute and didn’t get thru, or stop, until 12 last nite, consequently still not finished. So I’m taking a little while this morning to write some necessary notes—Bill, Tamie, Sara, and Mrs. Craig. I’ve done the latter 3—Bill’s is next. Want to tell him about how I’ve left things up here.

Opened my conservator’s account for Mom yesterday and also ours.

Almost all ready to start, Hon. Am going to ship out 2 suitcases today, so they’ll be on their way. I’m expressing them to the Hotel Wooten, OK?

Maybe you’ll see me before you get this! Won’t be long now, dear. I’m so excited!

See you soon. I’ll be coming as fast as the train does!

All my love, always,


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18, 1944 Sunday

Dearest Honey,

Music is one thing that is never disappointing. When I haven’t heard any for some time, I forget how meaningful it is. It’s hard to imagine just noted being much to listen to. But when I hear some it changes my whole attitude toward things. Reminds us how beautiful life can be, I guess.

After being on the problem all week, I got so that the whole world seemed to be G.I.—dirt and canvas and guns. Very refreshing to hear the Sunday programs and to think of having you here. You may even be here before you get this letter! [editor: yes, this letter arrived in Keene after Marjorie had left; see note appended by Marjorie’s grandmother, Emma Nelson.] That will be so nice. All we’ve got to do is remember that we are “good music” people, not “G.I.” people. Music seems to express all the clear and pure parts of life that people overlook when the tough parts confront them.

Actually, last week wasn’t at all bad. The 56th was in reserve until Wednesday and I didn’t do much but sit in a peep and read. When we were finally committed, I was with the anti-tank platoon and just moved along behind the assault platoons.

The division flunked the test. The whole problem was set up to see how we could work as a division. Some general forgot about our rear security for the division, so the division still can’t go overseas.

You asked about my work here. Well, these men are not at all green. The 12th was activated about 2 years ago, and most of the enlisted men have been in it from the start. The platoon sergeants are wonderful, and all the squad leaders are efficient. Consequently, I follow the policy of keeping quiet and looking. Occasionally issuing a brief order just to keep my hand in. At the A.R.T.C. the lieutenants had to do everything in the absence of good non-coms. Here we make decisions, give the orders and just watch as it is carried out. Don’t have to show each man what to do. When you get here you will probably hear too much about these things.

Last night the 56th had a party here at the rec hall. I met all the officers’ wives and they seemed very interested in your coming down. They live in Abilene and will not doubt be friends of ours soon.

Today I sent you a night letter just in case I can’t get a phone call thru. As yet I haven’t been able to get the long distance operator! Nothing new, tho. As soon as Lt. Kurtz moves to his apartment, we can go to his room. He planned to move this week, but there is some delay in finishing off the apartment he wants to move to. I went to see the place today. It is in a good locality and a good house. Kurtz was out so I still haven’t seen the room!

Figures a little on our financial status today:
Total month’s pay=$252.00
Less one war bond=$18.75
Less insurance=$6.50
Less my board=$31.00
Less 2 bus trips to Abilene per day=$9.00
SO--$186.75 left to pay for our quarters, your board, laundry, and miscellaneous.

We should be able to do very well on that, even under the worst of conditions!

This will be a big change for both of us, particularly you. Changes are always a little tough at first. I know it will be a change all to the good for me, because I won’t be leaving anything I value and will be gaining the very thing I want most of all. But you will be leaving home really for the first time, will have a long lonely trip and a completely new environment to come to. You will have a new civilian life to get used to as well as learning about married life and in a sense getting adjusted to “army” life. That’s a big order, Honey—I know just how big. I wouldn’t ask you to do it, if I didn’t feel sure that even with these things, you will find this the best thing to do. We belong together, now. We have realized that for a long time, but we have been together so little that we haven’t done much but talk about the things we wanted to do. Now we will start living and doing these things. We’ll be doing them as the “Russells” and under conditions that will be imperfect, but will probably make us the real “unit” we want to be. This is “us,” honey, not just together in thoughts, but working in a real world. We can start on that building we have been laying the foundation to.

You’ll be homesick as hell, maybe, and you’ll feel like a stranger around here for a while. Expect that, and rather look for things to seem all wrong. But think of what we’re gaining. You’ll be with the person who loves you most in the world, and will do anything and everything to make things as fine as he can for you. That’s the permanent thing. The things you are leaving you will never forget, but will find that it is possible to get on without. You won’t be homesick long and when we do get adjusted we’ll be what we want to be—a functioning couple, young and mobile and as adjustable as they come, doing things and building a life that is going to have a hundred times the richness and value of the average. We have more to look forward to than most people because we are going to do the things that other people dream of. We aren’t after money and security primarily, but experiences, beauty and above all, truth. Those things are hard to remember in the face of a real situation, but they are there and much more available than either money or security to people who are after them sincerely.

You see, honey, we’re on the offensive now. We’re going to kick the world around a little for a change. Circumstances do not bring us together, we’re doing it. We expect to get scratched up here and there when we are doing the kicking, but think of the thrill of getting in a whack or two ourselves! And also of gaining our objective of being together!

I guess I don’t need to tell you how I’ve missed you. Last night most of all. Seeing all these other officers with their wives, dancing. I never thought that I would be yearning to dance. I just ain’t the type. But lately I’ve been longing to dance with you every time I hear an orchestra. Strongest of all last night. Made me wish for you so much last night that I left the old party early. I can’t take that environment without you now. It’s bad enough when there’s nothing around to remind me of you. But when they start playing “our” songs, and dancing, I know you’re supposed to be right beside me. When you aren’t, the music just cuts right into me. So I went to bed, after relaxing on three beers. (I was not drunk.)

I’m still trying to phone you—guess it will be pretty late when I do, and I know the connections will be bad. Want to hear you tho. Maybe next week we’ll be together at this time.

Gee, I’m in love with you. Hurry down, honey. We’ve got so many new worlds waiting for us.

All my love,

[added on the last page, a message from Emma Nelson, Marjorie’s maternal grandmother]
Friday a.m.
I couldn’t resist opening this to hear what was new—but I decided it was the same date as the one you had—I did not mean any harm and hope Wallace will forgive me. It probably won’t happen again—this morning when I turned on the radio it was “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” then “A Song of Texas” and you were on the way there—I wonder what your night was like.

[Illegible name] and Emily left yesterday and Mrs. Liverham [?] and Lizzie Woodward called and last night Mrs. Woodbury came and stayed till 10 so I had her help into my dress. Janet is here this morning.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

June somepin [14], 1944 Wednesday

Dear Honey,

Here is the whole division, in to camp for a couple of hours to police up the area. Never saw a good tactical situation change so quickly—I had taken over the 2nd platoon after their regular Lt. was captured, and was having a great old time. We are working against a foot infantry outfit and having a tough time of it. They are dug in up in the hills west of camp and we can hardly get a patrol thru. Will be out ‘til Sunday, trying to break thru.

This coming in is conceded to be hen-house waste, as the vulgar say, but from it I have a gained a shower, a shave, a letter from you and a bottle of beer, very cold. You don’t know how good those things are after being out in the sun. It isn’t half as hot a Georgia—big sun, but dry and a good breeze.

I am still feeling good about the room we practically have. I think about you coming a lot. Who would have thought we’d live together first in Texas! It’s a wonderful, exciting world. I find it better and better as time goes by, and I become broader and less inhibited.

Glad you are enjoying your K.T.C. activities. You will finish there, you know. This is just a postponement. As soon as we can’t be together, you can plan to finish up at K.T.C. If that situation doesn’t come, that’s just fine, as far as I’m concerned.

Have been browsing over a book “Trumpet In the Dust” during spare minutes in the field, very good—always think of us as reading books together. We have so much to do together.

All my love,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10, 1944 Saturday

Dearest Honey,

You don’t know how happy I am to report that I have paid one week’s rent on a room in Abilene for you and me! Actually, it isn’t completely settled but it can be planned on. Lt. Kurtz, of Class 61, is moving out of his room to an apartment right after our Division problem. He is going to see that we get his present place by paying a week’s rent for the room for us when he tells his landlady he’s leaving. I have given him the money and it looks like a sure thing.

I did what I said I wouldn’t, and took the room without seeing it. Now before you hit me, remember that the situation here is getting so that there just are no places left. You don’t get a chance to choose between two places. With this room, which Kurtz says is light and O.K., we can live very reasonably until we can find a better place. It is better than the hotel plan, and maybe even better than I have expected it to be. The bathroom is downstairs and no cooking. That is bad, but as they say, we’ll have a beach-head to work from. The room is $8.00 a week, which is high but the lowest I have seen for Abilene. When we find an apartment, it will be $45 a month. Now we won’t be rushed to find an apartment, tho, and can enjoy life while waiting. Double bed and other furniture. Easy walk to center of Abilene. Many chances to ride to Barkeley.

I have told you, haven’t I, that the whole division will be in the field on a test all next week. We get back Saturday, the 17th. Then I’ll go in to see how our place is, and if it is still ours. If you get here any time after then, things will be fine. Don’t expect to hear from me next week. I’ll be out in the woods with the biggest outfit I’ve ever seen. Won’t have a platoon, I guess, just do odd jobs and watch the anti-tank gun platoon. I will have that when we get back, I hear. Certainly getting away from my specialized field—tank platoon leading! Very all around, you see. Now I’ll be shooting at tanks for awhile.

This afternoon I sent a telegram to you. Don’t know as it was really necessary. The main thing now is for you to let me know when you plan to arrive, so that I can meet you and have things kind of prepared. Unless I hear that you have set out before next Sunday, I will wire or phone again any new developments then. Really not much to coordinate on. You come down, I meet you. You look after getting here, I’ll look after the Abilene end and meet you at the train. If I can’t meet you, you go to the Hotel Wooten, still, unless I send you the street address of our room; then, of course, go there. Do think I can meet you, tho, almost any time from the 18th on.

Seems as tho I’m always saying goodby to you! Very likely I won’t be able to write until a week from today. It’s as always, tho, they can’t disconnect us completely. I’ll be thinking of you all the time. I like to so much. We have the nicest conversations sometimes—out in the wilderness at night, or anywhere. Very much like our real talks, too. Maybe that’s why we find it so easy when we are together. I don’t know, tho. The way we get together after being apart is just one of those things I can’t explain at all. It’s there, that’s all we know. It’s remarkable. I don’t believe in people being made for each other. There’s nothing to it at all. Naturally. That only makes us more of a paradox, tho. Don’t know why I keep trying to reason things out when everything is so unreasonable. There must be a reason, somewhere, why you and I are different from you and anybody else or me and anybody else. The difference is so big to me, and it is because “I love you.” That describes it perfectly, but does not explain it. Guess the reason isn’t too important, anyway. Just I love you is enough.

And I do, always,

Saturday, June 7, 2008

June 8, 1944 Thursday

Dearest Honey,

Another letter today! I love them, they make you feel so near. I feel just the way you say—very warm and contented inside. Almost like the “mella glow” that Frankie (Sinatra) Brown claims comes from a Manhattan or two. Only much deeper and better.

The grapevine got a very bum steer about this port of debarkation business. Camp Barkeley is far away from any coast, and is noted for its Medical Administration O.C.S.—the closest male approach to a WAC organization! Moreover, there would be the whole 12th division to move out if I should go—I’m in a line outfit now. And we must be near water before we can go. So your scares are a mole hill now.

The situation is this, Bunny. The 12th has been activated a long time but it has never been able to pass the tests required for overseas—has a reputation for flunking tests! It should have been ready long ago, but it isn’t. Now it is trying to round into shape, and is in a semi-alerted state. That doesn’t mean a great deal, tho, many outfits have been fully alerted for over a year. We have an A.P.O. number, 262, I think, but few prospects of using it. We’ll have to move in the States to a port of embarkation, first.

Probably I will not be permanently with the 12th, but train with it at least 3 months and then become good replacement material for some other outfit.

Finally, I will hit a port of debarkation when I get back. My first port will be one of embarkation!

There is nothing morbid in the thought of going overseas, Bunny. I think it will come, and that is why I am so anxious to be with you now. It’s just another thing to look at squarely. Don’t imagine things about it. Now that the initial steps of the invasion are under way, we can be optimistic about the length of the war and also future casualties in it. We’re not in this heaviest part of the war, anyway!

In coming to Texas, we are answering the problem of my going overseas.I don’t believe I’d have you come down if I thought wasn’t leaving in a few months. Conditions are far fro good here—not sordid, but crowded. It’s hard to find what we want, at a reasonable cost.

However, I have never been more sure of anything that that it will be by far the best thing for us to do. Even figuring the highest costs, we can just afford it—and we can easily do better than that. Here is the most expensive way we can live—you in a hotel, eating out all meals. We can afford that if we have to, but I know we won’t have to long. That is the way we must start, tho. I have just about given up trying to get a place without you here—none of the agencies will help unless you are here, and I am not able to be in town mornings when there are private openings, or when the Public Utilities is open. I have a good inside tip on how to use them, but it works only in the a.m. Here is my plan then: You can work at arranging your Keene affairs and getting most of our things ready to ship. Make all the plans you can for the trip down—pullman cars and reservations where possible. Don’t worry at all about the trip. Train riding is only very monotonous and has nothing in it to be concerned about. Carry as little as possible with you for luggage and see if you can keep clean. You can’t, but it passes time to try. You’ll see how easy it is, even for a lady alone. You’ll meet lots of them.

When you leave, ship your clothes and personal necessities only, and carry what you need for the trip and a couple of days. Pack our other things and put them at my folks or anyplace where they can be shipped easily when we need them. Take plenty of money for the trip and be sure that what is left in the bank is available to us at short notice.

The best date for you to arrive will be Sunday, June 25. That Saturday (24th) evening is O.K., too, but Abilene will be very crowded; but aside from that it is better than Sunday. (The Jeffersonian has no pullman cars, only reclining chairs. Pullman is better.)

Let me know when you plan to arrive and I’ll meet you or bust. If I bust take a cab to the Hotel Wooten where I will have reservations for you. I’ll meet you there just as soon as I can after that.

When you get into the Hotel sing out “Wahoo” three times just to get into the spirit of things, and to let them know that you’re here, dadgummit, and intend to stay as long as you want and don’t care who knows it.

Then I will orient you on the ways of Abilene and the layout of the city. After that, we will be together very often; have nice long Sundays together, most every evening and nite; and really be man and wife! We’ll have lots to do. First we’ll get the agencies looking for a miserable little room, and then find a nice bright one by ourselves. That done, and we have a home. Big step. Then we’ll find a place to prepare meals—maybe that 2-room apartment you dreamed about, or in the kitchen of the house our room is in. Then we’ll be saving money. Then we’ll get some of our own things down and start Living together in the way we dream of.

How’s that? Makes me feel good. And we can do it. I’ve got $130 in my pocket right now that will go us until next pay day—July 1—when I should get $225 or thereabouts. You bring a substantial sum, too, just as a reserve.

I love you, honey, very, very, very much. Know that?
All yours, always,
P.S. Let’s wait and celebrate our birthday together! Seeing you is the best thing I can think of for a gift.
Wallace loves you.

June 7, 1944 Wednesday

Dear Mrs. Russell,

Five days ago I came to Barkeley. Tonite is the first one I could not have been in to spend the evening and night with Mrs. Russell, if she had been in Abilene. I am duty officer tonite, which means I must stay on post. Just for the sake of being here, that’s about all. Not a great deal to do.

Today I saw a prairie flower, which, natcherly, was growing wilder every hour. I knew that flowers would make you happy so I picked it (it was quite a fight—it had become so wild) and after domesticating it for a mile in the sun, managed to get it in this envelope and on the way to my best wife. “Best” may sound as tho there were others, but you specifically called me your dearest husband the other day, and I’m jealous.

Next Monday, or maybe even Sunday, we go out on a 5-day problem with the whole division. That won’t be long, and when I get back you should be almost here! I’ll give you the situation from my end of the line starting tomorrow. Then if I can I’ll call sometime this weekend to get things up to date.

Tomorrow I go out on the range with 2 groups of me, and give instruction before they fire. Got to read up on that now. So goodbye. I love you so very muc—wish I could write lots more.

All my love, always,