Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

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

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,

June 6, 1944 Tuesday

Dearest Bunny,

Today I was in a division review. Now that is a mighty big affair, with a battalion almost lost in the crowd. You see men for as far as you can see. When you think how many divisions there are, you are impressed at the size of the army.

Of course the review was to celebrate the invasion, which we found out about this morning. That is big news, all right. I’m just praying that things will go fast now. If they do, the war could end up shortly. That’s the thing that is so good I don’t dare think about it. We’ll hit ‘em awful hard then, Honey.

I got all my luggage at the station yesterday—now I have all the little things I’ve been doing without. My diary, for example. That poor thing has been suffering this year. Haven’t written hardly anything in it. I did get ambitious one day and just skim over the first 14 weeks of O.C.S. Now I’m just skimming up to date. I think getting married is worth a short note! Also where I am now.

Have I ever told you how wonderful my wife is? She is so wonderful that I have the feeling I can’t do half the things I should for her, and I ask myself how I deserve so much for doing so little.

That’s true, on, I’m pretty lame at showing how I feel sometimes, and doing the things I should. Anyway, I love you a hundred times more than I ever have anyone, and I want you to let me know whenever I can do something for you.

Nite now. Just going to sleep under that big old prairie moon [full moon on June 6, 1944]. Love me? That’s good. Sleep tight, Mrs. Russell.

All yours,

June 5, 1944 Monday

Dearest Marjorie,

I got my first letter from my wife today. It was a big thrill for me. Isn’t it nice to be married? I got your name put all over my official papers today so that the government is sure to know they have a married officer. I can’t get over how wonderful it is to have you legally my very closest relative and all. Everybody recognizes our right to be very close.

Well, today I was put into “C” company of the 56th Arm’d. Inf. Battalion. There are a lot of fine officers there. Too many, in fact. All I do is mill around and look official. There are too many officers, and in this real outfit the noncoms are so god the officers don’t do anything, anyway! I can be happy just overseeing anyway. Makes me feel powerful. An officer is an officer here—more so even than at Knox. Wearing my arm out saluting and giving “rest.” A man makes my bed and shines my shoes and cleans my private cabin. There are some other Lt.’s with me in the cabin but they live in Abilene, so actually I live all by myself. Wish you could live out here with me. Went to Abilene to hunt again tonite. Found that transportation will be no problem, but getting a place is still hard. No response from our ad yet. Nothing new from the C. of C. or Travellers’ Aid. They say “Is your wife here?” I say no, and am licked at once. Tonite I did reserve rooms for you at the Wooten Hotel starting June 16. Can move it up if you don’t arrive until later. If I don’t get a place—but I’ll keep trying—you come to there for a week maybe. By then, with you here, I know we can get something. There are rooms, but they let couples here, or the ones that get there “fustest” have them. Maybe I’ll have a chance to get there first Wednesday. May get in in the morning.

Sleepy again tonite, Hon, so good nite. Feel very close to you after getting a letter so soon. I have a wonderful wife. Very best variety. I am very happy about us—we’re such a good couple.

All my love, always,

June 4, 1944 Sunday

Hi, hon,

Are you listening to the symphony this afternoon? I hope so, because I am right now. Maybe we’ll get a chance to hear a lot of good music this summer. We’ll try to arrange it. They have a good record store in Abilene.

Now to get things up to date. I reported Saturday morning to the 12th Armd. Div. headquarters. They went thru the motions of interviewing us for placement, but I know they had us all assigned before we came. The few of us that came here were split up all over the 12th Division. Tom, Hinchey and I were put into the armored infantry section. Rudick got into a tank battalion.

We went down the line until the offices closed on Sat. We didn’t get far enough to report to our battalions—but can see where we will end up pretty well. Tom and Hinchey are in the 66th Arm’d. Inf. Battalion. I am in the 56th A.I.B.—the only new officer put in this battalion. So you can see we’re pretty well spread out. I am not officially in the 56th yet—just attached for quarters. I will report officially tomorrow.

Armored Infantry is set up like this—3 battalions to a division. 3 or 4 companies to a battalion, and 4 platoons to a company. A platoon (which I will probably have) has as I recall, 5 half-tracks, 3 rifle squads, a machine gun squad and a mortar squad. Big outfit to handle—nearly 60 men, if they have regulation platoons.

You never saw such flat country! The road from Abilene to Barkeley (15 miles) is straight as a string.

I’ll just write on here as things come to mind—so many things to tell you about.

The most important is about room hunting. That isn’t so easy. Things are pretty crowded in Abilene. But not impossible. The ones that brought their wives with them are all settled now. Last night I went in to the Chamber of Commerce, U.S.O., Public Utilities, a couple of realtors, and called up the advertized places in the paper. They had nothing, or were saving what they had for couples already here. I put in a classified ad to run 4 days starting today. I’ll enclose a copy of it.

Here’s what we’ll do. I’ll continue to look nights for a place. I am at a disadvantage, tho, because they serve couples already here first, and the paper ads are answered before I can get in. Consequently, I will take most anything I can get. If it isn’t good enough, we can change when you come and can be free to operate in a big way. Everyone is confident that we can get an apartment when you are here. Can I plan tentatively on your being here the weekend of the 18th?

I’ll work like a beaver this week, because I hear that the week of June 11-18 the Div. will be in the field on some kind of tests. Back in time to meet you, tho.

Do you know how much your fare to Texas will be? 40 or 50 dollars, I imagine. Gee, we are dealing in pretty big finances these days—know that? I am being as tight as possible now, but find that money goes pretty fast, anyway. As soon as we get settled, tho, this will end. It only cost 15 cents to take the bus to Barkeley. That will be much better than Knox.

About our money in the bank. I’d like to leave it in Keene, but would also like to have it available if we need it. Can it be changed to a checking account? If so, better change it. Otherwise, we can leave some signed withdrawal slips with my folks and send to them when we want some. Checking account best, tho. I plan to have one soon anyway.

Whee! You’ll be a real financier by the time you get all your money straight! You handle more people’s money, hon.

Take all the time you need, tho; any time you get things done is soon enough to set out for Texas. I’ll be waiting.

That’s all the uninteresting things I can think of. In this framework I have been living some very interesting things. Seeing so many new things, and also getting used to myself. Getting married really changed me, I think, and I’m quite happy about it. Feel as tho I had gotten a real start on life, and now it’s much easier to do things I like to, but which are hard to start. You know—like reading something a little deep. You find it hard to start, but when you do, you’re very glad you did. I’m not distracted by little things as before, and can follow a thought through to a conclusion.

Have been reading some short stories by Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway and Conrad Aiken. They are all favorites of mine, and write things that are worth reading slow rather than just skimming.

There are three colleges in Abilene. Hardin-Simmons is the only one I have heard of. Some army families are living in rooms at dormitories there. Maybe we will if we can find nothing else—wouldn’t be bad, maybe you could take some courses good for graduation at K.T.C. Should be a good environment there, but the rooms don’t have a place to cook or prepare food. That would make living expensive.

It will be nice when we’re together, Bun. We’ll be sharing things again, and living a real life. Bet we’ll get on just as well facing real problems together as we did living as royalty at the Bradford. Be even more satisfying to be doing some solid building together, I think. I love you so many ways.

Your loving husband (heh, just wanted to see how it looked),
All yours, always,

Sunday Eve.
Dearest Honey,

Just thought I’d say I love you again before I went to bed. Feel like the old lone cowboy tonite. The prairie moon am beaming, and tho I haven’t heard a coyote yet, I expect he’ll sound off soon.

Well, there’s a train whistle. That’s just as good.

Funny how lonely this country gets. Everything seems so far away. You walk for miles to reach a building that looks just down the road a little. It rained this afternoon, but the sky is so big the clouds just covered a spot in the center, and it was clear all around the horizon.

This place is very pretty, tho, but in a way that a New Englander finds a little big. It won’t seem so big when you get here, tho. Together it will seem as beautiful as it is. It’ll be “Mighty Fine,” as they say here.

Come as soon as you can, Hon; I love you very much.


June 4, 1944 Sunday
Dear folks,

Wahoo! Never thought I’d be writing from the depths of the heart of Texas tonite.

Last week has been full of travel, and travel and things. Main accomplishments: crossed Ol’ Man River; got assigned to an armored infantry battalion of the 12th Armored Div. Will have half-tracks rather than tanks when I finally get settled. Now I’m still working my way from one headquarters to another. Started at division and going down. Things closed up between Reserve Combat Command and battalion this Saturday.

Camp Barkeley seems to be O.K., and Abilene is a clean, modern city. Every thing is so flat out here that they don’t dare build anything over one-story high.

Don’t know as I thanked you folks for all you did at the wedding the way I should. Want to now, anyway. You all did a lot of work, I know, to make things go as well as they did.

Haven’t got a permanent address yet, but will let you know when I do.

I think I am going to be in the 56th battalion—the only new officer in it. Our class of 61 is spread out all over now. From California to Arkansas and Louisiana—and Texas.

Keep me posted on the adventures of Carl, Bob, Justin, Jay, and women folks.


Monday, June 2, 2008

June 2, 1944 Friday

Hello hon,

I am writing with a hotel pen, which is second only to a post office pen.

Well, here we are in Abilene, the town that goes with Camp Barkeley. We arrived here at 7:40 tonite and are staying at this hotel tonite [Hotel Wooten]. Will clean up and go to camp tomorrow.

Abilene impressed me first as being a clean, up-to-date city. The country here is flat and grassy, with scrub trees. The buildings of the city here are low, but clean, and the streets are quite wide. I took a walk to get oriented, having the idea of living here in the top of my mind. The town is dry – bone dry. Perhaps it will be different on Saturday night but there were not too many soldiers around tonite. Those that were seemed to live here – were walking out with their wives! Many officers seemed to have found places somewhere.

To break in – try particularly to get pullman reservations for the last part of the trip. That is, from Dallas on – the train was crowded and all pullman seats sold.

Bought a copy of the Abilene Reporter-News and looked over the want ads – a few rooms and apartments are advertised and a lot of people want to rent rooms or apartments. Typical ad – “OFFICER and wife desire furnished apartment or house. Call 8822.” Some are longer, saying “no pets, no children, no drinking,” and stuff. If I can get in tomorrow I’ll look into the apartments advertised and put in an ad myself. I’ll take a place as soon as I can get it, and hold it until you come.

Gee, Bunny, I’m tired. Tom and the boys have gone off to a movie, but I’d rather stay right here. I think of you all the time and hope and hope things go well for us here. Texas is a new kind of country, people and land different from anything I’ve ever seen. Pretty tho. Not like a desert as I expected. Tom is of course crushed by the thought of Abilene’s dryness, but it may make it more as we want for ourselves.

If it is at all possible, I am going to try to graduate from UNH this summer by taking army institute courses here, if necessary. I only need 7 credits. Tom says they are now giving credit for what we did in A.S.T.P. If so, I’m in already. If not, they do accept theses army correspondence courses. I’ll take some of them. It will make things so much easier right after the war if I can get my degree now. I will write to UNH for details right away.

My eyes are really getting out of hand now, so goodnite, my honey. I’m kissing my ring instead of you tonite. I’ve really got some wonderful plans on the fire – just let’s hope that they don’t crack up too much when I report for duty again tomorrow. I don’t know what I’ll meet there.

I love you every minute,
Nite, Bunny,

June 1, 1944 Thursday

My dear Mrs. Russell (Heh, Heh, Heh),

O’Donnell, Hinchey (you met him), Rudick, and Russell are operating very well these days. We are now between Memphis and Jackson.

We got Pullman berths last night and today have (with regular fares) got command of the drawing room of the air-conditioned car. It’s our own private room – complete with toilet and divan just for us! They like officers here! Having the most comfortable ride ever on a train. When you come down I recommend pullman all the way, even if it takes longer. You can get good trains and be comfortable, so please do it. This is real south now, so get air-conditioned cars. Make all the reservations you can. There are many wives traveling alone, and only nice people on these cars. You will be all right – just remember to get the best.

Saw Ol’ Man river for the first time – quite impressive. Had some papaya juice for dinner. Flat country, many darkies and poor whites. Texas will be still different.

Wish I had a pen but I can’t get one anywhere. They don’t even have ever-sharp pencils!

Be interested to know all about graduation and what you are doing. All the thank-you’s done? There is a section for brides in Coronet this month – my companions tell me.

Gee I love you.
All yours,