Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

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

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!