Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

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

Saturday, May 30, 2009

October 24, 1944 Tuesday

Dearest Marjorie,

I hope my letters aren’t too badly mixed in sequence when you get them. Yours are pretty jumbled but they are all nicely dated and I can fit them in. I got another batch today, and I appreciate every one more than you can believe. They do wonders for my own personal morale, and not many people over here worry about that too much. It’s all interesting here, but so strange. You get so that something familiar is clung to very hard. Your letters are the nearest things to home I have. I love you for them, Honey. They say just what I feel. I am interested in everything you do.

Well, that new experience that cut off my last letter almost before I could say I love you was really something. I was made convoy commander of a large convoy from division to Liverpool and back. About the most responsible job I have had. I had 35 vehicles in my column and got them all in safely. It’s a long trip, and I got a chance to see England at close range. I headed the column in an open peep. We passed thru some very famous English towns – Newcastle for one, and the English Marlborough. Was in Liverpool for a day and a half and got around in it a lot. Stayed at a very famous former race track.

It’s almost ridiculous how every English child runs to an American with the inevitable V-sign with his fingers and the question “Have you got any gum?” They usually pronounce gum to rhyme with “broom.” The children and girls are very enthusiastic about G.I.’s and practically mobbed us whenever we halted. British soldiers and some old people are much cooler in their attitude.

The towns are beautiful and quaint. Look surprisingly like an old print in a book by Dickens. And they still have the old names for their pubs – “The King’s Head,” “Legs of Man,” “Bell and Crown,” “Hare and Hound,” “Royal Arms.”

Liverpool is big, but pretty dismal with its “dim-out” that is blacker than our black-outs and the still-censored bomb-damage of the early part of the war. I looked all around its municipal buildings, went thru its long, modern traffic tunnel, visited two if its theatres and roamed around the old part of town and the cathedrals. I saw a very good English movie “Mr. Emmanuel,” and an American film “It Happened Tomorrow.”

I was glad of the chance to see Liverpool again. The first time we went thru it at night and saw only dark silhouettes.

To be complete, I must tell you about the Women On The Street in Liverpool. It’s an important part of the present life of the town. You never saw so many frustrated women. In walking innocently down the street, they approach you singly or in pairs and strike up conversation “Have you got a match?” or gum, or a cigarette? They were particularly perturbed at an officer being unaccompanied and one whole “house” of seven insisted on introducing themselves to me! They are just matter-of-fact professionals and, of course, didn’t even interest me beyond surprising me that anyone could be so blunt and open about it. I would have been disgusted, only I thought that would be a puritanical and moralist attitude. It exists and is something to try to understand.

My driver was amazed also, at the vehicles we saw on the road – pony carts, gypsy wagons, 3-wheeled cars – until he said that he had reached the limit. Not even a nude woman could make him look over his shoulder any more, he said. And I guess it was the English that had Lady Godiva on the roads. They have everything on the king’s highway.

Glad you liked your trip to Rochester, Hon. You’ll have a time at Laura’s, too. She’s an excellent person. A good mother without sacrificing her cosmopolitan interests.

I love your letters very, very much, Bunny. I do think of you and feel you all the time. We are a wonderful pair and I’ll never do anything to break it up. Do not doubt that I will always tell you the truth sincerely. That is the basis of our understanding and as long as it is there we won’t go wrong. I always want to know how things really are with you, so don’t mind giving me the downs and blues with the good things. I’ll understand. I love you, Honey, and always will.

All yours, always,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

October 20, 1944 Friday

Somewhere in England

Dear Marjorie,

The mailman broke down today and shot two letters at me. One had the first set of pictures you sent on Sept. 22. The other was dated Sept. 26. It is true that V-mail does come thru much faster than regular mail, so if you want, sprinkle in a few of those. I like regular mail better, but they come thru very slowly. Air mail helps, too. Please note that my address does not include the division. That is not necessary and on occasion could hold up mail a giving away locations of a large unit.

It is too bad that K.T.C. does not offer the courses you need now. I found out that from today’s letter. That leaves you in a dangerous position, honey. Too much leisure can be as bad as being too busy. A few days of doing nothing always makes even little jobs seem hard to me. I would rather have you raising the most violent kind of hell than being too much of a lady of leisure. That is, the late-sleeping, chocolate-eating kind that dabbles futilely at this and that and does nothing. That kind ultimately loses the will to do anything solid or difficult.

Before you hit me, let me explain that I do not think you would ever become like that. But not being in school, you won’t have any real binding job; and that will make it easy for you to lose some of your efficient habits. I hope your will-power is better than mine when it comes to working without any stimulus other than the reward of work itself. Self-education that is more than a pastime is hard as the dickens. If it is the McCoy, it is the best education, however. If you can carve a curriculum for yourself, swell. If not, better learn how to weld.

I can see your point about finding young people to be with and young things to do. It’s very important, too. Do not join the Grapevine. It is enough to be the subject of their talks, without becoming a member. If you have to be with older people all the time, your idea of moving around – to Tamey, etc. is best. Find new acquaintances where you can, and try not to be limited or narrowed by Keene and its conservative code. I’m just getting at the same old idea, hon, of not “bogging down” to conventionalism, or forgetting that “living” our way means the broadest use of all our capacities. Action, not sleep, brings the best things. The world is too big and wonderful to not be actively looked for and appreciated.

There, my sermon is over. Ignore it if you wish, and in any event do whatever you think is best.

I had been looking forward a lot to those pictures. Now I’m waiting for the batch you sent the next day. I thought they were all very good and showed them all around. Pictures are the best souvenirs you can get. The one of the cathedral interested me a lot. In comparing the one near here (pure English Gothic) with it, New Orleans doesn’t match the older one at all for grace and beauty. Our picture has a solid look – “how firm a foundation” stuff – but the cathedral here, tho larger and made entirely of stone gives an impression of lightness and delicacy that is completely different. Has a much greater emotional effect.

Well, here comes a new experience. More later. Must run.

All my love,