On the day she recieved the following letters from Jakey, this is what she wrote:
May 23, 1941,
Soon after, and this morning we drove down to the funeral home. Zosh and I said good-bye to Stretch. I touched my cheek to his lips. He had a beautiful military funeral and Nat didn’t say hardly anything. In fact, I behaved worse than she did. I asked her to our house for lunch. Edmund took me to work. I really am tired today and rather weak. Had two letters from Jake. Was writing to him when Chet Modzelewski came up and stayed until 12. I am tired – not of him – but physically.
May, 17, 1941
It’s Saturday afternoon and our time is our own-no more inspections or work until Sunday night. Is it hot? Wow? Are we having a heat wave. We have a big fan going in the attic of our barracks and it’s constantly changing the air in here (supposedly) but it’s still hot.
Tonight I’m going to a dance given by the lower classmen for the upper classmen. Somebody got me a date with a local girl-I’ll tell you all about her when I get back. Everybody’s going – you should have seen this barrack last night and even now – the telephone is red hot. Upper classmen are calling all over town trying to get girls for us dodoes. I can still call my date off if you’ll go with me.
Well, I wasn’t going to tell you but here goes-I probably wont be able to go to go anyway. I and about 12 other boys couldn’t stand the sun in formation today and we came back to our barracks. The doctor wants us to stay in all weekend so unless something breaks I wont be able to go. I think the reason I couldn’t stand up was because a short time ago I had a “shot” (injections of something to prevent some kind of disease.)
Emily-I’m homesick. I hate to say it but it’s true. I hope you understand how I feel I can’t put it in words- I miss you. Gee I wish I could say what I want to say. I want to get through this training here very much and when I get through I’ll be seeing you. Please remember that. I hope I can control myself long enough to be able to finish because if I don’t I don’t think I’ll be much good to anyone. Maybe I’m talking too much so don’t worry about what I’m saying. I think I’ve got enough confidence in myself to get through.
Well now that I’ve got through with that let’s get a little lighter minded-how did you like the pictures-do I look like a dodo or a pilot or what. I’m glad you’re keeping busy and like I told you before I left-don’t hibernate-do whatever you want to do. No matter what you do I’ll still see you when I get back if you’ll have me.
One of the boys made the first solo hop yesterday but he’s had about 60 hours of training before he got here. They expect us to solo after 8 hours of dual instruction. I’ve had 5 ½ hours so far but I’m far from soloing yet I can tell you. Goody, it just started to rain and when it rains down here it pours. From where I’m sitting I can barely see the end of the field.
Will you ask Edmund to exercise his pew hand the next time you see him. I’d like to hear from him. I hope his letters are as interesting as his talk when he usually gets going.
We took a picture of the whole dodo class last week and as soon as I get it I’ll send it to you.
Don’t tell my mother about my little episode under the sun – I still think I shouldn’t have told you.
Take care of yourself and keep smiling and writing.
This letter left me gasping for air. <3!!! What a pick. It seems to me his love is so solid that he can love her and also want whats best fo her. What a good man. My husband never met him but I see so much of that in him. Respect, genuine emotions, humor. My husband once shouted: “I love love!” Something about that must have been genetic.
Of course I see something slightly sinister about all of these boys passing out in the sun after getting inoculated. I think it would be easy to say that these boys were put through a very toxic environment. You hear the strain in his letters at times regardless how how hard he is clearly trying to cover it up, both for himself and Babu.
This letter gave me so much respect for him, for a man I never met. But I knew the woman who missed him every day of the almost fifty years she had to spend without him. I can see why.
May 20, 1941
Here I go stealing study hall time again but this time I borrowed a pen instead of writing in pencil like I used to. Everything here is pretty swell with me. One of the boys who flys with me is getting an army check ride today. That means he must prove to the army lieutenant that he has progressed rapidly by flying as per instructions. If he does not do this he will find himself on the next train home. I hope I don’t get a check ride for some time yet because I’m not ready for one yet.
Well I did go to that dance I told you about and had a fairly nice time. Here in the South, every number is a “tag” number so I didn’t see much of the girl I brought except to bring her down and take her home. The dance lasted from 9-1 AM and we were supposed to be in the barracks by 2 AM. I got back with plenty of time to spare.
By the bye, when it’s 9:20 here (that’s the time we retire) it’s 11:20 in Chicopee so if your still awake at that time think of me because that’s when I’m really thinking about you. And exactly at 9:21 I give my pillow a big hug and kiss and make believe it’s you. I wish you’d remember to do the same if you’re awake at 11:21 and maybe there is something in this telepathy business.
For 32 minutes yesterday I was doing takeoffs and landings and was I terrible. I can get the plane just about 3 ft off the ground, hold it there so that it looks like the makings of a swell landings but then the nose starts to drift to the left or the right and when I correct for this drift I either do it too much or too little and make scrambled eggs out of the landing.
Next Friday night (if I’m still here) the boys and I are going to a show. Sorry I can’t take you but the difference in time would make it impractical. This Friday is the first one we’ve had off since we’ve been here. We didn’t have the others off because we have these “shots.” (You know what those are.)
I got a letter from Harry Taylor the other day and he told me that they didn’t have anyone in my place yet in City Hall.-Guess it’s such an important job that they have to be pretty fussy about who they pick for the job (yeah.)
It’s 7:35 AM right now and you are rushing around dressing, fixing your hair, and grabbing a bite to eat, right? I wish I were outside waiting for you to come out with that big smile wrapped around you. You know you look best when you smile. (or have I ever told you that before) I never did think that I would be writing letters like this and I don’t think they’re a but slushy do you.
I’ve told you we get up at 5:20 AM but I don’t remember telling you I’m wide awake about 5:15-just waiting for the bell to ring-what a difference from what I used to do at home.
What I am about to tell you now is a military secret and no kidding so keep it under your blonde hair yes? The next class of dodos is supposed to be composed of boys from England. I hope I’m here to welcome them. By that time our class will be the upper class and we can have fun with the dodos just like the present upperclassmen is doing with us.
I hope you and your mother and father are well and especially hope your right hand hasn’t a case of typewriter fever so that you would be sure to write.
Tonight, tomorrow, and every day,
Oh boy. Yes, he got “slushy” alright, if that means what I think it means. What a cheezy, hopeless romantic. Do you think they ever held their pillows at the same time?
This post will end on a sad note and remind us why we are here. When Jake wrote in his letter on May 20th, wondering what Babu was doing, he assumed a routine as normal. He had no idea this was Babu’s day:
“I cried and was angry by turns today thinking of Stretch and how he died through neglect.”
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Insight into a bygone era…life, love, loss. Maybe it’s never really so bygone after all. You’re doing a great job as Keeper of the Family Treasure ❤
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Thank you that means so much. ❤