March 20, 1945
My dearest one,
Here ’tis our fourth anniversary, but there was nothing unusual about the day, except for the fact that H & G gave me a rose & blue brunch coat. I did receive two v-mails from you, dated March 12 & 13, which require no comment. The weather continues “hot” & uncomfortable, but the weatherman predicts it will be much cooler and normal soon.
I’m terribly weary & warm, having just finished bathing Adele, getting her to sleep, washing, pressing & sewing! I made up my mind to keep very busy so I wouldn’t have a minute to think & I believe I’ve succeeded. It’s sheer effort that is helping me to write this, as I am almost asleep.
Phil, my darling, we must be together for our “fifth.” (Just looking forward to the wait of a year turns my stomach.) I miss you so much, sweet, and my love grows ever stronger. I hope & pray that we’ll be together in a matter of months—life is so meaningless without you—I love you, Phil, dearest, & pray that your dreams & mine will come true in the near future, so that you can return to
20 March 1945
My Darling Wife,
That’s a very special salutation for a very special girl on a very special day—Tonight, more than any night since last 20 March—I miss you, baby. All day today I’ve been thinking of another 20 March—you know which one I mean, and wondering just how much longer we’ll have to wait to keep that date in “1777”— Darling, the prospect of that happy occasion is so precious, that I get a lump in my throat just contemplating it. God grant it be soon! You’ll forgive me, Ev, dearest, if I don’t make this my customary “anniversary letter.” You see, Sweet, I have quite a lot to write about tonight, and I’ll never get done if I let myself get “wound up” on the subject. Bear with me, then, if I merely express the heartfelt wish that our next anniversary will find us together once more. I know that is your wish, too, my darling—
I received your very sweet long letter of 26 Feb. this afternoon that calls for a lot of “answering,” but before I get into that, I want to tell you what I did with the remainder of my leave—
Let’s see now—I believe I left you on the morning of the 19th—After I finished writing, I went ’round to Last’s Cafe for lunch. First, I stopped for Bert at his shop, intending to take him along, but he was busy with a salesman, and couldn’t leave. But my lunch was not a solitary one, because shortly after I seated myself, an elderly couple sat down opposite me, and almost immediately engaged me in conversation. We had a very nice chat while we were eating. During the dessert course—(ice cream, no less) they introduced themselves as Mr. & Mrs. Greenwood, gave me their address, which is a few miles outside Colchester, and told me they would be very happy if I would drop in and spend an evening with them sometime. Their three daughters are all in the service, and they confessed that they are very lonely as a consequence. Mrs. Greenwood, who is a gentle, refined, old lady seemed a bit embarrassed when Mr. Greenwood, who is her masculine counterpart, tendered me the invitation in all earnestness. Being the more acute of the two, I could see by her manner that she felt that a young? soldier like myself could hardly find any attraction in spending an evening with old people like themselves. In order to give me some incentive for doing so, she told me, almost shyly, that if I would come, she would make me a nice meal. They were so painfully eager to have me, but so diffident about showing it, that my heart went out to them in their loneliness. Some day, when I get the opportunity, I’ll drop in on them and show them that I would certainly enjoy visiting with them—
After lunch, I went to the movies to see “Sunday Dinner for a Soldier.” It was a frankly sentimental film, wholesome in its ideals, unashamedly tender in the portrayal of each and every character, and altogether the sort of film that we used to enjoy so much, my Sweet. Anne Baxter has a wonderful opportunity to show what she is capable of, and acquits herself with flying colors. She does a beautiful job of acting as Tessa, the girl with the “mother complex.” The kids (I forget their names) are so good, that I could hardly believe my eyes. John Hodiak I just don’t like—Seems like the gals find him very attractive (at least Evelyn and Betty did), but for my money, he is the most repulsive male who ever played leading man—it is his mouth I don’t like. However, lest I appear prejudiced by his looks, I will concede that he does very well by his part, too. Charles Winninger, the perennial, is, as always, superb. His portrayal of “Grandfeathers” is something to behold. I cannot recommend this film too highly, honey. My only regret was that you weren’t there to share it with me.
I came back to Bert’s shop, waited a half-hour or so for them to close up, and accompanied Mr. Cohen and Bert in his car to Old Heath. After we had tea, Evelyn and Betty (a friend and neighbor of the Woolfs) went off to see “Sunday Dinner—”, while Mr. Cohen, Bert and I settled down to a three-handed game of cards. About 9:30, I booked a cab to take me to the station at 11:00, but, as on a previous occasion, he never showed up, and I was stuck. There was only one thing to do then, so I did it. I called the CQ in the Orderly Room and told him what had happened; that I would be in next morning, and that he should notify Sgt. Murphy. Then I went to bed in the big, comfortable bed in the front room, which Mr. Cohen insisted I do when I protested that I could sleep just as well in the “air-raid bed” in the living-room. But he wouldn’t hear of it, and that’s the way it was. I was, unaccountably, very tired and sleepy when I hit the hay at midnight, and slept like a log ’til 8:30 in the morning. After breakfast, Mr. Cohen and I caught the bus into town, where, luckily, I met one of our trucks. I was the only passenger on the way back to base. The CQ had failed to report my call to Sgt. Murphy, but when that worthy missed me in the morning he called the CQ and asked if I had called in, so he knew why I was late. Capt. Crane, who was in the Orderly Room when I walked in, asked me about it. When I explained that the cabbie had disappointed me and left me stranded in Old Heath, he took it with good grace and said no more about it, for which I was very thankful. I wasted no time changing into my fatigues and getting to work—of which there was plenty. I was kept plenty busy for the rest of the day.
You may have noted, Chippie, that I had precious little time from the morning of the 19th ’til now to write, and it appears that I’ve gypped you out of a letter after all. Sorry, honey—
It’s almost time for lights out now, so I’ll have to quit writing for the time being. I have still to answer your letter of 26 Feb., but I’ll do that tomorrow.
Hasta mañana, then, sweetheart—I love you dearly—Love to the punkin—and all from
Your adoring Phil
24 March 1945
Hello again, darling—
As you have seen, I didn’t get the opportunity to continue with this for the last four days. However, since I did manage to get a V-mail off to you on each of those days, I know you will concede that I’m doing okay by you. All right—baby?
I am CQ tonight and am starting this early because I have a lot to say, and intend to make this a real longie. Before I begin answering your letter of the 26th Feb., though,—a few lines about what I did today.—
The weather continues perfect. There wasn’t a wisp of cloud in the sky all day, and the sun shone uninterruptedly. This morning, just after I rose, I heard a mighty hum in the sky. Before I looked, I knew what I would see—we’ve been expecting it for days and weeks now.
In the afternoon, I was called to the Classification Office to take a test to determine if I’m qualified to hold my rating as “Clerk-Typist.” The minimum requirement is 35 words per minute. Unfortunately, I never learned to use the touch system, although I do hit the keys with the right fingers, and I must look at the keyboard to make any kind of speed. Well, on the first try I scored 31 w.p.m., on the second try 34. By that time I was so jittery that I dropped back to 33 on the next try. But I was damned if I was going to let them take away my rating by that close a margin. If it had been 20 or 25 w.p.m., I would have given it up as hopeless (as indeed I thought it was—before I started). Finally, on the ninth attempt, I knocked out 39 w.p.m., with one error, which still gave me a bare passing grade of 36. Whew!
Forgot to tell you that I received your and Mom’s and H & G’s birthday greetings, together with two very nice letters, one from Mom, and one from Goldie, the latter containing the snapshot of Diana Jean. I hope to answer them within the next few days, but I’m through making promises that I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep. Thanks for the greeting, honey, and thank Mom and H & G for remembering me, too—just in case I don’t get the chance to do so myself.
And now to yours of the 26—On that day you received nine of my letters at once. I’m glad they pleased you, darling. You wondered why Lt. Toms saw fit to cut away part of that letter in which I discussed morals. He brought it to my attention that he couldn’t permit me to say anything detrimental to the character of the English women and our soldiers, and since I had done just that, to his way of thinking, he had to cut it out.
A few paragraphs later, you say some things that I’m not sure I want to understand. You say you are “a little worried with (my) strong feelings and ideals.” For the life of me, I just can’t grasp why my particular “feelings and ideals” should worry you. All this time, I had been laboring under the delusion that I was reassuring you! Further on, you make some statements that both amaze and frighten me—things like “I think, honey, that you’d be a lot better off if you’d simply relax and forget about ‘the fitness of things.’ I wish you’d learn to let yourself go and simply have a good time. To hell with what other people say and do! Now I’ve said it!”—And what have you said, Sweet? Frankly, I don’t get it! Do you mean that it wouldn’t bother you if I had relations with other women? I’d hate to believe that! Yet what interpretation am I to put to your words? I assure you, baby, that even if you could condone my behaving that way, it wouldn’t by a particle change my attitude or actions. You see, Chippie, feeling the way I do, I would only grow to hate myself (and possibly you, too) if I were so weak that I would permit my animal instincts to triumph over my sense of human decency. Loving you as I do, I couldn’t bring myself to touch you if I comported myself one whit differently from how I would have you, yourself, behave in my absence. I am firmly convinced that no girl in the world, however charming, could even for a moment, tempt me to the extent that I would sacrifice my own self-respect for any temporary pleasure she might be able to afford me. Do you understand that, Eve? If I hadn’t told you on a few previous occasions how I feel about all this, I might not be surprised by your too-subtle suggestions. I might even take advantage of your “generosity” were I someone who was “good” solely out of apprehension of being found out by his “other half,” and not having any moral scruples of his own. As it is, I can only assume that you are very far from understanding, in spite of my efforts to enlighten you, that marital promiscuity, even in its mildest form, both disgusts and horrifies me. I’m sure you know (from actual experience, at that) how strongly I have always felt about this—that is why I am so sorely puzzled by your seeming offer of “carte blanche.” Tell me, Sweet, just what would you think if I told you what you told me—in the very same words? I think you would be just as confused as to my real meaning as I am of yours! You also know, I think, what I expect of you in this connection, and you know, too, that all my happiness—my very life (and believe that I’m not exaggerating!) depends on your faithfulness and constancy. Knowing all this, then, in all fairness to us both, I demand that you expect no less of me than I do of you. I’m very, very proud of what we had, Sweet, and I won’t abide anyone trying to cheapen it—no, not even you! At this point, I am aware that my feelings (possibly too “strong” for your peace of mind, since you have said they “worry” you) have dictated to my pen, but you must realize, darling, that nothing is more important than that we understand each other perfectly in this matter. For this reason, I must ask you not to speak in riddles ever again, even at the price of sacrificing your innate modesty to me. (There is no room for that–(modesty)— between us, anyway!) I must further ask you, for my own peace of mind, to please explain exactly what you had in mind when you wrote that paragraph. I’m not so thick that I could read what you said without realizing that you were suggesting much more than what the words, in themselves, indicate, so you needn’t bother to soothe my feelings by pretending that they don’t mean what I took them to mean. Please don’t misunderstand me, darling—I can well appreciate what prompted you to say what you did. It is perfectly evident to me that you pity me for my lack of “companionship”—to give it a nice name. Moreover, I would be unfeeling in the extreme if I did not appreciate and acknowledge your sympathy (even if it is uncalled for) and your generosity (even if it is misplaced). At worst, I can only blame you for a lack of understanding, and regret deeply, that my marital constancy means so little to you that you could say—(there’s no mistaking your meaning here, because you used the very same words once before when we were discussing the subject in bed one night). “The only time it bothers me is when it affects me directly, otherwise—.” What other meaning can the blank have than that you don’t care? That statement, Chippie, as innocent as you take it to be, cut very deeply—both times. Because, you see, I do care—very much indeed, and you don’t flatter me by admitting that it’s immaterial to you. I want you to care, don’t you see, dearest? But enough of this—I deplore the necessity for discussing a subject that is as distasteful to me as it must be to you, but I know you will admit that it was necessary that I try to make you understand why your well-meant, but obnoxious remarks affected me so unfavorably.
I see I have used up much time and space replying to one paragraph in your letter, but there are some questions that need answering. It is very late now, and I’m very tired and sleepy, so you’ll forgive me, I trust, if I answer them briefly—
S & D did send me a bonus of 15.00 last Xmas, and I did tell you about it in a letter shortly after Xmas. You can check me on that.
Your paragraph that told me the glad tidings that your mother and dad now own 4920 “clear” was well received. Congratulate them for me. It also served to remind me of something Bert and I were discussing the other day. Namely, the almost certain eventuality of post-war inflation, and the wisdom of putting your savings into property—now. Your argument, I anticipate, will be that real estate prices are sky-high now, and that it would be folly to buy under present conditions, but mark my word, Sweet, when the “boys” come home with their savings, bonuses, etc., prices will go still higher simply because everyone will have plenty of money to buy with, and there won’t be anything much to buy. Those things that are always salable (such as property—especially property) will bring fancier prices than you every dreamed possible—ketch? I’m not saying that there’s anything you can do about it right now, but it’s a point worth considering, don’t you think?
In writing of my recent birthday (and approaching senility—to hear you tell it) you say “Phil, I’m so dependent upon you for so many things!” Do you mind very much that I’m so selfish that that statement pleases me? I can’t help feeling proud that it is so. I earnestly hope that it pleases you just as much to contemplate that I am every bit as dependent on you, my darling—for everything!
Your closing paragraph, in wishing me “Happy Birthday,” is a model of tenderness and endearment. Thank you so much, my sweet. Thanks, too, for the 31 kisses (I know now that the extra one is for good luck), and consider that I am repaying you in kind herewith. Your own birthday is only a few days away, and you can bet I’m very much conscious of the fact! Happy birthday to you, too, honey, and may all your fondest dreams come true before your next! Perhaps you know a little better than ever before what I mean when I say “I adore you.” My love to all. I am
P.S. I’m holding the proofs another day ’cause I promised Evelyn I’d show them to her when they arrived. I’ll see her tomorrow and mail them back to you on the 26th (next day)—sure.