Epilogue

Jim spent the next four months in Stalag (Stammlager) IV-B, until being liberated by Allied troops in April of 1945. When he returned home to Casper that May, he was released from active duty and returned to the 115th Cavalry.

spring
Jim and Margie, being adoring/adorable.
In 1949, Jim joined the U.S. Army Reserve. Margie gave birth to a daughter that same year, and a son followed in 1952.

mdr1952
Margie and the kids, Christmas 1952
Jim and Margie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1992.

jimmargie

Jim died in 2003. Their son followed in 2004. Margie died in 2006. Their daughter died in 2012. Neither of the kids had any children of their own. The line ends here.

I believe I may have located Jim’s youngest sister, still living in Wyoming. I am reaching out to the address, in hopes that it is her and that I can return the letters written by her brother, who speaks so fondly of her in them, to the family. Fingers crossed, and no foolin’.


A concise history of the 115th Cavalry Regiment can be found here.

A synopsis of life in Salem, Oregon in 1942 is here.

Kriegsgefangenenpost

(Prisoner of War mail)

Ed. note: There has been a two-year break in the correspondence. Jim continued to serve as a training officer at Fort Riley until 1944. He left for the European theatre in August of that year, where he served as a Platoon Leader for the 44th Cavalry, fighting in the Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns. He was captured by the Germans in December of 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. We now receive the following postcard, sent by Jim to his parents through the POW mail system as laid out in Article 36 of the Geneva Convention. As per the “house rules” of this blog, the card was written on the 10th but appears here on the date of its (German) postmark: January 18, 1945. I’m sure it reached Jim’s anxious family much later than that.


10 Jan 45

Dear Folks: I’m OK and in good health. Hope you haven’t worried too much. Will write as often as I can. Contact Red Cross regarding correspondence with me. Don’t worry about me as I’ll make it out OK. Give all my best to everyone. Send cigarettes and chocolate if possible. Hello Donna Dear — Jim


Stay tuned…

Odds and Ends

There’s a break here in the correspondence from Jim

snow

This delightful photo is among the items remaining in the cedar chest. I’d like to believe that the break in letters is because Margie was able to join Jim earlier than February 1st after all. I picture this as a happy, surprise reunion at a mutual friend’s house in Junction City. However, I have no evidence to support that, nor do I even know if this is the winter of 1943. Or Kansas, for that matter. But it could be!

Stay tuned, we’re not done yet.

1943

Ft. Riley, Kans.
Jan. 6, 1943
12:30 A.M.

Darling:

I just had to write you tonite, even though I just got thru talking to you on the phone. I’m rather excited, emotionally; partly on account of having just talked with the sweetest girl in the world, and partly because I’m so very much in love with her. Please, darling, don’t think I’m angry with you on account of your not being able to come down as soon as we had planned. I’m forced to admit that I am very disappointed, but I could never be angry at you. At circumstances, perhaps, but not at my darling.

I really don’t know how long it has been since I heard from you last, but really, it seems like years. Not weeks or months, but years. I’m so very much in love with you, and so very lonesome for you, that the moments are more like days when I don’t hear from you.

I’ve been so worried about you what with your tooth trouble, your flu trouble, the bad weather out there, etc., that I’ve been almost frantic. Please, darling, I want you to realize how much I love you and need you.

Our financial troubles have been numerous so far, but I’m sure we can whip them easily with the check I’m enclosing. And be sure I’m not robbing myself, because I’m not, absolutely. I thought the time I spent away with from you while I was in school was bad, but the short time I’ve been here at CRTC, only a month, has been far longer to me than the 3 months of school. I’ll never be able to tell you how much I love you and miss you,—never. Darling, you’re the only thing I have any more. Up until the time I met you, life didn’t hold much for me. It really made no difference as far as I was concerned, what the future held. Now, and in fact ever since the moment we met, life has held more for me. Now I have something to live for, to dedicate myself to you is all I ask. If someone else should come between us, even briefly, the world would never again be the same for me again. Before we met, the world held no joy for me, nor did I consider the future as being likely to hold any real happiness for me. I don’t mean that I was unhappy, but compared with the happiness you have given me to date, I was practically miserable then. If only I can give you half what you deserve in the way of happiness, that’s all I ever want. I can’t help but feel that so far I’ve been a pretty poor excuse for a husband, but please let me do all I can to make it up to you. Don’t let anyone steal you away from me before I get the chance to prove my love for you.

Please, darling, don’t let them work you too hard. Your health is more important than your pride, the functioning of the liquor commission, or anything else in the world. Remember that. The way I feel right now, if I could only walk into the liquor commission office right at this moment, I’d be a one-man wave of destruction. You may feel that you owe them a few hour’s work, but you don’t owe them your health.

Darling, I must close. Write me soon, and please join me soon. I’m more in love with you with each day that passes, and it will always be so. I miss you terribly, and with your statement tonite that it would probably be the first before you could come, I’m practically desolate.

Good nite, darling. I love you, I love you, I love you. Some day soon, I’ll be able to whisper that in your ear. I’ll be able to comb brush your hair for you. If only I could feel your arms around me, your lips to mine! Darling, if I keep up much longer, I’ll be crying again. Crying—–me crying! And you were afraid that I’d think you were a baby!

Good night, darling. I love you more and more and more each passing moment. Please don’t ever stop loving me. Please don’t even slow down in your love for me. I’m waiting anxiously for your letter, and even more anxiously for your arrival.

Your adoring,
Jim

img_1134

A So-called Night Spot

Dec. 31, 1942

Darling:

Got your letter today, and it really was welcome, sweet. I’m glad you got to Mac for Christmas, even though they did put you to bed. I do hope you are again as fit as a fiddle, and can come down as we are now planning. In case you don’t realize it, I’m after missing my wife very much. I do so want to have her with me. Nothing can ever take your place with me, nor can no one ever even start to console me for the absence of my darling, the sweetest girl in the world. As you said, we’ll celebrate our Christmas and New Years when you get here. And I’m waiting anxiously for you to wish my ring on me. I’ll be even more proud of it then, if that’s possible.

The train I came down here on left Portland Tuesday nite at about 9. We never had any stop-overs at all until we got into Denver. We got there about 1:00 Thursday afternoon, and left at 4:15 P.M. That brought us into Junction City about 4:00 Friday morning. I wrote the passenger agent at Portland just after I wrote you the other nite, and asked him to write you the information you wanted. I hope you can make it the 17th. You’d best write for a reservation immediately. Please get Pullman accommodations, because it’s quite a long ride, with three nites on the train.

I’ll try my best to get your a fortniter. If they don’t get some in by the 5th, I wont send it at all. If you don’t get it by at least the 12th, you’d best get one there.

You should buy your ticket to Junction City. I’ll be at the train, believe you me. I’ll probably have the platform worn out, pacing back and forth. The 17th is Sunday, which would put you in here Wednesday nite morning. Do you suppose you could make it here by the 17th? That would involve leaving Thursday nite. Or if you could make it by Saturday morning, leaving there Wednesday nite. Am I rushing you? You see, Saturday or Sunday would be the best days for you to arrive. I could meet you, and we could spend the day together, if you can come in Saturday or Sunday. However, if you arrive on a week-day, I could meet you, get you settled, then come to work and let you rest all day. Just suit yourself, darling. I want you to come as soon as is possible, no matter what day of the week it is. As far as all that goes, I can probably get the day off, no matter what day it is. I’m so thrilled at the thought of you coming, I just can’t talk straight, write straight, or think straight. You just gotta hurry! I love you.

I’ll mail you your check in a day or so. It was supposed to go to the bank today from the Finance Office, so I could probably write you a check now, but I want to be very sure that the money is actually in the bank before doing any check-writing.

Darling, I got a nice year-book from the Hainds. It came just a couple of days ago. I wrote them a letter that nite.

I don’t remember whether or not I told you what I did Christmas Eve. I didn’t get up until late. Went to the main post and got a hair cut. Then went and visited some fellows I knew, and then came home. Late in the evening, a couple of the boys called, and we went into J.C. to visit the Rubottoms. Rubottom is one of the boys who went to school with me. We went up to their house, and sat around for a while. Then Mr. + Mrs. Rubottom, his brother and wife, and we three bachelors went uptown. Went to a so-called night spot, but it wasn’t too good. We all sat over in the corner and acted silly until about 1:00. Then we came home, and I sat around missing my wife, whom I love so dearly. In fact, I missed her all nite, but after I was alone was when it was really bad.

My darling, I love you and miss you so very much. Please come down soon. And you are not a sissy, not a baby. You’re a very brave little Princess. Don’t worry about giving me a cold, because I have a slight one yet.

I love you, I love you, I love only you. Be a good girl, as I know you will. Please get well very soon. I love you.

Your own
Jim

img_1133

 

Howzat?

Dec. 27, 1942

Darling:

Here’s that man again? Remember the guy you married on the 30th day of August, 1942? Remember that he told you how very much he loved you? Well, he does love you, terribly, and every day he realizes that fact a little more vividly than he did the day before. He can never tell you how much he loves you, because that can’t be done in writing.

When I wrote you last nite, there were several fellows around, waiting to go to town, and I couldn’t get squared around and write a decent letter. So far, this time, I have been uninterrupted, excepting for a leaky pen.

Darling, I do hope you are feeling well again, and that you’ll have no more trouble such as you have been thru the past several weeks. If only I could have been nearby to help you, or at least offer my love and sympathy to you.

I got some quotations on railroad fares to Junction City from Portland, but the guy who gave them to me was rather vague on the subject. Here they are, but I think the best thing for you to do would be to write the passenger agent of the Union Pacific Railroad in Portland, and get quotations.

Coach—$42.21
First Class, with Pullman—$82.18
Tourist Pullman—$64.80

Those are just approximate fares, so it would be much better for you to write the man at Portland. Better still, I’ll write him, and have him send the dope to you. Howzat? I’ll write him tonite, as soon as I finish this.

Darling, you asked me to think of you now and then. Do you realize that you are absolutely the main topic of all my thoughts? The moments when I am not thinking of you are the rare ones, not the moments when I am thinking of you. I’m on needles and pins waiting for your coming. The day you arrive will be a very happy one for me, believe me, darling.

I’ve been enquiring about apartments, but have had little encouragement so far. I’m sure I can get something before you come.

What did you do Christmas? I hope you got to see Aunt Nell + Uncle Doc.

Did you get your gift in time? I hope you did, and I hope that it fits, although I’m afraid it doesn’t. Please don’t hesitate to bring it back for return if it doesn’t suit you. We’ll get you another, or else something which would suit you better.

Please write me again, soon. I need your letters, and I do enjoy them very much, in spite of our bugaboo of finances.

By the way, they didn’t have a bag such as I wanted to get you, but they have some more coming in soon, and are going to call me when it comes. Let me know if you want it when it comes, and what color you’d rather have.

When do you plan to leave Salem? I’ll just about have to know in order to get the right dope for renting a place for us to live.

Darling, I’m still very proud of my ring. In fact, I’m crazy about it, and always will be. You couldn’t have chosen a better gift for me.

I love you terribly, Mrs. Hopkins. Come to me, and let me tell you in person just how much I do love you.

I’m going to write your folks one of these days right soon. I’ve owed them a letter for some time.

Good nite, my sweetest darling. I love you very, very, very much.

Your loving husband,
Jim

img_1073

Such a thrill

Dec. 26, 1942

Darling:

I got your Christmas gift, and, darling, I never got such a thrill out of a gift before. I’m crazy about it, because it’s something I can always have with me. I never have to leave it behind, no matter where I go or what I’m doing, I can always have your first Christmas present to me. It fits perfectly; and I, too, wish you could have put it on my finger for me.

Didn’t do much the 24th. We had the day off, so I slept until about 10:00. Then I went over to the main post and got a haircut, then went over and visited the guy who used to be my roommate back at the 115th. Yesterday, I went into Manhattan and had dinner with Cochran and his wife.

Tonite, I’m going into J.C. and get the dope on a ticket from Portland for my girl friend, or I should say, my sweetheart. I think she’s going to come and see me.

By the way, I just barely did get my gift. I got back to the barracks at about 5 minutes till six, and got the card that it was over at the express office, which closes at six. Just barely got there in time, thank the Lord!

Darling, my ride to town is waiting, so I’ll close and mail this in town.

Thank you, darling, for the ring. I’m saving the bell, as you said to. Will write more tomorrow.

I love you, darling. Good night.

Your loving
Jim