Close Call

Fort Riley, Kansas.
Sept. 27, 1942


Was going to write you yesterday, but thought I’d wait till the mail came in and see if there was a letter from you, but none came. A lot of mail came in this morning, but it hasn’t been distributed yet. Hope there’s a letter from you, sweet.

Sweetheart, you have a mighty sore husband today. I went horseback riding this morning, and the portion of my anatomy just under my hip pockets really know that it has been places. Boy, is it sore!

I got a nice letter from your Mom yesterday, and answered it yesterday afternoon. I know that she and I are going to get along swell.

Went to a show this afternoon, and I wish you could have been with me. It was “Panama Hattie,” and there were some very funny parts. I could just hear you beside me, laughing.

Darling, I love you awfully, terribly. Didn’t think I could ever feel as I do about any girl, but it hit me the moment I met you. From then on, I was lost without you. All the moments we’ve spent together have been so sweet. I still can’t see how a girl as sweet as you could ever marry me. I was looking at the pictures of you and us taken on our wedding day, just a few moments ago, and darling, I wanted so much to be able to hold you in my arms, bury my face in your hair, and tell you how much I love you, how much you mean to me. Please, darling, don’t ever let anything come between us. Maybe I’m too conceited, or something, but I can’t imagine your falling for anyone else now that we’re man and wife. I was so much afraid of that, darling. I know that I could never fall for anyone else as I feel for you. Margie, I love you so much that it really hurts whenever I think of you, whenever I think of the moments we have spent together. Oh, but you’re sweet and lovable, really, darling. I’m so hungry for your kisses that I’ll need millions of them to satisfy me. But then, ever since our first kiss, it’s been that way. Each one of your kisses is sweeter than the one before, and while it thrills me to the very soul, it just seems to make me more hungry for the next one, and the next one, and so on. If only I could kiss you now. How would you like a big kiss right now? Do you think you’d enjoy it? I’d like to be sitting on our davenport with you, holding you close, feeling your face near mine, feeling our lips pressing together, feeling your cool hands on my neck and face. That, darling, would be just a little bit of heaven to me. Just before I went to bed last night, I looked out the window and saw that beautiful moon. Then I wondered if you were seeing it, too, and if you were wishing for me as I was for you. The few spare moments I’ve had since coming down here have been so darned ep empty without you. There can’t be anyone elsl else like you, anyplace in the world.

Darling, you don’t know how close you came this morning to being a widow. Just about as close as I came to being a widower when that gravel truck tried to get you. The horse I had wanted to run, and he broke loose and took off like a shot about 10 minutes after we started. The bridle path was in the woods near the river, though I didn’t know that. Anyway, we went flying along until all at once, there was the river right smack in front of us and about 50 feet straight down to it. I didn’t know what was going to happen for a second, whether he would be able to turn away or not, but he made it, by turning at an angle of about 110 degrees. Just a regular V turn. He ran a few yards more, and then slowed down to a walk. It really was an exciting few seconds, let me tell you. Don’t suppose I’d have gotten hurt if he had gone over, but it sure was close, no fooling.

Wish you could have been along this morning. Every time I’d see a fellow with a girl riding along, I was awfully jealous of them, and awfully lonely for you. It was a beautiful day. Sunny and cool. I hope we can have lots of days together like this one. Please pray that Nov. 28th comes soon. I still think that it would be too lonely down here for you, and we couldn’t afford to have you come down, financially speaking, so all I can do is hope that time passes quickly. Please tell me darling, that you love me as I love you. Please always love me, darling.

I must close for a few moments, as supper is being served. Maybe I’ll have a letter from you in the mail box. Hope so.

Goodbye, darling, for a few moments.

Your loving husband

[Ed. Note: second letter enclosed, on ruled paper rather than stationery]


No letter from you, and I’m already through writing tomorrows assignment, so will finish my letter to you. There isn’t much more to write, though. There are hundreds of things I want to say to you, my darling, but they would be so much better said orally. I love is, is what they all add up to. I miss you, sweetheart, more than I ever missed anyone before, or even more than I ever thought I could miss anyone. You’re the sweetest person I’ve ever met, really, and the moments we’ve spent together have been the sweetest moments of all my life. I’ve had more real happiness crowded into the short space of time we’ve known each other than in all the rest of my life. And the first real loneliness I’ve ever felt was on account of being away from you. Even when I was stationed in Salem, and saw you at nights, I was lonely for you during the days and on the nights when I couldn’t go to see you. But the times I did get to see you were glorious. The night we stood on the bridge and you accepted my ring was the occasion of the warmest, deepest flood of happiness ever to hit me up to that time. Then, when we were married, I experienced the same feeling all over again. It was awfully hard for me to work up my nerve to offer you the ring that night, even though you had told me before that you would marry me, it was just too good to be even believable until you were wearing my ring. If my memory serves me right, when I put the ring on your finger, you said “Oh, Jimmie,” and we held each other close. That is when that warm flood of happiness hit me, washing my heart right up into my throat so I could hardly speak or breathe. The same sensation hit when we kissed each other after we were pronounced man and wife. Do you ever feel that way? Please always remember that night on the bridge.

Margie, darling, I love you, and  miss you. Please take care of yourself for me, darling.

Your loving husband

Ed. Note—This letter has a bit of shorthand at the end of the second letter. If you can read Gregg shorthand and you’d like to take a stab at what it says, please do type it out in the Comments!


Hot Lips

Ft. Riley, Kansas.
Sept. 24, I think.

Margie darling:

Got your letter at noon today, and to tell you the truth, I was worried about you. Haven’t had the chance to call or write or anything else during the past few days, but I had intended to send you a night letter tonite if I hadn’t heard from you today. The past three days, we have been going out in the country and doing quite a lot of machine-gun firing, and when study period is over for the day, we’re really ready for the hay, no fooling. It has been pretty darned cool here, but there has been quite a stiff breeze, and my face is dry and chapped. You really should be near me now, because I have hot lips, and I do mean hot lips. They’re dry and chapped, too.

We spent two days crawling around on the ground, dragging machine guns, and it really was work. My elbows and knees really feel the effects of that worming around on hard ground. As you probably have guessed, I’m writing this in study hall, and keeping an eye peeled for officers.

No, sweet, I didn’t get any of my teeth hurt or anything, just the clamps jarred loose.

Darling, I’ve looked at our pictures taken the day of our wedding a hundred times or more, and each time I look, you are more beautiful. Especially the one where you are standing alone in your wedding gown. That one is really perfect, darling. Whenever I look at it, I wonder how I could have ever gotten a wife as sweet and beautiful as you. My heart just seems to come up into my throat and choke me whenever I think of you. And that moon you mentioned doesn’t help any, either. I can just see you now in the moonlight, just as you were that night in Seaside. I’ve relived nearly every moment of our time together, and each memory is just a little sweeter than the one before, each time, the moment seems sweeter, and more vivid. It seems such a long time until we can be together again. Don’t for a minute forget that I love you very, very much, and miss you very, very much. Whenever I think of you, your sweetness and beauty, my arms just want to grasp you and hold you tight against me and so I can tell you you just how much I love you. I’ve tried hundreds of times to tell you, but no matter how I say it, no matter what the situation, the words that come forth just don’t seem to be adequate. You know, darling, that I’m terribly in love with you, and I always will be. No one else could ever take your place with me.

Darling, I’ve forgotten in every letter to tell you that the day I left Ft. Lewis, I got a telegram from my family congratulating us and asking what our plans were. The folks were awfully disappointed to find that you weren’t with me when I got to Cheyenne. Have you heard from Mom yet? I gave her your address in Cheyenne, and she wrote it on a slip of paper, but I’m going to write her again and send your address again in case she has lost it.

Darling, you mentioned that you would like to spend some time with your parents before we join each other, and I thought of a new angle: When school is over, perhaps we could meet in Casper, let you meet the folks, and we could spend a least a few days together. Then you could go to see your folks while I went to the place of my assignment and made arrangements for some kind of a home for you. I want to spend all the time I possibly can with you, but I can hardly begrudge your wanting to visit your parents.

Darling, I hate to think of your worrying about our difference in religion. We can, and will make a success of our marriage, because we are so much in love with each other. Don’t let people worry you, sweet. The best way for us to do, I think, is to come to a definite decision and stick to it. I want so much to make you happy, darling, and I will do my very best to make you happy. We have to understand that our difference in religion does not necessarily have to interfere with our happiness, and it won’t if we don’t let it. Would you do this, darling? I think it will help you to understand my situation better. I think that Bernardette is a Catholic, and if she isn’t, you undoubtedly know a girl who is, and ask her to go with you to see a priest. He can tell you better than I can what my church can do for us and what kind of an arrangement we can make. Please don’t think that I expect you to join my church at all, if you don’t want to, but I think that a priest can tell you better than anyone else what we can do as far as the church is concerned, and it will be clearer to you than it will ever be by having it explained to you by other people. Please, darling, don’t forget that I want to make you happy, no matter what, and I’m not trying to convert you to my faith. You said that you were willing to be married by a priest, and that you had no objections to having our marriage straightened out when we did it so hurriedly. If you don’t want to do this that I have suggested, please let me know, darling. It really is my place to do it, but I do believe your mind will be eased by having it explained to you by a priest.

I must close now, darling, or at least start to close. I love you, sweetheart, with all my heart, and I always will. Please love me as I do you, darling. I realize that ours is rather a complicated situation as far as religion is concerned, but you know and I know that we love each other too much to let anything interfere with our happiness. I feel, deep in my heart, that everything can and will be worked out so as to please everyone without interfering with our happiness at all.

I don’t feel that I have done anything wrong in being married to you. In fact, I’d not feel right to have come down here without marrying you first. I love you so terribly much, darling, and the fact that we have declared our love to the whole world by taking each other in marriage, gives me a lot of consolation. I love you so much that it really hurts sometimes.

They’re going to turn out the lights on me now, so I must close. I love you, darling. Always keep that foremost in your mind.

Good night, darling wife,
Your loving husband

1686 Hours Until Graduation

Ft. Riley
Sept. 20, 1942


Here I am again, remember me? Only 10 more weeks of school to go, which is an awfully long time to my way of thinking. Believe me, it really seems like a long time since last I saw you. It is approximately 1686 hours until graduation, or more closely figured, about 1650.

Darling, I got my records straightened out a bit yesterday. Got my beneficiary changed from my Mother to my wife. Also did a little look-shopping for uniforms, etc. Still no sabers, sweetheart, but I’m still trying.

If things work out as they should, I should be able to send you somewhere between $75 and $90 this coming pay day. I won’t need very much around here during October, though maybe I should do some real shopping. Will find out for sure, and send you all I can as soon as pay day comes. I told you I’d send you $35 each month, but if I send you all I can the first check, you can get rid of some of your obligations right away and have them out of your way. During November, however, I won’t be able to send very much, if any, as I’ll have to be buying uniforms during that month. The way I figured it out last night it will cost right around $215°°. Out of that, the gov’t. gives me $150°° cash on the day I graduate, and with that, it won’t be hard to get the rest out of my Nov. 1st payday. Then I’ll get my pay up until the 28th of Nov. on graduation day. So please don’t feel that I’m robbing myself at all when I send you money.

Didn’t go to the party last nite. It was just a drinking bout, as I thought it would be, and in the first place, I didn’t feel like drinking, and in the second place, I didn’t feel that it would be right to go in there with very little cash in hand, and expect someone else to foot the bills. Guess I’m just not built that way. I have enough to carry me comfortably thru the month, but not enough to allow for a party, especially a drinking party.

Three of us went to the show here on the post today last nite. Saw a double feature, which wasn’t too good, but good enough that we didn’t regret going.

Seems like all I want to do on Sundays is sit around, or lie around and doze. Kinda think I’ll go horseback riding next Sunday.

The weather here has certainly changed. It rained pretty good Friday nite, and yesterday and today were pretty cool, no fooling.

Thought I’d have a letter from you yesterday or today, but no dice. There’s mail call now, maybe there’s one now. I’ll go see, and come back and finish. Nope, no mail.

Got a letter from Mom today, and she’s going to write you. As I told you, she felt awfully bad about my not being married in the church, and I was afraid she would think that it was your fault, but she wrote that she felt that I did wrong by not being married by a priest, but that she did not feel that you were to blame. I don’t know just how to put it, darling, but she will probably tell you when she writes. The family are all crazy to meet you, and Mom and Dad are thoroughly sold on you. When Mom writes, please try to understand how she feels, won’t you? I told her that we were going to have it straightened out with the church as soon as possible. I know and realize that we must live our own lives, but I believe, and I feel that you will too, that if we can keep our parents happy and still not interfere with our own happiness, it will be so much the better. I hope to be able to find time this week to write to your parents and explain how we took such a sudden notion to be married as we were.

Please, darling, try to see Mom’s side of the thing, but remember, I love you very much, and forever. I want to make you happy above all, but I’d like to erase the hurt I’ve caused her as much as I can. Being the only son, she rather chose me as her favorite, and in her eyes, I was the tops, so by doing as I did, I rather put myself down in her estimation. She doesn’t feel that you should join the church now or ever, if you don’t want to.

Please try to understand, darling that Mom isn’t trying to interfere in our lives in any way, it’s only that she doesn’t want me to be excommunicated. And please don’t feel that our difference in religion will ever come between us, either. I want so much to make you happy, but as I said, I want to redeem myself in the eyes of my parents and yours, too.

Darling, I hope you won’t misunderstand what I have written. Please don’t let yourself misunderstand. As you can see, I’m counting the hours until we can be together again. I’ve told you before that I never want to hurt you, and I still mean it, so please try to understand. I know you will.

I must close now, as study hall is about to start. Write to me soon, darling.

Your loving husband,

P.S. I’m enclosing the list of addresses you wanted. I’m awfully sorry I didn’t send them sooner.



[Ed. Note: A list of a dozen or so names/addresses follows, mostly in Casper, Wyoming]

Guess that’s about all I can think of now, darling.


Good night now, darling. Write me soon, please, and please try to understand me.

I love you, Margie.
Your loving husband

Forget the Radio

Ft. Riley
Sept. 17, 1942


I got your letter yesterday noon, finally. Thank you for the marriage certificate.

To tell you the exact truth, I’ve been just a bit lonely for you, little princess. When you wrote about crying in your pillow, I nearly cried myself. I could just see my darling little wife in that situation, although it’s hard to imagine you crying, really. But knowing how I feel makes it more easily understood.

It was too bad about Mrs. La Garie, she was so darned nice. I hope it isn’t too hard on Mr. La Garie.

Glad you have a radio to keep you company. Wish I could keep you company and we could forget the radio.

Darling, I’m sorry you’ve been so lonely. Please try to grin and bear it. We should be able to get all our affairs straightened out in time to allow us to get back together as soon as school is over. I don’t have to buy boots and breeches, which cut my uniform cost about $7500. And we figured out that a married second lieut. gets $251 or $252 dollars per month, so we should be able to get along pretty well, don’t you think so? So far, we haven’t signed this month’s payroll as yet. Expect to tomorrow or the next day. Sure hope they decide to pay us the first, anyway, although we don’t get much of an opportunity to spend money. Tried again today to get you a saber, but no dice yet.

Every time anyone mentions “spare time” to me, it nearly kills me. Practically every moment from 5:30 AM until 8:30 or 9:00 PM is taken up with something or other.

Sure hope Doc’s finger has taken a turn for the better. Give him and Nell both my very best regards, won’t you? Also tell Mrs. Jensen I think she’s pretty nice, too. I’m afraid I’ll have to let you do all the “thanking” for the wedding gifts, on account of the scarcity of time around here.

I’m awfully sorry I neglected to send you a list for wedding announcements, but will do it at the earliest opportunity.

I’m sorry we seem to have hurt the feelings of both your parents and mine, but as you say, we have to live our own lives, and we feel deep inside ourselves that we have done right. I could never love anyone else as I do you, darling. So let’s not worry about it. We have to be a little bit selfish, I guess.

Yes, sweetheart, I got your other two letters, as you probably know by my preceding letters.

Darling, if you feel too lonely, why don’t you go home? We’ll make out some way or other. I don’t want you to be lonely, at least not if there’s anything we can do about it.

Sweet, I love you, and your letters, and I really need your letters, too, though I don’t have as much time to myself as you do.

They’re going to turn out the lights in just a moment, so will close now.

I love you darling, and miss you very much. Please keep your chin up.

Write as often as you can. Goodnight, darling little wife.

Your loving husband,

P.S-I love you.

Breeches + Boots

Ft. Riley, Kans.
Sept. 17,* 1942


Excuse the stationery, please. [Ed. Note: narrow-ruled loose leaf sheets rather than his usual watermarked Hammermill] I’m writing this during study hall period, as I have no assignment to turn in tomorrow.

There isn’t much to write, except that I’m still crazy about my own wife, and I miss her something awful. Thought there would be a letter from you today, but none came.

I mean to get some air mail stamps every time I go to the Post Exchange, but I always forget it or they are just out. Four times now I’ve tried, and have forgotten about that many more. Usually, when we go to the P.X., it is for about 5 minutes between class periods, and we don’t have a chance to do much of anything except to catch a quick coke and take off again. I tell you, darling, time around this place is really valuable. We get out of one class just in time to get to another. We get back here about 12:15, check to see if there is anything in our boxes, such as mail, or school work, wash, eat dinner, and leave about 12:50 for school again. We get back again about 5:15, bathe + wash, check our boxes, change clothes, and eat supper. Then study hall from 6:30 to 8:30. From 8:30 to 9:30 we have all to ourselves for letter writing, boot polishing, etc. We don’t wear our boots very often, or at least we haven’t so far. Wear coveralls to school all day. Wear cotton shirts + cotton slacks to supper. So I’ve had my boots on only once since being here. We went to school in uniform yesterday on account of the fact that they took our class picture at noon. When we do wear breeches + boots, we have to wear spurs, which I don’t like too well. We don’t wear any insignia at all except a round black patch on our left shirt pocket. It looks something like this:

img_0426 See the O.C.S. in it? (You didn’t realize that you married an artist, did you?) Guess we go into uniform the first of October, though, and wool at that.

There’s a Lt. from the 115th who is going to communication school here, and he is going back Sunday. They are planning a stag party, a sort of meeting of all the “Powder River” boys in Manhattan Saturday nite. Don’t know yet whether or not I’ll go, for several reasons.

We were firing the rifle day before yesterday, and I had a funny thing happen. You see, when firing the gun, you hold your cheek right down against the stock. There’s quite a little kick to that baby, and it jars your face a little on each shot. About the second or third shot, my store teeth jarred loose, and all at once I felt my mouth full. They sure felt big for a moment. So I had to take them out for the rest of the firing.

Darling, I do wish I could see you, but that’s out of the question, I guess. Only 2½ months now, and I’ll be out of here and we can be together. After that, if I’m transferred every day, you’re going with me, aren’t you? That is, as long as we’re able to make it. We’ve known each other for 7½ months, but we’ve spent very little of that time together; and we’ve been married now for nearly three weeks, and have spend only about 34 hours together since then. But, darling, you have been on my mind all the time since we met. I don’t know that I did right by you in marrying you before coming here, but I’m not a bit sorry if you’re not. Knowing that we are man and wife is a greater comfort to me than you will ever realize. I hope and pray that the next 2½ months go swiftly for both of us. I’d give my left arm if I could take you and hold you close to me right now, kiss you, and tell you how much I love you, and how proud I am to be your husband. It’s still hard for me to realize that my luck actually took such a good turn as it did when you became my wife. I was so darned scared that you’d change your mind about wanting to be my wife during the time I was here at school. Guess I can admit that now.

Darling, I hope you will always be as happy with me as we have been during all the times we spend a few moments or hours together. The weekend in Seattle, the Sunday at Silver Creek, the week-end when we went to Seaside, all of them were little bits of heaven to me. Especially the week-end when we went to the coast. Of course, our few hours of married life are set apart entirely—they’re extra special hours, always to be remembered. Darling, I’ll always love you. And whenever I think of the way you smile, the way you walk and talk, everything you do, keep bringing themselves before me, and when they come up, I get so darned lonely I could almost cry. Mrs. Hopkins, you’ve really done something to me as well as for me.

Sweetheart, I must close for now. Write as soon as you can, and remember to keep on loving your


*No, it’s the 16th.

Ed. Note—This letter has a bit of shorthand at the end. If you can read Gregg shorthand and you’d like to take a stab at what it says, please do type it out in the Comments!


Body and Soul

Ft. Riley
Sept. 14, 1942


Never got  a chance to write you yesterday, as I thought I would. Had an awful lot of work to do to be handed in this morning I wrote till my eyes practically popped out of my head.

You’ll never know how much I’ve missed you in the past two weeks. The past two nights, I’ve practically gone crazy thinking of you.

I had hoped for a letter from you today, but nothing happened along that line. I got a notice to call at message center for a registered letter or an insured package or something. Maybe that’s from you. Hope so. Will pick it up tomorrow.

I just got thru my study period, which ran over a little, and here it is time for lights out, so I gotta close. I love you, darling, please don’t ever forget that even though my letters are short. I’m always yours, body and soul.

Goodnight, darling. Please think of your husband often, and write soon.

Your loving husband,

Ed. Note—This letter has a bit of shorthand at the end of the letter. If you can read Gregg shorthand and you’d like to take a stab at what it says, please do type it out in the Comments!


Three Skins

Ft. Riley, Kans.
Sept 12, 1942


Here it is Saturday afternoon, then end of the busiest day week in my life to date. I have had more schooling this past week than in any three weeks before. We get up at 5:30. Wash, shave, etc. Breakfast at 6:00. Fall out at 6:45. Beds must all be made and everything cleaned up by 6:45. If everything isn’t in perfect shape, they give you a “skin” and three “skins” are enough to confine you for the week-end. I got one the middle of the week for failing to latch my foot locker, and then I got two more today, one because my sheets were not folded exactly 16 inches, and another because they found some dust on top of my wall locker. It really fixes me up, too. Not because I was planning to go anyplace, but I have to report to the charge of quarters every hour on the hour from 3:00 this afternoon until 10:00 tonite, and from 7 tomorrow morning until noon. Ain’t it awful? Kinda tickles me, because it’s just a bit on the unusual side. But it gives you and idea of how tough it is here. We go to school from 8:00 until 11:50 A.M. Then again from 1:00 till 5:00. Then we have two hours of study period from 6:30 until 8:30 every night except Saturday. I’ve studied till I’m black in the face. The work isn’t too hard, but there’s so darned much of it to do. It’s really a problem to find time to write letters, bathe, get a haircut, or anything else, so that’s the explanation for the brevity of my letters so far.

Outside of what I have just written, and what I have told you in previous letters, there isn’t much more to write, really. The weather here isn’t too bad so far. We have had quite a bit of dampness, and not too much heat. It has been kinda muggy, though, kinda stuffy. Whenever I walk a half a block, I’m perspiring pretty well.

The instructors here are really tops. They can give you hours and hours at a time, without losing their class’s interest, and without becoming too monotonous. That is, most of them. There are some who are not quite so good, but as a general rule, they are very good.

In spite of the lack of free time, I have found an amazing amount of time to think of you. Every spare moment, I turn my thoughts to you. I’ve looked at your pictures, our pictures, I don’t know how many times. I’ve read your letters over and over. I’ve read looked at your picture a thousand times. We’re not allowed to keep pictures outside, but I have yours on the shelf inside my wall locker right where I can open the door and talk to you; and I do it every so often. Can your ears ever catch my words? Darling, I love you so very much, I don’t know how to tell you. And don’t ever think I don’t miss you, even though I don’t have much time to myself. If I had any more time to myself, I’d go nuts missing you. I do miss the moments I spend with you. The moments we spent together two weeks ago will always remain bright in my memory. Every moment we’ve ever spent together has been so swell. I still feel that when we married, and even before, I was getting a very good bargain, while you weren’t doing so well for yourself. Really, Marjorie darling, I don’t deserve such a wife as you, but I sincerely hope that you will never realize that fact. I want to be good enough in your eyes, always. I’ll always try to be the kind of a husband you deserve. If ever I do anything to hurt you or make you unhappy, please let me know and please leave room in your heart to forgive me, because I never want to hurt you, and if I should do so unintentionally, I certainly want to make amends. I love you so much, really, darling. If only I could hold you in my arms and tell you how lucky I feel to have a wife like you. Honestly, darling, when I think of how unlucky all those fellows are who are not married you, it makes me feel so proud. When you write or say “I love you,” it thrills me to the very soul. Sw Sweetheart, you are the most beautiful, the most lovable person I ever met. Please always love me as I do you, please.

I must close now. Please write me soon again, and tell me you love me a little.

Your loving husband,

P.S.—Say “Hello” to all for me. Will write more tomorrow. I love you, now and forever.



Ed. Note—This letter once again has a bit of shorthand at the end. If you can read Gregg shorthand and you’d like to take a stab at what it says, please do type it out in the Comments!