The mad scramble after Pearl Harbor

December 23, 1942

My Darling:

Got your letter the first thing this morning, and I was really glad to hear from you. I thought you were probably under the weather, or you’d have written sooner. I hope that you are feeling a lot better again, and I know that since you’ve had your teeth all taken care of, you’ll feel better in the future. I’m glad it’s all over, but I’m terribly sorry it caused you so much misery.

Darling, I’d give my left arm to have you with me for Xmas. That would make it the happiest Christmas possible for any person to have. You said, darling, that this time last year you were on the verge of marrying someone else. I’m so terribly glad that you didn’t go thru with it. I’m sure some higher power prevented it so as to keep you for me.

Darling, I’m sorry I mentioned the overseas business to you.* I should have realized that with your physical and nervous conditions would react unfavorably to you. But as I wrote, if that should happen, and you and I hadn’t a little more time together, I’d never be able to forgive myself. But with what happened today, we are sure of a little more time together, anyway. Because I’m being assigned here as adjutant of the 1st Squadron. So now, another change of address. It will now be —- Hq., 1st Training Squadron, CRTC, Fort Riley, Kansas. For your information, CRTC means “Cavalry Replacement Training Center. This is where Cavalry recruits receive their first or basic training. They usually spend at least 13 weeks here, and are then sent out to different organizations, such as to the 115th, for example.

The job I am now going into is a pretty big job for a second lieutenant just out of school, but I’m sure I can do it right.

It’s too bad I can’t be with you, my darling, now that you need me. I don’t think you are a baby, sweetheart. Really, I feel that you are a glorious person. You’re the sweetest wife a man could have, and I only hope that I’ll be able to give you part of the happiness you deserve. I can never love anyone else as I love you. So far, I have been entirely unworthy of you, but darling, I want to make up for that as much as is possible.

Hope you can get over to see Doc + Nell for Christmas. I have been thinking that people probably think I’m a pretty poor husband for not having my wife with me for Christmas, but really, darling, as long as you understand, I don’t care what the rest of the world may think or say.

Please give Nell and Doc my most sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. They’re really grand people, and I feel that they are closer to me than many people of my own blood. They seemed to accept me without question; and knowing how they feel about you, I feel very, very proud that they have looked upon me with favor.

I’d like to meet Grandma Erb. Hope I can some day.

I got a Christmas card from Donna yesterday, and I got quite a kick out of it. You see, just before Pearl Harbor last year, I had some cards made with my name and the name of the organization on them. When I was home, I found them among the stuff I had sent home in the mad scramble after Dec. 7th. So I gave them to Donna to play with. She probably sent out quite a few of them if Mom would let her.

Margie, darling, if only I could be with you and hold you close, I’m sure we’d both feel very much better all the way ’round. After we do get together, I hope you won’t have any need for a shoulder upon which to cry, but if you do feel like crying, my shoulder is yours to cry upon.

I know they’ll be sorry to lose you at the office, but they won’t be as sorry as I would be if you didn’t come to me.

Sweetheart, when do you think you can be down here? I want to start looking for an apartment for us as soon as possible. We may have to take a room for a while, but I can always be keeping my eyes opened for something nicer, and if I know just when you are coming, I may be able to get an apartment right away. We’ll just about have to live in Junction City, because every other town near by is hard to get to. J.C. is close, and most of the men who have families down here live in J.C. We may be able to go to Topeka or Kansas City once in a while for a good time.

Darling, another thing. Be sure to bring your formals, because an officer’s wife needs one for parties, etc. I know one thing, here’s one little old second lieutenant who doesn’t envy anyone else for the wife he has. I have, without a doubt, the prettiest, sweetest, most completely adorable wife in all the world, and when I bring her to her first formal party here, you can be sure I’ll be the proudest one person on the earth.

I asked the lady at the P.X. to lay aside one of those Samson fortniters in the brown color. We may have to take another color, tho’. Is that all right? As soon as I hear from you, I’ll send it right out to you. OK?

I must start to close now. Write again soon, and remember that I’m very much in love with you, and always will be, forever and ever. My nerves dance, my heart throbs, my breath catches in my throat, and my very spine tingles at the thought of meeting you at the train. What a moment that will be! I love you Mrs. H., I love you. God grant that the time between now and our reunion may pass swiftly.

Good night, my beautiful, adorable darling. Please get well very soon, and come to see

Your devoted
Jim

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Do you remember Cochran? Well, he’s down here now, going to school. I’m going over to his place in Manhattan for dinner Christmas Day. Wish you were going with me, or rather, I wish I were going to McMinnville with you.

Good nite, again, darling.

Your loving husband,
Jim

*Ed. Note: Clearly, there’s at least one letter missing from the ol’ cedar chest.

True To You

Ft. Riley
Dec. 20, 1942

Darling:

I put in a call for you about 6:40, and it is now 8:55, and the operator just now called and said there would be a 5 or 6 hour delay, so I cancelled the call. I’ve been awfully worried about you, darling. It has been nearly a week since I heard from you last, and it seems more like a year to me. We get mail every hour from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and never a letter from you. I’ve been afraid you were down and couldn’t write. Perhaps it’s just going astray on account of my frequent changes of address. I can always hope though.

Darling, I was just figuring again, and I figure now that I can send you $15000 the first of January, and still have plenty to take care of rent for January. Do you think with that you can come down? Darling, I certainly hope so. Please say you can! Please don’t hesitate to use all you need of it for your bills, etc., but be sure to leave enough to make it down here. After you arrive, I’ll take over your expenses from then on. Please figure out what it will cost you to come by Pullman and to do what you think is right as far as your bills are concerned, and let me know. If you would rather pay up all your bills there, let me know how much it will take, and we’ll see if we can’t take care of it. But please, darling, don’t let anything stop you from coming to me soon! Every moment I spend without you is longer than the one before. I’m asking you on bended knee to please come to me. All I can offer you, darling, is my complete devotion. Please persuade yourself to swallow your pride where your debts are concerned, because we can eliminate the debts, but until you are with me, I can’t possibly rid myself of the aching loneliness in my heart. I know I’m being selfish in asking you to do this, but where you are concerned, as I’ve told you before, I’m very, very selfish. I just can’t help myself. I still feel guilty at having married you and then practically abandoning you. The only thing I’ve done since we were married which a husband should do, is to be true to my wife. I haven’t given you a home, I haven’t supported you. But I have been true to you, and always will be. So please let me try to make up for these past few months during which we have been married in name only. I can never tell you expressively enough by writing words how much I love you, so please come to me and let me tell you in person.

I must close now, darling. There’s not much else I can write about, because what I have already written is the thing foremost in my mind, day after day.

Good night, darling. I love you more each day, and miss you terribly.

Your devoted,
Jim

Ed. note: Surprise! More shorthand.

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If only we can be together for Christmas

Ft. Riley
Dec. 11, 1942

Darling:

Here I am again, wondering how you are and hoping every moment to hear from you. It seems as though I had been here for years, but it’s not even a week yet. Guess I miss you a little, or something. I do miss you, darling. Terribly so. I had thought that time went slowly at school, but compared to this, the time in school fairly flew. My skipping around must be rather confusing to you, darling, but that’s the Army for you. I wrote you and told you that my address was Hq., 4th Regiment, CRTC, Fort Riley, Jans. That is my address, but I am attached to Hq., 8th Squadron, which is part of the 4th Regiment. So, if I should mention 8th Squadron, don’t let it puzzle you.

For your information, the 8th is a colored outfit. Yes, I mean negroes. Joe Louis is in the 8th. I don’t see much of the squadron, except a few of the boys who work in the office, and a few who come in on business. There are about 8 or 9 of them who work in and around headquarters, and they’re pretty smart negroes, too. It’s a very smooth-running office. In fact, it’s almost too smooth. It doesn’t give me much work. They sometimes get pretty busy, I’m told, but there has been no evidence of it as yet.

The way it looks, there doesn’t seem to be much of a demand for new second lieutenants, so I’ll probably be here until at least the first of March. There’s nothing certain about it at all, but those are the indications.

Darling, I hope you are feeling well. I know I say that in every letter, but I can’t help thinking of how you sounded over the telephone, how you felt in your last letter, and how you were feeling when Speck saw you in Salem. I wanted to call you tonite, but the girl said it would take hours to get through, so I just gave up, hoping I’ll have a letter tomorrow. If one doesn’t come then, I’m going to call you Sunday, sure as shooting, and I don’t care if it takes all day and all night to get the call through.

There is still a lot of talk of our getting our $100 clothing allowance before the first of the year, but I’m not spending it until it comes in, and that won’t be any too soon to suit me. Even if the hundred doesn’t come, I’m sure I can send you $125\00, the first of January. That should do quite a bit towards getting us on our way to each other, shouldn’t it? Of course, if the other hundred comes in, so much the better for us.

I don’t like to talk of money, but it seems to be our greatest obstacle, doesn’t it?

Please, darling, write me as soon as you can. And if you haven’t already done so in the letter which I’m sure is on its way, tell me what you want for Christmas. If only we can be together for Christmas, darling. Pray for something to happen so we can be. I can’t ask for more than that, my darling. I love you so very, very much, and I want so much to be with you again, it’s impossible for me to ever tell you with words.

I must close now, darling. Good night from you loving husband,

Jim

Ed. note: Shorthand, followed by more “standard” writing:

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P.P.S. – If you ever want to call me by phone, the Bldg. no. is 2103 + the phone no. is CRTC, Ft. Riley, 2146

Transferred

Fort Riley
Dec. 8, 1942

Margie, darling:

Just a note tonite. There really isn’t much to tell except that I’ve been changed already. This morning, I was transferred to Hq. of the 4th Regiment, so my new address is:
Hq., 4th Regt., CRTC, Fort Riley, Kansas.
I’m doing personnel work, office work. It’s not a bad job at all, and when I get to an outfit, later on, it will be of benefit, I believe. There wasn’t much to do today, but I guess business will pick up and we’ll be busy enough to keep us out of mischief. Hope if I stay here very long I can stay on this same job and get some good out of it.

Guess I forgot to tell you, but it’s pretty snowy around here these days. There was a good wet snow which fell Friday nite and Saturday morning, and which we still have with us. It hasn’t been cold, however. I’ve practically melted the past couple of days, having worn cold weather clothes only to have it stay rather warm. This place gets its share of cold weather, though. And wind, too. It just hasn’t started yet, that’s all.

[Ed. note: Jim’s writing now switches to pencil.]

Darling, I ran out of ink and there none around, so please excuse the pencil. I’m all ready for bed now. Got my pajamas, bedroom slippers and bathrobe on.

Hope I get a letter from you soon. It seems years since I’ve had one. Hope when you do write, you’ll be feeling a lot better than you did last time, too. I know that my not hearing from you for about a week is not your fault, because in the past week, I’ve sorta been a man without an address.

I do hope we can be together soon, because now that I’m over here, I have evenings off, and nothing to do except to sit around and wish for your presence. Believe me, darling, I’ve really been doing that, too. Life here in Republican Flats is no picnic, I can assure you. I’m not what you’d call miserable, because that’s just not my nature; but I do miss my wife terribly, and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. Only one thing I could do, and that is to have her with me as soon as possible. If you think you can come right after the first of the year, please let me know, and I hope to know within the next week or so approximately how long I’ll be here. If not that, at least whether I’m to stay for a while or not. It may seem rather vague to you, but so it is to me too, darling. But I want to spend every moment I can with you from now on out. I know you understand that and I hope you feel the same.

There isn’t much more I can write you tonight, except that I’m very, very much in love with you. In a hundred million years, I couldn’t possibly tell you how much I love you. Good night, my darling wife. Think of me often, and dream of me as I do of you. I love you, forever and a day.

Your own husband,
Jim

Ed. note: More shorthand

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Pretty Quiet

Ft. Riley
Dec. 7, 1942

My Darling:

It is now 12:00 midnite, and here I am in my pajamas, writing to you. I went to bed at about 10:30, but I started thinking of you, and I just couldn’t get to sleep.

Spent the whole day today getting a few little details straightened out. Wend over to Bldg. #93 and got my stuff which had been stored there, got myself a muffler + a hat at the PX, took my orders to the Finance office, went to the quartermaster + drew some sheets and pillowcases, tried, without success, to have a pair of breeches pressed; and generally wasted the whole day.

Guess I start work tomorrow on my new work. I think it will be interesting, and I’m sure I’ll like the work. There are a lot of nice fellows in the department, which should help. The main trouble is going to be missing you, darling. Already, I seem to have had more spare time than is good more me. Most of the fellows in the barracks here are married, and go into town in the evening, so it’s pretty quiet around here after supper. The ones who don’t go into town are pretty well scattered for the evening. Some go to the movies, others to the officers club, etc.

Darling, I was talking to Speck today, and he was telling me of seeing you. Wish I could see you right now and tell you how much I’ve been missing you these past three months. Darling, you can’t realize how much I love you, nor how badly I miss you. Life would certainly have a much better outlook if I could kiss you right now. I’ve tried a thousand times to express my feelings in words, and still it seems that both the spoken and written words are so badly inadequate to express my whole feelings. Please come to me soon, so I can hold you in my arms and tell you again the words I whispered to you last spring and summer. Let me feel your lips again, your cheek against mine. Let me adore you in person rather than to talk to you by letter. Let me make love to my darling wife instead of her picture. I can hardly wait until we can be reminding each other of the moments we spent together last spring and last summer. The trips to Portland and Seaside. The excursion to Silver Creek. To Seattle. The evening we spent walking together in Salem. Our little bridge, where I put the ring on your finger. The scent of flowers and blossoms in the spring air. So many, many little things which go hand in hand with my thoughts of you. Our meeting. The Chemeketan party. Our first real date. Our first kiss. Our first week-end together. Our wedding, and all the fuss, excitement, and happiness accompanying it. Darling, I can spend hours talking with you about all these things. Please pray that we may soon be able to review them together. I realize that we’re going to be hard-pressed financially for next month or so, but I’m still praying with all my heart and soul that we will be able to make ends meet, in order that we may soon be back in each other’s arms.

Darling, I love you as I can never love another. I miss you as I could never miss another. Let me always be your adoring companion. Let me try to give you all the happiness you deserve.

I must close now, my sweet. Write me soon and tell me you love me. Please get well, and please pray that our reunion may be very soon.

With all my love and millions of kisses, goodnight from

Your own
Jim

Ed, note: More shorthand at the end of today’s letter.

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Squared Around

Ft. Riley, again
Dec. 6, 1942

My Darling:

I’m back in the harness again, and how I wish you were here! Got in yesterday, and spent all day yesterday and all day today getting squared around. Just had supper, and after I write this, I’ll send a card home and prepare for bed.

I have been attached, unassigned, to the weapons department here at the replacement center. My address is c/o Weapons Dep’t., CRTC, Ft. Riley, Kans. Guess for a while anyway, I’ll be a weapons instructor.

Darling, you’ve no idea how much I’ve missed you in the past 10 days. I know my letters have been few, but it wasn’t because I didn’t miss you. People kept me so busy at home that I couldn’t find the time to write. If I stayed home, people came to see me, and if I went calling, I would be out until all hours. It really was a busy few days in Casper. I sure caught the dickens from everyone for not having you with me. You’d think I was the only person in Casper who had ever gotten married. Everyone is crazy to meet you, and especially since I’ve told them how grand you are. The folks are crazy about your picture. The mantelpiece at home has pictures of Marge, Lois, Donna, you and me, and everyone is as proud of your picture as any of the Hopkins kids. So you see, they’re crazy about you already, as well they should be. It isn’t every family which has the sweetest girl in the world as a daughter and sister-in-law.

Darling, though this present job is just temporary, it may become a permanent one, or it may be for several months at least. For that reason, I hope you can join me here soon. I’ll find out a little more definitely some time this week, and I’ll write you as soon as I can find out something. If I’m going to be here for over a month, I certainly want my wife. Do you think you can come after the 1st? We may have to stay in a room for a while, but I have prospects of getting an apartment after the 1st. A fellow I know who is planning to be transferred soon after the 1st told me I could have the first call on the apartment after he left. Please let me know what you think of it, darling. Please consider the fact that our future is indefinite, and we can never tell how much time we may be able to spend with each other. We must take advantage of every moment we can. I hope you feel the same as I, darling.

As for finances, I have enough to see me thru this month, and the first, I’ll have $300 coming. A new bill which just passed will also give me an extra $100 for uniforms, but Lord knows when I’ll get it. It won’t take much for me to go on, darling, so I hope you’ll see fit to come to me as soon as I can possibly send for you. Please let me know your reaction.

This afternoon, darling, I went thru all your letters, and reread them all. I’m forced to part with them, because I have so many that they’re becoming quite a problem. Wish I could have kept them, but I just don’t have the room. I have your picture before me now, and that I’ll never part with. I had quite a time bringing it back with me, because all the time I was home, it held a position of honor on the mantel, and everyone who came simply raved about it.

Darling, I hope your dental troubles are nearly over and that you are feeling fit again. Please write soon, my sweet. I miss you terribly.

Goodnight, my darling. Remember that I love you and need you very much, and that I’ll be awfully lonely until I see you again.

Your loving
Jim

Ed. note: Shorthand time!

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Such Excitement!

Casper, Wyoming
No Dec. 2, 1942

My Darling:

I’ve been awfully poor about writing to you since I’ve been home. They’ve really kept this kid busy. If I stay home, people come here to see me, and if I go out, I can break away easier, so I’ve been doing most of the calling. One of the old gang came home on furlough and got married, so that took up most of yesterday and the day before. Such excitement!

Another one of the gang, a crippled fellow, has been the recipient of a lot of calls from me. His house is the gathering place for half the town, and things are really humming there all the time. There’s where all the wedding plans were formulated, hashed over, etc.

Didn’t do much this morning, but made about 3 calls this afternoon, and did some very extensive shopping. In fact, I bought a pair of garters. Howzat for blowing the old wad?

Tomorrow morning, I have to make at least 3 calls, go to the Kiwanis luncheon at noon with Dad, pack, and prepare to leave on the train at 7:35 tomorrow nite. We get into Denver at 7:15 Friday morning, and don’t leave until 4:15 P.M., but it’s the best connection we can make.

Darling, everywhere I go, people ask me about you, and wish you were here. From what I’ve told them, they must figure that I married an angel, and I think I did. In spite of my being so terribly busy, I’m very lonesome for my wife. Ever since I called you the other nite, I’ve felt terrible about not being able to be with you, but let’s pray it can be soon. Without you, it’s getting to be unbearable. I’ve prayed for your well-being every nite, and I hope you are feeling a lot better by now.

I have a shock for you, darling. I’ve been sleeping with another woman— Donna. She has been making Dad and me both promise that when I go to bed, I take her with me. The little rascal sleeps with her back to me, crooks her legs back until her feet touch me, and then wriggles her toes all nite long. It nearly drives me nuts. She has a kitten, too, whose special joy is to jump in bed with us, and then Donna has to get up and walk all over me putting him out. Between the two, they keep me pretty well occupied,—-and sleepless.

Please, darling, don’t work too hard while you are getting your teeth extracted. It’s just too much, sweet. And please take care of yourself. I just shudder when I think of how badly you must be feeling. If you had only been with me for graduation, it really would have been perfect, and then some. How proud I’d have been! But we poor folks can’t have everything.

Darling, I’m picking up about 3 pairs of pajamas here, so I’ll have plenty when we are together again, which I hope is very soon. I’m also picking up my old bathrobe. It’s pretty ratty, but it will serve the purpose until I can afford a better one. Looking it over, I guess it isn’t so bad after all.

Darling, every time I think of you, I realize more + more how much I love you and miss you and need you. So far, I haven’t been much of a husband to you, but I hope to start making that up to you very soon. So much love I could never have for anyone else. A lot of girls around town here are so hard up for boy friends that some of them would even go out with me, but I can’t see them at all. Girls I’ve known for years, and who held a certain amount of appeal for me before, and I can’t get the least bit interested in being with them. Last Saturday nite, instead of going out, I went up and talked with Dick (the crippled kid), played cards with him and his mother, and generally spend a very quiet evening. So, you see, Mrs. Hopkins, I just can’t be away from you much longer and retain my sanity. It just can’t be done, that’s all. Maybe I’m just a baby, but after I talked to you on the phone the other nite, I cried like a baby. No one has ever affected me like that before. No one else could ever do it. Only you, my darling, can make me happy, and only being away from you can make me otherwise. I love you, Marjorie, forever and ever. Please pray with me that we will soon be together, and that we may never again be apart. Without you, I’ll never be worth a cent to anyone, not even myself. Always remember that, darling. Always.

Everyone here sends all their love, darling. As for me, you know my heart and soul are with you, always.

Your loving
Jim

Ed. note: Guess what? More shorthand!

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