This series of letters starts out chatty, but the last letter hit me with a real punch! In the first letter, Dad’s missing his Broadway roots, mentioning an Ethel Barrymore production where he knows almost everyone in the cast. Brief research shows a Barrymore production in 1944 called Martha. He mentions sending home a map of his route from Normandy to Germany in the next letter.
The last letter finally helps me begin to put some of the puzzle pieces together. For the first time in one of her letters, Mary has mentioned “Flave” (old college heart-throb, dancing at the Roosevelt and having him for Christmas dinner). I knew that name rang a bell, so I went back to my research and found that indeed this is the man Mary fell in love with and eventually married. They all went to the University of Washington together – so that’s the connection! That’s how they all met! Further research shows that between 1942-45 he was the Captain of a ship with operations off Okinawa, the Phillipines, and Japan. This explains my father’s comment about him being on leave and how nice to have Christmas dinner in someone’s home!
5 Jan 1945 V-Mail
Hello, Sweetie – Guess what? I got a letter from you today Nov. 22! And a NY Times & a Variety. See lots of name I know this time – and wish to hell I was there to be working in some of these fat shows. Know most every one in Ethel Barrymore show, and Jack Effrat, Phil Brown, etc in the Jap-war play – forget the name, off – hand. You ask if I like the dates. You said it, kid! With you. (and consider this a request for both kinds. Do you suppose you could be dehydrated and shipped over here? Then all I’d have to do is add water, and there you are!) I imagine your folks will be there by the time this is (although I haven’t heard lately) so give them my very best. Hope you all have a fine time. So ol Karen is getting fat? Golly I’d like to have seen her at the Thanksgiving table. Does she eat mostly grown up stuff now? Or do you still have special jars or cans of stuff for her?
Nothing new here, except it’s fine & bright for a change. I miss you & love you more each day
7 Jan 1945 V-Mail
Hello, Mary darling – ain’t you the cute one, though? I got another package from you today! The one with the two New Yorkers, book, dental floss, dice (those are really swell) horn, pencil sharpener & pineapple & lobster! Etc!! Really swell, baby. I got such a kick out of it. Damn, I wish I could have had a few more things at Xmas time – maybe would have felt better – but what the hell. It feels good now. Dec. was very bad month for mail – and still is! S&S says there is a lot of mail backlogged in Paris and we’ll get it as soon as transit is available. Anyway, I know you’re writing and I’ll get ’em sometime, so keep at it – the climax of each day is when I get a letter from you. Yesterday I sent you a sawed- out section of a bed post (don’t get frightened of a bomb when it arrives) with a map get up by the outfit we’re connected to, showing our route from Normandy to Germany. Ours was same, generally, except we were advanced & near where they were. Think it will be nice to keep. Also included is an amazing sheet get up like a circular. And a special order you can read if you promise not to breathe a word of it to anyone. Be a good girl, sweetheart – I love only you – Pappy
8 Jan 1944 (must mean 1945) V-Mail
This is a big day! Four (4) letters, are from Mom, one swell one from old pop Grimes (and, oh yes, a couple of cans of super, nut candy from Marge Grimes) and Dec 21 & 22 letters from you!! You’re a fine one. Almost forgetting our wedding anniversary. Don’t you know that forgetting same is strictly a husbands prerogative? (Pretty smart of Karen to remember!) I must be missing letters with earlier mention to Flave (you mention dancing at Roosevelt, and his coming to Xmas) Wasn’t he one of your college heart-throbs? Mighty nice for him to have Xmas dinner in a home, I’ll bet. And as for dancing with my wife – well, he couldn’t ask for much more on a furlough. What’s he – in for repairs or something? How’d he know where to find you?
Under other conditions, this could be a mighty pretty day. Snowed about 2″ last night. Still snowing and blowing – a small blizzard. Driving an open jeep is very interesting. We weren’t immediately affected by the thing that worried you at that time, but we had plenty to worry about, too. Beside, you know me. Can’t nothing’ hurt me!! I’m too tough, remember? Besides, I’m careful, and don’t want to be a hero. I just want to come home – and make love to you – for years & years & years
Almost forgot to mention, the “super, nut candy” came from my Mom, Marge Grimes! So in this paragraph, he mentions his future wife and her future husband! Fascinating!!