Leaves on this Family Tree

Monday, May 11, 2009

Love Letters from Camp Shelby


For the life of me, I cannot find the grey metal box that had all of the family photos in it that I knew of. But I did find some in Mom's cedar chest and then Gene found a box in the garage, that came from the garage back home, that I had never seen. It said "Pictures, baby clothes, letters and dishes."


So, I figure to myself, maybe this is another set that I didn't know about. I did find some pictures from my brothers school days BUT, I found a mother load of letters from my Dad to my mom from when they first started writing when he was in basic training in 1941 to, maybe, 1943.


It is so interesting reading them. I have found out that at one time, my dad played golf. In my whole life, I never once heard him talk about this. Most of his letters he is answering questions my mom has asked, or responding to what she wrote. But, I am getting to "read" their early courtship . . because both of them were to shy to ask one or the other for a date, but before dad left for basic training, one of them said to the other,"drop me a line" and the rest is history.


Each day, I read about 2 months worth of letters . . it seemed like Dad wrote almost every day or two. This takes me three or four hours. When I am done, I have this lost/empty feeling. I don't know if it is "seeing" them as 22 and 24 year-olds for the first time, or just missing them and wanting them back for one more day so I can bask in their love.


I have always said that other people can love you, but no one does it, unconditionally, like a parent. And when it is gone, it is really missed.


I am sitting here with tears running down my face. I don't cry very often, but when it comes to thinking about Mom & Dad, it seems, anymore, that is what I do. I want to ask Mom, that is, the Mom I knew when she was Mom, not the woman who was so sick the last few years of her life, what she felt like: when she got the letters; when Dad came home on furlough; what Grandma and Grandpa thought of him, since he always refers to himself as just an "old railroader" or "switchman" and was he "good enough" for their only child?


I know that Grandma Gaumer liked Mom. Dad made a comment in one of the earlier letters that that she had made a comment once, before dad was "called up" about, "Why didn't he date someone like Leah Jane instead of Maxine?" So I guess Grandma knew something that neither one of them had figured out.


I do remember Dad saying, many times, that he fell in love with Mom's knees that he saw from the pews when she was in the church choir. I think he said something like they were "winking" at him. I always thought that was so funny,but now I think there is some truth in it because they both did go to the same church.


From what I have read so far, Dad never dated any girls when he was at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. Yet Mom always kidded me that when I first learned how to talk, I had a "southern drawl" and that it most have come from Dad's girlfriend at Camp Shelby. So now, I can see the humor in what she was saying.


Dad wrote in one letter that he wouldn't mind a boy and a girl and he got them, in that order. They were such a good looking couple when they were young. Mom said Dad looked like Humphrey Bogart, as did other people. I can kind of see it in him. Mom, I can tell from the letters, didn't think she was pretty . . but she was. She had a smile that lit up a room . . and I remember when she smiled like that. Dad, well, Mom always talked about his "shitin-ass grin" which he did have . . and which my brother inherited. When he gave you that grin, you knew how much he really cared about you . . . and Lee is the same way. With both of them, their facial expressions speak louder than their words.


I must quit . . not only are the eyes tearing more, but now the nose is running and THAT is not fun.


Miss you both terribly,

Paula
(5284)

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