April 6, 1944
The mail has been streaming in here so fast it amazes me — I can’t believe you’ve had my letters about the Scotland trip already, and have answered me about it. It is less than a month ago that I took that trip. Thank God for the U. S. Mail! Sastounding! I’ve had reports from all fronts within the last week and want you to know I appreciate hearing from youse. I was worried about the material, as it is quite some time since I sent it home, and I was afraid it was lost. I hope Sal liked it. I noticed that the greatest happening at the farm was Judy’s illness — certainly hope she’s all right now. Otitis media — ah the things one learns about a hospital — at least I think that’s what she had, wasn’t it? Mom saw Oklahoma! didn’t she? Lucky thing — I wish I’d been able to see it before I left the States. I have Harold’s address and intend to see what happens very soon — could be he is here. Was tickled to know Itkin called. I can’t imagine what I’d have said in the letter about him that was to be censored — I’m usually careful what I say, in fact I make it a point to say little or nothing about things that are happening, possibly because I’m so interested in myself and things. You will probably hear from others. As for my current activities, work has been interesting of course. We have another new worker — she is about my age, and is awfully cute — she does the work Louise does — Shirley Stevens is her name and she’s from Atlanta, Georgia. She’s been here about a week and seems to be doing all right. That makes four of us against the Army, and we are scoring all along. The only thing exciting around here at the moment is the impending marriage of one of our girls to a Cavalry officer. They are getting married at a beautiful place called the Buckfast Abbey, which is a Benedictine monastery. The man is Catholic, is Don McAvoy, from New Jersey. He is one swell guy. The gal is protestant but loves the idea of a church wedding, and is really doing it up brown. We are having the reception here on the post at the Officer’s club, and every girl in the place has had to pitch in to help plan it. We shall give her a send off similar to any she’d get at home, and believe me we’re workin (sic) at it. The girls are going to make the buffet supper of all kinds of junk, especially little open face sandwiches — and we hope to have Punch. We’ve robbed every English Home for miles around for pretty things to decorate the place with — we have enough silver service to take care of a nation. We shall have a huge floral horseshoe made by yours truly with the help of the E M, some wedding bells and beautiful flowers all over the place. The wedding takes place Easter Sunday and promises to be good. The col. Is going to give the Bride away and is as excited as if it were his wedding. Rumor hath it that Yank and Stars and Stripes photographers will be all over the place. If I get any good pictures, I’ll send them home.
I wrote some time ago and told mom about wanting a doll for a little girl here. I hope you can find one. She is the daughter of a Doctor here and they have been very nice to us. Dr. Harrison is kind and a strange character, but his wife is charming. She is the daughter of a King’s Councellor, which is really something over here, and she likes me. They have a cuter home near by and two darling kids. Long ago they asked me if I would go with them when her brother came home on leave as they were planning to go to town one night of his leave. It was about two months in the offing so I didn’t mind saying yes I’d go. I was surprised when the day loomed suddenly and they made great plans for me — but decided I’d go thru’ with it anyway — by the way, Dr. Harrison is strange looking, and his wife is about 6 ft. tall and rather gaunt. I knew the brother wasn’t very young so I resigned myself to my fate and made a resolution to enjoy myself irrrrrygardlyess of what they looked like. Dr. Harrison called for me at about 6 p.m. as we were going to have cocktails at his home before going to dinner at the Imperial the beautiful hotel in a lovely town near by — I went back with him and was glad he didn’t bring my date because I didn’t want any one to see him. God! I’ll never forget the feeling I had when the brother-in-law walked into the room! Surprise of my life! He was about 6’ 2” tall, weighed about 200 was a Major in the Royal Artillery, and one of the handsomest guys I’ve ever laid eyes on! He was as gracious as he could be, talked as friendly as any one I’ve ever known, danced beautifully, and had all the manners that a man could have. I practically drooled all night! He is what is known here as a Barrister — a lawyer of sorts but his job is to present the cases at court. He doesn’t do any of the investigation on a situation — instead he takes the facts that someone else has unearthed and he tries the wits of other Barristers in open court. They wear the white wigs and all and should be interesting hmmmmmmmmm –. I understand they have solicitors here who do the ground work of getting information on situations, and then barristers who do the court presentation.
I’m quite interested in Barristers now. Seriously though, we went to the Imperial and were really wined and dined. The Harrisons are well known in these parts and the hotel management went out of their way to be wonderful. I was treated like a queen, and that usually is not the case for Americans Here. The maitre jumped all over to get me anything I looked like I might need. We were given a wonderful table after dinner on the dance floor and they served us liquor like mad. I had a glorious time, and really enjoyed it. The next day they insisted I come to their home for dinner and stay for tea. I had to get back that night but managed to have fun during the afternoon. The two kids are cute as buttons, the girl is about 8 and the boy is 4. They have a cute home and lovely gardens. The kids have two rabbits that they harness and then chase around the garden. So for a part of the afternoon that’s all we did — run after rabbits! It was fun. Then for the rest of the time I taught them ho to play baseball — what I know of the game, and we wore ourselves out in the yard. I was completely exhausted and so were the kids when it was over. They are darling, I just wish you could hear them talk. Colin who is four can count up to twenty in three languages — bet none of you can do it — you should hear him say vingt-et-une. They insist on calling me “Nurse Donnellan” and no matter how I try to convince them they won’t believe me. Through it all I couldn’t help notice the Barrister who would put Lawrence Olivier to shame. Oh my what a life!
I visited Bristol recently, where I saw Dick, as he has been in the hospital and could visit there for a few hours each day. I enjoyed the trip and the town, found that Bristol itself is not located on the Bristol Channel as I expected, altho I never looked too carefully at the maps, and saw that it was not the shipping center I thought. I had expected a different type of place — if any of you have read the book Fr. Kauth told me to read, but he wouldn’t — The Sun is My Undoing — you will know why I wanted to see that town. Actually had beer in a pub Matthew, the hero, was to have been in. We couldn’t find much to do there, however, as it is a dead dead old spot. We finally got tickets to a local musical comedy and wasted time there as it was stinking. Dick is getting along well and expects to be discharged very soon from the hospital, not the Army.
Since I started writing this I’ve been across the road picking primroses. We have a gorgeous lake near us you know — just across the road, and the place is just over flowing with beautiful blooms. Primroses here are different than ours, they grow something like violets do, rather tiny and close to the ground. They are of a pretty yellow color and are lovely. The banks of the lake were covered with them so we picked a couple baskets full for the wards. The lake is surrounded with beautiful rhododendron and they are tremendous compared to the ones I saw in Washington. The poet who said, “Oh to be in England, now that spring is here –” was right. I really have come to love this section of the country — the surrounding countryside is so gorgeous it is breath taking. I went for a ride last night, and you know it is light out now until about ten p.m. — and the landscape was beautiful. The air was clear and the detail of the panorama was so specific it was lovely. Really, you can’t imagine how very unusual it is.
I’m awfully tired now — work is trying but fun — I don’t think I’ll ever be too old or too professional to enjoy going to a Ward and hearing the soldiers who haven’t seen me before whistle or tease the guy I happen to be talking to. No matter how scared you are of picking up whatever the patient has, or how sick you get when you see what a mess he is, they really enjoy talking to an American Girl and you can’t help enjoying their pleasure. There’s no telling what’s going to happen — Sal’s comment about the radio announcement might be pretty correct. Be sure you keep up the letters, and when you get a chance — any of youse, send me something good to eat, like crackers and cheese — or something — gosh I hate to ask, but that’s all I can do — Elizabeth
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Otitis media definition from http://www.medterms.com: Inflammation of the middle ear characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear, bulging of the eardrum, pain in the ear and, if eardrum is perforated, drainage of purulent material (pus) into the ear canal.
“Oklahoma!” was the first Broadway musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II which premiered March 31, 1943. They won a special Pulitzer Prize for the musical in 1944.
Harold is her brother-in-law, Harold “Hal” LaLone. This is the first we learn she knows they are both in the same country.
Although I have no idea who “Itkin” was, apparently Elizabeth had one of her letters censored in reference to him. It is clear she self-censors and makes a point of not disclosing anything questionable when she writes.
“The Sun is My Undoing” (1941) by Marguerite Steen. A novel about the slave trade.
Taking a line from a future letter, January 21, 1945, Elizabeth explains that she danced at the Imperial Hotel with “Major Malcolm Morris, the limey whose sister was Dr. Harrison’s wife in Bovey Tracy.” Thus, Major Morris is the unnamed brother-in-law in this letter, the barrister Elizabeth met at the Harrison household in Bovey Tracy, a small town in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor.
This is going out on a limb, but her line, “Barrister who would put Lawrence Olivier to shame,” may be a reference to the film “The Divorce of Lady X” starring Olivier and Merle Oberon. Never having seen it, I can only conjecture that Olivier as a divorce lawyer is the progenitor for this observation. Her, “I’m quite interested in Barristers now,” is more enlightening in view of later events in her life. Elizabeth purportedly met my father in a court room in San Bernardino where she was a social worker representing or defending or testifying on some client’s behalf in a case where Dad was the Assistant District Attorney. Yes, Dad would have been a barrister in whom she had an “interest.”
The medieval Benedictine monastery she mentions is near the River Dart in Buckfastleigh, Devon, and has its own website. It welcomes visitors to a restaurant and shops that sell “monastic products,” whatever those might be.
“Irrrrrygardlyess” is certainly meant to be an amusing spelling, but it is hard to believe the overtly literate Elizabeth would have commonly used the incorrect and non-standard English word, “irregardless,” rather than the standard English word, “regardless.” Maybe she did use it all the time. Maybe she didn’t.
The poet was Robert Browning who actually wrote as the opening line of “Home Thoughts from Abroad, “OH, to be in England now that April’s there.” The sentiment remains the same for Elizabeth’s misquote.
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(On American Red Cross stationery)
April 17, 1944
Migawd! From the letters I’ve received in the past few days, I think the airmails are getting through so fast that I can’t keep up with them. I used to think I at least had a letter in the mail whenever I decided against writing, but I know now that there are none because you’ve received the last one. I wonder if mom got my letter asking for the doll for the girl here? While I think about it, there are some other things I want — here goes, and all pleases note, if possible, try to get me some camera film. You never know when the scene might change, and some pictures of what I’ve seen would be nice to have. I have a 620 Kodak, and 620 or 120 film will fit it. Also, mom the photographic paper I want is known as enlargening (sic) paper and this is the kind to get — DEFENDER’S D. S. VELOUR Black, GRADE 2, size 8 X 12 72 sheets for about $3.75 or $4. AND someone on the post has an 8 mm. movie camera so if you will send me some film, I will get a roll of me and the places I’ve talked so much about, so you can see for yourself. If you take this letter to a Kodak dealer, you might be able to get a roll easily for me for I understand they are sending some to everyone in the service that has requested it. Mom, you might try STARK’S at 509 So. State St., Chicago for the photographic paper if you can’t get much at Eastman’s — try both places if you can — and ask them about film also. Wouldn’t you like to see me in the movies in my uniform and see some of the people I write about? Get me the film, and I’ll gladly pay you for it.
Now to get to activities. We have trouble going places around here nowadays so I have been on the post most of the time. The last trip I took was to Bristol, and I’ve written to you about that. Since that time, I’ve really had some experiences. For one thing, I’ve come to know a British Home-Guards fellow who is the most boring thing, and who haunts us. He insisted on my going with him once, and I palmed him off onto three of our medical officers, and found out he really had something for them. He took them to visit the home of a Lord here in this vicinity, and they really had an elegant time. When I found out about it of course, I was sorry I didn’t go. So the H. G. arranged for me to go another time, and invited a few more of the post members to go along. Our C.O., and three other officers and Wilma went along. We got to Lord Mamhead’s, and the estate is called Mamhead, and we went about it like one would go about a museum. It was a gorgeous manor set in the heart of a 700 acre estate. The gardens were so beautiful they were breathtaking. It takes about 20 men to maintain the grounds. It is set out apart from the community, and when you look out the windows you see a beautiful landscape. They have a lovely view of the Exmouth river, and you’ve never seen anything as lovely. Daffodils are profuse here at this time of the year, and their whole place was surrounded with them. They had a gorgeous green house that had a bower of camelias (sic) the like of which I shall never see again. They were as large as chrysanthamms (sic) — and were every color. The manor was built in 1834, just 110 years ago, and the camelias were planted 100 years ago. They have never been cut because they spoil the next years bloom, so the bower was a mass of flowers, and of course I touched one in my effort to show appreciation of things that will beautify nothing, but will remain in their greenhouses for private eyes for another 100 years or more — and I took my hand away gently only to see the whole thing fall ker-plunk at my feet! After 100 years, I had to come in and knock one down! The house was just as you would imagine an old English Estate. Tremendous and churchlike. They had all their treasures laid out in the rooms however, and it didn’t look a bit like someones home. More like the field Museum, I’d say. Their silverware was precious though, and their Elizabethan chairs and Victorian furniture was priceless. They had more Wedgewood and Spode than I shall ever see again. And the linens and tapestries were gorgeous. But the things about the place I shall never forget were our hosts. Lord Mamhead is some 84 years old, is a tiny scarecrow like little fellow with ruddy complexion and pointed features. He was wearing tweed knickers that were somewhat tightfitting, and some kind of riding boots, and a tweed coat. His shirt was white, and he had a wing collar with the tie on the outside. Try to put those things together in your mind if you can! Strange combination. He was very nice though, and seemed cordial enough. He is the last of his line, and the home goes to the Throne when he dies. He had some lady there whose name was Dame Violet Wills, and she too is filthy with money. She was about 100 years old, and you will never have any idea of how strangely she was dressed. I’ll try to explain it to you, but I don’t think you can appreciate it. She was very tiny, to begin with. She had some kind of a light blue velvet skirt on and it was fastened to a strange blue crepe blouse that must have dated back to Victoria’s days. Over it she wore a huge flowing grey cape, that had two rows of grey fox fur around the collar. She had weird features, wrinkled and witch like. Her hair was grey and stringy, and she had some kind of a strange hat that was a mixture of feathers and felt and veiling, that was just plunked on her head and pulled down. And under all this was a funny pair of high rubber boots with high heels that were so practical for wandering around the gardens! Dame Violet is of the Wills family who are famous tobacco people here — Wills Gold Flake tobacco is advertised as much as Burma shave is at home. Then, as a special treat they had the Bishop of Salisbury there. He was quite a character. Looked something like Fr. Schikowski, only was taller and bigger. He had on some kind of black breeches, and a swallow tail coat, but the legs were the outstanding things — he had leggings that buttoned, and came up above his knees. Then had an unusual cross around his neck that tucked into the belt around his waist. A Bishop is quite a guy here, even if he is Protestink — so we were considered fortunate to get there at that time. Well, after the H. G. got tired of lugging us around that spot, he took us to dinner at a local hotel, and we have nothing at home like the local hotels here — they all remind me somewhat of the Princeton hotel, only like as if they tried to clean it up — and we had Partridge for dinner. I had never tasted it, and it was fun. It was good, only tasted kind of wild. After that we went to a Navy dance where we had some fun again, and then we went to the H. G’s home for coffee. Gad, were we tired after that running around! I can’t stand the H. G., he thinks for one thing that he is god’s gift to women, and for another that we are nuts about him. But the thing that is awful, is that he spits in your face all the time he talks to you and nothing will do him but to get as close to you as he can so he can place his shots. Wilma gets hysterical when she sees me talking to him, and vice versa. We mentioned it to the Col. and he nearly died laughing because he said he always pretended he was going to blow his nose when he talked to the H. G. so he could have his handkerchief out to wipe his face. Repulsive, isn’t it?
What else have I done? — Oh, yes, I’ve worked. I can’t keep up with myself, tonight I went over to the office to dictate — remember how I always had to do that at home, mom — here I do the same thing, but I don’t get anything done. I went back about 7 and was there until 9, and got one record finished. If you are in the office, everyone comes in, and wants something, and if you are not there, they get along without it. Twas ever thus. Sal, I remembered about getting the information on Miller, but the only thing I could get from R. C. would be the official army notification. I’ve learned a shortcut, and that is through Bill. He knows people at most of the Bomber stations and can get some info on how much the other fellows know about what happened to a fellow. He might be able to find out if he bailed or crashed or what happened. One thing tho, the Army estimates that almost 75% of the guys who are listed as missing in action with air crews are safe somewhere in occupied territory, from the stories of the men who came back and saw them bail out. Maybe that will ease the Miller’s mind. Larry asked me about locating info on some fellow, and then said later he’d heard from him. For everyone’s benefit, I need info about nearest of kin and home addresses to get any info on a soldier. Remind Larry.
I received the dress from Red Cross mom, and remember telling you about it, because I said I was glad they’d sent the size 14 instead of the 16 as you requested. I haven’t worn it yet because it is too cold. I also received the shoes and marshmallows. I laughed about the stamps I sent John. I thought I’d made a pretty good haul, and sent him some Victorian stamps, only to find out they are only worth 2 cents each! I wonder what happened about the framed pictures of the twins I sent John. Did you ever receive them? Haven’t heard from Steve since he went back from furlo. Wrote Harold pronto on getting his address but haven’t heard from him, as I guess he isn’t there. I tried to find out if his outfit was over here yet, but no soap. Denny’s letters come regularly. I intend some day to write to Mary Davin and find out how Aunty Maggie is. I sent Bridie Davin some cigarettes the other day, note she got them. I’ll send some to Aunt Kate too.
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Assuming this is the Lord Mamhead she met: Robert Hunt Stapylton Dudley Lydston Newman (October 27, 1871 – November 2, 1945) was first Baron Mamhead, known as Sir Robert Newman. He was a British politician and sat as a Member of Parliament from Exeter, first as a Conservative later an Independent, between 1918 and 1931. He was a member of the Devon County Council and Justice of the Peace for Devon which does put him “here in this vicinity” as Elizabeth wrote. Although she described him “as some 84 years old,” he died little more than a year after she met him, aged 74.
She describes the view from the mansion as that of the Exmouth river. The more correct name is the River Exe and Exemouth the name of the port town at the river’s estuary on the coast in Devon. The Gaelic word “exe” is translated from the Gaelic word uisce/uisge meaning water and is the root of the word “whisky” or “whiskey.”
Wedgwood and Spode are fine pottery originally produced in Stoke-on-Trent which is in Staffordshire, England.
She seems to have enjoyed the company of the Bishop of Salisbury, Ernest Neville Lovett, who was an ordinary in the Anglican Church and Bishop of Salisbury from 1936 to 1946. The Anglican Church was in existence well before Henry VIII separated it from the Roman Catholic Church with which it was on fairly good terms until 1534. Anglican means “of England,” thus, the Church of England. An “ordinary” (from the Latin ordinarious) is a church officer who has “ordinary” legal powers.
This is Elizabeth on her Catholic high horse calling Lovett a “Protestink.”
Dame Violet Wills and her wealthy widow sister, Mrs. Ella Rowcroft, contributed generously to Torbay Hospital, which Ella laid the foundation stone for in 1926 at Lawes Bridge, Torquay.
Bill is Captain William B. Hugill whom Elizabeth first referenced in her hand written letter of August 5, 1943, on Gotham hotel stationery, New York City. Bill became her fiancé during the war and she was set to marry him. She recounts in a later letter receiving an expensive wedding gift from Nadine, but the ceremony never took place.
In gathering information for this memoir, I just missed meeting both Nadine Sachs (1915 – 2009) and William Hugill who was still alive in 2010.
I did locate a couple of their children: Nadine B. Zimet and Mike Hugill.
Nadine Zimet told me her mother was almost 94 and lucid. “She still had a good memory. She would have remembered it all right up to the time she died.”
Zimet said several women used to come visit her mother. She distinctly remembered Winnie Cole and said a woman whose name she forgets, but was from Texas, would visit. I will not venture a guess who that might have been, but perhaps the reader can discern from hints I missed in these letters. Zimet did confirm that the Winnie Cole she remembers was Winona Sumpter who hit nine out of ten bulls eyes.
Mike Hugill said his father at 93 was under 24 hour care in Palm Springs. There were moments of lucidity, but they were rare. Bill said his father married a Belgian woman in 1946 and Mike’s half brother, Patrick, was born in ’48. Mike was born of a different mother in 1953 and grew up to become a salesman for Canon manufactured semiconductors.
Turns out Captain Hugill was from Chicago, born in Cook County Hospital, and lived in the Morgan Park/Beverly Hills district. Mike described him as a man who loved women, had a pencil thin moustache and retired as a colonel from the Army Air Corps.
Don Devine wrote, “I can tell you, when I knew him (Bill Hugill) back in 1960, he was a Lt. Col. straight out of Central Casting. A very dynamic, swashbuckling leader, as we used to say, a ‘Steve Canyon’ type, including the pencil thin mustache. He did me a big favor back in 1960, so I always remember him for that.”
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(On American Red Cross stationery)
April 26, 1944
There isn’t much to report from this front today, but I thought I’d write while I had the machine over here in the barracks — the most important thing that has happened however, is that I saw Harold. I was able to get transportation into London, and phoned Harold the day before telling him I thought I’d be able to get in to see him. We were able to leave the post at about 6 a.m. and arrive there at about 1:30. Believe me it was a heck of a long drive. Two nurses went along with me as they had some shopping to do for the Post at the PX. I saw Harold at about 2 p.m. and he was with me until about 4:30. He went with me to RC headquarters where he waited about 1/2 hour for me to be interviewed. In the mean time we had tea, and had a good old Donnellan Chin fest. It was good to see him — it is just a year ago that I saw him last, when he came home to see Melly. He hasn’t changed much — he thought I looked exceptionally well, probably because he doesn’t remember me under other circumstances. I tried to be a g. i. in my uniform but it was wasted on him. London is alive with RC gals, so I was no new one on him. He likes his billet, and manages to eat most of is meals at the Grosvenor House, which is that London cafeteria I wrote to you about once before. It is the only place they serve Quartermaster rations, and consequently is the only spot where he can get enough to eat. If he had to depend on the restaurant rations he’d never get enough. He is lucky to be in a hotel, he hasn’t done badly in this army game, he has been separated from a tent or barracks for some time. Being in London is swell, because he gets to know more about what’s cooking than I do. And he’ll get a much better idea of how the English live. I think he’ll like it there. He has already seen more action, however, than I’ve seen in all the time I’ve been here. I guess I’d better not speak too soon.
It has been so beautiful here, I can’t get over it. I knew the spring time should be lovely but even so, I had no idea it would be so grand. I have seen more gorgeous flowers than I’ve seen before in my life. Something about this country reminded Harold of the Puget Sound area, and I can see what he means. There is a greenness that you just can’t explain. And when trees have blossoms on them they are so heavy the branches are just laden. They have some kind of a rock garden flower that is in purple and white that is beautiful. It seems to hang down over the rock fences they have everywhere here, and it is a sight to behold. The trip yesterday gave me an opportunity to see a Devon Sunrise which was ethereal, and then a sunset that was solemn. I enjoyed both, and honestly believe I shall never see anything like them again — unless of course, I get up again tomorrow morning — I’m anxious to take a look at a movie camera for you — if I could get some of this in color it would be gorgeous. I’m going to try to get some color film, and if you happen to have any I’d certainly appreciate getting it — I promise, after the censor sees it, to send it home so you can share my experiences. I just hope mom saves my letters — I’d like to see what I’ve done at a later date — By the way, mom, if you have any, send me some morning glory seeds and some four o’clock seeds. I think the natives would like to have it.
I’ve received Sal’s letters like clock-work. Harold says he has been receiving them regularly. Keep up the good work. Margaurite manages to slap them out with regularity too. Now, with Mary, tain’t so, and Steve is unheard from, and Denny gets at them when he can. I’ve heard from Larry, but no one else — hear more regularly from Bridie Jones and Aunt Kate than from others. I tried to send Bridie some cigarettes but they were returned by the censors, stating I had to have a permit. I shall look into that further. Sometimes I think I should ask you for hundreds of things because it looks as tho’ I’ll be here for the duration, and sometimes it looks as tho I might not be here, and I think I shouldn’t ask you for many things — but then who knows?
There isn’t much I can tell you about work other than that it is enjoyable — what we do and how we do it is military secrets of course, altho we don’t do much other than take care of patients. However, we are kept pretty busy. I received St. Martin’s paper and learned that half of Englewood is in England. Glad to hear it — only wish I could see some of them.
* * *
I found the original carbon of this letter, but it is only one page. Nor is it signed. Although it reads as complete, it may originally have had additional pages which are missing. It does raise questions, though, about Elizabeth’s Irish relatives.
In her April 17 letter Elizabeth said, “I sent Bridie Davin some cigarettes the other day.” Here she references “Bridie Jones and Aunt Kate.” As far as my knowledge of our family goes, there was Bridie Donnellan who married Dennis Jones of Clare. The Davins were Elizabeth’s mother’s family in Laois. I know of no Bridie Davin. We do learn the cigarettes did not arrive, as Elizabeth incorrectly believed they had in her letter of April 17.
This letter does offer the best description of Harold or Hal, Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, we are going to get even though she frequently meets him in London during the coming year. We now know he was actively making coded communications possible between the highest officers of state, FDR and Churchill.
How’s this for a colloquialism? “Chin fest” can be found in unabridged dictionaries and means to have a face to face conversation.
Englewood is number 68 of 77 unofficial community areas recognized in that city by the University of Chicago. In 2002 Dennis Donnellan, Elizabeth’s younger brother and the same who served with her during the war, said in his Partial Autobiography, “We lived at 6012 S. Princeton Ave.” South Princeton is in Englewood which is considered to be a section of South Chicago. Elizabeth writes on April 17, “they all remind me somewhat of the Princeton hotel.” Was she literally referencing a hotel that was actually on her street in Chicago? Also entirely likely, this was her snarky name for the Donnellan homestead.
Here Elizabeth makes the only reference as to why she would like someone to save her letters: “I’d like to see what I’ve done at a later date.”
Importing familiar flowers from America is an interesting idea. The morning glory is easy to grow, has over 1,000 species that are all quite colorful. Four o’clock flowers (Mirabilis jalapa) are equally easy to cultivate and have the curious ability to produce flowers of different colors on the same plant.
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May 11, 44
“Hauw d’ya broil a lobstah?” That’s what I’m trying to find out at this moment. That’s what Red Cross is doing overseas. Seriously though, I just made a reservation for one of our officers at a hotel on the beach for dinner tonight, and he wanted broiled lobster. He knew he had to take his own butter so he could have (NOTE: there is a one inch size hole in the paper and at least one word is missing from several lines) butter, but he didn’t know if they would broil one for him. I asked if she (NOTE: hole in paper and at least one word is missing) broil it, and that is the question she popped at me. Durned if I know. Hauw (NOTE: hole in paper and at least one word is missing) a? I’ve called lots of people on the post including the dietitian and she is going to ask someone else, but we shall find out some’eres. The gal at the hotel said, “I ’ave a buik on Namerkin dishes and I’ll lukit up.” By the way, I’m going along to see what they finally do with it.
I’m thoroughly ashamed of my self for not writing youse guys sooner, and I know I’ve kept mom just a little bit posted on my happenings, but I just have been having a gay old time for myself and haven’t written. Actually what happened was they sent me in a hurry up wire from London to come in, and I did, with the result my schedule for weeks has gone haywire. I went into London on Saturday and arrived too late to get in touch with Harold at the office. Then Sunday I couldn’t get him because no one answered on his extension and I didn’t know his home address, and Monday I was busy all day at the Hdqs. Office with the result I left London early Tuesday without ever having seen or talked with Harold. I stayed at Claridges again, and didn’t do one dem ting only sit on my fenny there. I just didn’t want to be bothered with people if I couldn’t see Harold, and I sat in my room and read the newspapers. Had breakfast served in the room each morning and just basked in the sunshine and stuff. R.C. pays the greater part of my expenses on those trips, so I could enjoy it. The thing that delayed me on Saturday was that I was waiting in the depot “queuing” (pronounced kewing and meaning standing in line) for a cab when I met Joe Kennedy of THE Kennedys — conceited thing that he is, and he asked if I would like to see his sister’s wedding. He was there meeting people who were coming in and I took time out to go with him. She is a Red Cross gal and married a limey — he is the Marquess of something or something. She is kind of a nice kid — I went along and saw the fireworks in the Chelsea Court. I expected that he would see to it that I enjoyed the deal but once the Lt. got back with the Lords and Ladies he fergot about me and I just looked on. Actually, I suppose he was busy as he was best man, but I thought nuts with this deal and after seeing the ceremony and recognizing the people who were there, I went on back to the Hotel. I’m glad I had the chance to see it because it was an experience.
Say — someone was here looking for me last night, and I wasn’t here, but I heard his name was James Frexe and he is with the 65th General Hospital, and he called me “Liz” which floored the people around here. I decided he must be a friend of yours or someone’s — Denny’s or Steve’s or something like that thar.
There was something that happened last week that I thought I’d like to write home about and since I sat down at this darn typewriter, I’ve been trying to think of what it was, but I can’t. I received Sal’s package last night and was tickled to get it. The cheese was wonderful and of course has been practically devoured already. We didn’t have crackers to put it on, but we have a concoction they make for the PX of limey origin that is kind of a dry short bread, and the cheese tasted swell on them. The sachet was good too — peanuts are fresh and nice and the V-mail is handy — I think for a while the supply of V-mail will be all right but it sure was a problem there for a while. If you can get cheese at all I will appreciate it, also the crackers. Things to eat are always welcome so send them this way. What should I request? Cookies are wonderful — but I don’t know what to ask you for. Can’t you just use this as a blanket request and ask the postmaster to let you send anything you think I’d like. What I’d like to know about the things I send home is — have you had to pay Customs duty on anything? Louise says her father has had to pay rather large duties on things. I’d like to know so I will know how and what to send home. I sent Margaurite some material that was given me — it is just a remnant and not worth too much but I thought it would be lovely on her. It is white wool with a yellow and black strip on it. It should make a nice jacket. The coloring is lovely and should be swell on her. I shall keep my eye open on anything else I can find.
I found out some information on the Miller kid before I heard that he was a prisoner. I understand he and his crew were seen landing in neutral territory on their way home from a raid as they were badly crippled. I was given the area or approximate whereabouts but of course can’t tell you that — guess it took place Feb. 29th or thereabouts. They think the entire crew is safe. I’m glad they’ve heard from him though, and you can be sure they are well taken care of. If he’s in one of the neutral camps he is probably living the life of Rielley — English spelling. Really, tho’ they claim the government has bought some of the finest hotels in Switzerland for our airmen who are interned there — so he is probably on a spree and will be for the duration. The source of my lowdown is William B. Hugill — who happens to be around and able to get information for me. If I try Red Cross of course I get just the same information that the family gets because that is the amount the war Dept. will give out. I think the best thing to tell the folks is that he is probably safe and well and better off now than he has been at any time since he got into this mess.
We’ve been working with the British Red Cross in the community and we’ve had some good results. We are the only hospital in this vicinity and we’ve asked the local people to provide us with flowers for the wards during the summer months. I’ve told you about Devon and the beautiful gardens they have here — everyone has flowers even if they don’t have enough to eat — and they are bigger and more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen. We asked if we might have some for the wards, and British Red Cross put an article in the paper asking for them, as a result every Wednesday and every Saturday the locals put flowers in the library in town and we send in a jeep to pick them up. The first few hauls have been wonderful and the flowers are just gorgeous on the wards. Hope it lasts all season. The only difficulty is that the people all put notes on the bouquets and we have to spend some time acknowledging them. One woman was from Philadelphia and she wanted to be sure that Philadelphia boys got the flowers. Someone else wrote a note “for our wounded Allies” and I know they’d be disappointed to know there were only a few battle casualties so far away from a battle. But so far it has been fun.
I’ve had letters from Larry and Steve today and was glad to hear from them. Larry’s of course was loaded with news and Steve’s was good to get because I hadn’t heard from him in a long time. By the way, for mom’s information, they have the white-thorn bush here and I understand it is just ready to burst into bloom. I’ve seen the other thorn bloom — hawthorn, I think, and it is pretty too. I’ve had another letter from Bridie Donnellan and have answered her. Send (sic) them some cigarettes and they were returned because I didn’t have a permit, how about that? I’ve had a cute letter from an RAF boy who is a friend of Martin Clancey’s and who is in Northern Ireland or might get down here — he said he’d seen my picture in the “Chicago Tribune” — I guessed it was the Back of the Yards Journal — and that he decided he’d better “get onto that.” He sounds like an awfully nice kid, and wrote a very good letter. I hope I’ll see him if he ever gets into this vicinity.
I can’t think of anything else to tell youse guys only that I shall try to keep letters going that way, if you will do likewise. How’s Nay?
I’ll get onto the personals.
(NOTE: Hand written in fountain pen at the bottom of the page and on the back are the “personals,” notes to a specific person, in this case her sister Sal.)
The lobster was good last night but it wasn’t broiled. If you can find any will you get me some Fresh or Mum or Ever Dry (Walgreens) or something. I’ve run out of all but powdered Amolin & it’s awful. Limey gals ain’t ever hoid of the stuff so I’m depending on you to ensure my popularity. Enclosed is the pin I told you about but never expected to see. Three arrived in the mail last nite — hope you like them — Lion Rampant is Donnellan’s crest!
The popcorn is swell — we shall devour it of an evening ——-
Say hello to all — Greers, Pilino’s (?), Tommy & Judy — where are the pictures?
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This line took a while for me to figure out. Elizabeth quotes a woman who has a “buik on Namerkin dishes.” That is, she has a book on American dishes and will look it up.
Her statement, “. . . saw the fireworks in the Chelsea Court,” must be Elizabeth in hyperbole, a metaphor for watching the show. I seriously doubt an aerial display was shot off at this place at this time no matter how royal the beneficiaries.
This is the letter that confirms Elizabeth dated Joseph Kennedy, Jr., even if it was one time only and not particularly propitious. There is no more mention of him in any other of her future letters.
Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, 24 (February 20, 1920 – May 13, 1948), married Billy Cavendish, 26 (December 10, 1917 – September 9, 1944), son and heir to the 10th Duke of Devonshire, on May 6, 1944, in London and became the Marchioness of Hartington. The civil ceremony was performed in the Chelsea Register Office and the reception was held at the home of Lady Hambleden.
This was by no means a large elaborate wedding and the only member of Kathleen’s family who attended was her older brother Joseph as Best Man. The fact Joe asked my mother to attend may mean he had intentions, or it may not. Kathleen was in the Red Cross and it may simply have been the girls knew one another and Joe thought it polite to invite Elizabeth. Even Elizabeth makes light of their relationship calling him conceited, but giving little more insight into their time together. She was, as mentioned in this letter, seeing William Hugill at the time.
Kick and Billy’s marriage, on the other hand, is the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy. The Cavendish Dukes of Devonshire were Anglican, the Kennedy family Roman Catholic. Kick’s mother, Rose, highly disapproved.
Elizabeth spelled Billy’s title correctly. The N. Y. Times of May 7, 1944, called William John Robert “Billy” Cavendish the “Marquess of Hartington.” This means his new wife was an instant aristocrat, the Marchioness of Hartington.
The couple met when her father, Joseph Kennedy, Senior, was ambassador to England. The family returned to America and while in college prior to the war, Kick volunteered with the Red Cross. After the wedding they spent less than five weeks together before Billy went to the front where he was killed in Belgium by a sniper. He was 27. Kick died in an airplane accident in 1948, aged 28.
Joe’s death in a drone that same year, August, 1944, was equally tragic.
Lieutenant Joseph Patrick “Joe” Kennedy, Jr., was a U. S. Navy pilot who flew land based Liberator submarine hunters. According to Stephen Plotkin, Reference Archivist at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, “Kennedy was sent to Dunkeswell sometime after the end of May 1943.” Dunkeswell, according to another source, was the only American Navy air base commissioned on UK soil during World War II and remains in operation today as an airfield. It is five miles from the city of Honiton, 58 miles from the Imperial Hotel in Torquay where Elizabeth often danced.
Kennedy completed 25 combat missions and was eligible to be relieved of combat duty when he volunteered for Operation Aphrodite. This was an attempt to destroy German submarine pens and military bases in France by radio guided unmanned drones. Stripped of non-essentials and designated BQ-8 for British Queen (BQ) Bee, these robot planes were to carry 20,000 tons of Torpex explosives to targets in France. The B-24 Liberator was outfitted with cameras, essentially an early television system, which showed the instrument panel and the ground over which it flew. Another pilot flying above had rudder control of the drone. It was thought no single person could accomplish a takeoff in a Liberator, so Kennedy volunteered to be half of a two-man crew who were supposed to bail out over the Channel and be rescued.
The Torpex exploded before they reached the bailout point. He was 29.
“Torpex” means Torpedo Explosive. It was originally used for torpedoes and thereby got this name.
Apparently there is a European plant known as the whitethorn, a species of hawthorn, which Elizabeth’s mother knew and called a white-thorn bush.
Amolin powder might be baking soda. It was used as a deodorant, on the feet and, if the line Elizabeth wrote can be interpreted, to disguise the odor of menstrual discharge. That would be important to American women; not so much to British girls according to this letter.
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(American Red Cross stationery — Form 2247. Seemingly unconcerned about which way the paper was inserted in the typewriter: page three was typed on the back side.)
May 27, 1944
You’re now hearing from the tiredest girl in the world. I’ve been going like a whirlwind for the past two weeks, and all I can compare my activities with is mom when that d — housecleaning bug would bite her and she’d go off like a mad-woman for about a month. That’s exactly what I did, and I reminded me so much of mom I made my self homesick. It was a funny thing, the Day Room or Patient’s recreation room was dirty as it could be — after the winter’s fires the dust and soot on the walls was half an inch thick. I decided to calcemine the whole place with some kind of a cold water paint they have here, and started out very well. I found out that the place was a helluva lot bigger than it looked and that the ceilings were tremendous. I fought like the duce to get some men to work for me, but for some reason the Army always considers that Red Cross is a minor part of the post and should wait until every place else is finished before they get anything, but start doing something else as soon as they are finished with one job, so Red Cross never gets a thing. I’ve also learned that if you go through channels the way you are supposed to go, you never get anything done either. Had I asked legitimately for the paint, I’d have had to sign a dozen forms, and have to explain to the Utilities Officer, the Adjutant, the Exec. Officer and the C. O. what I wanted and then learn I’d have to wait about three months and then find out they didn’t think I was in the T. O. and therefore was ineligible. I also know that if the brainstorm was announced, every place on the post would get the same idea with the result there would be a run on paint, and they would be out of it before I had a chance to get a drop. Having learned by experience, I scrounged the paint (a trick I’ve also had to learn in the Army –) and then found out that only half the scrounging had been completed. I needed paint brushes, and they are priceless here — ladders, buckets and more men. Again Army red tape would make it impossible to get paint brushes, so I hopped on the first truck going into town and spent some red cross money on some brushes. The pails I begged and stole, and some we improvised from tin cans from the mess hall. Ladders we snatched from every place, but you have no idea how hard they were to track down. Unit Supply gave them to the Mess Hall. Mess gave one to the Nurses barracks, and one to the electrician. They in turn had given them to someone else, and so on, I finally got them however, and then the job of getting the stuff on the walls started. The men thought it was a foolish idea. It meant disrupting the quiet of the Day room, and moving furniture and covering floors so the paint wouldn’t get on them and so on. They beefed and stewed, and wouldn’t get at it. And I nagged as only mom could to get them to work for me. I screamed at the first Sergeant like a fish wife when he took the detail away from me. Some new men had come on the Post and had nothing to do, and I told the Detachment Commander what I thought of an Army that wasted man-power like that when there was a job like mine to complete. I shamed him into giving me four men besides the two I had, and I hung around like a wet hen all the time they worked so they would do it correctly. It was funny, too, after they got started they enjoyed doing it, and did it in a hurry. I was so mad at myself I hated me, but the job had to be done because I couldn’t stand the dirt. It meant brushing all the walls with scrub brushes and brooms before going to work on them with the paint, and all the wires and pipes had to be dusted before they could be painted over. We have pictures on the walls that are pasted up and I knew if the EM got at them they’d smother them with paint, so that’s what I did with a tiny brush — went all around the pictures and painted a big square around them so the men could do the sloppy job they knew how to do. It was a big order but it was worth it because the place really looks swell. That wasn’t the end of my brain storm however, we’ve had a distinct lull in patient population so it hasn’t been necessary for me to make regular ward rounds. I took advantage of the lull to fix up the day room, and ordered 175 yards of material from headquarters to make drapes and chair covers. We have thirty two windows in the building, and two more in my office that needed the drapes. I decided I’d have to do them when I found out the Limeys wouldn’t think of starting such a job until after they’d all had their “holidays” which would take us into June some time, and that wouldn’t get us on with this job ’til after the invasion, and then what good would our room be? So first of all I tried to get a damn sewing machine down to our place so I could do all the work there and get it over with. There are three machines on the post, and they usually are available as they lie idle all the time. When I wanted to borrow one, what do you think? All three were being used full blast and day and night and so on and bandages and surgical dressings are more important than Red Cross and drapes and what did I expect? So I hopped the first truck going to town, and began to track down a machine. I went to the Singer shop in town — yerse, they have them here too — but they laughed heartily when I asked to rent one. Seems there haven’t been any to rent since the first London raid. Of course they had no idea where I’d get one. I went to some of the other stores in town, but they had none. I knew there must be some in the town that were lying idle and I just hot-footed it around until I thought of the WVS which is the Women’s Volunteer Service, and I walked into their canteen to inquire. They sent me to their headquarters and there I saw pile on pile of clothing ready for a major disaster, and all of it labeled American Red Cross and what could they do for me in my little RC uniform but get me a sewing machine? They got hold of some woman who knew some woman, and finally I got into a house where they had two machines! One was a dream one that you work by turning a crank on the wheel and the other an ordinary treadle. I loathed Sal with my lovely little job. I said I was sorry about the handle job because I only had two hands and used both of them for guiding material under the needle when I sewed, and couldn’t see how I could turn the handle. She was visibly disappointed because I think she thought she’d palm it off on me. She reluctantly parted with her “personal treasure” that was similar to the one Sal has that is some 50 years old and I brought it back for one week only. I’ve had to guard it with my life, but it is doing a wonderful job. Wilma is cute, she just goes along with me during these waves, and helps finish up the messes I start. We finished the drapes all right, all 32 with their 16 valences, and she hung them. She is a good worker but would never initiate anything. The men were funny on that deal too. When they saw me at the sewing machine, they invariably compared me with their mother, and got homesick! I laughed when I saw how many of them clustered around me as I sewed away, and I really think they just liked to watch us because it reminded them of home! They were delighted with the new drapes in the room and were loud in their praise and admiration. One of them said nothing, because I wouldn’t dare ask him to do anything to help because it might be sissy but before I knew it he had the scissors in his hand, and was measuring and cutting just as cute as can be. I never let on I thought it strange because he was a god-send, and if I said one word he’d have quit, I’m sure. I had to pretend it was as natural as could be, and that I wasn’t the least bit worried about his wrecking or wasting the material. He did a fine job, and I thought of Mr. Trainor — when he said some woman he knew always complained that her husband was no help about the house, and the one time Mr. T. saw the husband trying to help she complained and nagged so, the poor guy was driven out. It resulted this time in my getting all the things cut out and cut out correctly, so I didn’t mind. The material is a rough woven stuff, something like the peasant cloths mom has on the table in the front rooms but much heavier. It is light tan with a lot of orange and brown and white and black in it. Rather nice looking. Now I have to get at making the slip covers for the chairs, but I doubt I can do them as easily. We shall see. The job has eaten into almost every evening, and when I’ve returned to the barracks I’ve been too tired to even try to accomplish anything. In between I’ve tried to do some social work, and I was thinking of it one day when I walked out for a few moments to see a high ranking officer, a patient who is alcoholic and who is in the stage of Self pity that is so bad for alcoholics, and who needed someone to talk to but to reason with him too, wouldn’t Fr. Barton and O’Connell and McCormick die if they could see Donnellan the seamstress convert for a few moments to Donnellan the s.w.? It is amazing the type person you have to be to do a good job here.
Now that I’ve explained all that too youuuu — when we get it all finished we’ll have pictures taken to send you — I’ll give you some idea of other things that are happening. I’ve received your letters and am indeed thankful altho I haven’t been faithful in my correspondence. I’ve heard from Sal and Mary and Mom and John and Denny and want to thank you all. I enjoyed the descriptions of mother’s day at mom’s and could well imagine what a madhouse that joint was with the kids and the kin. I can’t understand why she didn’t receive my posies in time for the Day because I sent them early enough. I hope they finally arrived, and that they were worth the bother. I’d love to see the twins, the pictures I’ve received of them are darling. I wish mom would buy a little dress and suit for them out of my money — a dress like the ones Judy used to wear with the tiny short skirt and the little belt that tied in the back — something like the blue job she had that was so cute — member it had kind of a gored skirt and a white collar with red on it? I think Dina would be darling in something like that. Get it so they’ll have it for their birthday which should be in about six weeks, isn’t it? For Sal, Bill Hugill hasn’t secured definite information about your friend, but from what he can find out the “chances that he is o.k. are good. He probably pulled a Mahuirn or so they say at his station. When I get more definite information I’ll let you know.” A Mahuirn, I understand, is something that a Pilot by that name pulled when he escaped from a German camp and turned up safely here in ETO. What the connection is I don’t know, but I think Bill knows more than he can give me on the phone or in a letter. As he sez, I’ll let you know more when I do. But tell the folks he is all right as far as I can find out. I got the pictures Mary sent, but was dissatisfied. I would like some that show Judy as a cute kid, not a bud-rud-a-tud. and Melly as a sweet lovely child as you describe her instead of a fud-o-e-lud (sic). And when you take any in the back yard, fergoodasakes take them so the El is NOT in the background. I hate displaying such pictures. I find I know little of the backgrounds of the people I live with, but can gather a lot from the nature of the houses in front of which their folks are standing — what do you think it looks like when you have the garbage can or the el behind youse guys. I got the packages — oh, it was wonderful to come home tired from my hard day at the office and find a big fat package on the bunk! The things from Sal were swell — the cookies were as fresh as could be, and the gals call them “the ones from the corner baker” because they are so good — and the cheese and sonn (?) really hit the spot. The doll was cute, and the things from mom were most appreciated. I ain’t fond of the purse but guess it will have to do. It just doesn’t go with a uniform. I’d suggest when you buy anything form me from Fields or any stores, you just tell them what you want and let them mail them because their regulations are not as bad as your mail ones, and they have the boxes — which you haven’t by the nature of the ones you’ve had to send me. By the way, will mom call Field’s Personal Shopping Bureau and ask them what happened to my shoes? I’ve never heard, and golly, I’m really desperate for them. Louise left us this week. She wanted a transfer because she kinda thought we’d be here for the duration and wanted to see some action, she finally got the transfer and is now with an Evacuation hospital and is ready to go over at a moment’s notice. I’ll miss her, but she wanted to go, and if that’s what she wanted it is o.k. Shirley Stevens is taking on her work, and she’s a cute kid. I like Shirley too and we seem to get along together. I’m not certain what I want to do. I could get transferred out, but I know what I have here, and could get some place that is worse. I think Wilma will stick it out here, because she has a yen for one of our Sergeants, and is happy to just look at him. And Shirley is engaged to marry a doctor and will probably do so in June some time. About me — men may come, and they do, and men may go — and they do — but I go on forever. A friend of LaVern’s looked me up the other day. He had been at Ft. Knox with her. I had just had the set to with the Englishman who brought me the roller skates — I think I told you that in my last letter — I had commented that making ward rounds was wearing, and I needed roller skates to get around the great distances, and within a week he turned up with roller skates for me, thinking I really meant it. I was standing behind my desk trying on the skates when this Lt. friend of LaVern’s came in and introduced himself. I shook hands with him, and then said, “Just a minute until I can get off these skates.” He told me later that when he walked in and saw me he thought I was a giant and a skinny one at that. I’ll bet he thought I was a fine social worker, standing in my huffice (sic) on skates! I’m running out of things to write about, but the minute I quit I’ll think of hundreds of things I wanted to say. How is Aunty Maggie? What does she give as the reason her relatives won’t be bothered with me? They can go _______. (sic) I had a letter from Margie and learned that their nephew is more advanced than Melly. How’s come. I also had a letter from Harold and shall answer it here and now — yerse send the fatigues down to me, but forget the field jacket, I’ve found out I can’t get a combat one, so I bought a regular field jacket. How much are they? Let me know and I’ll send you the money. And thanks for getting them for me. I doubt I’ll get to go any place for some time. We can’t leave the post for any reason and the restriction is indefinite. That’s why a full evening to sit and write letters.
We washed out blankets tonight, Shirley stuck them into the washing machine, but neither of us had ever used one before and we were dead tired when we finished. I don’t know who said a washing machine was a labor saver — I labored over it tonight with a vengeance, and nearly killed myself. I hope I never have to do a laundry. By the way, thanks for the fingernail polish. If you can ever get any more, I can use it. And I was surprised you remembered the mascara. My beauty is ruint without it.
I’ll quit now — thanks for the words to B. the B. Denny.
Glad John liked the Stamps. How was the trip? Did M. have to pay customs on the wool? Let me know so I’ll know how to send things in the future. How about the pins, did Sal and Nay get them? I’ll send something to Margie some one of these days. In the mean time, I’ll quit —-
Thanks again for everything — and ohhhhhhhhhh I can’t wait for the
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Elizabeth refers to a cleaning agent called “calcimine.” Research turned up an alternate spelling, Kalsomine, both of which are used as product names, not brand names. Essentially, this is white wash, the sort of stuff Tom Sawyer used to paint the fence. Described as a white or tinted liquid made from slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) containing zinc oxide, water, glue, and coloring matter it was mainly used as a wash for exterior walls. It was mildly antibiotic and could be used inside where food was prepared such as a dairy.
She “fought like the duce to get some men to work for me” is an interesting colloquialism. The word is more commonly spelled “deuce” and is said to be a homonym of “Dickens” which doesn’t sound a bit like that to me. A deuce of cards or of dice, the number two, is a low number not particularly cherished by the player who might call it a devil, which is one definition of “the deuce.” However, the exact etymological origin seems to be somewhat obscure.
In the article previously noted from “In Town of Lake,” Elizabeth’s prowess at getting things done, “to cut through official red tape and get the assistance when it was needed” was a talent worth mentioning. In this letter we see it in practice and it will be seen repeatedly during her coming years of service.
She called the workers “EM,” meaning “enlisted men.” This is not the first time she was surprised to discover the men appreciated doing more ordinary tasks than fighting. During the Battle of the Bulge she locates men who knew how to sew in order to use that discipline in a hospital setting.
Stephen Ambrose in “Citizen Soldiers” described American ingenuity displayed in the hedgerows of France. Although the weapons, particularly tanks, were not designed to cut through or destroy the sturdy earthen structures, they overcame limitations which would have confounded other military organizations because the men used innovative tactics for which they were not specifically trained. The ability to step outside the chain of command when necessary, to improvise and make do, to scrounge parts and apply ideas to support the war effort overcame these handicaps. So, too, did Elizabeth scrounge and raid supply dumps without actually asking for permission or requisitioning the material.
“He probably pulled a Mahuirn,” is one of many persons Elizabeth mentions in her letters who were then in common parlance, at least to her. Colonel Walker “Bud” Melville Mahurin (December 5, 1918 – May 11, 2010) flew a P-47 and became the first American pilot credited with ten enemy kills. On March 27, 1944, he bailed out of his damaged plane and was picked up by the French Resistance. The fact he made it back to fight again is probably what she was referring to here. See the next letter and her own evaluation of his exploit.
Calling Judy, “not a bud-rud-a-tud” is a possible reference to the childhood nursery rhyme, “Rub-a-dub-dub. Three men in a tub.” Elizabeth describes, “Melly as a sweet lovely child . . . instead of a fud-o-e-lud.” I have absolutely no bloody idea what that might refer to or mean.
This is the Elizabeth I knew before she became ill, working at an electric sewing machine off the master bedroom in our house on Rockledge in Riverside. She taught me how to thread a needle, but I never mastered her technique of tying a knot at the end by wrapping the thread around a finger and rolling it off. According to this letter, there were two types of sewing machines available in Europe: hand crank and treadle. She had the ability to make her own clothing, draperies, table clothes and on several occasions costumes for every child invited to our birthday parties. The Superman costumes were a particular hit.
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(NOTE: Handwritten on both sides on small sized paper, 6.5” tall X 5” wide, with letterhead: Claridge’s Brook Street, W.1.)
May 28, 44
Bill called & said Jess (?) bailed out — was seen by other crews — was picked up — they think they saw him being picked up — & are expecting him to walk into (NOTE: handwritten script appears to be three capital letters LTB?) any day now. Look up Mahuirn & see what he did. Bill says at least they’re pretty sure he’s safe altho no one has heard from him yet. I think the info. is as accurate as you can get and will has been correct on all info. he’s given me up to this date — I had the wrong dope on Mahuirn I think — doubt he was a prisoner — just think he bailed out & was saved by a Channel crew or something. You can be pretty sure he has a 75% chance.
Hope this helps.
* * *
June 9, 1944
There is so much to tell you and yet so little I can put into a letter, that it gets practically impossible to write at times. I suppose you were all as excited as we were when D-Day arrived. We had just mere suspicions of what was going on but of course we’ve been geared to meet it for so long that we had no specific indication of when it would be. I’d love to tell you what you can see from where we sit, what movements went on, what precision the army prepared with, all the ground work that was laid as I saw it over here, but I can’t. Wait until we all get back home and can really have chin fests. I know I have seen nothing compared with what the assault troops and other hospital units have seen, but we did witness the ground work. You would be amazed at the way roads were cleared to get our heavy equipment to the sea. Winding lanes are wide highways now, and it happened quickly and silently. Boats, boats, boats — like Kipling’s Boots, Boots, Boots — were on hand as silent threats of what was about to happen. It is amazing what went on. And the boys who are in there swinging now were all members of units I came to know and admire. Not a sissy in the crowd. Crack troops who were waiting impatiently to “hit the Channel” — lucky fellows! How I’d love to have been in there with them! Louise probably is, but I thought there would be a lot to do here and decided I’d chance it with this outfit and stayed here. We have been anticipating casualties for months now, and are ready to get in there swinging when they come in, but I pray that we won’t see them. The longer we wait the more certain we are that we are not seeing the slaughter we all feared when the Coast was invaded. It must be rugged as h— for the men, but it can’t be as bad as we feared because it is easy here. We are tense and anxious but no unit is more prepared than we are to take care of the situation when it is necessary. So far, it is wonderful to know the invasion is a few days old and that it is going along with less blood shed than we expected. Where were you when the announcement was made? It came thru at about 8 a.m. here, and then Eisenhower talked at about 10 a.m. But it must have been the middle of the night for most of you. We had been watching the weather for a few days because rumors were rife — altho I don’t think a soul down here had any idea when it would be. The units around us did, and we had a lot of men in the hospital who were “briefed” — that is knew when and where their units were going and they were not allowed to talk to anyone. Believe me that was tough. Our ward men who attend those patients were also “briefed” as were the nurses on those wards. That meant they could not go in or out of the wards and could not talk to anyone without a guard on hand. The men who were not awfully sick were beside themselves what with the excitement of the knowledge they possessed and with the monotony of the existence on a closed ward. We were not allowed to talk with them altho I could go in to see them if they asked for me. There was nothing to see them about and we tore or hair trying to think of ways and means of entertaining them without talking to them or without going on their wards. We were successful in that we got a roulette wheel and taught someone how to play it — that occupied some of them. Then we popped corn one night and took some over to get them started and I gave them the can you sent me and a pan and heater and let them go to it themselves. That kept some of them busy and every American, no matter how old he is or how tough, likes pop corn. We wheeled the book cart up with everything in the world on it so we could pass it through the doors and let them select their own books and magazines — gave them bags of hot chocolate that they could mix up themselves — they like to believe they are good cooks, I’ve learned, and most of them enjoy puttering over a stove, even if it is the ward stove. We sent in stuff that could be made into birthday gifts for anyone with birthdays in May or June — what a time we had! That remote control stuff was really tough. But what a day it was when we could go in and talk with them and run parties or help with allotments and so on — after the announcement had been made and the briefing was no longer a secret. But I think I’ll always remember the stoical silence of those lads — most of them just kids — and the way in which they guarded their secrets. I think our ward men were just as loyal — not a single one of them questioned their job and they were proud of having been selected to help out. It was quite an experience sitting on the outside looking in, as I have been doing.
Now that it has started, it will probably be a matter of a few months, I hope. I don’t know what will happen to us, but I’d like it very much to have our unit moved onto the continent — say into Cherbourg — wouldn’t that be wonderful? I can dream, can’t I? I just hope I don’t have to sit in England for the duration. Yesterday I had an unexpected inspection. A Lt. Col. from General Hawley’s office came down, and our C. O. always brings people in to see our place, especially now that we’ve painted and cleaned and made drapes for the place. Anyhow, this Lt. Col. was interested in our stock of supplies — toilet articles, especially saying that when the men do come in here, they will be without a thing to their names only what they have on their back, and we shall have to be equipped to see that their comforts are cared for. I took him in, at my C. O’s instruction, and opened our supply cabinet for him to show him what type equipment we had on hand. When I opened the cupboard, there was a huge can of U. S. Army boned chicken — stickin (sic) out smack in my nose! I swear I never saw it before, and have no idea where it came from, but it is definitely something swiped from the Patient’s Mess as it is for special diets — but imagine my embarrassment when the Lt. Col. said sweetly, “Hmmm — is Red Cross serving a can of boned chicken to each patient in the 316th?” I couldn’t say anything because there it was. All I said was, “Hm, hm, imagine that! You never know what you will find in here these days.” Our C. O. ignored it all completely, I don’t know if he just didn’t get it, or if he was pretending to ignore it to save me embarrassment. I learned later the can belonged to a friend of Wilma’s who asked her to put it away for him. That night I went to a hotel in town for an evening of dancing and there was the Lt. Col. happy and gay and telling everyone that he was going to the 316th where they had chicken for every bed. Just like Hoover. I don’t think I’ll ever live it down. The kids here think it’s a riot. I dunno.
I received a letter from Nay today, and a note from mom on it. Glad you got the flowers and the pictures and so on. I’ve told you about the doll and the stuff, the movie film and the nylons are so priceless even the censors won’t pass them, at least I haven’t seen them yet. I’m dying to run my hand through those Nylons. Sounds too good to be true. About the robe and p.j. set, I think I could use whatever you happen to find. I need something nice, every once in a while the gals get gay and raise their morale by dragging out some nice lingerie or perfume and wearing it for a night — I could do with something like that for myself. A nice rayon set should be lovely. I don’t know who the Burns friend could be only the kid from 55th and Halsted who I met while in the Westminster Abbey. He was a merchant marine who got home quite frequently. There was another kid here, but I don’t remember his name, he was an M. P. stationed nearby and had been with the Englewood Police force prior to induction. He knew John Ellis and Dillenburg and thought he knew Steve. Seems his name was Miller — he had a crushed nose like he ran into a brick wall — but he is a bit of a hero here, captured 6 German enlisted men and two officers who had escaped from a crashed airplane nearby — long time ago. More details when I get home. I’m again restricted, we got out once, last night, but from here on in we remain on the Post. I don’t mind because there is a lot to do here. We can go on the golf course so I’ve been brushing up on my game. I’m not too bad. Wish you’d send the pictures you took on Mother’s day, I’m dying to see them. Received a V-mail from Steve and got a kick out of it. I’m awfully glad that Steve and Denny are in the States and not on a beachhead. I think of that daily. Did mom get her rosary? Glad Nay liked the pin. It should open. Must have been crushed in the mail. Sent one to Margie too. Goodbye — I’ll try to write mom — some of my letters must have been lost — I’ve written a lot.
* * *
This letter, written three days after D-Day, contains an amazing amount of information with regard to how a hospital ward was run on the eve of the Invasion of Normandy. A first person account of the silence of soldiers who had been given the secret of the actual date of the invasion is to comment on the enormity of that information. The fighting, we now know, was brutal and deadly and the Allied Army suffered catastrophic losses, but gained the high ground by the end of the day. Elizabeth was still in a relatively calm environment which was merely before the storm. That she anticipated the war lasting only a few months was not naiveté or wishful thinking, but what everyone involved anticipated.
Ray LaLone described his father Harold’s concerns at this time. “One incident, which I can’t verify, was Dad monitoring a phone call between D.C. (I think he said from Marshall) when Hap Arnold was told to ‘go out and break the backs’ of the Germans. Whatever the exact context, Dad said he wouldn’t allow himself to sleep that night for fear of talking in his sleep and giving away the mission. I would guess that he was watched by German intel. since he had such a high clearance position, but he never said so. Would make for good fiction.”
Elizabeth’s letter references “Infantry Columns” by Rudyard Kipling:
We’re foot-slog-slog-slog-sloggin’ over Africa –
Foot-foot-foot-foot-sloggin’ over Africa –
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up an’ down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!
Seven-six-eleven-five-nine-an’-twenty mile to-day –
Four-eleven-seventeen-thirty-two the day before –
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up an’ down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!
A surprising fact in her letter appears to be that Roulette was unknown to Americans at the time.
Elizabeth’s embarrassment at the revelation of a can of boned chicken where it should not be is priceless.
Herbert Hoover was the 31st President of the United States and Elizabeth’s comment, “Just like Hoover,” refers to a 1928 campaign promise he supposedly made: “A chicken in every pot.” However, he never said that. He did state that the Republican party was enjoying a period of prosperity and, “The poorhouse is vanishing from among us.”
If Elizabeth visited Westminster Abbey, one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in London, she does not mention it in any other letter in my possession. The church is a “Royal Peculiar” which means it is exempt from or outside the jurisdiction of the diocese in which it lies and subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch.
* * *
(Hand written on small size American Red Cross stationery.)
June 12, 1944
Received a note from Bill & am sending you the contents. He was misinformed the first time — I’m terribly sorry if I’ve aroused hopes. Latest says Jesse got it right in the middle as he was taking a pass at an airfield. One pass was all he attempted but that was one too many. No hope. Sorry. Unquote.
Sorry too — just wish there was more specific info, but this time its completely accurate.
I’ll write again soon.
* * *
(Handwritten on small Red Cross stationery measuring 8.5 inches tall, 5.5 wide, about half page size identified as Form 539 A)
June 24, 1944
Dear Sal etc:
This is to be short & sweet, mainly to let you know I’m still alive. I wrote mom yesterday & because I have no typewriter or carbon handy I have to drop individual notes. I have suddenly been called back to London Headquarters for reassignment. They were planning to send me with the 7th Convalescent Evacuation Hospital which is scheduled to go to France when there is room enuff (sic) for us over there — so I had to rush down to London bag & baggage. Believe me that’s a job! Had to discard all my civilians tho’ & Wilma is going to send them home for me. Must get rid of my foot locker and hand bag too, can only have a bedding roll and a barracks bag this trip. The rush rush gave me a cold — the first one I’ve had since coming here in September, and I ended up with a bad sore throat. I went to R. C. clinic while waiting for a taxi Wednesday, thinking I’d have them swab my throat — & they sent me to a hospital! I’m in London in a nice place — was an orphan’s home and have a lovely room to myself. They’re awfully nice to me and treat me swell. I’ve been fed sulfa-thyosol or whatever since yesterday & gargled with salt water all the time. Had a temp. for the first time in years but it’s gone down today. Have to drink 3,000 cc of water per day & keep track of it on the way in & out. Helluva job! But today I feel swell.
I hope to be out of here by Monday when I can join my unit. The hospital is larger than the 316th & has 5 R.C. gals besides me. I’m still boss! One gal is fat & blonde & old as hell — I fear trouble with her, believe me! But I’ll try to get along. Was a gym teacher too, durn her! Now is a recreation worker & I know she’ll defy me to prove I know more than she does! Do you know any Wilcox down there? Originally of Joliet? Dr. Wilcox, who has umpteen relatives in Morris! Lt. Bert Wilcox is B. Hugill’s best friend & is a good kid. Sez he thinks he’s heard of Greers. Has a sister married to Judge Haye’s son or some setch (sic) thing. — about my hospital — I hear they hev (sic) no nurses! All men and 6 Red Crosses. Migawd! — Hope I feel well enough to make it. I’ll write mom today — Harold gave me her picture (one with Melly) and gave up the miniatures. No address yet.
* * *
Before penicillin, sulfa drugs were the only effective systemic antibacterial drugs. During World War II, first aid kits included sulfa pills and powder. Soldiers were told to sprinkle the powder on any open wound. But until Congress passed a set of laws in 1938 giving the Federal Drug Administration oversight, there were no regulations or testing requirements. I was unable to determine which specific drug Elizabeth had so much faith in because “sulfa-thyosol” did not appear with that spelling in an on-line search.
* * *
(Xerox copy. Handwritten, appears to be plain paper, no header)
July 5, 1944
Received mail tonite for the first time in weeks — because of my transfer — and learned a little bit of what’s happening at home. Hope Mary and the baby are all right. Bet Sal has her hands full with the two kids. Both Nays & Sals letters indicated you were worried ‘cause you hadn’t heard from me. I know I’ve written quite frequently. You know now I was stationed in the Restricted Area & that mail was with held there — Dick & Bill both had trouble with mine here in U. K. Sometimes my letters were delayed a month. I guess that’s what happened. Harold was not in the area & therefore had no trouble getting thru. Your mail however, came thru quickly. Now that I’m in another Marshalling Area you’ll have trouble again. So relax — I’ll let (lost line at bottom of paper) would notify you in a few days. I’ll try to write weekly tho’ so you’ll have the news. I’m with the 3rd Army & we’re protected. My outfit is predominantly Jewish & Chicagoans. E.M. & Officers alike. But they are awfully good to us. One of the girls is terribly wealthy & a volunteer! Over here to do a job for nothing! How about that? Methinks shes a (indecipherable: jud -e-weed) too. Very nice kid tho.
Be sure you buy something for Mary’s Kid — get something he needs & hang the expense. I’ll write a long carbon letter as soon as I get me mits on a typewriter. In the interim tell Steve & Denny & Sal I’m ok — & John too — & tell them I’ll write as soon as I catch up with myself. I’m not busy. Just doing daily little things. Enclosed from Marge Fredericks — How’s come? I dunno. I’ll write soon. I feel swell. So don’t worry. They take wonderful care of you over here.
* * *
This is the first mention of Elizabeth meeting Nadine Sachs with whom she will share most of the next year’s worth of adventures. Nadine was the daughter of Arthur and Alice Sachs; her father was the son of Samuel and Louisa Goldman Sachs.
From Time Magazine, Aug. 5, 1929: Founders Harry Sachs and Samuel Sachs sometimes visit the offices, are more frequently engaged in trips to Europe and other distant localities. Sons Walter, Arthur and Howard Sachs are partners. Walter Sachs lives at Darien, Conn. Arthur Sachs specializes in foreign exchange.
Elizabeth has not crossed the Channel yet, but that is imminent. Being “in another Marshalling Area” suggests an embarkation point where materials and supplies are prepared for departure.
In response to my inquiries, Nadine’s daughter Nadine Zimet sent me the names of a few of her mother’s friends. “I found an item at my mom’s listing the names of the other 3 in their ARC group: Dorothy E. Maquire from NYC, Edith Marshall from Houston, Winona Sumter from Oklahoma. She became Winnie Cole. I don’t have any more infor. Hope that helps.”
I wrote asking if MAGUIRE is what it should read. A “G” instead of a “Q.” I received no response to that question.
* * *
(American Red Cross stationery — Form 2247)
July 6, 1944
Dear Folks: I know it has been a long time since I wrote most of you, but I’ve tried to keep mom posted as to what was happening. I know too that lots of mail from the channel area was withheld for days during preparations for the invasion, so you probably didn’t get my mail as you should. I think the last letter I wrote for a round robin was a day or so after the invasion. On the week-end of the 15th I went to London to talk with people at headquarters about the turn of events at our place. It seems we had been selected to handle the Schwartz and Knaupfs of the occasion, and I didn’t see exactly what I could do about them inasmuch as I was there to help the American Soldier. While I was in London Bill called me, and said he had a chance to go to the Derby and wanted to know if I could come along as long as I was so near. I thought that would be a good idea and I trotted off one day to meet him near his air field. I was reading a book, and rode past my station. In fact I rode 46 miles past it. It was too late then to go to the races, and I had held everyone up that wanted to go. I couldn’t get back to his place because of train connections until later that afternoon, which I did, but it had spoiled the party. That night I stayed on his post as they have a Red Cross Aero Club there, and the girls and Field director were swell to me. They gave me a lovely room and a key to the house to do as I pleased. The party was wonderful — typical Air Corps style. Great corsages for the girls and plenty to eat and drink. They had English girls that the C. O. had personally invited from the surrounding countryside. It was exciting because lots of the men had gone on operationals (sic) that evening, and I had seen them take off. I don’t know where they went of course, or what they did, but it was a thrill to see them go and another to see them return — even tho’ there were a few missing. Some day I’ll explain that particular sight to you. Well, I left the post on Sunday, but had telephoned Hdqs. to tell them where I was, and when I did, they told me they wanted me to report back to London on Tuesday with all my belongings as I was being reassigned. The story at the time was that I was headed over the channel. You can imagine what a job it was to rush back to camp and pack all the many things I’ve had with me and get cutting. I had to send home all my civilian clothes because I didn’t have room to carry them, as we had to discard our foot-lockers. I didn’t have time to pack them for mailing but Wilma said she’d do it for me. I had to stay up ‘til the wee small hours doing it, though, and had to rush around the post saying goodbye to people. I made the Tuesday morning train and was in London that afternoon. I’d been reassigned to a new form of Hospital called convalescent work, wherein supposedly men from the Fronts who are not badly wounded or ill are given a period of convalescence and then returned immediately to their own outfits. The theory is that they don’t want to lose too many men from combat outfits to hospitals. If they are able to return to duty within a short period of time, it is much more valuable to the army. These hospitals are staffed by men only and do not have any nurses as the patients are not supposed to need medical bedside care. Lots of them will be ambulatory though, and they will need active recreation programs and lots of them will have been through some rigid deals and will need case work. We are to handle lots of war neurosis cases too, as the new treatment is to send them back to duty as soon as they have relaxed. The idea is that of falling off a horse. If you’re scared and don’t go back, you will always be scared, but if you get right back up and go on, you overcome the fear. It should be an interesting deal.
Well, I got to London all right and learned I’d been assigned to the 3rd Army, and had a unit of five girls instead of the usual three or four. There were hundreds of things I had to do before leaving, though, as they were giving us new uniforms and all kinds of battle dress and so on. I did some of it on Tuesday afternoon, and lolled around Wednesday morning thinking I’d take a rest as I didn’t have to go out until Friday. I had the beginning of a cold and it seemed to be in my throat, but on Wednesday afternoon it was worse. I was at Hdqs. getting some information when I thought I’d stop in at the Clinic to have my throat swabbed. They looked at it and took my temp. and told me I had to go to the hospital!! That floored me, but there wasn’t anything I could do but go. So Wednesday night I found myself in an American Hospital in the heart of London. I wasn’t awfully sick, but they filled me with pills and sulfa until I became sick and I remained in there a full week. In the mean time the girls in my outfit had moved out and they kept my assignment for me. When I got out I headed for the outfit, and I’ve been here about a week. They seem very nice. It is a medical unit that has been here about 5 months and has not done anything yet. They haven’t seen an American girl in that time, so they’ve been extra special to us. The E. M. are delighted and the officers are so gentlemanly it is unbelievable. They are originally from Camp Ellis Illinois, and are all familiar with Chicago. Many of them are from Chicago. Our Exe. Officer is from 53 and Hyde Park. They have been super to me, trying to make us comfortable and it looks as tho they are sincere. One of the gals with me is a volunteer — very wealthy and offered to do this job for nothing! Another is a former Physical Ed. teacher and is husky like a beer-barrel. She would remind you of Myrt Schweitzer but is more rough and ready. I have no idea how old she is, but guess she’s over 35. The other three are my age and are just average gals. I think we’ll have fun together. Since being with the outfit, we’ve done nothing but get settled. On the 4th of July we went over to a nearby hospital that is ETO’s rehabilitation center for hospitalized e.m. and is quite interesting. Most of the men there have been ill or wounded or injured, and are not yet ready for active duty. They’re not sick either, so they are given a very rigorous training program to get them ready for duty. Most of the staff are Physical Ed. instructors from the States or have been professional athletes. They have a remarkable baseball team and on the 4th as the climax of the day’s recreation for the men, they had a wonderful softball game for them. They played our men, and we happen to have a wonderful team! We have a Sgt. who was a Texas Leaguer and the whole team is built around him as he happens to be a wonderful pitcher. Our men have played the Rehabs three times and lost once. We’ve never lost any other game. They asked us to accompany them that night, and they provided separate transportation for us. We all wore our new uniforms, which are called “Battledress” and include a nice snug jacket like the jacket to a ski suit, and well-fitted slacks all made of what is called Air Force blue material. We have cute peaked caps like you see volunteers wearing to wear with them. Five of us looked rather well in the jobs and as the place was mobbed with e.m. and their English friends, we made quite an impression. It turned out to be a grudge game just like when we played St. Adrienne’s in CYO. We lost 2-1 on an error when our short stop dropped a single and two runs scored. But we rooted so loud we were hoarse. The next day we went over to see the R.C. gals there to see what they were doing as regards work because we wanted some idea of what we were expected to do in our next job. And believe it or not altho there are more than 3,000 patients there, patients and detachment personnel recognized us — even in our Class A uniforms — and razzed us plenty. It was fun tho’ and it looks as tho’ we shall have more fun rooting for our fellows in the future.
I saw Harold while I was in London and I talked with him frequently while I was in the hospital. He looks fine and is very pleased about his new daughter. He had had word within the day after it was born you know and that made him happy. I hope everything is o.k. and they are getting along well. I’ve finally received Sal’s and Mary’s letters, and one from Denny you see in all my moving around the mail has been held up for me. I am glad Denny is having fun — sounds like a perpetual merry-go-round for him. Hope it continues. War is Hell isn’t it? But honestly, the more I see of MAC’s the more convinced I am that you don’t have to know anything to get that job. Some of the ones here murder the English language and I don’t think they know it. Mary asked if I’d received my shoes. I’ve never heard a word from Field’s on them, and I’d greatly appreciate it if you would telephone the Personal Shopping Bureau and ask them what is happening. I would like to write them a nasty letter but thought I’d wait and see what you learn in your new attempts to find out where they are. Glad to hear Sal and everyone are fine. Sounds like the old farm is still the spot to have a good time in. From the looks of things maybe we’ll have a Labor Day party there next year — all present and accounted for. Judy should be the possessor of the bird-dog at this point — Wilma’s father breeds them and he said he’d send her one of his best from the last litter. I hope it is cute and that Bernard likes it. Tell Judy to take care of herself so I can see what she looks like in her next picture. Every time I get a letter I open it hopefully as I expect to find some snaps in it of good things. But thus far no soap. Larry tried to explain the presence of the L structure in the pictures but no explanation is adequate — take the pictures facing 59th Place — that looks all right. Harold was generous and gave me the picture of mom holding Melly — both look very well, and I’m glad to have it cause it is the best picture of mom I’ve seen. Whatever happened to the miniatures? Pipe dream?
No word from Steve, but I guess he is still rolling around in Florida. John is still roughing it, isn’t he? Or has his wandering family returned to the fold? Bet he missed those kids! Had a letter from Winnie and a note from Marge Fredericks (Sr. Ancelle) in the last month.
I’m looking forward to Sal’s package and the one Nay sent. In the mean time I don’t think I can bother you for a while at least until we’re set up elsewhere. I’ll keep you posted as to what is happening — and I do write mom frequently. I think however, that mail will be much more regular in the futures. I couldn’t hold up the Invasion, you know.
* * *
Elizabeth is now with the 7th Convalescent Evacuation Hospital assigned to the Third Army which spearheaded the Battle of Normandy, code named Operation Overlord. D-Day was code named Operation Neptune.
Elizabeth is writing one month after the invasion and she is going across the Channel soon, but not as a nurse. She was needed for skills other than nursing and here we have the then current belief in the world of war of a “new form of Hospital called convalescent work.”
Today we know the illness as traumatic stress disorder which did not exist when Elizabeth was writing. In World War 1 they coined the term shell shock. By WW II the vague description was “combat stress reaction.” Here Elizabeth calls it “war neurosis” which you may think could be attributable to Freud, but was actually first described by Dr. William Cullen in 1769. He used neurosis to describe “disorders of sense and motion” caused by a “general affection of the nervous system.” In war, of course, there are valid origins for such “general affection.” Today, the idea that the condition could be overcome merely by getting back on the bicycle is considered patently absurd.
This is the second mention of Nadine Sachs who most assuredly is the wealthy girl volunteering her work for the war effort. Here there may be five or six women in Elizabeth’s unit, but in a later letter she describes herself as one of five girls. Including herself, they others are Nadine Sachs, Dorothy E. Maguire, Edith Marshall and Winona Sumter. Elizabeth will spend the next year with them and get to know and comment upon them as they enter Europe and war becomes all too real.
Baseball, especially as played by the Chicago White Sox, was an overarching obsession with many members of the Donnellan family, then and now.
Elizabeth writes she is receiving letters from her brother Dennis. Although he was out of boot camp by the time Elizabeth wrote this letter, here is his baseball reference as found in a letter from boot camp October, 1942:
“You might think I am Luke Applinging it but this is what happened. I wore a new pair of shoes last week on a hike and I have about ten blisters on my feet in various spots, to go with this I have a breaking out of athlete’s foot again, we have been doing calisthenics lately and those unused muscles are now aching, besides this we had two forced marches which are anything but soothing oils to your legs or backs and to top this off I have found a new layer of skin that hadn’t been burned and my face is peeling as much today as it did on about August 10th. Now to put the cap on all of this, we had a cold snap today and it affected me on my teeth, yes, I have had about three aching teeth today, none of which had a cavity. Luke Appling could bat almost 1000 with those ailments couldn’t he??”
This was by no means an obscure reference to any of the Donnellans. Dennis wrote in an unpublished memoir that in the summer of 1931 he and his friends would attend home games and work their way to the roof of Sox (Comisky) Park “to try and get one of Luke Appling’s foul balls.”
Lucius Benjamin Appling (April 2, 1907 – January 3, 1991) was an American shortstop in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Chicago White Sox (1930-1950). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.
Appling was famous among his teammates for complaining day in and day out about minor ailments such as a sore back, a weak shoulder, shin splints, or a sprained finger. While much of this complaining was probably for show, it earned him the moniker “Old Aches and Pains.” He did suffer one serious injury: a broken leg that cost him much of the 1938 season
Just so the reader does not believe I have made a transcription error, Elizabeth undoubtedly meant the man is 53 and from Hyde Park, but she actually did write: “Our Exe. Officer is from 53 and Hyde Park.”
Judy did receive the puppy and named it Wilma.
Harold’s second daughter Nancy LaLone was born July 19, 1944, so it appears the news did arrive quickly. The LaLone’s first child, Mary Ellen “Mellie,” was born April 6, 1943.
* * *
(Typed on small Red Cross stationery measuring 8.5 inches tall, 5.5 wide, about half page size identified as Form 539 A)
July 16, 1944
This is to be short and sweet ** I don’t have any light weight paper handy to write you on and have to use this stuff, which doesn’t fit well in the typewriter . . . but I thought I’d drop you a line to let you know I am fine and getting along well . . altho I’m still here. I went down to the 316th yesterday to get some things I left there . . . . it was a heck of a long ride . . . not as far as from Chicago to Dayton, but doing that trip in a Recon car was rugged. I was so stiff and sore all over when I got back I just sat and soaked in a tub for an hour. It was good to see all the people there I’d known before and they seemed genuinely glad to see me. They are terribly busy with casualties . . . Wilma had a stack of Purple Hearts on her desk that she was helping to wrap for the patients . . . and the pile was amazing. The morale in the outfit has gone sky high now that they are busy. They’ve taken more than one third of the staff away from them and sent them out on detached service, so they are handling this emergency with half the staff they should have. The Recreation room looked wonderful — I’ve visited a few others in ETO since leaving there, and I’d safely say that we had one of the nicest Red Cross buildings because we worked hard on it. I’m with the family I think I told you about. I’ve learned since that the man is rather well-to-do and earned his living making bobby-pins! Next time you wander into the dime store see if they have Kirbygrips there, made in England. They gave each of us a small gift package of them, and the box included some tiny gold pins which are indispensible, and difficult to get. Mr. Jackson has been to the States, and visited with the owner of the Hump Hairpin manufacturing Co. down on Indiana or Calument Ave. They’re really swell people and have given us the run of the house. The woman insists on us having warm drinks before going to bed, and always comes up with tea or coffee before we turn in. She’s really spoiling us. It ain’t like being in the army at all. I know it won’t last long so I’m enjoying it while I can. They’ve loaned me their movie camera, so I’ve taken some shots that should be good. I’ll finish the roll when I can and send it to you quick like. You should like it. I think the Army has a means of processing and censoring at the same time, so I’ll just ask them to send them on to you when they’re ready. I’ve read all of your letters about how hot it is there — I wore my winter coat on the 4th of July and was glad to have it! From the looks of things, I’ll be wearing it for some time. Of course, the local people assure us this is a most unusual summer, they’ve never had one so cold before! It has been difficult for the past ten days to get enough sunshine to get some good pictures!
How are all the kids? Haven’t had a good picture of Mary Ellen yet, only the one of her with mom, which is very cute. When you get a chance to get a picture of her and the new baby, I’d surely like one. And how’s about a current snap of the others? What did mom buy the new baby? And did you get the twins their birthday gifts? You never did tell me what you bought for Melly on her birthday. Hope you didn’t skimp on the price. I’ve gone over the PX lists here for gifts for you people for your birthdays, but have given it up in despair. I can always get feminine things in the PX but they are terribly G. I. and I don’t think any of you would like them. So I’ll have to turn the job over to mom and let her do the purchasing. I thought of Steve in June, and asked for something at the PX but by the time they found out I couldn’t get it it was too late to get anything else. Again, Mom, be sure you get him something. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye open for anything you might enjoy having. How about Sal: Did she ever receive the Kilt pin? And did Margaurite enjoy the material? I’ve almost given up trying to please everyone but I shall continue.
I’ll write more in detail when I get a chance. Nothing to worry about in the air yet. And Torquay was far away altho I could see the flares. London was bad, but the “South of England” was a myth.
(On the reverse side also typed:)
Not much to add . . . just thought I’d tell you that your weekly letters come through very quickly . . . if I don’t get any other mail I can be almost sure of a letter a week from you and that helps. I’m not doing anything, just sitting around taking basic training courses to fill in time. Don’t know how long that will last tho. It is still nice being here. How’s Bernard making out on the crops? The picnic by the creek sounded like fun. How are Socko and Ruth? Always laugh when I think of the chocolate bars. Durn! Just happened to think — I wanted to ask for some nail polish junk — oh well, I’ll write to Chen Yu directly and get the stuff. I think that will save everyone a lot of bother . . . nothing else I’ll need for a while. I’ll write and ask for the cookies which I am again in an Army setting, and will enjoy them more. Say hello to all for me.
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Chicago, Illinois, to Dayton, Ohio, is about 300 miles not as the crow flies but more as a dog leg. The trip would have taken about five hours by car.
This letter indicates they are still in England, but war casualties have become common in their hospital.
The British “kirby grip” is derived from the trademark Kirbigrip, used by a Birmingham manufacturer of such pins, Kirby, Beard & Co. Ltd.
Torquay was a major departure point for the American 4th Infantry Division attacking Utah Beach. The city was bombed several times during the war, but it is not known what the specific reference Elizabeth is making when she said she could see the flames.
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(Hand written, both sides of 6” X 8” paper.) July 20, 1944
Received your package yesterday and am indeed grateful for its contents. The deoderants (sic) are very welcome and the foods are veritable treasures. I was amazed at the films — more than I expected. I know they’re difficult to get, so appreciate your efforts. At the moment I’m in a private home so we have no call to use barracks facilities. But we’ve tucked away the crackers & cheese and will use them in our pup tents if the day ever comes that we’ll need them. They looked awfully good and we were tempted to dig in but we have a sneaking suspicion we’ll need them more later on. The package was very much intact & had been sent on down from the 316th.
Haven’t been doing much — went on a road march this morning — just a few miles — & horsed around on the way. Didn’t take it too seriously. For lack of something better to do, we went out on the Rifle range yesterday. Made 3 bulls-eyes out of 10 shots. Winnie Sumpter made 9 out of 10! Pistol packin’ Mama! Last night I saw a Shakesperean (sic) play at Stratford-Upon-Avon. Saw Richard the Second — a tragedy — which wasn’t too good. If we can ever get transportation going that way again we’ll try to see some of the comedies. However, the theatre is beautiful — quite modern — and the surrounding landscape lovely. River Avon is like the Kankakee or Illinois only much more traffic on it than on them. The costumes and scenery were lovely. Really was fun.
Bill Hugill flew down on Monday & stayed until Tuesday evening. Our billets provided a lovely room for him in the same house we were in so it was a pleasant visit. Monday nite we played golf — I’m lousy — & Tuesday we went on a bike ride — I rode 25 miles! Nearly collapsed but it was fun. Tuesday nite our unit celebrated its anniversary so they had a dinner dance — at a small local hotel. The (the Army) provided the food & cooked it then took it to the hotel & served it. Dance floor & orchestra was part of the hotel. . . and the Hotel was a glorified Princeton. We wore our blue jersey dresses as it was rather warm out. I’ve borrowed the Jackson’s film camera & taken movies of us in different garb. The blue jersey should show up well. I can’t wait to send them home so you can see all of us.
Received quite a lot of mail this week. One letter from Ruth Kineare, the older woman from Boston who was in Washington D. C. with me, & sent the crucifix to mom — she’s in New Guinea & really roughing it. Not at all as comfortable as I have been. Lost all her belongings somehow & lives in G. I. clothes, uses something against malaria mosquitoes that has turned her yellow! Sounds exciting tho! This is too much like home to be war here.
Also received Agnes O’Malley’s letter. Couldn’t understand why she was writing me, but learned soon that she wanted some-ting. Bill was here so I gave him (Milady’s? Milaely’s? Malley’s?) name etc. Can’t get much info. on her (life? l .f.? outfit?) tho: Guess she’ll hear soon tho because he probably is all right.
Have to get on with another French lesson although I know very little about it, despite my many hours of learning, so I’ll quit now. I’ll write mom et all (sic) soon — just wanted you to know your package came — and that everything is much under control.
Say hello to all —- Elizabeth.
Rec’d this stationary yesterday from Katy Dunn — My old Dayton boss!! How about that??!! E
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The Kankakee River is a 133 mile long tributary of the Illinois River flowing through northwestern Indiana, several other states including Illinois about 55 miles south of Chicago. It was first explored by Sieur de La Salle in 1679.
The confluence of the Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers form the Illinois River about ten miles southwest of Joliet. Starved Rock State Park is along the south bank of the Illinois.
On April 17 she referenced the Princeton hotel and here she wrote the hotel “was a glorified Princeton.” It may well have been a real hotel with that name back home.
Elizabeth’s handwriting is a clear clean script. Handwritten letters contain abbreviations and elisions and sometimes obscure allusions (as well as misspellings), particularly peoples’ names or referents to things she and her sister would know. Agnes O’Malley’s letter was probably written to ask about a brother or husband because Elizabeth passed it on to Bill who has the ability to find someone and “he” is the pronoun she uses to describe the person in question.
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(Note: This is on American Red Cross stationery. It is very clean, looks like it could be the original top copy. The envelope is dated July 27.)
July 23, 1944
It’s me again, and I’m still here . . . bet you thought you’d be hearing great things from me by this time! Fooled you. But I’m having a very nice time anyhow, so I don’t mind. Had a letter from Ruth Kincare, the girl that sent mom the crucifix last summer. She is considerably older than I am and is terribly interesting. She is in New Guinea and is really having a rugged time. She is experiencing what I thought I’d experience, but compared to her existence, I’m in heaven. These are some quotes from her letter “Live in a tent . . . the floor is dirt, and sometimes mud . . . once a week I accompany the medical officers on their trips to the native villages to treat the sick natives . . . another duty is to accompany patients to general hospitals in the south by air evacuation. There have been several rough spots and I’ll not soon forget the most shivery — a trip from Sydney, Australia to Brisbane and then Townsville and bucking a storm while crossing the coral Sea on my way to Milne Bay in New Guinea. I have moved on from there to several areas, and expect that it won’t be long before I’m again packing my belongings. I live completely out of a large barracks bag. My bedding roll, footlocker and suitcase have long since been lost, with all my uniforms and goodies on which I spent so much time and money. And all those cosmetics I so carefully purchased. And the home permanent waves I bought and shoe bags (and shoes = and clothes bags (and clothes) =). Now I own six pairs of stout Khaki pants six safari jackets, four pairs of huge GI boots, an adequate supply of woolen socks, khaki colored men’s shorts for panties and a couple of bars of soap a battered hair comb and a jeep hat and rain coat. Since I have been here now for about two months I have not received so much as a paper clip in the way of supplies . . . we have no books . . . no games, nothing at all, but I can and do offer plenty of conversation and naturally have a tremendous amount of letter writing etc., for the lads who’ll not write again . . . most of our boys have to stay under their nets day and night because of malaria which is rampant and usually added to the misery of their wounds . . . we keep pretty full of atrabine and use mosquito repellent . . . the repellent is not to be recommended as a face lotion, and the atrabine has turned our complexions a bright nauseas yellow . . I’m now a hand at doing everything from digging a trench to cleaning wards . . . we are the only girls to have reached as far as this spot . . . you don’t have to be a Hedy LaMarr to cause a stir when boys haven’t seen a white woman in 27 months . . we have some movies out doors no shelter, logs for seats . . . I’m studying Malayan and am getting proficient it is a beautiful and simple language . . . we were delighted with the news of the invasion . . . in this area we’re doing a pretty swell job . . . of course it is more dramatic over there but I’ll never be convinced that it is one quarter as difficult as the fighting in the Southwest Pacific. . . here in the jungle fighting these boys must break through impenetrable thickets, are torn with vines and mired in swamps, chewed by mosquitoes racked with fever, and the worst of all is that rarely do they see their enemies ahead of them. It is the deadly dodging behind trees and having a sniper miss or get you — the unseen enemy lurking all around . . of course I never want to see lima beans and dehydrated potatoes and bully beef again, but that’s just a small difficulty . . . I have had the opportunity of doing a lot of work with amputation cases . . these boys have a lot to face later on and I spend a lot of time planning with them just exactly what they are going to do. One boy, his sight and right hand gone, plans to run a chicken farm. I received bulletins, for which I had sent to Washington, giving all the news on how and what to do so we had a merry and profitable time working the thing out. Another boy, with leg amputation has decided to run a grocery store. . . I got drawing paper and sketched the entire thing for him, even to the labels on the shelves . . .the best of luck keed . . . and I wish you could take a hop over to the ould sod. Kiss it for me, bedad, if you ever do . . .
How’s that for Red Cross activity? She is a wonderful person and loves her work. I know the men just love her and that she is profiting a hundred-fold for what she is doing. I’m almost ashamed to relate what I’m doing at this point. I’m doing a great big nothing. I’m enjoying a vacation and I hate to admit it to Ruth.
Since writing you last week I’ve enjoyed a pretty heavy schedule. Bill called Sunday nite and said he could fly down to see me for a day or so. I thought I could find some place in the town to put him up, as they have a nice hotel here — Princeton-ish — but not too bad . . but the Jackson’s with whom I live would not hear of it. They insisted he stay at their house, and they put him up in a cute spare room they have in which they usually house friends of their son’s the room has tremendous numbers of model colorful airplanes all around it and has all the pictures of the son’s athletic activities while in school strung about the room. Bill came in about three o’clock in the afternoon, having first buzzed the town in a P-38 or Lightening. Scared half the people to death, they were so low. He looked pretty awful, bad as he is to look at he looked worse as he had been hit on the nose with a baseball the night before and had split his nose open. It was swollen and bandaged . . . and as he was in flying clothes with air corps insignia, everyone thought he’d been injured during a big raid over Berlin or something. There wasn’t much to do in this hyar little town, so we went bicycling around the countryside. He ate at our Mess and then Monday night we played golf . . . the course is just across the road from the Jacksons, and they insisted we use their clubs and balls. It was fun altho I’m a lousy player and he is exceptionally good. Tuesday we had a late breakfast — everyone had EGGS . . . mine was soft boiled too . . . as Bill had brought a dozen down with him . . . and then we went on a bike ride. Rode about 25 miles and nearly collapsed. I could only think of how Denny must have felt the day he went down to Momence on the bike. Migawd! Torture. Bill had to leave at about 7 . . . just phoned the field and had them come down and pick him up! How’s that for taxi service? On his way out they circled low over Jackson’s house and again gave the community a treat. The Jackson’s were delighted and had something to talk about for a week. Our outfit had an Anniversary party that night at the local hotel. Rented the ballroom and then pulled the old army game over here of using their own food but preparing it and serving it through the kitchens of the hotel. They had a lovely supper — roast beef, mashed potatoes, fresh peas, tomato and lettuce salad, wonderful chocolate cake, and coffee. We all went, as did five of the officers. The rest of the mob were EM and their dates. It was a beautiful evening (altho it has been so cold here all this JULY that I’ve worn my winter coat all the time) so we wore our blue jersey dresses. The one mom sent me at my birthday. We all have them so we looked pretty neat. I took some color films of them outside the hotel that should be good. The men were amazed and pleased at how “Sharp” we looked. I was terribly surprised and dumbfounded when they called on me for a speech. There wasn’t much to say, but I know the Limey girls went over me from head to foot while I said it. The manager of the hotel was there to witness it, and dubbed me “Miss Amurikah” as only and Englishman can say it, and men women and children have called it to me daily since that time as I skim by on the bike. It was a grand occasion, and real fun. Then Wednesday, for lack of anything better to do, I went out on the firing range with the men. We just played around trying to hit bull’s eyes, and I made three out of ten. I know that is almost nothing compared to what Nay used to do in the beer joints, but it was good for me, I think. Winnie, the secretary, astounded everyone with a score of 9 out of 10! Imagine that!! Wednesday night a group rode over to Stratford-Upon-Avon where we looked around a bit, and then attended a Shakespearean Play in the Memorial Theatre there. The Theatre is as grand and as modern as the Civic Opera House in Chicago, and the staging was equal to anything I’ve ever seen. We saw Richard the Second, which was a court play and a Shakespearian Tragedy, so the costumes were gorgeous. We want to go back sometime and see something lighter. It was quite an experience though. We hope to go some afternoon if there is ever transportation going that way, and see the town and its environs. Thursday they took us on a Road March. We trudged along with the male officers and did our best to keep up with them. The natives all ran to their windows to watch us and we halted traffic on the road. It was never a problem to march at the 316th because you were always with a group of girls and went swinging along without any trouble, but here there are only five girls and they have to include us with the men so we do look conspicuous. We didn’t go too far, because, as an excuse, the men decided it had to be “easy for the girls” altho’ we were fresher and more capable for ten more miles then they were. It was fun though. Wish I’d been able to get some pictures of that. Friday night our C. O had us over to the house where he is billeted, and we played Badminton and ping-pong and some other game that were all fun. His landlady really prepared a feast for us despite her rationing, and we had a swell time. We had tremendous bowl of fresh raspberries that were delicious. We seldom get fresh fruits over here so we really appreciated them. Remember I never cared for them at home? They tasted swell this time. Guess I’ll eat anything and everything before I get back. Altho’ I’ve tried raisins, I still can’t eat them. Yesterday we attended a base ball game when our men played that team they’ve been playing so often, the 307th Station Hospital. It was a benefit performance, for some English fund, and again we had lots of English spectators. They seem to enjoy the game, they had an announcer who called all the plays for them and got the players good and rattled. We lost after 12 innings 2 to 1, and it was a wonderful game. The announcer is an athletic instructor from Chicago, I’ve never had a chance to talk with him, but he was a swimmer and a track man, I think, in Chi. I thought maybe Sal would know him. He is a short rather nice looking little fellow, very dark complexioned and can talk all night must on and on and on. His name is Schwartz, I think, but I don’t know his first name. (This is a g-d Limey typewriter and it skips all over the place — you just can’t make it do what it is supposed to do — and what’s more, it doesn’t have a Standard Keyboard, so I have to hunt for what I want on it . . .) What else? What else? After the game last night four of us went to an English version of our road house where we had a glass of beer and a ham sandwich, believe it or not. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been there . . . by the way, the kid who is from the 76th and Euclid insists he knows all of us because his father owned a tavern there is Prefer — not pronounced like prefer, but like Preff-er — Maybe aunty Maggie knows him. By the way how is she? Any better? I shall write to Mary one of these days . . . I think there is a slight chance I shall get some more woolens and I’ll try to get a piece for Nay. I’ve been trying to get her a woven rug that the weavers make, and it may get to her yet, but I don’t see how I’ll figure that out yet . . . went on a bike ride again yesterday and drove a long long way. Visited a site that is pictured in the Life magazine of June 18th on page 43 — the Knowle locks on the canal that runs through that little village. If you can locate that issue keep it for me. The overseas editions were all gone when I got a chance to look for it. The spot looked just like the picture did.
I’ve never heard from Field’s about my shoes. . . I’ll have to write them again . . . I can’t believe that all of my packages have gone through without any trouble and that the shoes I need so badly were not received at Fields. When I was down at the 316th last week Wilma was just sending home that package with my civilians in it so don’t look for it for a while. Did Judy ever get her pup? Don’t forget to let me know what you get the other kids. Haven’t heard from Harold for some time, hope he’s o.k. Think I’ll call him up and find out how he is one of these days. Sent him his money for the fatigues he bought me, and never heard if he’d received it which is unusual for him. Hope to get into London one of these days as headquarters has been getting musical instruments for us and we have to pick them up. If you know how hard it is to get orchestra pieces today you know what a job they’ve done for us at RC hdqs. We hope to have a large staff one of these days and we’ll need a band. It is almost unbelievable that they got them for us, but we put the pressure on them, and they came through. We’re tickled to death. If I do get to London, I’ll look for Harold and see for myself how he is.
I think that is about all I have to relate. I’m worried about John. Margaurite said he wasn’t feeling well, and I’ve wondered what was wrong with him. Let me know as soon as you can. And how is Nay getting along with Nancy? Named her Nancy anyhow, diddle you? Sounds cute now, tho. Had a long juicy letter from Larry this week. I’ll write to him one of these days.
I’ll quit now, because it is time for lunch, and I went to Communion this a.m. so didn’t have breakfast, ad am starved wite (sic) now.
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Much in this letter duplicates what she said to Sal in her July 20 letter. But here she states the Memorial Theatre was where she saw the play and it was Richard III which we probably guessed, but now confirm.
Again with a hotel that is “Princeton-ish.”
Momence is located 50 miles due south of Chicago. Her brother must have related a tale of riding a bicycle there.
Winnie the marksman was also known as the secretary.
Hedy LaMarr (1914 – 2000) is a remarkable sidelight in this discussion. She was born in Vienna, Austria, married six times, moved to America before we entered the war, became a Hollywood film star and co-invented with George Antheil a torpedo guidance system that used “frequency hoping” spread spectrum communication now widely used in cell phones and wi-fi.