“You Mustn’t Let It Bother You Too Much”

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It is Christmas Eve and now most particularly I wish we were together. We’ll make the next one, Betty Lou. I can’t say that there is any news to report —just about the same. The gang is off to town. ... I wanted to stay here anyway—I wanted to think about my good wife and my family. I wanted to sit and dream all by myself without any interruptions. Think of it, Betty Lou, next Christmas the three of us will be together. I can see that little rascal’s eyes when that lighted Christmas tree comes into his wandering gaze. Oh, happy!

This evening I painted a large 9th Air Force insignia for the Officers’ Club. There weren’t many materials to work with but I think it came out all right. Hundreds of B-17's went over today—this is no small organization.

In forty-five minutes it will be midnight and Christmas, at which time I shall open those beautiful packages....

Back from the Doc’s hut—Christmas greetings were exchanged over a cup of hot coffee laced with powdered milk. I shall now unveil my Christmas presents. . . . The things are fine, Betty Lou, I’m pleased as punch. The books are treasures—I glanced through “One Man’s Meat” [by E. B. White]—and it looks wonderful. How do you know just the right things—but then if you don’t, ‘oo does? The pretty copy of “Alice in Wonderland"—I love that thing. The Reader will content me hour upon hour—and the little poker set—that’s practical. We’ve used everything for poker chips from rounds of 45 cal. ammunition to shotgun shells—now we’re fat! The wallet I like —you must send me some pictures of yourself to fill the little pockets....

Rarey

December 27, 1943

My darling Betty Lou,

. . . So the heir is getting the wanderlust, hey? ‘Swonderful. Do hope you don’t have any trouble getting a hospital reservation or whatever it is—youth will be served. Keep me posted, pal.

Dispensing porch talk via pencil and paper over 4,000 miles of land, sea, and whatnot has its limitations. We’ve had some obstacles before, Betty Lou, but this is the supreme test. Remember the beautiful hours on your back steps and the little 15th Street studio. That place wasn’t big enough to hold my happiness—even with the big window open. I’ve loved you there and in a thousand other places made wonderful by you. And, Betty Lou, I love you here. I love you more than ever before. Two lives happily intermingled, impatient with the barrier of great distances, impatient with this tremendous war, anxious to be finished with it so that we can do the things we were meant to do. I want to live with you, Betty Lou, with you and our child. I want to give you everything I can—I want to live with you and love you for the next forty-three thousand years. . . .

Rarey

 

January 6, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . Today went as most days go—we spent most of the time down at the line. We have a nice ready room and an adjoining kitchen where coffee and sandwiches can be had in the afternoon and before flights.

The smallness of this island can really be realized from an airplane. It is pretty from the air—small checkerboards of farm land dotted with patches of forest. It’s good for all of us to be flying again.

Love,Rarey

 

February 5, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . Oh, Betty Lou, I also received the box. The Simoniz wax is fine —should give me about 10 or 15 miles per hour. When I really need that extra speed and shove the old blossom through the gate, I’ll think of you. Also, the candy and the tobacco will come in handy. We have a weekly ration of 7 packs of cigarettes or 4 packages of pipe tobacco which seems adequate. And the wonderful book! J. Thurber was never better—I’ve been howling with delight ever since I opened it....

Did I ever mention the new boy in our squadron. His name is Ray Fuchs—pronounced Foosh—he’s a fine guy—was in the original Eagle Squadron [Americans flying for Britain], then he transferred to the A.A.F. and was in the 4th Group for quite a while. He has seen a great deal of action and is a welcome addition to the outfit. We live in the same hut—the boy has a lot of sense and has one of the coolest, most intelligent views of the war I’ve heard. He is nicknamed “The Tired Eagle” and has been over here for more than two years....

Cheers,Rarey

February 14, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . We returned from a show over France the other day to find that our field was socked in, so Gerry Majors and I landed at a B-17 base nearby. As the weather didn’t lift, we spent the night there. Those lanky old boys in the B-17's treated us like kings. They claimed that the most beautiful sight in the world is those little Thunderbolts hovering around them. They dragged us to the Officers’ Club and presented the fatted jug to the prodigal sons. We had a wonderful time and so successful were their efforts in making us feel at home that by 9:30 they carried me off to my sack in a beautifully drunken condition. They put a pitcher of ice water and a pack of cigarettes on a table near my bed, and after tucking me in, they said their good nights, wagging their heads and shaking my hand. They are fine fellows. One, a war-weary veteran of 30 odd missions, left, saying, “May the Lord watch over us when we are absent one from another” —not sentimentality or sarcasm—just a bomber pilot’s appreciation of a fighter escort....

Love,Rarey

February 17, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,