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“You Mustn’t Let It Bother You Too Much”
An Airman’s Letters To His Wife
June/July 2004 | Volume 55, Issue 3
Betty Lou, this happiness is nigh unbearable. Got back from a mission at 4:00 this afternoon and came up to the hut for a quick shave before chow. What did I see [but] the Deacon waving at me as I walked up the road to the shack? A small yellow envelope! I thought it was a little early but I quit breathing completely until the wonderful news unfolded. A son! All of the boys in the squadron went wild. I had saved my tobacco ration for the last two weeks and had obtained a box of good American cigars. Old Doc Finn trotted out two quarts of Black and White from his medicine chest, and we all toasted the fine new son and his beautiful mother.
I think I’ve had just about the easiest time of it that any father ever had. I was just getting down to the really serious part of the floorpacing when—whamie!—I find that old Betty Lou has done the whole thing without the unnecessary moaning and hollering from the old man. And they say that woman is the weaker of the sexes—phooey—you’re terrific! Golly, I’m anxious to know all of the details. I figure Damon was born on the 19th. I wonder what he weighs and all about him. Tell him that he has the proudest, happiest, luckiest pop in the whole world.
Betty Lou, if this letter makes no sense, forget it. I’m sort of delirious. Today everything is special. This iron hut looks like a castle, the low hanging overcast outside is the most beautiful hue of blue I’ve ever seen. I’m a father. I have a son! My darling wife has had a fine boy and I’m a king. Betty Lou, I hope it wasn’t too bad—I’m glad it’s over—thank you, Betty Lou, thank you, thank you. This is really living. . . .What a ridiculous and worthless thing a war is in the light of such a wonderful event....
Dearest Betty Lou,
. . . I’m forced to take a rather sophisticated view of the political and economical future of the world but if we can get this business of Fascism knocked off and get the world into some semblance of order and keep it there for a time, Damon and his contemporaries will take over and make something really good out of it. We’re learning, but a great many mistakes will be made before a really good world order will evolve. If we can clear the air for Damon and his generation, we’re fat. And that is the last word I have on geo-politics—I’m getting positively stuffy. . . .
Love, love, love!!!!Rarey
Good evening, darling,
. . . I’ve been sending in my Wheaties boxtops and am sending the Air Medal to you and Damon. I have three clusters on it and tho’ it doesn’t mean much, it’s sure purty.
All my love,Rarey
Dearest Betty Lou,
...The two G.I. words you have in question are easily explained. “Nissen” as in Nissen hut is merely the name of some misled, well meaning individual who invented them. A Nissen is sort of a shelter (at best), sort of like an empty tomato can half buried in the mud with a door and two windows at either end. They accommodate 8 officers or 16 enlisted men. We live in them and scream about them but they are pretty cosy little deals at that. E.T.O. means merely European Theatre of Operations embracing England, Africa, and Italy, and wherever warfare is carried out over Europe—which is practically everywhere. Next question? Seriously, Betty Lou, I hate for you to miss all this—you were so much a part of the day to day doings of the old Air Force in the States that I know you miss being in on the funny little things that happen. Oh, what a fat war it would be if you were here. I’ll try to keep you posted on it, darling, and when I see you again, I’ll go into greater detail....
Dear Betty Lou,
Hi, my Rosetta stone, my plasma, my peanut butter sandwich with lettuce and 39 tomato, my darling—my Betty Lou. We flew over seven combat hours today and topped it off with one of our extra special knock down drag out ruff and tuff volley ball games. It was fine—ten men on the net all at once lashing around like mad. We don’t even keep score any more—there are no boundary lines and no rules. This game makes ice hockey look like a checker game between two old ladies with broken hips. There is a fraternity among these flyboys that defies description. These boys are unique, casual, easygoing, magnificent! Good boys....
Dearest Betty Lou,
Artie Shaw is playing something or other over the P.A. system, and it really sounds fine. Just had a bath out of a tin hat, a shave, and a brushing of the teeth. “Dusk in these fierce pajamas!” I feel fine and am as happy as is possible with my main interest in life several thousand miles away, sort of a negative happiness....
Betty Lou, I didn’t write about Gee—well—I don’t know why. It was just one of those things. We were shooting up trains in France—they were loaded with tanks and armored cars, and there was quite a bit of flak. A hunk of the damned stuff hit Gee’s ship, and it just didn’t get him back. He tried to hit the silk but didn’t make it. That’s all. You mustn’t think too much about such things—our losses here aren’t much heavier than they were when we were in training in the States. I’m awfully sorry for Audrey and will write to her if you think I should but I don’t think it would help. It’s up to you—I’ll do as you say.
I painted my insignia on my plane today, and it looks fine. My old kite has the most hours and best record of any in the Group—what an airplane!