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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
I got a fine letter from you today, lassie. I’m wondering if you received the flowers. I wired them through the P.X. in London and they were pretty sure they would get there. Say, maybe I’ve screwed them up—is it the first Sunday or the second Sunday in May that is Mother’s Day? I’ll have to look it up. What a dope!
We’ve a warning order in and it looks like an early mission so I reckon I’ll press the sack for a few hours....
Darling Betty Lou—
. . . Let’s see what odd bits of news I have—oh, yes—we were told this morning that a It. colonel from wing was on his way to make a sanitary inspection of our quarters. Well, the groundpounders’ tent is at the head of the row and the old boy was amazed at the neat, orderly arrangement of things. Next he poked his head into our tent (it looked like the 15th Street studio on a Sunday morning) and snorted, “Ha! This is more like it. This looks like a pilot’s tent!” Seems he was an old [airman] back in the first war—he seemed pleased that flyboys were still true to the stripe....
All my love,Rarey
Dearest Betty Lou—
The pictures! The wonderful pictures! ... I’ve had them only about 8 hours and they are famous throughout the group—please don’t think that I bore these guys —they’re fascinated! Damon always gets a good laugh, a chuckle, and a “Rarey, you lucky bastard!” You, Betty Lou, get a long low whistle and I get another “Rarey, you lucky bastard!” You know, Betty Lou, you may consider yourself a mere prop in those photographs but I am of another opinion—that fine head of yours! That wonderful Betty Lou that I love to the very raw ends of my nerves! You’re the pulse of the machine that makes our great happiness. I love ya! You know the one of you and Damon”you in that fine bemused profile and old Damon yawning his old head off. Well, it is now mounted in a frame of Plexiglas from a wrecked airplane on my instrument panel—right between the gyro horizon and the altimeter—among the three or four most consulted instruments in the whole airplane....
Love,His Royal Highness of Roo
Darling Betty Lou,
I didn’t write you on your birthday, Betty Lou. We had a very late, long mission and after the critique was over, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’ll tell you though, Betty Lou—on the long pull through Germany out over Holland across the black North Sea and finally over England, I was with you there—celebrating your birthday with your wonderful family....
Love, love, love,Rarey Happy birthday, darling.
Dearest Betty Lou,
. . . One of the guys snapped my picture at the airplane the other day. “Damon’s Demon” is no ordinary aircraft I’ll have you know. I’ve run nearly 40 missions in the old clunker and it hasn’t even breathed hard. It knows the way home from any point in Europe just as well as I do—fine kite!...
Dearest Betty Lou,
You know, Betty Lou, in a few days we will have been married two years. We pooled our lives in that beautiful little town in Florida surrounded by fine friends and up to our eyebrows in love. That was a beautiful ceremony but in a way it was merely a confirmation of a marriage that had taken part a long time before. We were married in the general vicinity of N.W. Washington, a close lying suburb of heaven. I don’t know an exact date—it was sort of gradual like the unfolding of a beautiful flower that blooms only once and once opened grows more beautiful with each succeeding day. And now that little rosebud of a Damon is growing on the same bush. Hey, if I could work a couple of bees into this thing, maybe I could explain to Damon the mystery of man’s most sacred privilege—ho! But, Betty Lou, I’m serious. I even kind of feel like I’m in a church or something. Thanks for these wonderful years you have given me. A boy and a girl in love! My wife, my bride, my sweetheart—you will always be these things to me. I’m afraid you are going to have a raunchy tweedcoated old rascal smelling slightly of strong pipe tobacco and scotch whiskey around your backsteps until hell freezes over. I love you, lil gal! When we get together for that third anniversary, I’ll show you what I have in my heart—nothin’ but
Dear Betty Lou,
I’m writing this from London. Just returned to the hotel after a day’s debauch at the cinemas —saw “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” “Lady in the Dark,” and “Gone with the Wind.” Wotta day—oh my back! I enjoyed it though—pure escapism. The boys are out on the town but here I have a small jug of scotch the doc gave me—flak medicine. Day after tomorrow I think I’ll auger up to Scotland by myself. I’ve almost forgotten how nice it is to be alone. I have some empty sketchbooks and some watercolor crying for media. I wish you were here....