7 Chapter 7 – Homeward Bound – Winter/Spring 1945, Letters 163-175

#163. DPM to JDM (ALS, 1pp.)
Utica, NY
January 1, 1945

Dear John-

The nice long weekend is slowly ebbing, and the old routine will be among us again soon. We’ve been lucky to have such a pleasant holiday time without a complete family.

Saturday night we all went to the club for a very cheery dinner, then adjourned to our home for presents. The high spot of that was quite a surprise, for Penny, and quite a load off our shoulders, my friend. Pop and Margie gave him four thousand-dollar war bonds for his education. They did the same for Dorrie and for Donald. I am very happy about it, as he’s going to be ready for school away from home sooner than we will be prepared to send him, probably, and it least it will ensure that whatever happens to you and me, he won’t have to go through what Lou did, and Sammy. Of course it will have to be supplemented a bit, but he could work summers if need be, at least it won’t strain our budget so much to see that he has what he needs to do it right. Please mention this gift when you write them, and please write them.

My check was for $75, so I will have to dig up a little to go with it for Sam to send to Mr. Willson, as I have a $50 coal bill, etc., but it can be managed by a small loan, I think, from some source outside the family.

We were invited up here for dinner yesterday, and overnight, so New Year’s Eve was quiet. The family went to a midnight service, which I eliminated, as Mr. Feibigger weeps so much about the war. So when I went down to give the furnace a look at 8 o’clock I stopped in at a service at Plymouth for the men in service, then looked in on Margery and Grace and came back here with another attack of the disease starting. They’re calling it “colic! ” Nana and I were here alone at midnight. I remained fairly numb about the whole thing – a little glad to lay 1944 aside, and simply open-minded about 1945. There was little hilarity abounding anywhere here this year.

Blackberry brandy, aspirin and sulpha seems to have things under control this morning. We all slept ‘til 11, except Dorrie, who worked, so we were too late to go to the Club Open House. It’s raining and freezing, anyway, so no one cares, as we’re going to the Yahnundasis tonight.

Pen saw a little boy at the club in a handsome tailored uniform. Dorrie asked him his rank, and he (age about 8) said he’d forgotten. Pen turned and looked at us, and said “Can you beat that?”

Love Dordo

What about a man from a New York bank – he keeps writing Dad about you.

Remember Honey – a there will be a post-war world and you’ll probably be back here. Don’t put yourself out on limb, but don’t let all your bridges decay either.

#164. JDM to DPM (ALS, 3pp.)
January 5, 1945

Dear Dordo,

I intend to make this sort of a book letter – scribbling on it whenever I get a chance and then mailing the whole works together. I am now getting your letters in batches at widely separated intervals. So there won’t be much answering of questions etc. until I get the next batch. I am giving up numbering for the nonce until my existence becomes better ordered.

The other day out was at a mountain stream in the middle of some pretty wild country, and to kill time, had an amateur gemologist tell me how to hunt for precious stones. I spent a couple of hours going through the necessary procedures and finally went back to him with a handful of rocks. One turned out to be a most inferior moonstone, one was blue sapphire, not worth saving, one was dark topaz which I will try to get cut and sent to you one of these days and the rest were all quartz. I am delighted with the topaz, and even though it is semi-precious, I may get a 15 carat stone. You may get it in the raw. I will decide later

I am, of course, much intrigued with Dorrie’s possible pregnancy. It would be a nice thing, though tough on her to have it without Willie around. Also I’m intrigued with Sammy’s toy business – though what possible use he could find for me I can’t imagine. This light is most bad on the eyes, so I will stop right here. Love to you from me for tonight. I would like to share your emptyish bed. – J.

8 Jan.

Most of the day today I have been having a quiet daydream to the effect that here it is January – and June can’t be far behind. In June, when my bargaining power ought to be pretty good due to 23 months service, rather than wait for the slow process of rotation, and consequent chance of reassignment to some place where I am unknown, I will approach my powers that be with the proposition that I be made a courier to Washington for one trip. Then I can fit in 30 days leave – to go home with a good APR – and come back here for the remaining year which will terminate my foreign service obligations under the present set-up. It seems like the smartest thing to do. I think that if I could have 30 days with you, I could sweat out the rest of the deal.

Adios for tonight. All love. – – John

10 Jan.

Got back to home plate to find two letters from you – one after your receipt of the parcel of land, for which I can soon get the money off – the other complaining about my silence around Christmas time – which I hope has been satisfactorily explained. Also there was a wonderful picture of Penny – for which I am very grateful – plus nine books from you and a flask, which I wanted – and all sorts of little odds and ends of stuff packed in with precious Kleenex. It was a delight to open the boxes. Tell Margie I also got two boxes labeled from E. A. – pipe, food, books, game etc. I have started Rome Hanks and find it fascinating. I can’t put it down.

I wish old grandpa Dann were alive so I could write him of the game I have seen. Wild hogs, pythons, leopards etc. The boys are constantly knocking off something large and wild. Some of them saw wild elephants the other day. That I am happy to miss. Cigarettes are getting short here. From the old Times I get hold of, I find that things are really rugged in the cigarette line at home. Hope you have some good friends in the drugstores of Utica. I have gotten hold of a badminton set from Special Services which has been set up and is providing me with some exercise of a sort, though it is too hot to play long. You soak through your clothes in a matter of minutes. Reference your request for a request – I hereby request you to send me at least one big new book a month. Will that do it? My best pleasure is still reading – but I can’t bring myself to read anything on the political background of the war – or anything about post war.

As time goes by this bloody mode of living becomes more and more senseless. How any two ideologies can exist in the minds of men and yet be so different as to cause the slaughter and misery of millions is beyond me. Maybe it is because deep down the basic nature of man is evil, thus making all groups of men, and all governments the mass expression of common evil, cruelty and hate. Thousands of men each week are making this their last silly little acts in this screwy world and it is impossible to translate those acts into something which means a greater good for all. We must kill those who would oppose us, even as they are saying to themselves. I guess the world has just gotten too small for a quiet short war. I am beginning to hate all evidences of “bigness” and “organization” and “regimentation.” All business. Enough for the nonce. Tell Pencil he looks pretty big to me and he better be able to talk sense by the time I get back. Love for tonight – John

12 Jan.

I can send a fat slice of the 1000 along when I send this. The rest is very temporarily tied up. Be patient. I hope the deal went through okay. Forgive me for not being more verbose tonight, but I just don’t feel up to it. Love, John

16 Jan.

One of the things that is making me sad lately is how few of the personal possessions that I have that I set off from home with. Things wear out, or get lost, or get stolen, and every month there is a few less of them, with their place taken by not-so-good substitutes. You would be amazed at the way the climate gets into things and spoils them. You remember sending me the beanbag ash tray. Well, the moist climate corroded the metal so badly that about a month ago, while butting a cigarette, it went right through into the BB shot inside. You would think that stuff is indestructible, but not out here – –

I have found occasion to use the little first-aid kit that Mrs. E. A. sent. I cleverly dropped an open knife on my bare foot. It made me so damn mad that I threw the knife out the window, went looking for it, and cut the underside of the same foot on a bit of metal. Not only that, but I took a small slice out of my finger throwing the knife. I ended up with many bandages feeling vaguely like Laurel and Hardy. My sack is calling, so I will end today’s chapter and collapse. Sleeping time is overseas time too, and goes much faster than waking time. Same old love — John

19 Jan.

This is being written in the small cold hours of the morning at an ATC operations office while I am waiting for my pilot to show up. Last night he gave me the incorrect takeoff time, so consequently I have a bit of time to spare. Only a short flight today, then work and then fly again. It is a bit like those days up in northern New York state, only the busy little vehicle has wings instead of wheels.

Yesterday I sent $700 to Sammy. I thought that that would be quicker, as he is in direct contact with the sales agency. I will send the rest, plus some more to you as soon as I collect an outstanding debt. You see, my total assets at the beginning of this month were 4600 Rupees. At 3.3 to a dollar, that equals 1390 dollars. After deducting my living expenses this month, and also the amount I have out on loan, I was able to send 700 immediately. It will no longer be possible to save money at any great rate due to the cut in per diem.

I have gotten also some late news about the theater headquarters which I vacated just prior to the change in management, which indicates that I did a very wise thing in leaving just when I did. After I left, there was a combination of two large headquarters, thus throwing lots of Ordnance officers into a large pool. I might have landed in the pool and driven myself crazy waiting for a suitable assignment. At least that is what has happened to a few of the boys.

As ever, John

#165. DPM to JDM (ALS, 1p.)
Utica, NY
January 5, 1945


I just tore up a letter to you. It was slightly maudlin and highly unoriginal. “Let sleeping dogs lie,” she says – “You can’t change anything now, ” she says – “It’ll work out when the time comes, – stuff the cracks and keep it painted and blame it on the War,” “You can’t get the things to do it with now.” “Bend with it, don’t beat your brains out,” she says. So except for one comment, I shall confine myself to the news.

The comment being simply that as of today, the last letter from you is one month (instead of the former 6 to 10 days) old, and came 16 days ago. Your family hasn’t heard from you in months – but you know that. We know you’re probably alive, probably safe, probably healthy, probably having your generous share of good work, good play, good friends. Why should anyone be empty?

Of course there is a kind of fullness that can be shared, that spills over it lavishly in all directions, but it isn’t a condition of Wartime. And there is the natural keeping of a place in your mind and heart for special people; – we do not need, knowing you, to assume that none of us is any longer special to you. But pride and the special place we keep for you makes us wish you’d be a little more positive about us! That’s all, Chum.

This is the first time I’ve been alone for about three weeks it seems. What with Rita, Elmira, Christmas vacation, and general tearing around due to the season, I’ve pushed myself most of the time due to this recurrent brief infection Pen and I have had again this week, so now I am terribly tired, and would enjoy seeing no one, hearing no one, going nowhere, and curling up with “Strange Fruit” while Pen is at school, and tonight.

People seem to need their friends more now – you just decide to hole up and someone convinces you they’re so low that nothing but a cozy evening out in the weather will help them, and you’re off again.

Did you ever get the books I chose for Margie to send you? Or the fruitcakes from her? You never mention getting any mail from us – do you? Is the service much different to Ceylon – it’s a little longer from there to here, four to six days.

I like “Strange Fruit” – it’s good to read a book – I picked it up from a rental library on the way to my annual permanent (Nana’s Christmas to me), and went through about half of it while having my hair cooked. They cut off so much of my nice long sun-burned ends that I look like all the other females. Evvie saw me just out of the tub and says I’m as thin as she, now – always a cheery thought, for me. (I mean it)

Pencil has a new album of fairy stories told by Gildersleeve – you should hear them. He loves ‘em. He has a little plaid wool shirt that makes him look about eight, too. He’s been so good for so long we’re all gasping. The other morning he reminded Margie of how you used to tie his “night-night” sleeves together. Today he asked if you had any hats when you “were a man,” and if he could see one of them.

We love you –

#166. DPM to JDM (ALS, 2pp.)
Utica, NY
January 8, 1945


Whatta guy!…. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I finally got a letter from you this morning (so I cried), and found out what the excuse for your long silence was. My familiarity with the term dengue is limited to a familiarity with the word itself, but the dictionary wasn’t very encouraging – “attended with fever, eruptions and severe pains.” I hope you didn’t have too much of the latter – you left many questions unanswered which I hope future letters will cover a bit better. But I’m afraid none of us have written very cordially, if at all, recently, and you’ll probably have to work through a pile of disappointment and reproaches, or even no mail at all, before you get as much as a word of sympathy! – However, we are all properly crushed at this point.

But I’m afraid this time you didn’t get the benefit of the doubt, at least to the usual degree, because there seemed to be a long tapering off of interest and time as far as letters home were concerned. I’m not scolding now, but explaining our viewpoint – we are sorry if we misjudged you. It seems as if you were anywhere where you had sufficient facilities for medical care, there would have been some means for the personnel who attended you to get word to us, if you were too sick to write, tho I understand that the usual duration of the disease is 4 to 8 days in its acute stage.

You shouldn’t be fooled by the gripes that arise in the press about the helluva time the folks on the home front are having, going to the races, eating steak for breakfast, buying tools and gadgets, and smearing their hair with butter. Perhaps it is so, but we are not, and never have been that kind. We don’t write you the little gripes, the great strain we feel, because it wouldn’t be very interesting reading, and perhaps when we write of the gay things we try to do, it is with the thought that you are having so much glamour that we hate to be thought too dull, but it is not easy at home these days, and we have felt that not only were you having a better time than Bill and his friends, but also a better time than you would have if you were here. Therefore perhaps we have felt a little impatient with the fact that you had so little imagination about how much we need to know that we mean something to you – how much we need you, and word from you. This is something that isn’t in my head – your family are much more bitter about it than I.

I would simply say, Honey, don’t do it again, if it is humanly possible. I can’t take it. You may feel “O Ye of little faith,” but if you don’t want me to slit my throat or run away with the milkman, get some word to us that you are going away, or going to be sick, or have some underling let us know that you still are aware of our existence. We on the home front haven’t the fighting man’s guts. We just couldn’t see your forgetting us at Christmas.

Your own Christmas must have been rather disappointing, and I’m sorry you didn’t get more packages, but there are a goodly number on the way, and I hope you get them, even if some of the Ledo Road presents may strike you as being a bit incongruous. We’re very glad you’re not there now.

We have been mostly sick for a week so we laid low over the weekend. Our friends and relatives thought a doctor was indicated, but I thought we should give the normal rules of health, such as rest and warmth and a light diet, some consideration, for a change, and that seems to be the thing we had overlooked for the past few weeks. It worked pretty well, but your letter did more for me.

Your son has been jubilant all day. It isn’t that he hears too much worry or conjecture, but he is sensitive to tension and insecurity in the atmosphere, and today he has been talking all day of when you come home – part of the time thinking up names for the sister he’s going to get when you come, – a matter in which, I assure you, he has had no encouragement!

Get well, John, but not too well to come home.
Love, Dordo.

#167. DPM to JDM (ALS, 1p.)
Utica, NY
January 13, 1945


Sounds screwy that it is the nature of your job which keeps you from writing, but if you say so, OK, and I’ll write to you whenever I feel like talking to you, or there’s anything to write, whether you write or not.

We have all enjoyed your pictures so much. Of course you probably don’t look quite as healthy now, but there is a look of contentment and relaxation about you that made us all happy.

That roster of names, and all those nice faces surrounding you, make “Major J. D. M., commanding” simply over-whelming. It must be quite a responsibility. They look like good guys – even the enlisted men.

Can you estimate the effect of your present status on your chance of benefiting by the “rotation” policy? Would you be on temporary leave, or due for reassignment, if you came home this year? Perhaps one of your capable looking captains will be ready to take over. Anyway, I hope you come. It has been so long I don’t feel like being a gentleman about it any longer – I simply want you home. We have spared you to Uncle Sam long enough – it’s his turn now.

I applied for a loan at one of the banks to cover a small cash payment ($100) to Mr. Willson to tie up the land until a more substantial portion arrives from you. I wanted to be sure you were sure – after all, it was October when you decided to do it, and in December it looked as if you might have at least waned in interest. But now I feel sure enough to go ahead – and so happy about it, Darling. It’s the nicest thing you ever did, and may well be the nicest thing we ever had. It’s such a wonderful place! And it’s nice to know we can build some sort of shelter on it as soon as we want to, from the “readjustment fund.” I won’t repay the loan from money you send, it will be a very small drop in the bucket, but enough to satisfy the urge to make some contribution out of our “daily bread” for it.

We are due some loafing time, and I’m sure we can use it to good advantage there, or anywhere we can be together. As long as we still want the same things, all the hurt and irritation of this period can be wiped out. You are my favorite guy, and my best friend, and my truly loved husband, and I want you always.

Your Dordo.

#168. JDM to DPM (ALS, 1pp.)
January 21, 1945

Dear Dordo,

This is being written in an aircraft at about 8000 feet over the landscape I have become so used to. From the sky this land looks burned and brown and flat. It looks wasted. Even though any countryside looks dead and deserted from the air, it seems more fitting that this decadent dead land should look so. The world has passed it by, leaving only the remnants of kingdoms and swarms of filthy ignorant natives. This morning there were a few white clouds marching by in random order, but now they have closed up the ranks so that it is only occasionally that I can get a glimpse of the parched land. Today I have a special plane assigned to me. The only trouble with it is that there are 21 seats in it – thus making me feel a trifle ridiculous.

One of the things that I have got to do soon is apply for a few days of leave. I need the rest as I am tired clean through. My bones feel heavy. I have it all planned, as I have been thinking about it now for a month. I want to take some of the new books and some I ration chocolate and some gin and vermouth and go to a place where I can sleep every morning – read on the beach in the afternoon, and whet my appetite for seafood dinner every night. The only trouble is that even if I do get a setup like that, it won’t be a real rest. There is a sort of cumulative drain from being away so long that it eventually becomes impossible to relax completely. It isn’t exactly homesickness. It is more of a growing fear of the changes that have taken place in all the familiar things. I feel as though I will have to get back, sleep 12 hours a day, get tight a few times and go to bed with you repeatedly before I will actually be able to unwind. It isn’t a combat neurosis that I have, it is merely a being away neurosis. I certainly hope that the family and Pencil won’t feel that I am being distant if I insist on your meeting me where I land and wending a very leisurely way homewards. I imagine that it will take some time for us to get over feeling strange, and it would be nice to be able to adjust our united front before I have to face the inquisition. Two years should really result in a fatted calf. I hope that the readjustment fund was not just a figment of my imagination, because I certainly am going to refrain from working just as long as I decently can. In case you are interested in mathematics, it is just about 623 days since I have seen you. I have tentatively set the date 15 August for seeing you again. That gives sort of a target. I hope it works.

We are beginning to get near the destination, and the scenery is getting more interesting – so adieu for now.

Love, John

#169. DPM to JDM (ALS, 1p.)
Utica, NY
February 12, 1945


We were up at 9 Beverly most of the day yesterday. Pop came in from a trip to Rochester and Buffalo, full of snow-stories. The main event of yesterday was my casual inquiry of Pop as to whether he had ever had a satisfactory description of the O.S.S., which reminded him that he finally encountered a private with a CBI patch on his shoulder in the club car on the train, and, having asked everyone else he could think of and never had an answer, he tackled the private, who did say just that it is an organization of “snoopers.” That, added to the fact that the New York paper said Congress was again combining “Wild Bill” Donovan’s O.S.S. with Army and Navy G2 and the F.B.I., leaves us with a fairly sure feeling that you are doing some kind of super-intelligence work. So we understand a little more about you not writing, etc. I hope it’s safe. It must be interesting. We’re glad to know this much, anyway.

Mr. Willson returned my hundred dollar check (now I can pay Dr. Brasted) for the deposit on the point, saying it is “not necessary and you can use this letter as your assurance that we will go ahead with the sale to you of a lot on the Piseco Lake as indicated in our correspondence for the price of $1000.”

“The only way to handle the situation, as I see it, is for us to meet on the ground sometime after the snow goes off next Spring, decide on and survey out the particular site, and then we can prepare the deed.” So we are relieved, as it was so long since we had heard from him. If the money has to be sent in small batches, it would be just as well to get it started, so that will not hold things up once it is defined and surveyed. We hope the snow will be on its way a month from now; a lot has gone this weekend, but more will follow, of course. – To stand on our rocks – oh my!

Love, Dordo.

#170. DPM to JDM (ALS, 2pp.)
Utica, NY
February 28, 1945


What I’m going to tell you you may very well know. In fact, you might be home before you ever get this, but if not, you might be interested in what’s cooking here. Incidentally, I’m doing this in complete defiance of your father’s admonishment not to tell you. That seems perfectly silly to me, certainly you have a right to know what’s going on if we do, since it’s about you, and I intend to tell you all I hear about it. It’s certainly got us wondering.

Saturday night I met your family and Marion and Jane at the club, and when Dad came in from playing Bridge, he had quite an interesting story. It seems that Saturday afternoon, a Voice called Gordon Wood, and said that he represented “a local agency” who were investigating Maj. MacD. Gordon made the perfect reply – “What’s he done?” After answering many questions about your character, home life, etc., all Gordon could find out is that it was an investigation regarding a government job, with very high qualifications.

Then Dad met Miles Jones in the Club, and he said, “What is all this about Jack?” Dad played innocent, and got the same story from Miles, who said he gave you the biggest possible build-up. We thought it must be AMG or something and wondered whether you had given those names as references recently, or whether they had been taken from your file, from your original application for a commission.

Then last night a Mrs. Cahill, who lives where Barlows used to, and I don’t think even knows you, told Margie that she had been called, and questioned at length about the family, and about me and my family! She barely knows me, but her husband knew Daddy, so he gave all the right answers there, and she said everything nice she could and added that everyone on the street thought the same.

For an overseas job, it doesn’t seem as if they’d check so carefully on all of us, or for a routine promotion. The man told Mrs. Cahill that you are in line for “a very nice promotion” – that’s all. It seems pretty certain that it is an FBI investigation, and it certainly makes one think of goldfish. In a way it seems like a rather haphazard way of getting facts. For instance, since the terrible quarrel last Spring between Dorrie and Miles about Billy, the families have been very cool, and anyone with a personal grudge could have messed it up. I’m glad they didn’t talk to Lena Newberry about me.

I loved the story about throwing the knife out of the window. The weather hasn’t corroded your sense of humor at all, anyway. I hate to think of you flying all the time, I suppose it would be better just not to think of it.

Dad bought $5000 worth of bonds for us last year, but they are safely tucked away in their safe deposit box – I was allowed to look at them, so you can see that there will not necessarily be much freedom in using them. They are in our joint names. Then this Christmas he gave Penny four thousand (on maturity) in bonds for his education. They are in his name, spelled wrong, which I have to have corrected by selling and rebuying them this month. (60 days after date of purchase.)

I hope this new excitement means you will be stationed in this country for a change, because I would like you to be ours now, it is been long enough. I love you, Darling, and think you are the one husband in the world for me, also my best friend.

Goodnight again,

#171. DPM to JDM (ALS, 1p.)
Utica, NY
April 13, 1945


I couldn’t believe it was really Friday-the-thirteenth until I went and looked. It hasn’t felt like it. We have had a gorgeous week, and I have resisted an overpowering desire to just sit and soak up the sun, and have made a good substantial dent in my housecleaning. This afternoon, however, your letter and one for the kids seemed important enough to let up a bit, and now I’m on our little porch with the sun beating down on my face (and this white paper), and how good it feels. After a day of housecleaning I’m too groggy to write, but at least my weakest link has held up well, and it’s such a relief. A little warmth and all that trouble goes away. I wish I didn’t love New York State so much.

Your reaction to the news of President Roosevelt’s death interests me. Do you, way over there, feel a great sense of depression and loss that everyone here does? They announced it when we had just started dinner last night, and like everyone else here, I felt stunned. The whole country has taken it very hard. It’s odd that both the intelligent and the “little people” both had so much confidence in him, as well as such a personal feeling toward him. One can’t help but feel that it will mess up the peace to have him and Willkie both dead, and that perhaps this will throw the lead to Russia at a bad time. Dorrie was so upset about it, intelligently so, and she was sure Dad would think it was the end of all. A right leader is pretty rare, when you think of all the people in this country, and none quite as able left.

Goodnight, and love to you.

#172. DPM to JDM (ALS, 3pp.)
Utica, NY
May 8,1945


Isn’t it a coincidence that just two years ago today you left Utica for overseas service – and now it’s VE Day! That day, we knew so little of what would happen, and couldn’t endure looking ahead to months of separation no matter how soon or how distant they would end.

We knew, of course, that today would be Der Tag when we turned on the radio for the proclamation at nine this morning, and when it turned out to be a day of extreme darkness and heavy, constant rain, a lot of people, – even on the radio, – muttered with satisfaction that that would keep people from celebrating! For once the disciples of Discretion for Discretion’s sake have put the heavy hand on a tired country a little too hard, I think.

We can’t but be conscious that there is more war and hardship and work ahead, and I think the majority have been nearer tears than rowdiness at this news, but six years of European war – can’t there be a little rejoicing to have that ended? Having been firmly squelched – and quite without cause, – myself, my only reaction has been to wish that you were here, because I’m sure you wouldn’t feel sanctimonious and smug about it, nor would you find it necessary to curb any normal sign of enthusiasm.

Margie’s letter from you, received yesterday, gave us the impression that although your coming home has been delayed another month, it will be for good when you do come, and last night’s headlines confirm it. My guess would be if they let you home at all, it will be for good, and that the only thing that would keep you there longer than you now expect, would be that the imminence of another V-Day would make changes in personnel impractical. Anyway, with this word from you, it seems as if we had additional reason to be happy.

I talked to Margie yesterday and today and it was, in spite of all the past experience I’ve had, it was a shock to me that they are so bent on observing this day just as they observed the first Christmas you were away. When I suggested that we might all meet for dinner somewhere I was told that the family definitely didn’t care to “celebrate.” It seemed a little obvious to say that it seemed to me to be an occasion, not necessary for merry-making, but when people who had gone through it with common fears and loneliness and a mutual stake in it all might then simply feel an urge to be near each other. But I did say it, – and made other plans for the evening, feeling all day like someone who has been caught telling dirty stories at a funeral.

This afternoon when I went in Reid-Sheldon’s, Mr. Sheldon said I was to call 9 Beverly. It seems Dad decided it wouldn’t be too blatant for us all to have dinner at the club tonight, as long as six years war had ended. That was all right – his three women, like three sheep, finally felt free to draw a breath of relief and smile in public, now that the Master had finally consented to V-day.

Pen and I had dinner at Cross-Costley’s, and had a fine evening until nine o’clock, and if I hear that any of my friends (including you) got good and stinking, they will have my complete respect.

It was quiet in Utica. Stores closed at three, bells rang for a few minutes, and the radio presented every notable personality in the world, I guess, with a comment and a dit-dit-dit-dah! I didn’t catch the real mood of it until I was downtown for an hour, and there wasn’t anything visibly different about the crowd, except their less than usually dogged expressions, but there was a breeze, a sort of whisper – something very intangible but quite exciting, over the people’s heads. It was contagious, and I came home feeling as if I’d had three drinks, – much happier, much lonesomer, and much more in need of human companionship in the same way that you reach for someone’s hand under tension.

Darling –

I’m scraping along financially but can’t hold out much longer without getting into the Piseco money – and that’s sacrilege! I don’t know what you can do about it, but in case you wonder where the money goes here is what I jotted down after paying bills the last month. Some items don’t come every month, but there are always several items of that kind each month, so it averages about the same.

May 1:

Rent – 22., Coal – 14.25, Rita – 32., Oneida Natl. (loan) 20., Gas and electric – 6.21, Utica phone – 4.26, Poland phone – 2.94, Milk – 4.64, Reid-Sheldon (9 books) – 6., Life insurance – 11., Piseco (taxes, lights) – 8.75, Dr. Squier – 5., Piseco (on balance of 95.) – 50. Cash balance: 57.95.

Cash balance, similar each month, must cover: FOOD, CLOTHES {Dordo and Pen – who grows fast}, CAR, CLEANER (some laundry, all cleaning materials), DRUGS (incl. vitamins), HELP (sitter, scrubber, ash-boy, lawn), GIFTS (7 this month, also Church and Red Cross), RECREATION AND ENTERTAINING.

We could easily spend the whole $50 on food alone! I really don’t see any of these that can be eliminated and the others are minimal.

#173. JDM to DPM (ALS, 1p.)
A way station
May 16 (?) 1945

Dordo, Darling,

I get so tired of writing my few letters so full of excuses and apologies. I feel helpless in the grip of circumstances and plead constantly for your continued understanding. You have no idea how proud of you I have been and how much I cherish your stalwart backing-up in the face of things which are explicable, but not to you. However, the time is coming sooner and sooner when we can talk all this out. I feel, just as you have expressed, that our love will be refined and strengthened by this absurd and unbelievable separation.

You probably have wondered why I wrote to Mr. and Mrs. E. A. last week and left you out. Time was most limited and I was missing a piece to the picture puzzle which I wanted to fit into your letter and which can now be done. Hold your breath, but when I get home in August, I will probably be out of the G. D. Army. It will mean that I will be a hell of a long time en route and security will forbid my telling you when I leave. I am sending you some money tomorrow by P.T.O. And when you’d don’t hear from me for a long time, and nobody does, get yourself set for the homecoming.

I am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I am so tired and rundown that my old bones feel like aching lead. I am thin and nervous and in no mood to go into a long line of bull in this letter regarding the significance of the peace. Just love me and trust me and wait for me. Don’t send any more packages. Don’t send any letters after 1 June. Inform the rest of the family. Be prepared in August to take off on the basis of a phone call.

With all my love, John

#174. DPM to JDM (ALS, 1p.)
Utica, NY
May 28, 1945

My Darling,

We feel as if we have waited two years for the letter that came today. I can’t tell you how much it meant to get it, but a great and growing weariness and tension let up a little – surely enough to keep us going until August, when the rest – I know already from this morning’s experience, – will soon go.

This time it really seemed as if I couldn’t bear another day of not hearing from you. It was worth waiting for, and won’t have to be endured again because every day of silence from now on will bring you nearer. What a wonderful thing to get our lives and our love off paper. All the adjustments won’t be easy, but everything will be so much more normal that making them will be far less strain, and there will be plenty of time to take on one thing at a time.

We’ve laughed and cried and I feel elated and exhausted, but even you would be impressed with Pencil’s reaction. When I told him the news, he sat very still and said “I feel as if I were going to cry.” About an hour later he said “Mom, isn’t it different with Dad coming home? He’s only six but as sensitive and mature as we could possibly wish for him to be. You will like him. Margie was very much relieved, and called Dad and Dorrie. Our friends are all very happy for us too. Grandma said “It’s probably a good thing if he comes by boat, he’ll get a good rest. Before the War people thought a boat trip was the thing to do when they were worn out.”

Dorrie got her first letter from Bill written after VE day, so she feels glad to know for sure he is safe. I wish his war were over, too.

I’m sorry you are weary, but you will have plenty of rest when you get here. If you feel that you need me, I am glad. I need you, too.

Let’s hope you’re not delayed – I’ll be a nervous wreck waiting for that phone call. We’ll spend the Summer getting brown and healthy and calm working in our garden and fixing up our house – with your homecoming the reason for everything. It will be a happy Summer.

Take terribly good care of yourself, Darling, and I’ll come anywhere to meet you, the minute you say the word. I love you so very much.

Your Dordo

#175. JDM to DPM (ALS, 1p.)
A way station
June 16, 1945

Dear Dordo,

There is no time to make up for many months of ragged correspondence, but maybe little bits here and there as I can squeeze them in will help.

I am waiting for transportation; impatience is a curse sapping my energy to the extent where I have to force myself to take these days in a slow measured pack, forcing my mind onto quiet trivial matters, trying to sleep as much as possible, ignoring all the fevered and hurried thoughts which try to intrude themselves upon me. I am consciously cultivating ennui in the hope that it will quiet me down.

One of the things making these days so nice is the abrupt lifting of all weight of responsibility, the bliss of having only myself to think of and only my own creature comforts to plan is truly a delightful thing. I guess that Saturday morning feeling is going to hang around for a long time.

Regarding concrete plans, I suppose you have some, and those which follow are of course subject to change depending on what you want to do. I don’t know where or when I will get there, but I imagine that I will be able to get to a phone and get hold of you. Then, I assume there will be sufficient waste time in processing so that while I am being red taped, you can get to some meeting place which I will designate over the phone. I will have a sufficient amount of money with me to carry us over a little while in the bright lights, before we head for home side. We can stay alone together until we decide it’s time to head for home, blaming any undue length of time we spend as “processing.” You can hit the Piseco fund for the cash to get to me. Stow the Pencil at 9 Beverly.

Then, after we have had time at home – four, five days, I would like to head for the lake, a few weeks there and then to see Sammy and Evy (I have plans which we ought to discuss with him).

It all sounds too good to be true, but I can think of nothing which will interfere with the above, except, as said before, whatever plans you may have.

It seems strange to sit here, covered with prickly heat and impetigo, realizing that in a few tense weeks we will be together again after these two unbelievable years.

Take care, my darling, and have your plans all set for my phone call.

All my love,


Dear Dordo: The World War II Letters of Dorothy and John D. MacDonald Copyright © 2021 by Florence M. Turcotte, Cal Branche, Nola Branche, and Maynard MacDonald. Copyright to the letters of John and Dorothy MacDonald and photographs is retained by Maynard MacDonald and the MacDonald family for the remainder of the term of copyright. . All Rights Reserved.

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