My Dad wasn’t a stranger to me and I always knew that he loved me very much. However, he was not the most open personality, at least to my interpretation, he always had a depth of patience that defied reason, until the bottom of the barrel was reached. Let me explain via three events, two I heard about and one I experienced, although all involve me.

First one, we were visiting one of Mom’s brothers in Blackwell, OK, before he moved his family to Colorado, and they had a swimming pool at their house, which was extremely rare in the mid-’50s in Oklahoma. A bunch of kids were in the pool and I was wading in the shallow end and somehow was knocked down and sitting on the bottom, now too deep to stand and get my head above water. Mom later told me that Dad — who was wearing his good suit — jumped into the pool and rescued me. Not everyone can truly relate that their father actually saved their life, but mine did. He also ruined his best suit and shoes. Sure hope he always felt it was worth it.

[read the review on Dating After Divorce]

The second, I was in the chicken yard feeding grain to the hens when one of the roosters attacked me and knocked me down and started slicing me with its spurs. Mom later told me that Dad grabbed a hatchet, ran into the chicken yard and dispatched the offending rooster with a solid whack! I imagine that we had fried chicken that night, and it was, I’m sure, real goooood!

The third, what it was about I really don’t have a clue. I must have been doing something extremely stupid because I still remember what it felt like for him to give me a swift kick in the butt! When I screw up even now, I can feel his foot kicking me in the ass, and I know that I deserved it then, and also all too often even more so now.

I have so many of his traits. He was a control freak, however he certainly met his match with my Mom. I finally found someone for me that measures up to my penchant for controlling B.S. and she gives me no quarter either.

In today’s five letters you get the sense that Duke, becoming ever more devoted to his Anna Mae, is starting to worry a little about the future, about whether he will ever get to go back home, and whether his Anna Mae will be there if he does make it through the war. In September of 1942, the war’s outcome is certainly not determined, and we are not sure how much he is thinking about the big picture. Since he and I never got to talk about any of this, I have no insight into his frame of mind at this time of his life. I’m just tripping on getting to know my Dad as a twenty-five year old guy. As a fifty-four year old father of one, I look at him as I would a student in one of the freshman classes I taught at Tulsa University, and also as my Dad. It’s a very Kevin Costneresque experience — as per the final catch scenes in the movie Field of Dreams.

Once again, my father’s letters . . . (db)

 

 

My Darling,

I see you haven’t as yet gotten a letter saying I am well, as a matter of fact, I guess I never was very sick.

So, you don’t know how to act in an up town theater, well don’t feel too badly about getting lost. I remember the first larger theater I ever attended. If it hadn’t been for the usher I would have probably gone out the exit & missed the show.

I hope you don’t acquire too many of those big town ideas. I like you just as you are. I am more than glad you got the opportunity to work at a better job but don’t let it change you too much & I’ll do the same.

Didn’t I ever tell you about the way I wash clothes? Well, to start with, we don’t have a washing machine as you probably have already guessed. We use a scrub brush and scrub to beat H_ _ _, then turn the clothes wrong side out & fold them along the seam while they are soaking wet & hang them out to dry without wringing them out. In this way, when they dry, they are pressed. You’d be surprised how good they turn out. Some of the boys have irons but I never use one & my clothes look just as well, believe it or not. Those white suits sure get dirty.

I saw Bill a couple of days ago, he is starting to school in a day or so, I don’t know much about it, I only saw him for a minute.

Bob, my friend here, said to tell you hello & he hung your picture in my locker for me, did a real good job of it too.

He (Bob) still says he is going to send you that picture of him you asked for. I am also going to send you a picture & in the near future too, I promise.

I am still taking my medicine & feel a lot better. I don’t feel like I need it now, but the doctor said to take it so I am.

I am tired tonight. We shot a battalion here this morning & are at Bradford this afternoon. Then I washed my clothes & now I am writing you. It is almost time for lights out so I had better bathe & get to bed. We have inspection by the Captain tomorrow. Everyone dresses in his best & the Captain gives us the once over, just like you have probably seen in the movies. Well, good night darling, & be good.

Yours forever
Love
“Duke”

 

 

Hello Darling,

I just got back from Portsmouth Hospital. Took a couple of patients over. On the way back we stopped & bought some ice cream & cookies, sure were good. This is Sunday morning, Sept. 20, 942. I ran out of ink last night & had to wait until this morning to borrow some & write you, notice the difference in color?

We had a long day yesterday, had inspection by the Captain. That is the first time I have ever stood Captain’s inspection. He just gave me the once over & went on, I guess everything was O.K. because he stopped at several of the boys and gave them H _ _ _, & I mean he can do a good job of it too. He also ate out some of the officers, who hadn’t polished their buttons lately.

I have nothing to do today. I am on standby, don’t have to work but I have to stay on the compound. I guess I might as well wash a few clothes & then take a sun bath. I sure have read a lot since I joined the Navy, it is a good way to pass away time. I read every thing I get my hands on except the newspaper.

I had to stand fire watch last night from 12 o’clock till 2 o’clock. This happens every two or three weeks, for the hospital corps. We have to make the rounds through a building where they keep the patients that are being discharged from the Navy. We check to see that they are all there & that they don’t smoke in bed.

Say, about that Civil Service job, if I were you I wouldn’t give up a good job I liked for one I don’t know anything about & besides, don’t get too far away from home, you will always be happier if you stay close enough that you can go home once in a while. I know, & besides, I’ll know where to find you when I do come back.

I don’t know anything about Earl Semons so I can’t say much. It doesn’t sound any too good though.

I can’t figure it out. I write mother letters & all she sends me is cards. I guess that is better than nothing, though.

About that Casa Loma visit, I want you to have a good time, but do be good. I know Lucille & Billy drink & you promised you wouldn’t unless I was along, so have a good time but don’t indulge for it makes you do things you shouldn’t.

By till tomorrow.

Yours for Ever.
Duke.

P.S. I think Ophard is getting married next week.

 

 

My Darling Sweetheart,

I don’t understand it, I didn’t get a letter today but I suppose I’ll get two tomorrow. I hope so. I sure missed the one I was supposed to get today.

I got a letter from the Sturgeons. They each wrote a letter and put it in the same envelope. They don’t know what to think about Ophard [Dad’s brother – Okie] planning on getting married. you see, they have never met Gladys & they sort of feel as though they should either approve or disapprove of the girl before Ophard marries.

Ted said he sure needs help on the farm & wishes Ophard & I were there to help him.

I sat in the sun almost all day today, got a little red, but didn’t burn. If I can find time I am going to start on that again, the one I started down in Texas. I have been on the job so much I haven’t had time to complete it, that is, do a good job. I am a lot browner than I was the last time you saw me, but I am far from being satisfied with the job.

I washed again today, just the suit I wore yesterday. I try to wash every other day so there won’t be so much to wash at one time. I have 8 suits of whites, 3 suits of blues, 4 white hats, 1 blue hat, 10 suits of undies, 12 pairs of socks, a over coat, over shoes, two pairs of slippers, 1 pair of black shoes, 2 pair of brown shoes, 2 pair of overall pants, & lord only knows what else. This is more clothes than I ever had in my life before.

Bob is over at the main building making a long distant call to his girl, boy would it cost me to call my girl. I might try it some time, don’t be surprised.

Say, I am getting to where I can write several pages. I get lots of practice, but I love it.

I just got back from the station movie “Bullet Seas”. I don’t know any of the stars & it wasn’t any too good, but it was free.

Well, it is about time for lights out, so good night darling. (I LOVE YOU)

Forever yours,
“Duke”

 

 

My Darling Anna Mae,

I certainly do have a wonderful girl. Guess what! I got 2 letters & a card from her today. Darling, I don’t know what I’d do if you didn’t write to me every day. I guess I’d go nutty.

We have sure been busy today. We shot a battalion this morning & have been examining another battalion all afternoon. it is now 9:15 & we just now quit, some days are like this. I have typed so much today I’ll probably type in my sleep. But the way, I am getting pretty good at typing if I do say so myself, practice makes perfect.

You won’t have to ask me to come home if I can, because the first chance I get you’ll be seeing me. boy, what writing, I am tired. I am still out in the shot hut writing this letter. I knew if I went over to the barracks it would be too noisy. I still promise I’ll have a picture made for you & soon, too. you see, I can’t go to town just anytime I please.

I don’t get off till 5 o’clock & by the time I could get to town it would be too late, so I have to wait till the weekend & I only get off every other weekend, Maybe. Sometimes we have to work on Sunday when we are supposed to have liberty, but it is O.K., gets kind of tiresome but I don’t mind too much. It can’t last forever, I hope.

My Darling, I am so lonely tonight. I wish you were here, or I was there. There isn’t anything or anybody that can take your place & fill the spot that you have been in my life. I guess I have it pretty bad. Forgive me, I am supposed to keep up your moral & not break it down.

All my Love
Forever & a day
“Duke”

P.S. thumbs Up.

 

To My Darling Anna Mae,

I didn’t get a letter today but I got three yesterday, so I didn’t exactly expect one, although I waited in hope all day & it didn’t come.

I haven’t written mother in two or three days, I know I should but I can’t seem to find time, maybe I will tonight after I finish this to you. Your letter means more to me than all the rest together. I guess we feel the same about most things.

I am on duty tonight but we haven’t had a call for ambulance yet. Oh yeah, a call just now came in. I’ll finish this before I go because some papers have to be filled out first on the patient.

We take him over to the Hospital at Portsmouth. That is where I was before I came over here. I am just the helper on the ambulance, I don’t drive because I don’t have a license.

Some of the boys here in ships co. are getting their orders so you never can tell who will be next. I’ll probably have to fill in one of the jobs where the boys are leaving. I don’t know yet, but I’ll bet I will probably be sent back in the records office.

One of the fellows here got a clipping from his wife today. They had his name & a write up about him & the Seabees in his hometown paper, By the way, most of the boys here are married. I don’t see how they figure it, but I guess it is all right, what do you think?

Well, I guess I’d better get ready to go on that trip to Portsmouth.

All My Love
Duke

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