Sunday, February 21, 2010

Early birthday wishes for Frances

A short letter is on tap for today, and it was written specifically to wish Frances a happy birthday.  Frances was born on January 1, 1913, on DeKalb Avenue in Atlanta, not too far from 992 Washita.  This was her 33rd birthday coming up.

18 Dec 1945

My Dearest Sweetheart,

For over a week, I didn't get a single letter, and then yesterday and this morning I received three long sweet letters from you and two from the children.  Also the pictures of you and Martha are like being a little with you.  Martha's laugh in that picture is so contagious that I laugh out loud whenever I look at it.  Those little proofs go nicely into the transparent pages in my bill fold and I can always have them with me and look at them often.

This will probably arrive shortly before your birthday so I want to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy one and to say that I am very glad that you were born, and that I met and married you.  I have a kimono that I am sending to you, but it will probably arrive late.

I also sent a little box to Martha.  It was the present that was given to me at Atami.

I have some things for Emily and Monty and will send them a little later.

We have been working pretty hard lately.  I haven't had any time off in 17 days now and have worked some at night.

I want to write you a nice long letter in a day or two when we finish this project and I can collect my thoughts.

I am sending this one principally to wish you a very happy birthday and to tell you that I love you.

How was the trip?  I am anxious to hear.

Lots of love,



I now have an idea of what sort of work Maj. Gillham was doing at the Dai Ichi Building on MacArthur's staff, and why he had to work 17 days at a clip, as he mentions above. In a trunk in our attic in Crosswicks, NJ, I found six of the reports that his office created.  Below is the cover page from the second report, published in November 1945.

This particular report is 206 pages, not including 23 pages of fold-out maps and charts.  It was typewritten on 8" x 13" sheets, i.e., just a bit smaller than legal size.  The report is broken into five basic sections:  General, Political, Economic, Social, and a section on Korea, and in the political section, the idea of a new constitution is discussed.  This would later become one of MacArthur's primary goals, and the new constitution that he and his staff ultimately create is one of the most important parts of the Occupation legacy.

Bill and Frances Gillham had many passions in common, one of which was flora; or more specifically, the study of trees, flowers, shrubs and other plant life that they encountered in the various climes they lived in.  Maj. Gillham found a particular type of Japanese maple leaf in a bonsai garden in Nikko, which he visited in November 1945.  He saved Frances some leaves from the tree and sent it home to her.  The leaves are still intact:

A message written on a postcard bag, in which he put the leaves

Two of the leaves as they appear today

No comments: