Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wondering about the family's status, and plans for after the Army

After the hoopla of Christmas, Maj. Gillham comes down with a cold (from watching the football game, I'm guessing) and he begins some introspection on the future of the Gillham family.  What's more, he's still not even aware of the fate of his family on its trek eastward.  From our current perspective it is hard to imagine such primitive communications, and I can only imagine what sort of a nagging worry it was for him not knowing whether the family made it home safely to Atlanta.

28 Dec 1945

Dearest Lovely,

I have an old cold -- the first I have had in a long time.  So I am staying in and trying to get rid of it.

The worst thing that has happened to me lately is that I haven't had a letter from you in a long time.  I know you were busy during the last days at Robles, but just a line would help a great deal.  Now that you are (or were) traveling, it is the time that I am the most anxious about you.  I feel so hopeless and helpless when I can't hear from you.  The last letter I got was sent 10 Dec.  Since then I have received one from Dan from Cambridge, Mass., dated 15 Dec. and one from Clark Gillham from Knoxville dated 17 Dec.  So the mails seem to coming through O.K.

It takes us so long to exchange an idea that I guess we had best start talking now about what to do when I get out of the Army.  It looks now like I will get away from here about May 1st.  That should give me time to get back to the states and get discharged by June 1st.  If the children are out of school then, I would like for us to go somewhere and take a two or three week vacation and then go back to work.  I guess I will go back with Southern Bell unless something turns up to change my mind.  I don't know yet what separation center I would go through, but normally you go directly to the one nearest your home and start terminal leave from there.  If you would like to work it some other way, such as meeting me in California, let me know and I will see if I can work it.  I don't imagine it would be wise to get the furniture out at this stage of the game.  It would only be for a few months before we would have it all to do over again.  I think the goverment will ship it for me when I am discharged, and it is all crated now.

As it is now I don't even know if Father got out to drive back with you.

We got an issue today of a tooth brush, tooth paste, Barbasol, razor blades, and soap, but no cigarettes.  I am always short of cigarettes, so if you could send me about four cartons and some film No. 120 it would help out.  The Christmas packages coming in here now are terribly beat up, so pack them well.  That is about all I can think of that I need.  If it isn't too heavy, 1st class mail is a good idea.

I love you, my darling and certainly hope you are all right,

Love to all,


[Note for the post office on separate sheet]

28 Dec 1945

Dear Frances,

Please send me those heavy socks, some film, some food and some reading matter.  You know what I would like in that line.




Frances' brother, Dan Holsenbeck, was attending Harvard at the time, which explains the reference to a letter from Cambridge.  Clark Gillham was a distant relative of our Gillhams that Maj. Gillham found listed in the phone book while they were living in Knoxville in 1934-36.  Clark and his wife, Tot, had by now become good friends of the Gillhams, and they remained so throughout Maj. Gillham's life.

Maj. Gillham mentions his government-issue toiletries, including Barbasol, which is a well-known shaving cream.  Barbasol was developed by an MIT professor who was trying to come up with a shaving cream that didn't require lathering.  The product was first produced and marketed in Indianapolis in 1920, and soon it was selling nationwide.  The original Barbasol (and most likely the product that Maj. Gillham was issued) came in a tube, unlike the common aerosol cans we know today.

The "No. 120" film that Maj. Gillham requests was the standard size film for the old Brownie cameras developed by Kodak for amateur use in 1901.  The 120 film was 6cm wide (or 60mm, nearly twice as wide as the later 35mm standard) and contained roughly 16-18 exposures.  This was replaced in 1965 by the 220, which doubled the number of exposures.

I haven't been able to find anything definitive regarding the necessity of request letters from soldiers for shipping items overseas, but I am assuming it was a practice like many others during wartime designed to make sure that all actions were necessary and that no resources were being used frivolously.

No comments: