Monday, March 1, 2010

Finally, a letter from the journey eastward, and some talk about the trip

Finally, Maj. Gillham gets a letter from Frances written while she, Pop and the girls were en route to Atlanta.  At least now he is aware of some of the details of the trip, even though he still doesn't know about the eventful Christmas Eve arrival home.

31 Dec 1945

Dearest Darling,

Just received a letter from you written in Las Cruces, N.M., on 19 Dec and postmarked Sierra Blanca, Texas, 4 PM, 20 Dec.  I certainly was glad to get it, as I had had no word from you since 10 Dec from Robles.  Something must have gone wrong with a big batch of mail.  Several others here have had the same trouble.  It either got snarled in the Christmas rush in the states, was lost at sea, or went to Manila by mistake.  You see the Rear Echelon of APO 500 is still at Manila and that is why it is important to put Adv Esch on all my mail.

I infer that you met Pop in LA after some delay and then went La Jolla.  I wrote you to La Jolla and El Paso, Gen. Del.; and to Memphis at 1042 E. McLemore.  It doesn't seem that you got the letter at La Jolla.  You may have missed them all on account of the slowed down mails.  I allowed about 10 days which probably wasn't enough.  Did you leave forwarding addresses with the Post Office at those places, so the letters will be sent on to you?

It is a great relief to me to know that Pop was with you.  I know he looked after you all well and I hope he enjoyed the trip and that it wasn't too tiring on him.

I am sorry to hear of your laryngitis.  That is a sure sign you are over-doing yourself.  Please rest up now and get strong so that you won't be in a weakened condition and susceptible to catching something else.

As well as I can remember, it is about 140 miles from Las Cruces to Sierra Blanca.  That doesn't sound like you were setting any speed records.  I am beginning to doubt if you made Atlanta by Christmas.  The thing is that I hope you got there in good shape, regardless of when.

Yes, I think we need a trailer, too.  Our family has just naturally outgrown one car for passengers and freight both.  We will have to get one before we attempt any more long trips.

I wrote you a note this morning and sent you a money order for $100 to help on Pop's expenses.  It is a good idea to let any vital information appear in several letters, for they might not always go through.

I know you have your hands full with Martha at this age.  992 Washita must be a very lively location nowadays.

How is Mother Ki?  Give her my love.  I know she and Mother 'Cile enjoy having all the children around, even if they do get in their hair.

Dan seems very pleased with his prospects (both family and job).  I am glad they are not wasting any time getting a family started.

Let know your plans as soon as you develop any.

I feel much better now that I have heard from you, my darling.

Much love,



Sierra Blanca, Texas, is a small town that is about 100 miles southeast of El Paso along what is now the Interstate 10 corridor.  As of the 2000 census, the population was 533, so it's fair to assume it was a small town in 1945 as well.  The town was built at the meeting point of two coverging railroads in 1881 which formed a southern transcontinental stretch.

Assuming that the reason Frances didn't mention Maj. Gillham's letter that he sent to La Jolla was because she didn't receive it, it is safe to assume that she did in fact leave a forwarding address at the La Jolla post office, because we are now in possession of that letter (which you read in the February 13th post).
Just as a quick refresher, Mother Ki was the family hypocorism given to Frances' maternal grandmother (i.e., Mother Cile's mother).  Her name was Mary Emma Dixon Kiser, and her husband was a dry goods salesman, Andrew Jackson Kiser, who owned a store at 53-1/2 Alabama Street in Atlanta, which is now a part of Underground Atlanta.

Maj. Gillham mentioned that Dan Holsenbeck (Frances' brother) was "not wasting any time getting a family started," which probably meant that Dan's wife, Nancy, announced that she was pregnant with their first child, George Penn Holsenbeck (who we all call Penn).  The couple was married on March 20, 1945, and Penn was born on June 11, 1946.

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