Saturday, July 31, 2010

Frances goes shopping again

In this letter we realize that Frances has yet to hear about the arrival of mail in Japan.  We also hear that Mother Ki is not doing so well.  For those of you who don't know, Mother Ki will eventually succumb in the coming September, about seven months hence.

Mar 15, 1946

Dearest, My Love,

I received another letter from you today mailed March 16.  Still you hadn't received any mail from me since Feb. 8.  I have written and written letters to you, darling.  I hope that old slow freight bring you a lot of them.  It makes me sad to think of you way out there all by yourself, and you go days and days (and weeks and weeks) with no word from us.

Your mail is coming in better at the present.  I hope yours improves too.

I think Wilson was lovely to loan you a radio.  Now if I could just recite some poetry to you over it or tell you a nice sleepy bedtime story.  Margaret has the nicest sleepy-time story book.  I've tried to find one for you but the stores have sold out.

Uncle Gartrell took Elizabeth and me to lunch today at the Iris Garden, a coffee shop in the Atlanta Hotel.  The proprietor is the Jap who wrote the Japanese letters to you for Uncle Gartrell.  I took Gartrell one of the silk handkerchiefs you sent.

While I was up town, I looked at suits again to cover between my hat and shoes.  I found a luscious one in melon.  That is a shade of red that has some yellow in it and it is a nice soft pastel.  My chartreuse green gloves and hat make me feel like an Easter egg because the colors blend as nicely as the colors on Easter eggs.  Emily thinks it is just the thing.  It is a woolen suit but I can wear it as often as I wore my yellow jacket.

How would you like to go to Bermuda, or wouldn't it be fun to go to a nice resort around Georgia -- say, Savannah.

I hope you can come home early, but I won't even get excited until I get your cablegram.  Then I'll wait as patiently as possible until I can actually see you and feel you.  Then I guess I'll just about eat you up.

Mother Ki has been very sick.  She was in a coma Sunday with fever of 103.  The doctor gave her a shot of penicillin -- enough for 24 hours.  She snapped out of it and is all right now.  She still has a little fever, but she is rational, takes nourishment and sleeps normally.

I mailed the insurance money for the car.  I never have heard from them, but I sent it ahead anyway.

Darling, I love you little, I love you big, I love you like a little pig.



Here is a letter that Monty wrote to Maj. Gillham which came under separate cover, postmarked March 25.

And here is a drawing Monty enclosed, showing a woman being pursued by a man.  I imagine the woman is also dropping her handkerchief in the classic style.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A free day to visit Tokyo

Maj. Gillham finally has a free day and decides to take a trip around town with an army friend.  He describes a tea-making ritual, which is still carried on today and is still as ritualistic.  I heard a report about this on the NPR show The World, and I remember the reporter specifically mentioning 3-1/2 swallows.  At time (and still now, even) I wondered what the difference was between a swallow and a half swallow.

After the letter I have attached some scans of items he enclosed in this letter.  As always, remember to click on an image twice to see the largest size.

24 Mar 46

Dearest Darling,

Last night I got out all your letters postmarked from the 6th to the 13th of March and read them in proper sequence.  That gave me a good chronological picture of your activities for that week.

I am sorry you didn't get to see skiing at Nikko.  The news reporters took some pictures of us when I was there, but no movies.  They took my name and home town and I thought it might get in an Atlanta paper as I gave that address.

I have been running around with Dick Wilson a good deal lately.  He is an energetic fellow with a lot of interest in life and he has been a very good friend to me and helped me out in many ways.  He wa far from the best Japanese student at Chicago, but he has kept at it and now is better than most.  He loaned me a radio some time ago and today he helped me rig an aerial on the hotel roof so that now it is working fine.  The Japanese radios don't work well without an aerial.

Today was Sunday and I had the first day off thatI have spent in Tokyo in some time.  It was a very interesting day.  He and I got a sedan this morning and started out.  First we called on a friend of his who is a leading Japanese opera star.  He has played the lead in many classical operas such as Lohengrin.  We looked at some of his scrapbooks showing him in scenes of the operas.  He is a handsome, likable, relatively young fellow.  He is from Formosa, probably part Chinese, and has a pretty Japanese wife.  They live in a modernistic Western-style house which the fire just missed.  They served us tea and we took some pictures which I will send when they are developed.

Then we went to look at some houses that are being built in one of the devastated areas.  The head of the contracting firm doing the building had us in for tea by the members of a tea cult.  The tea ritual has been developed almost to the point of religion.  We went to a Japanese-style house outside of the main building for this.  We removed our shoes, which has almost become a habit now, and went in and sat on the floor.  There a number of beautifully kimonoed high-class Japanese women served us.  Every single movement of the whole procedure is rigidly fixed in the ritual.  No movement, no matter how small, is casual.  The tea is made from powdered green tea.  It is drunk in exactly three and one half swallows.  The first half swallow is for a taste.  The last swallow is made with a loud slurping noise.

The art exhibit was very good.  I think the Stars and Stripes overemphasized the nudes and baited a lot of G.I.'s out there.  Naturally I couldn't thoroughly enjoy an art exhibit without you.  It was very interesting and would have been a great pleasure with you by my side to comment, and to listen to my ideas.

Last night I met a Mr. Rowe in the bar.  He is here on a textile mission.  He recognized a Lt. Cmdr. and spoke to him.  After the Lt. Cmdr. left he told me he had been a weaver in Mr. Rowe's mill.  Really a small world.

I have a kimono for Margaret.  I was planning to bring it with me, but I will send it in the next package.

Recently saw a Japanese sign:  Underhole.  Finally figured out it meant basement.

Lots of love,


P.S.  A Korean gave me the 100 yuan note.  It is Chinese money.


Here is the article from Stars and Stripes about the art exhibit that Maj. Gillham attended.

Here is another article from the Stars and Stripes that he enclosed as well.  His note at the bottom is a reference to the book and movie A Bell for Adano, which he had spoken about in a previous letter.  The spelling, alas, cannot be changed.

Here is the 100 Yuan note that he mentions in the postcript of the letter, which a Korean had given to him.



Here is something interesting that Maj. Gillham included in this letter but did not mention:  it is a toll ticket from the Hiroshima long-distance office.  I am assuming it was the office that he visited downtown which had fared relatively well in the bombing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A letter to Emily

On the same day as our last letter, Maj. Gillham penned a quick letter to his daughter Emily.  Word had made it to him about the notorious kissing party, but he seems to be quite proud that his daughter is growing up.

23 Mar 46

Dear Emily,

I have received several letters from you in the last few days, one dated 19 Feb, one 5 Mar and the post card of Uncle Remus.  You write very good and interesting letters.  Your handwriting is fine.  Don't worry about it being big.  That way you can learn to make more perfect letters.  Later on it will naturally get smaller.

I am glad you like your arithmetic book.  It isn't necessary for learning to be painful.  It should be fun.

So you went to a party and wore an evening dress!  And danced with boys!  And kissed them!!  My, what a grown daughter I will have when I get home.  Don't forget -- we are going to have a date when I get home.  Will you let me have a kiss, too?

Do you have a scout troop yet?  It is very pretty in the country around Atlanta at this time of year.  Get Mother to show you some of the nice places.

Lots of love,


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The letters keep coming in to Tokyo

More letters arrived in Tokyo, as the logjam seems to be giving way and the flow of mail is becoming constant.  He even receives some mail while he is writing this letter and is able to respond to it almost immediately.

If anyone knows of the whereabouts of the gong Maj. Gillham talks about in this letter, please leave a comment.  I remember my mother (Monty) talking about it, but I don't remember ever seeing it at 18 Camden Road.

23 Mar 46

Dearest Darling,

Letters from you of 9 and 13 Mar received today -- also one from Monty.  Monty told me Martha had had the measles.  Your latest letter said she was well, so I guess everything is all right.

I am at the office now.  The Sgt. just brought me two more letters from you dated 7 and 11 Mar.  So I will now take time out and read them.

Well, now I can piece things together pretty well.  I am glad Martha got well and hope Monty won't have any trouble with her ear.  Getting wisdom teeth pulled is a rather rugged experience.  I hope you have recovered by now.  Why did you have to have them pulled?

In the same mail, just now, I got a letter from Maj. Evans in Korea.  He came over on the boat with me.  He said I should give thanks to Buddha that I wasn't sent to Korea.  I have never regretted not being sent there.  I guess I was one of the fortunate few after all.

I am glad that my package s have been getting through O.K.  They seem to make about as good time as the mail.  I think the mail will be better from now on.

I don't remember all the pieces of brass that I sent.  Hang that gong up by the chains and hit it with your fist or some padded object and listen to the tone.  Tie a knot in the end of a cord and put it through the cymbal.  Suspended by the cord the cymbal gives a fine oriental sound -- wonderful for playing "Terry and the Pirates."  I hope I don't cause you to be driven out of house and home.

I don't blame you for not caring for that obi you have.  It was never intended to go with your kimono.  In fact, I didn't select it in the first place, but took it off of another officer's hands that couldn't get it in a box he was packing.  I sent it along in that first box because I didn't have anything else to send then.  You may be able to use it to cover a chair or something like that.  I have been on the lookout for an obi to go with the kimono for some time and will get one before I leave.  It takes a lot of accessories and skill to put on a obi.  I sent one of them in the last package and will try to get the complete set.

Your letters are certainly a ray of sunlight to me.  I am so glad they are coming through again.

The girls must have had quite a time at their formal kissing party.  They start out young in Atlanta, don't they?

Loads of love,



Terry and the Pirates was a comic strip that was started by Milton Caniff in 1936.  It involved the title character, an all-American boy, who was on a ship in China with a reporter, Pat Ryan.  It was never really made clear who the pirates were, but it was an action adventure comic strip that involved several villains and shady characters.  Maj, Gillham made the reference, I am assuming, because of the strip's Chinese locale.  Caniff drew the strip until a few months after today's letter was written, in December, 1946, when it was taken over by another artist who drew it until it finally ended in 1973.  Milton Caniff went on to create Steve Canyon, another action adventure strip, which ran until 1988, the time of his death. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The mail continues to arrive in Tokyo

The letters kept pouring in today in Tokyo, and Maj. Gillham has become a changed man.  He speaks about KW again, who, according to Emily, was Maj. Gillham's boss at Southern Bell and a source of some unpleasantness for him over the years.  And, just as a refresher, Whittemore's Shoe Polish was what Pop sold in his shoe salesman business.

22 Mar 46

Dearest Darling,

It looks like this mail jam is breaking up, I am certainly glad to say.  Yesterday I got three more letters from you.  Two were dated 12 and 18 Feb, but the third was postmarked 10 Mar.  Only 10 days old!  It was the first letter I had to come by air in over six weeks!  I opened it with great gusto and anticipation.  It contained KW's speech!!  I was so disgusted that I haven't read it yet.

This morning I got another big fat letter that had come by air and was dated 11 Mar.  It contained the children's school papers and magazine clippings and a letter from Peg that was 10 days more recent than the last I had had from you.

Finally, this afternoon a real letter from you arrived.  It was postmarked 12 Mar and was very welcome indeed.  All your letters have been very sweet and I love to get them and read them over and over again.  I am still missing anything you wrote between 18 Feb and 12 Mar, but it certainly is wonderful to get your inspiring letters again.  I enjoy all of your tales about the children and your own activities.  You must be having quite a time.

Today I also got Emily's letter telling me she is going to dance "with boys"!  Oh my!  A new day is dawning for us, I am afraid.  I hope she has a nice time and enjoys it.  I think it is well to learn such things early so that one doesn't feel embarrassed or out of place later on.  My opinion is naturally based on our theory of parents compensating their own deficiencies through their children.

You mentioned the Imperial Household Museum.  I went out there a couple of months ago, but it wasn't open.  The Japs had carted most of the stuff out to the country during the air raids.  However, it is opening next week, and I have an invitation to the preview to be held Sunday.  I am looking forward to it with a great deal of interest and will write you about it.

Nara was not bombed.  It is down near Kyoto, an overnight trip from Tokyo.  I want to go there before I leave, if I can.

My rheumatism has been rather bad in the left shoulder since I went skiing.  I have a doctor working on it.  He thinks it is bursitis and not arthritis.  He is now giving me some tests to determine.  If I can get this thing properly diagnosed, I might be able to get some treatment that would do some good.  My feet are not yet causing me any trouble, because I am not on them much.  I went to a dance about a month ago and they hurt for a week afterwards.  Otherwise they have been O.K.

Since I am not the least bit worried about my job, I have had no ulcers or stomach trouble.  When they try to put any pressure on me now I tell them, "Maybe you had better hire somebody else."

I probably don't get a haircut often enough.  I need one now.  Thanks for reminding me.  All such work here is done by Japs.  We have an excellent barber in the hotel here that for many years worked on a steamship running between Japan and San Francisco.  At the Peers Club they have the former Imperial barber.  I understand that he cuts hair in full dress.  When I was in Fukuoka, I got one of those kinks in my back.  They got me a Japanese masseur who worked on me for about an hour and got it right out.  He was very skillful.  When I had my shoulder x-rayed it was done by Japanese technicians.  They even use them exclusively for army jeep drivers now.  And they scare you to death, too, the way they plow through the pedestrians.

I haven't had much trouble with holes in my socks because I had all new equipment.  There is a nice little Jap girl that looks after my room now.  I giver her a candy bar now and then and she seems very pleased and keep my room immaculate.  When she finds any of my clothes needing mending, she mends them without request by me.  A combination of Whittemore's Shoe Polish and Japanese elbow grease keep my shoes so that they hurt your eyes.

I have everything that I need here, but I wouldn't care for this life for long.  I much prefer the trials and tribulations, and the joys of my own family.

I will now turn in and read all the things you sent me.  I might even read KW's paper, now that I have a letter from you.

You are the light of my life, my darling.  In my eyes all life revolves around you.  And the nicest thing is you are my very own.  I love you with all my heart.


P.S. I sent you a box today containing some silks, the Hiroshima vase, etc.  There is something in it for everybody.  WTG

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

...and mail finally arrives in Tokyo

Maj. Gillham finally gets a pile of mail from home, a day after Frances received mail as well, so the channels must be slowly opening up again.  He does his best to answer all of Frances' questions (you may need to refer back to previous posts to refresh your memory) and gives some very sage advice about problem solving.

20 Mar 1946

Dearest Lovely,

The mail finally got through and I got three letters from you today, dated 13, 18 and 19 of Feb.  Also one from Emily and one from Dan.  These were all written before I called you, but it was certainly good to get them and read them and feel close to you again.  I had begun to feel so far away -- it had been over a month since I received a letter.  I have read them all several times.

I haven't gotten the package with the cigarettes, candy and jelly yet, but I did get the cigarettes in the package by themselves, and the film and lock.

I also got the Valentines with the pictures, but not the ones mailed on 12 Feb.  The last thing I had before this batch of mail was mailed 8 Feb.

I hope Monty got in the Brownies and Emily in the Scouts.  I am glad you had fun cooking out.  Those amateurs didn't know they were up against a professional camper in you.

What has become of all of Mother 'Ciles' what-nots, with Martha at the reaching age?  As I remember, she would certainly have made a wreck of it.  What did she get into at Avery's?

I also got a Feb. Southern Telephone News today.  It looks like everyone is returning all at once.  I don't know what they are doing with them all.

I am afraid you didn't find any art treasures among that brass that I sent.  It is interesting, but I don't think valuable.  A connoisseur might have been able to pick out some good pieces, but I didn't know one from the other, and it was mostly junk anyway.  Did the big box with the gong in it ever get there?  There are a few nice things here but they are all so expensive that I don't feel able to go in for art objects.  Also, I need you to help me find and select things.  It would be great fun prowling into things here with you.

I am glad you got your freight delivered okay.  I infer that it arrived in good condition.  I hope it doesn't crowd you out of house and home.

I hope the children enjoyed the dancing and made some nice friends.

When I read of your activities from this great perspective of time and distance, it is almost like reading an 18th-century diary.  It is hard for me to realize that only a short time ago I was concerned with similar things.  When you are close to a problem, it sometimes looks much bigger than it is.  When things seem to crowd in on you and tend to get you down, back off and look at the situation from a distance and I think it will clear up.

You made no comment on the enclosed correspondence about the taxes on the Doc Hall place, but it looks like you are handling it O.K.  I have always thought the taxes on that piece were lower than normal, so I guess it was logical to raise it a little.  I guess there is no help for it.

Things certainly look brighter to me now since I got some mail from you.  I think the air mail will be functioning again soon.  You have probably had a dearth of mail, too, but I hope it hasn't been as hard on you as it has on me.

I just don't function very well without you, darling.  I will certainly be glad when we can "function" together again.

A heart full of love,


Monday, July 19, 2010

Frances gets a batch of mail from Tokyo...

In today's letter we find that a number of letters have arrived from Tokyo, and Frances is "delighted."  Her greeting to Maj. Gillham is probably familiar to most of you, since it comes from the popular song "In The Good Old Summertime."

March 19, 1946

Dearest, My Tootsie Wootsie

Here is a song that is becoming popular here.  It is a follow-up to "Mairzy Doats" and "Chickery Chick."  In fact, it is written by the same man who wrote the first two:

One-zy, two-zy, I kiss you-zy
Two-zy, three-zy, you kiss me-zy
Three-zy, four-zy, we kiss some more-zy
Let's start counting higher-zy

I wonder if the Japanese could sing that one.  We were interested in the little song the soldiers had taught them to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down.

Today I was delighted .  I spent an hour reading the mail you sent me.  A batch of it came today.  One was sent Feb. 25.  The others were around Feb 8-15.  The pictures and cocoons arrived.  The article about climbing Fujiyama was included.  Your letter to El Paso to me arrived.  It was such a nice one.

You are an angel to help me out about Bryant and Margaret.  They have been a problem here for some time.  Now that Bryant knows Carl is on his way home, she has been much happier.  He expects to get here or rather to the West Coast about the first of April.  Please just send her pearls here.  You are such a darling to get them for her that I won't even get curious about mine.  At least not much!  I wish I could have seen the twinkle in your eye when you wrote me that!  You are so cute and I love you so much I could just eat you up.

I am glad you have been to Hiroshima.  I can hardly wait to hear all about it.  I think it is wonderful that you and George Bull are going to Nara and Kyoto.  You must remember all you can about them so you can tell me.  I enjoyed the cards and folders you sent of Nikko, even if I couldn't read it all.

I am glad you have found a friend who enjoys sightseeing as much as you do.

Monty's impetigo is improving.  I think it will be well in a day or so.

Bryant took me to an Officers' Wives Club luncheon today at Davison's.  I enjoyed it.  I wore my new shoes and hat.  I bought me a pair of gloves to match the flower on my hat.  Wouldn't I steal the show if that was all I had! -- a hat, bag, gloves and shoes!

Lots and houses of love,



The song Frances mentions is in fact called "One-Zy, Two-Zy (I Love You-Zy)" which was a hit in 1946 for several groups, including Freddy Martin and his Orchestra, and Phil Harris. Here is a YouTube link to the version by Phil Harris (who was the voice of Baloo the Bear in the Disney movie "The Jungle Book"):

Friday, July 16, 2010

A quick, enigmatic letter from Maj. Gillham

This is just a quick letter from Maj. Gillham, in which he mentions an enclosure that, alas, was not in the envelope when I received it.  One could guess that it was probably some sort of G.I. form letter that he received in his internal mailbox at work, or perhaps a joke letter of some sort.  We will never know.  Otherwise, his letter is quick, since he has received no letters from home to which to respond.  This is in sharp contrast to his next letter, so stay tuned!

19 Mar 1946

Dearest Love,

The enclosed letter might be named a "morale builder."  At least one good thing about receiving no mail is that I don't get any like this one.

The weather has been some warmer today, although it is still rainy.

I got a nice little baby set for Dan and Nancy today.  It is blue knit wool with a jacket, cap and booties.  I also have a hare-kari knife and a table cloth and napkins for them.  I will try to get it off tomorrow.  Maybe it will arrive before the big event.

A few letters have begun to trickle in, and I hope to get one before long.

I read a lot of discouraging things in the papers about the housing situation in the states.  I hate to go through that again, but I guess we will have to do it.  It looks like we never are on the right side of the fence, doesn't it?  Whatever the difficulties, I am looking forward to working on them with you.

I'll bet my girls are going to be so big I won't know them.

Lots of love,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The post-war scarcities in Atlanta

Here is another chatty letter from Frances with news from the home front.  It really shows exactly how scarce things were right after the War and how inflation was starting to effect the economy.

Enclosed in the envelope were two magazine clippings that she doesn't mention in the letter.  I have scanned them, and they appear below, after the letter.

Mar 18, 1946

Dearest Lovely Pie,

How are you tonight?  I certainly would like to have you sitting across from me with your new black robe on.  I know you look handsome in it.  What kind of sash or obi do you wear with it?  Does it have a brocade design or is it plain?  What color is the lining?  I notice that nearly every lady's kimono I've seen has a bright red lining to it.  Is that significant?

The girls love their kimonos.  They love dressing up in them.  They do take care of them, too.

Darling, you are smart and foresighted to buy shirts, undershirts, socks and shoes.  I wish you could get suits ahead, too.  The run on men's suits has been terrible.  I went to the Atlanta Woolen Mill today to get material to make the girls some spring coats.  While I was waiting to go up to the sample room, an ex-service man came in with a handsome beige herringbone suit on.  The receptionist told me that the man had bought the yardage from the mill ends and had a suit made by a tailor.  The suit looked fine, but the point is that that is the only way many men are getting clothes.  By this summer the situation will ease up, I expect, if the strikes are over.

Yes, supplies are even harder to get than during the war.  The steel and General Motors strikes lasted a long time, as did subsidiary strikes.  The unemployment compensation has slowed down  employment, prices on clothes and food are creeping up, up, up.  I wonder how much higher the inflation will rise before it bursts.

We get all the food we want and need.  Since the meat strike ended, supplies have been continuing.  Mother found a 1/2 pound of butter last weekend, the first she's had since I've been here.  I take Mother out to the commissary every week or so.  We get canned bacon, ham, beef stew and all the types of foodstuffs you probably have.  We get pineapple, soap, toilet paper and other scarce items there.  Mother has a regular picnic every time I take her out.  She isn't used to it and it is fun to see her examine each can, look at the price -- and then look back at the price in utter amazement -- and end up getting the limit "at that price"!

This month I joined the officers club at Fort McPherson.  The dues are two dollars a month and this spring the girls and I can go swimming out there.

When we went out to Fort Mc this morning to see the doctor, I took Mother and Monty to the club for lunch.  They enjoyed it, especially Mother.  She was thrilled to be going to the officers club!

Monty broke out with a rash-like chicken pox the other day.  After two or three days of "chicken pox," I suddenly realized that it was impetigo on her face!  I took her to the out-patient clinic and the doctor gave me a salve of sulfathiazole ointment to apply.  He said to put it on top of the scabs and let it dissolve them!  It really does it, too, thank goodness!  I cannot imagine anything worse than trying to give Monty the treatment I had to give Emily.

Emily's fever has gone with no after-effects.  She is going back to school tomorrow.

Martha is cut as pie and spoiled as everything.

Today with your $100 in my pocket, I went down and made some purchases for myself.  I bought a pair of the fanciest black patent leather pumps I've ever had.  I bought a black hat with a green flower on it.  The other day I bought a black patent leather bag.  I looked at yellow coat suits but couldn't find any to suit.

I tried to draw my shoes for you, but couldn't do them justice.

The hat has a long veil on it and I feel most wicked and fancy with my two new accessories!  Now to get something to go between!

I am going to make a frilly blouse out of some of that parachute material you sent me.

Darling, I love you so much.  You are such a dear.  I know all the pitfalls of our reunions, but the dreams of you are so much comfort while you are away that it is such a temptation to keep right on dreaming until I bump right into you personally!

Love -- and heaps of it,



Here are the two clippings that were enclosed.  It is interesting to see the Delta Airlines ad, since passenger air travel was in its infancy and most people still traveled by train.  In fact, the Delta route map looks exactly like a train map.  Both clips are undated and from Newsweek, but judging from the date of the letter and the mention of the Oscars ceremony in the second clipping, they are probably from the beginning of March, 1946.  Also, the very bottom of the second clipping was cut off by the scanner, but it was a short note from Frances with an arrow to the article about The Lost Weekend saying, "I've seen it.  Have you?"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Frances and Bryant take up a cause

We have another several scan treats in today's post.  Actually, the letter itself is dated March 16, but the enclosures are dated March 15, so it may be a bit out of order with the rest of the blog.  Frances wrote her letter on the back of a typewritten draft of a letter Bryant had written to Helen Douglas Mankin, the U.S. representative from their district.

Also enclosed is a draft of a letter from Frances to Wright Bryan, a writer at the Atlanta Journal and a friend of Margaret Mitchell's.  He also later became a friend of our good friend Jerry Reel at Clemson, and I got to meet him several times.  He wrote the (to date) definitive history of Clemson University and signed my copy of his book.

In Emily's letter, the blank space was in her actual letter.  I suppose she was going to go back and fill in what it was her dad sent her, and she never did. 

March 15, 1946

Dearest Lovely,

Here is a copy of Bryant's letter to Mrs. Mankin, the new representative, about the mail collapse.  Bryant is a registered voter and is most interested in writing letters for causes.  It pleased her exceedingly that I let her write the letter.  Also enclosed is a copy of my letter to the Journal.  I hope these efforts can help to bring about an alleviation of the mail trouble.

The letters I received today were the first in over two weeks and they were mailed on Feb. 8.

I am glad you received the pictures.  I, too, hope you can get home before I pass my prime.  When I have days like today, I feel as if I have passed my prime and reached my nadir.

I had Mrs. Lozier get ready to drive to Memphis with me this morning.  I had the car greased and oil changed.  I ironed most of the children's clothes and had suit cases almost packed to go when Emily came down last night with a fever of 102.  Monty broke out with splotches all over her face.

I called Elizabeth and told her.  She was sweet as she always is and said for me just to try to come next weekend.

Today I sort of drifted around nursing and cooking, etc.  Martha has been climbing down the steps for just a few weeks.  Today when she was halfway down, she slipped somehow and tumbled the rest of the way down.  Once was bad enough, but twice in one day was the last straw for me.  She hit her lip and it is puffed out.  Her nose bled and she has two terrible bruises on her forehead.

If your four letters had not arrived today to cheer me up, I guess I would have cried.  The letters were so nice and ever so sweet.  They made me realize again what a wonderful partner you are.  You always are lending a hand when I need it most.

The postal money order came today.  I cashed it and am tempted to spend most of it on some clothes because I need them and they would boost my morale at this point.  You are always thinking of us.  I just love you for it.

Monty received your letter with the insignia on it.  She was delighted.  Emily's letter containing the first order from MacArthur came, too.  She was pleased with it.  You know how to select appropriate gifts.

Elizabeth received a letter from her brother, Marshall Brandon.  He is in Tokyo and gets his meals at the Dai Ichi Hotel.  He is billeted several blocks away, but eats at your hotel until his mess hall is completed.  This is his address:

T/S Marshall Brandon 14203429
Co. H, 1st Bn Hq + Sr Gp.

He is the boy I tried to locate at Fort Ord.  He is about 19 years old.

I have been reading with much interest about the new island growing in the ocean just south of Tokyo.  Wouldn't it be fine if you had an aviator friend who could fly you over to see it?

Much love,



March 15, 1946
Atlanta, GA

Dear Daddy,

We were going to Memphis today but I got sick.  So mother is going by herself on the train tomorrow.

Thanks a lot for the beautiful            you sent me.

Martha fell down the stairs twice today.  She got two bumps on her head and bumped her lip.

I hope you come home soon.  I love you very much.




Here are the draft letters typed by Frances and Bryant.  The final line on Bryant's letter ("Yours truly,") was typed on the back of the page, and Frances hand wrote her letter to Maj. Gillham below that.  Remember to click on the images to get a larger image.

Bryant's letter

Frances' letter

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Encouraging news about the arrival of Japan-bound mail

Another quick letter from Maj. Gillham, and we find out exactly why his last few missives have been so short.  The letter was written over a two-day span.

He mentions JOAK in this letter, which was the main radio transmitter in Tokyo, founded in 1925. During the War, the notorious Tokyo Rose radio broadcasts were made over this radio station.  By 1950 the name was changed to NHK, which it is known as today, and it it very similar to our PBS.

He also mentions the phrase "watakushi-wa" which is a formal way of saying "I am" or "My name is."

16 Mar 46

I hear that there is a slow freighter approaching Japan that has over 2,000,000 air mail letters aboard.  It will be great to hear from you again.

I am duty officer tomorrow (Sunday), so I will try to write you another letter then.

Today Wilson and I drove out and had lunch with Bull.  It is about 15 miles out there.  Bull is going on a trip next week something like the one I went on recently.  He is looking forward to it very much.  I hope he gets better weather than I did.

I have a radio in my room now that Wilson loaned me.  It is a lot of company.  I can understand a little of the Japanese that comes over JOAK.  I also get the Armed Forces station.

For some time, I have meant to mention to you a rather novel custom of the Japs.  I may have done it, and if so, here it is anyhow.  When they refer to themselves they point to the end of their nose.  It is amusing to see a very dignified Jap bowing, saying watakushi-wa and pointing to his nose.

It gets hard to write a good letter when I haven't heard from you in so long.  We got a letter from Col. Unger that was sent by official air courier.  He said he had called you up.

There is some possibility that I might get home sooner, but I hope to be there not later than June 1st.  If it should be sooner, you will probably know it before you get this.  I will cable you when I know I am leaving.

1 Mar -- at office

Today is St. Patrick's Day.  It is snowing here. It snows every Sunday.  Being duty officer, it doesn't bother me much today.

More civilians are coming on every boat.  Some of them may be fairly able, but a lot of them are plain carpet-baggers.  I have four civilians working for me now.  They are O.K.  One, an ex-enlisted WAC, is a statistical clerk;  one of my old G.I. typists is now a civilian in the same job;  a lieutenant that I knew at Charlottesville is my civilian assistant editor.  Also I recently got a girl from the Washington bureaus as an analyst.

I am counting the days until we will be re-united, my love.  It is certainly good to have something as fine as you and my sweet girls to look forward to.

Lots of love,


Friday, July 9, 2010

A new set of china for Frances

Today's letter is a quickie, in which Maj. Gillham tells of his purchase of a large set of china to be sent back to the states.  I had heard about this china set as a child, and I even ate off it at the Gillham's home at 18 Camden Road in Atlanta while visiting in the summers in the 1970s.  My mother seems to think that Martha may have ended up with the china set.  If anyone knows the whereabouts of the set, please leave a comment.

He also mentions in this letter a sampling of dried baby shrimp that he enclosed.  The sample survives to this day, which makes me think that Frances only ate a little bit of it before returning the rest to posterity.

14 March 46

Dearest Darling,

Today one carton of cigarettes and the vitamin pills arrived.  Thanks a million.  You mailed them on 15 Jan.  To date my latest letter is still the one dated 8 Feb.

Enclosed is a taste of some kind of dried baby shrimp that the Japanese consider quite a delicacy, and it is right good. 

I really bought a pig in a poke today.  It was a 93-piece set of china.  I didn't even know what it looked like until after it was bought and delivered.  I am real pleased with the pattern and I think I might have selected it even if I had had a wide choice.  Choice is something you never have here.  You just buy something, anything, when you can, and then look to see what you got.  I will mail the china tomorrow and you should get it in a couple of months.  It is nicely packed and I think it will go through in good shape.  It is in two boxes.  I don't even know what the pieces are yet.  I only opened it enough to look at one or two pieces.  I think it is a service for twelve.

I got two new pairs of pajamas today at the Q.M.

Loads of love,


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The story of the cherry blossoms

Here is a letter from Maj. Gillham describing a banquet organized by members of his Japanese training class in Chicago, and he also tells another Japanese fairy tale. 

This fairy tale is a classic folktale that is generally known in Japanese as Hanasaka Jiisan, which is known in English as The Man Who Made Withered Trees Blossom, or alternatively The Envious Neighbor.

13 March 46

Dearest Darling,

The pretty Virginia calendar that you sent me has a not in it to beware of the ides of March.  So I will start being careful.

Last night we had a reunion of all the Chicago CATS that we could find in the vicinity.  We rounded up about 20, mostly from the 3rd Class, and had quite a sumptuous banquet.  We held it at one of the billets which was formerly something like the Atlanta Athletic Club.  They had fine lounges, private dining rooms, etc.  The food was G.I., but they certainly dressed it up for the occasion.  You couldn't get have gotten a better dinner, more complete decorations, or better service in the best hotel in the states at $5 a plate.  The furniture in the lounge was rattan and it made me think of our pieces.

Col. Clark was there, and it served as a farewell party for him as he left for home today.  Dr. Smith, the ex-congressman on the faculty, was here with the education group and came.  He is an excellent speech maker.  Others that you might remember were Boron, McCullom, Wilson and Bull.

I recently learned another Japanese fairy which I must tell you before I forget it.  Once a very good man and a very bad man were neighbors.  The good man had a smart dog.  One day the dog went the field with him and showed him where to dig.  When he dug there he found much gold.  When the bad man learned of this, he borrowed the dog and took him to his field with him.  When he dug where the dog showed him, he only found an old roof tile.  He was so angry that he hit the dog with his pick and killed him.  (Don't cry, Monty)  The good man took the dog and buried him and planted a tree by the grave.  The next morning the tree had become full grown.  He cut the tree down and made a nice keg from the trunk.  When he made rice cakes in this keg, they turned to gold.  The bad man heard of this and borrowed the keg.  He made rice cakes and they turned to bits of broken tile.  He was so angry that he burned the keg up.  The good man came and said "Let me have the ashes."  He started home with them in a bowl, but a strong wind came and blew them out and into the trees, and they became cherry blossoms.  And that is where cherry blossoms came from.

I love you, my darling, and I hope it won't be long now before we are together.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A note from Frances, and one from Monty

In today's post we actually have three letters.  The main letter is from Frances, but there is also a letter from Monty (mailed in a separate envelope, addressed by Frances) and one from Maj. Gillham that he had written 14 years earlier (which Frances included in her envelope).  I have scanned the other two letters, which appear after Frances' letter.  The letters are faint in some sections, so be sure to click them twice to get the largest image.

All my life I had heard that my mother (Monty) and Emily danced to the song "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," when they were taking dancing lessons.  It's nice to finally see exactly when, and why, they danced to that particular song.  The song was very popular, and it won the Oscar for Best Original Song that year.

March 13, 1946


Enclosed find a letter you wrote me years and years ago.  I found it inside of boxes packed away in the attic.  It was so sweet and one of the reasons I fell in love with you.

You took me to the beach and tired to spank me there.  Then another time we had breakfast there.

Yesterday I took a nap on the couch in the living room and dreamed of you.  It was such a pleasant sort of a dream.  It was like a spring day on a hill top with a fresh fragrant breeze across a flower-decked countryside.  I dreamed that the room was full of friends and and you told them politely that you'd like to talk to me alone.  They all left the room and you and I lay down on the bed.  You told me all about your adventures in Japan.  You were so happy and interested.  It was such a peaceful interlude.  We were together again, lying on the bed, rubbing feet and talking.

Monty is up today.  She didn't have a fever but two days.  I think I will plan to go on to Memphis if I can -- if nothing happens.

Martha is well again, too.

There is a new song called "Atlanta G.A."  Have you heard it?  They are playing it on the radio now.

Tom Lemly has been in bed several weeks with pneumonia.  He still has a temperature.  The doctor told him to come out and get an x-ray at Lawson General.  He has had a fever and the doctor thinks he has a low-grade infection in the lungs.  You know, the cancer got up into his lungs, too.

I took Emil to see "The Harvey Girls" with Judy Garland yesterday.  She enjoyed it because it was in Technicolor and the did so many dancing and singing numbers.  The song "The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" was the theme song.  Emily is doing a little dance by that tune at dancing school.

"If it's kissing you are missing, we can give you some good advice.  Get yourself some Colgate toothpaste, cleans your teeth, makes your breath clean and nice."

That is the new Colgate song.  Maybe if I bought a gross of toothpaste and worked hard on my mouth it might help you come home so I wouldn't miss your kisses!  What do you think?

Remember me when the plum and cherry blossoms bloom.

All my love,



On this date, Monty also sent a letter to Maj. Gillham, in a separate envelope (addressed by Frances).  Here is the letter, which was on one page written on both sides.

Here is the letter Frances mentioned above, which Maj. Gillham wrote to her on Jan. 19, 1932.  This was over a year before they were married.

Also included in the envelope was a dried flower of some sort.  Frances didn't mention it in her letter, but there is a definite stain on the letter made by the flower.  It could also be that Maj. Gillham put the flower in the envelope after he'd read the letter.

Here is a link to a YouTube video of the "Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" musical number from The Harvey Girls that Frances and Emily saw.  You gotta love Marjorie Main's singing voice!  And Judy Garland is joined by her Wizard of Oz costar Ray Bolger.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Maj. Gillham attends a Methodist service

Today's letter from Maj. Gillham contains some fascinating cultural observations from his doings about Tokyo.  He mentions his visit to the Methodist church and that he was enclosing a program from the service -- and I have scanned that program at the end of the letter.

10 Mar 1946

Dearest Lovely Dovely,

I wonder how my little sweetheart is tonight, so far, far away.  I hope that all is well with you.

There is a possibility that this letter may get through to you in less than the clipper ship plus Pony Express time which has been applying.  I heard on the radio tonight that MacArthur said there will be no more trans-Pacific air passengers or air express until all the mail is flown.  It wouldn't have been so bad if the mail had just slowed down a little, but everyone feels that they are completely out of touch with the states.  It has had a disastrous effect on morale in all ranks.  I think the brass is beginning to realize it now.

This morning Wilson and I went to church at the Ginza Methodist Church.  It is a 100% Japanese congregation.  We were the only occidentals there.  They were having a memorial service for their former pastor who died four years ago.  Also it was one year ago today exactly that one of the big bombing raids on Tokyo occurred.  At that time the church was partly burned and the dome caved in.  They have completed repairs on the dome and are working on the rest.  Except for the language and a few minor details, the service could have taken place in Atlanta.  They had a good vested choir.  The hymn book contained many familiar hymns written in hiragana so I could sing them well.  To take up the collection they used a velvet bag on the end of a pole which the ushers extended into the pews.  I think some of our older churches used the same method, didn't they?  At the announcement period, several visiting dignitaries were introduced.  They would stand up and bow deeplyto the congregation.  Everyone in the congregation without exception bowed deeply in return.  Orientals consider it bad manners to appear to be in a hurry in leaving a place.  After the benediction everyone sat back down.  Then gradually the began to filter out.  I enclose a program.

This afternoon we went out to see Nagano San, the businessman that gave me the sake some time ago.  I met a Wikowa San who is the head of the third-largest political party in Japan -- a sort of farmers party.  You remember Nagano is in the fertilizer business.  Wikowa speaks excellent English and has been to the U.S. a number of times, to England and all over the world.  He was attached to the Japanese embassy in the U.S. in 1941 but returned to Japan in July.

We sat in the western-style room for a while and drank tea, then we went to a room in the Japanese-style part of the house and sat on the floor and ate various unknown items which were very, very good.  The only thing I recognized was scallops and some strips of dried squid.  Afterwards we played "go."  It is an excellent little game which I must tech the children when I get home.  The object is to get five (go) buttons in a row on a sort of checker board.  The principle is like in tic-tac-toe, but it is more involved.

When we go in a place like that we generally take our driver in, too.  They are nice young fellows and it gives them a chance to see the inside of the homes.  I think the Japs are amazed, but in their efforts to go democratic, they treat him as an honored guest.

It has been snowing here today.

Lots and lots of love,



Go is a simple yet highly strategic board game dating back to 500 B.C. China, and is now popular in almost all Asian cultures.  The game starts with an empty 19x19 square board, and in turn each player sets a tile on the empty intersections of the squares, with the goal of occupying more of the board than the opponent.

A go board (shown at the completion of a game)

March 10, 1945, was indeed by far the worst of the 14 bombing raids on Tokyo made by the Allied forces over a seven-month period starting in February, 1945.  On that day B-29 bombers destroyed over 25% of the city and killed nearly 100,000 people.

Here is the program for the service at the Ginzu Methodist Church of March 10, 1946.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Frances plans a trip to Memphis

In this letter Frances tells of her plans to finally visit Memphis, where she was unable to go on her trip in from California in December.  Also, she talks of the International Monetary Fund meeting in Savannah, which is interesting, since it was the first peace-time meeting since the Fund had been founded at the Bretton Woods Conference in July 1944.

She also mentions an article that Mother 'Cile cut out of the paper, and it was still in the envelope when I got it.  I scan it with my new scanner and place it at the end of the letter.  There is also a small photo and caption that was included as well.

March 10, 1946

Dearest, My Love,

It seems that the time is right for me to go to Memphis.  I wrote Elizabeth and asked her if I could come this weekend.  I wanted to leave Friday and come back Monday.  The hour after I mailed the letter, Martha came down with fever.  Her fever was high for several days.  Then, she broke out with German measles.

Now Martha is up and feeling fine.  So, Monty went to bed this afternoon with a fever of 102.

I had the doctor look at Martha the other day.  So, I called him and asked him to check Monty in the morning and to see Martha's spots.

I am mailing Cora your present anyway, so she will get in whether I go up or not.

Mrs. Wright said that the adjuster had been out to see about the roof, but nothing had been done.  I have written about it to Mr. Mason but have had no reply.  I shall write to him again.

Your letters came on Monday morning, all in a bunch.  This past Monday I received two letters.  They were written long before you called me.  I feel like you, that it is terribly hard to accomplish much by mail when it is so irregular.  I am looking forward to some letters tomorrow, as tomorrow is Monday.

When we lived in California, the peace conference was held in San Francisco.  Now I am in Georgia and the international monetary convention is being held in Savannah.

Lady Astor visited in Savannah recently and said it was a lady with a dirty face.  It infuriated the town officials but they got busy and cleaned it up for the convention.

Enclosed is an article that Mother cut out.  We were wondering if you had written the original report on the silk situation.

The parachute silk and the blue silk you sent are lovely.  I can hardly wait to make something with it.  You have been wonderful about sending me such lovely, lovely presents.

Mother Ki reads all the books that Emily gets from the library.  They are nice, interesting stories and are usually in large print.  She and Emily have a big time discussing the stories.

Tell me about your trip to Hiroshima.  How long were you gone?  How does it look now?  I am interested to hear about it.

Last week I had the two wisdom teeth out one day and the monthly trouble the next.  It took the wind out of my sails and I am just coming about after flopping all week.

Darling, I may not appreciate the obi you sent me, but it doesn't seem to suit with the lovely kimono you sent.  The obi seems coarse and the wrong color.  Could you find me another one?  The kimono is orange, tan and aqua.  I think an obi of aqua might be more attractive.  Of course, my judgment is entirely occidental and may not be in accord with the oriental scheme of color arrangement.

I love you, darling.  I miss you all the time.  You are such a dear.

All my love,



Here are the two pieces that Mother 'Cile cut out from the Atlanta Constitution and that Frances enclosed in the letter.  The pieces are from the February 25, 1946, edition.  Be sure to click on each for a legible version.  You may have to click on it a second time once the new image appears.