Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two letters sent to the family on their way east, and a stroll down memory lane

Today I finally made a substantial number of scans and retrofitted them into my previous posts.  You are encouraged to go back to those posts and take a look at them.  I have also added some text regarding the new images.  Here is a list of the affected posts:

January 9, 13, 14, 17, 23, 25 and 31
February 11, 12 and 13

Today's first letter is one of my favorites, and one of the family's as well.  In it he takes a stream-of-consciousness walk down memory lane, recounting several incidents that were dear to them both.  I hope I have given you enough background so that you can recognize most of the places he mentions.  If not, just let me know in a comment.

He wrote two letters today:  the first one he wrote to General Delivery in El Paso, TX, for the family to pick up on their trip east.  The second one he wrote to 992 Washita Avenue, Atlanta, GA, the home of Frances' parents and their ultimate destination.

8 Dec 1945

Dearest Lovely,

I am sending this letter on now so it will get to El Pase before you do.  There is not much that I can write in the way of news, but I can say again that I think you are mighty sweet.

I wonder how the trip has been so far.  How you been able to get good places to stay at night?  Is the car running all right?  Be sure to keep the tire pressure right;  about 32 lbs. should be O.K.

It has been nearly five years since you and I were in El Paso before.  We had just been to Carlsbad Caverns and were heading west on a big adventure.  It has been fun, hasn't it?  I think we made the most of it.  When I think back over the past five years, it is interesting to see the scenes that come to mind -- A pane of glass broken out at the foot of my bed in a dirty old barracks at Ft. Monroe -- You in a slick black dress in our room at the Chamberlain -- Washington in the snow -- A patch of green grass by the side of the road in Texas where we ate lunch -- Water running through the streets of San Bernardino -- Red geraniums -- "Our" beach at La Jolla with the breakers coming over the green, green sea grass on the rock -- Sleeping in our sleeping bags in the rain in the mountains east of San Diego -- Riding a troop train across the country -- Climbing the bluff at Callan all out of wind -- Looking at battlefields in Virginia with Glore -- Swimming in a warm lake at Orlando -- Sailing on Buzzards Bay -- Bringing in a Christmas tree, getting holly in the heavy snow -- Walking up a blacked-out street in Boston not knowing where we could spend the night -- selecting wine at the Waldorf-Astoria -- A night at Browns Court before getting to Charlottesville -- The people coming out of church at Charlottesville -- Camping in the misty clouds in the Shenandoah -- Winning at the races in Chicago -- Looking at the zoo -- Putting you and Grandmother on the train -- 63rd Street in the snow and slush -- The keen bite of the zero wind on the Midway -- Searching for Flip-Flop down the alley -- Giving the guard your entrance slip at Gardner General -- the lights of Chicago from aboard the aircraft carrier -- The bright stars in Oklahoma -- The first green valley in California -- Martha in her pretty basket -- A chuck roast cooking on the charcoal -- Going up the hill at the Presidio through the everlasting fog with everything drippy -- Kissing you good-bye in the car at CASA -- Watching men come up the gang plank with their duffle bags on their backs -- The spray of a big wave breaking over the bow of the ship -- Fuji Yama looking just like it was supposed to -- And many, many others.  All in all I think it has been a good five years, don't you?  It has certainly broadened our lives and given us some wonderful memories.

Edward Lang's mother, Cousin Helen, lives at Yesleta, about 12 miles east of El Paso.  I think you go right by there so stop and see her.  I am sure you will enjoy it.  Pass the word conveying my love to all the El Paso relatives.  If you go by Dallas look up cousin Herbert.

I also have many childhood memories connected with El Paso.  I used to climb all over Mt. Franklin, and I frequently went down to Yesleta to spend the week-end with Edward.

The next place that you may be able to pick up a note from me will be Memphis.  I am still writing to Mother's old address there -- 1042 E. McLemore.

Tell Emily and Monty I am looking at their pictures every time I write a letter.  I love them very much.

Take good care of yourself and hold our family together until I get home.

All the love in the world,




8 Dec 1945

Dearest Love,

It is 10 P.M. and I am at the office.  I had to catch up on some work and then went to a picture show here in the building.  Charles Lawton in Capt. Kidd.  It was very good.

After getting my boxes of brass all banded and ready to ship, one of them was a few pounds too heavy to go by parcel post, so I will have to undo it when I get a chance and take something out.

I got a letter this afternoon which exasperated me.  It was from that Transportation Officer at the Presidio.  He thought I hadn't signed those forms on the right line and is holding your things in Monterey until he hears from me in Japan.  In the first place, he is wrong, in the second stupid.  I will sign him some more forms just like I did before and send them in the morning.  I hope you won't be too muchly inconvenienced by the delay.

I will have to work pretty hard for a few days now.  I hope I get another letter from you tomorrow.

My cold is improving.

I surely do miss you, my little sweetie pie.  It would be so nice to have you around.  You are a part of my being now and I feel very bob-tailed without you.  Time is passing and we will be together again before long.

Lots of love,



I will have to do a little more digging into the Montagues of Texas that Maj. Gillham speaks of here, but I can pretty much guess that the little boy Monte Lang pictured in a previous post is somehow related to Helen and her son Edward mentioned in today's first letter.

Ysleta, Texas (which Maj. Gillham erroneously refers to as Yesleta in the letter), is a small border town east of El Paso along the Rio Grande.  There is a very old mission there, and the town itself was settled in 1680 and is one of the first European settlements in the state of Texas.

The "Mt. Franklin" he refers to in the first letter is actually a small chain called the Franklin Mountains, and there are two major peaks, North Franklin and South Franklin.  North Franklin Mountain is the highest, at 7,192 feet.

From left to right, North and South Franklin Mountains,
near El Paso, TX

The film Captain Kidd was released in 1945, so it was a relatively new film for a foreign Army outpost.  It starred Charles Laughton ("Lawton" in the letter) in the title role, and also Randolph Scott.