Saturday, February 20, 2010

Early Christmas greetings for the family

Today's letter was addressed to the Gillhams' new "home," 992 Washita Avenue in Atlanta, which was actually the home of Frances' parents, Lucile Dixon Kiser Holsenbeck and Daniel Marshall Holsenbeck, Jr. (known throughout the family as Mother Cile and Pop).  It is located in the Inman Park section of Atlanta, about 2 miles east of downtown, and is still standing today.

The house at 992 Washita had become the family homestead of the Holsenbecks, with various children and grandchildren living there with Mother Cile and Pop over the years, especially during the War.  Frances, Emily and Monty had lived there while Maj. Gillham was at officer training in Ft. Monroe, VA, in 1940-41.  Pop's youngest brother, Gartrell, lived there for a long time after the First World War, and the Holsenbecks' daughter Bryant and son-in-law Carl lived there at various points during and after the Second World War.  Mother Cile's mother, Mary Emma Dixon Kiser (Mother Ki), also lived in the house, so by the time Frances and the girls arrived in December, 1945, the only place for Emily and Monty to sleep was in a little alcove in the hallway at the top of the stairs.  Frances, of course, introduced the idea as an exciting adventure, so the girls took to it right away and felt very special in their new digs.

We also learn about Maj. Gillham's discovery of a brass and metal dump, which is where he finds much of the brass items that we now have around the house.

14 Dec 1945

Dear Love,

I haven't heard from you in several days, in fact it was before I wrote you the letter to Memphis.  It seems that the mail comes in bunches.

It is getting so close to Christmas that I want to get this off in time to wish you and the children and all the family a very Merry Christmas.  I am glad that you are all together and only wish that I could be there too.

I hope that your trip was not too hard on you and that you are not too tired to enjoy Christmas.

I saw a Life magazine last night about Oct 20th.  It had a series in it on "The Californian Way of Life," which made me very homesick for California  There were several shots of the Lek's house in La Jolla.

If Life ever uses the Carmel Art Gallery subject, let me know.

I have been working pretty hard for the past two weeks with no time off and some night work.  It makes the time go faster and I am glad to have something useful to do.

However, I haven't been able to get out and see and do things much lately.  The only time is when I had to go across town to see a Navy captain about some information on Japanese shipping.  My jeep driver and I found a great pile (about 5 acres) of scrap metal that the Japs had collected, apparently much of it from China, as there were many Chinese brass coins lying around.  There was everything imaginable in this pile.  I found an excellent brass statue of the laughing Buddha about two feet high which I would like to have, but I am afraid it is a little big and heavy to send home.  I didn't have as much time to "dig" as I needed and want to go back the first chance I get.

We should be through with this rush in a few days and I will have time to get out some.

The weather here is gradually becoming cooler, but so far it is very pleasant.  We have had very little rain and no freezing weather.  It is about like October at home.

This will be the first Christmas I haven't been at home for at least a part of the day.  The war broke into some of them but I always got to see you and the children for a little while.  I will be missing you and thinking of you and loving you and looking forward to our reunion.

Take full advantage of this visit and enjoy yourself.

Just by virtue of coming over here, and some recent changes in regulations, I have become entitled to several ribbons.  You can't get them here, so will you send me a set please:  (1) American Defense, (2) American Theatre, (3) Asiatic Pacific Theatre, (4) World War II Victory.  They should be mounted on a bar in that order.  The type that fastens on with the same kind of catch as used on branch insignia is better than a pin.  Also, if they are covered with some sort of transparent plastic they don't get dirty so quickly.  A small package can be sent air mail at not too great a cost.  It seems that the air mail is the only dependable means of communication here at the moment.  Cables are now available for general use, voice telephone is expected in January, but for emergency use only.  We will surely have to get up some emergency!

Give each member of the family my especial love and all of your have a very merry Christmas.




This past week I found four medals of Maj. Gillham's, two of which he mentioned in the above letter.  Three of them were issued by the Army, and one was presented by the UDC for its members who fought in WWII.  I also found an "A" artillery patch that he no doubt got while assigned at the Coastal Artillery base of Camp Callan in the early 1940s.  As with all the photos in this blog, you can click on them to get a larger image.

The American Defense medal, front and back

The World War II medal, front and back

Army of Occupation (Japan) medal, front and back

The United Daughters of the Confederacy WWII medal

Artillery patch from Camp Callan, CA, ca. 1942

The two other medals he mentions in the letter, those for service in the American Theatre and Asia-Pacific Theatre, have not been located.  It is assumed he didn't mention the Army of Occupation medal since he had not been awarded it yet.