Monday, March 8, 2010

The first letter of 1946

In today's letter, we learn that Maj. Gillham has found out a few more things about the family's trip east, and he makes a startlingly prescient remark about the odds of them getting home before Christmas.

Effie Tucker Gillham, Maj. Gillham's mother, was widowed at this point and living alone in Memphis.  From what I can gather from earlier letters and family remembrances, she was not doing well at all and couldn't write.  Her nurse, Addie, would write letters to the family on Effie's behalf, and Maj. Gillham was not sure that he could trust everything that Addie was reporting.  The family's maid from Kerrville, Cora, would also visit Effie in Memphis and write letters reporting on her condition.  Effie would only live nine more months from this point.

2 Jan 1946

Dearest Darling,

My mail is beginning to filter through now.  I got your cable from Shreveport today.  Many thanks.  It was a little faster than mail, but that service was swamped with the holiday rush also.  I got your letter today from the L.A. Biltmore and also the one you wrote in Abeline, Texas.  When mail goes half way around the world, I guess you must allow for it getting scrambled a little.  I also got two letters from Mother written by her nurse.  One was mailed to my new APO on 21 Nov. and the other to my old APO on 3 Dec.  Neither was air mail.

I know you had a hard time driving across the country, but somehow when I read about it, instead of feeling sad for you, I sit there and laugh out loud.  I hope you don't mind.  I also hope it wasn't too hard on Father.  I know what he went through.  It is still an even-money bet in my mind that you didn't get to Atlanta by Christmas.  Did you go by Memphis?  I know a bad cold wave hit about then.

Darling, you are such a good sport and I enjoy traveling with you.  Do you realize that with all our traveling we have made only one crossing of the continent together?  That was the first time in 1941.  We had a good time, didn't we?

Guess who just dropped in to see me?  Maj. Wade.  He is at Nagoya and doesn't think he has been given anything important enough to do.  However, he is looking well and happy.  I think he wants to stay over here for some time, if he can get the job he wants.

I feel much better now that I have gotten some mail and my cold is better.  I am very thankful for all the good things I have in life and you are one of the "goodest."

I am enclosing the cable you sent for your interest.

I love you, my darling, and am looking forward to the time when we can be reunited and face life together again.  It won't be so very long.  I was just looking at a calendar.  The time will pass before we know it.




I was certainly surprised to see that Maj. Gillham got a letter from Frances that seems to have come from the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel.  This was one of the premiere hotels in the city at the time, and it is still in operation today.  It was built in 1928 in Art Deco style, and at the time it was the biggest hotel west of the Palmer House in Chicago.  My mother (Monty) is pretty certain that they wouldn't have stayed in such a fine hotel in the center of the city.  Perhaps the "letter" he refers to was actually a postcard, or perhaps Frances or Pop somehow got hold of some hotel stationery.

An undated postcard of the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles
(copied from the Internet)

Nagoya is a Pacific port city on the main island of Honshu about 150 miles west of Tokyo.  It is now the third largest city in Japan after Tokyo and Osaka.

The fact that the family made stops in Abilene and Shreveport seems to confirm my suspicion that they were traveling on U.S. 80.  It is also clear that they did not stop in Memphis on their trip.  They did, however, come into Atlanta from Tallapoosa, GA, so in order to do that, they must have gotten off U.S. 80 at some point and headed up to U.S. 78.