Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Frances readies Maj. Gillham's civilian clothes

Now that Maj. Gillham's return is imminent, Frances is starting to pull out his civilian clothes in preparation.

April 11, 1946

Dearest Angel Peach Pie,

How are you tonight? I'd love to slip into bed beside you and snuggle up to your back and feel the familiar feel of your knit pajamas.

I get along very well during the day when I am busy keeping Martha dry, the clothes washed, the meals cooked or the children taxied around. It is at this time of night when I am free to think of you, my sweet, that I miss you the most.

Today I went into the trunk and pulled out your four civilian suits and took them to the cleaners. They were put away clean, but I figured after five years they could stand a little more. Also, the two Palm Beach suits were terribly stained. I wanted to see if cleaning could remove any more. Besides the green and tan Palm Beach suits, you have a black double-breasted suit and a grey tweed with two pair of baggy tweed pants. When you get home you won't need the baggy tweeds -- I won't let you get out of the house in them!

I found you a white shirt 16-3 today. It is fun getting ready for your return. Looking over your clothes and buying you some is a great pleasure.

Had you thought of getting discharge, coming home and going back into the service? Anything you do will be fine with us. You have a chance now to think aloud about your possibilities and I can't interfere and urge you to do every one of them.

I have not been able to go up to see Grandmother. Do you think I should go on now or wait until you return? I have the money still in travelers checks ready to go. Whenever I go, whether with you or without, I think I should get the silver and few valuables she has in the house.

Another thing I was considering was it might be wise for her to deed the property to you. There is a high inheritance tax on property, etc., now. Gee, when I write it out, it seems so mercenary, but I was wondering if it wouldn't be a wise thing to do.

I have been interested in the change of currency and the elections in Japan. I believe you have a smart idea in giving the women a chance for suffrage and freedom. That will change Japanese customs and traditions quicker than anything.

If I thought there'd be a chance of using it, I believe I'd make me an evening dress to match the lovely, lovely brocaded evening bag you sent me. I think it is such a nice color, too.

I am interested in the obi your friend gave you. What did you present him with? What color is the obi? Be sure to learn how to manipulate all the gadgets to put it on with. Do you have to put your obi on the same way?

Do you think it would be worth while to get some floor mats? I think it would be nice to use them in our bedroom when and if we get a house. We might practice removing our shoes at the door into the bedroom at least.

This house is certainly cluttered up. I am surely going to do some house cleaning or rather furniture removing, before you come. After living in Japan, this house would oppress you with its furniture.

Bryant and Carl are going to Washington before coming home. He has to report up there.

Darling I love you dearly.


P.S. Learned that Hal Haskell & family are in Columbus, Ohio, at air base there. Been back from Panama 1 year.


A Palm Beach suit was a popular style in the 1940s, generally made of a light cloth or linen material for summer weather. The color was generally light cream or pastel, and the jacket had no lining.

An ad for Palm Beach suits from the 1940s

In 1946, the U.S. Occupation Forces introduced the modern yen, to be used by the general populace, but also introduced a "B yen" to be used solely by the occupying troops. Not until 1949 was the yen finally stabilized and fixed at 360 to the dollar.

An obi is a sash that is used to tie a kimono. Frances refers to "gadgets" used to tie an obi and asks if Maj. Gillham would tie his the same way. The answer is no: a woman's obi is wider and much more complicated to tie than a man's, which has a width of no more than five inches. A woman's obi calls for several additional sashes and ties to properly secure it on the kimono. Compare the two videos below.

Tying a man's obi to a kimono

Tying a woman's obi, with the help of three other women