Monday, January 30, 2012

The final letter from Frances

This is the final letter from Frances that I have in the collection, and it is one of her best.  She starts out with some chatty news about Emily and her "tacky party," but she then uses the occasion of a local wedding to reminisce about her marriage to Maj. Gillham and how special it has been.  His now-famous letter about Hiroshima -- it's received by far the most hits (nearly 600) on this blog -- was published in the telephone company newsletter, which explains why there are parts of a typewritten version in the letter collection.  Dan and Nancy's baby, which is due on May 29, is Penn Holsenbeck, who is now a successful lawyer in New York and a proud grandfather.  (Incidentally, he really kept his parents waiting -- he wasn't born until June 11th.)  Frances ends the letter with a poignant remark about how things will be back to normal again soon, as she says goodbye to Maj. Gillham -- and to us -- for now.

June 2, 1946

Dearest Darling,

Two more of my letters to you in Tokyo have been returned.  I shall forward them on to you so you can see that I did write once in a while!

Thursday night Emily had six of her girl friends over for dinner and a tacky party.  All of the girls fell right into the mood and they all came dressed fit to kill!  Only one or two of the girls had known each other before the party, but five minutes after they arrived, you would have thought they had been bosom buddies for just years.  They laughed, giggled, joked and then giggled some more.  You would have thought there were fifteen Singies around!  After a dinner of spaghetti and meat balls, salad, French bread, iced tea, ice cream and birthday cake, the girls played games until eight thirty when their mamas came for them.  As the last guest drove off, Monty exclaimed, "I had a wonderful time!"  Emily said that she enjoyed it more than any party she'd ever had.

Mother Ki was terribly upset when she came into the dining room just before the party and saw me serving the plates generously with spaghetti.  She doesn't serve it for a meal much less for a party dinner!  Evidently the little girls didn't agree with her because all of them cleaned their plates.

Yesterday, Harvey Livingston, the boy who lives across the street, was married.  Emily, Monty and I went to the wedding.  After I brought them home, I went across the street to the reception.  Of course, a June wedding always makes me think of ours.  Yesterday, I was considering that Harvey and Lillian were another couple starting a new life together with high hopes and aspirations for happiness.  I wondered as I watched them if they had enough give and take in them to fulfill their hopes and make their marriage a deeply happy one as ours has been.

I have often felt that we had found a fine and wonderful happiness in our marriage, but I didn't fully realize how rare our happiness was until I came to Atlanta.  Since coming here, I have met a number of couples who have lived together for years and years and have never explored the full depths of marriage and their happiness still lies buried for them.

In the June issue of the National Geographic there are three articles I know you will enjoy.  One is on the value of a peace time navy and in that article is a picture of the U.S.S. Canberra in dry dock in Manus after it had been torpedoes near Formosa.  The next article is on Cape Cod.  There is a nice picture of the Canal from the mainland side looking toward the Sagamore Bridge.  The little trading post at Bourne is shown. There are pictures from Woods Hole, Hyannis, Provincetown and Falmouth.  The children went out and rounded up the neighborhood to show them pictures in the Geographic where they had been.

The third article is on Japan.  Martha climbed up on the couch by me while I was trying to read that one so I didn't get beyond the first page.  She is getting to be quite a busy body.  She has just cut her seventh tooth.  She is slower than Monty in cutting her teeth.

Since Dan sent my typewriter home, the girls have been anxious to type on it.  I knew they would whether I said yes or not, so, I decided to teach them the touch system and start them off right.  Emily can type without a mistake and Monty is more like her mother and makes many mistakes, but she is learning.  They both know the keyboard and practice on imaginary typewriters all the time.

Father and Mother are due in tonight and I am rather loathe to give up the quietness we have enjoyed with the decreased number in the house.  Then, too, I have enjoyed keeping house again.  Also, my digestion has improved.  Mother puts so much grease in everything she cooks.  I talk like I haven't enjoyed being here, but I certainly have.  It has been a pleasure to know my family again after twelve years of letter writing and an occasional visit.

Tom Lemly is going to Emory Hospital again tomorrow for another operation.  One of his lungs is to be removed because it has a tumor on it and has been collapsed since he had pneumonia in February.

Your letter about Hiroshima was in the June issue of the Telephone News.  I haven't seen a copy yet, but Paul Wright called me up yesterday after he read the article.  He and Louise have bought a house out near where Rice lived, off Highland Avenue.  They have been here since April and he is still with the telephone company.  He wanted to know if you had returned and if you were going to go with the telephone company yourself.

Dan's baby was due May 29, but we haven't heard a word.  Nancy said that a new mother always comes two weeks late, and she expected to be late, too.  Uncle Gart told Dan that it was up to him to keep the Holsenbeck name going and that he hoped Dan would attend to that matter this time!

Four of your women folk are anxiously awaiting your arrival.  It will be wonderful to be with you again and wondering what you'd like for supper and if you will catch poison ivy on our next picnic.

All my love,

The USS Canberra was a guided missle crusier in the U.S. Navy, which was of signficance to the Holsenbecks, since Dan was assigned to the ship during World War II.  It was originally to be christened the USS Pittsburgh, but was renamed, after the Royal Australian Navy ship Canberra, which had been recently sunk.
The USS Canberra underway

Incidentally, Singie was a woman who lived in Robles del Rio in California that the Gillhams knew, and according to Monty and Emily she could talk up a storm.

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