It’s early October of 1942. Dad is still at Norfolk, Virginia, processing the Navy Seabee recruits through their vaccination routines and other health matters. He doesn’t write to my future mom about the war, and seems to be completely detached from what is going on overseas. As he mentions in one of today’s letters, a movie that he saw on one of his trips to town brought it all home for a bit. He even brings up religion and tries to explain to her what he personally believes. His faith a bit shaky at this point in his existence, and certainly gets a lot stronger as time goes on. Later in life he became a church Deacon at the First Baptist Church in Collinsville, Oklahoma, and taught Sunday School for many years. He was one of my teachers as a matter of fact. The man did know his Bible!
He goes to downtown Norfolk one night and seems quite disturbed by what he sees, but I think that is an act for his Anna Mae. Both of them grew up in or around Oilton, Oklahoma, which was an oil boom town at that time. Oilton was rough! At least one homicide a night. Much like an old mining town, where the bars and cat houses were the hoppin’ joints, and no God-fearing folk ventured out after dark, at least this is what I’ve read about it, ’cause these two didn’t talk about it at all! Must be where I get it from!
On to the letters . . . (db)
[Postmark: October 7, 1942]
Oct. 6, 1942
My Darling Sweetheart,
Thanks for the picture. I like it even if you don’t. I don’t see why there had to be two extra girls in it. Send me some more, please.
I just got back from the show. I saw the man who came for dinner. Pretty good.
Nothing new has happened here, I’ll probably go to town tomorrow night & get those pictures, boy they sure look salty, I saw the proofs.
How is the old cold coming along? I hope you didn’t have too .[??? word] a cold all winter. Maybe you should have my bottle of cod liver oil. Confidentially, I quit taking it. I have never felt better in my life, as far as health is concerned, but as usual, I am lonely for you.
Boy was I surprised when I saw the paper you wrote to me on. I didn’t know I sent it. It looks so much better when you write on it.
Bob said to tell you hello. I told him what you said, but he isn’t conceited. He is a swell egg.
Well, I had better close, it is bed time & I am sure I love you too & always will.
All My Love
[Postmark: October 9, 1942]
Oct. 8, 1942
To My Darling Anna Mae,
I know you don’t like typewritten letters but I forgot to bring my stationary over with me tonight, so I have to write on this paper and I could never write in a straight line on this paper with a pen. Please forgive me, I am on duty tonight, wish you were here, you could help me work. Oh Yeah! I can imagine how much work we would get done, but I can’t think of any thing I would rather do than be with you. Anywhere.
Yes, I know, I didn’t write to you, but I guess you already know why I didn’t. I was up town. I hope you like the picture, it was the best I could do, you know you have to have a subject to make a picture that is good, so I guess you didn’t expect too much. I also went to the show while down town, saw the filming of (The Jap attack on Batan.) Say, that show will make you set up and take notice.
I got a card from Mother today, she was still in Kentucky. She seems to think that I will be coming home to get married soon, wonder how she got that idea. She seems to think it would be a good idea. Then she could say all her boys were married in the same year, wouldn’t that be something?
I am glad to hear you are feeling better, I was about ready to come home and take care of you, but I guess I won’t have to now. Boy, how I wish I could.
Have you noticed that I can write a better letter on a typewriter, I guess I just take more time to think about what I am going to say. I am sure glad you haven’t neglected me on the letters. I don’t know how I could have stood it up here if you hadn’t written to me like you have. I realize now more than ever before just how much you mean to me, it seems every thing I plan is built around you. I hope you don’
t ever get tired of my telling you how much I Love you.
Nothing new here, there is still some talk about moving, but nothing definite about the time yet. Yorktown is just about fifty (50) miles from here so it won’t make any difference. It is still too far away from you. There was a lot of boys from Okla. here today who had just joined the Navy. I didn’t happen to see anyone I knew.
Well, I have just about run down, so take care of yourself.
I LOVE YOU.
P.S. I send mother a picture just like the one you got.
[Postmark: October 12, 1942]
Oct. 11, 1942
MY DARLING ANNA MAE,
Yes I know I missed writing to you. I went to town last night, I had to go some place, it was getting on my nerves just staying here all the time. I have only been to town twice in the last two weeks, that was last Wednesday and last night.
Last night I went to two shows, say a couple of pictures that I can’t even remember the names of. It was just some place to go. I also went to a place called Main STreet, boy is it tough down there,. I have heard about it ever since I came to Norfolk, so I ventured down there. It is one long street with nothing but joints and side shows. Everyone was drunk and raising H _ _ _. I never even drank a bottle of beer so it was disgusting to me I had to leave. Before I left I saw three fights. One of them was between a soldier and a girl. You can’t even imagine what this town is like until you see it on Saturday night especially, people walking up and down the street signing and raising H _ _ _. That is one of the reasons I can’t stand to drink anymore, after seeing some of the things that go on here.
You are still the most wonderful girl in the world, and I will be satisfied if I can have only You. I got two wonderful letters from you yesterday, And I Love you for your faithful writing.
Thanks for the paper but there wasn’t much news in it, just the same old Gusher advertisements. Boy, what a sorry excuse that is for a paper. Pardon me while I relay some scuttlebutt. That is what we call it in the Navy. So you are working nights now, my how I wish you were working nights at Burnie’s and I was still working up at the drugstore. I don’t believe I realized what a wonderful life that was. Oh, this isn’t so bad, but you aren’t here and that was what made it so swell at Oilton.
I hung that snapshot up in my locker and everyone has asked who the sailor girl is, I tell them it is my wife, and they congratulate me. Then they say but who in heavens name are those other two.
I haven’t heard from any of my family lately, I guess they have forgotten me. Well, that isn’t so bad, just so you don’t forget. I’ll survive if you just keep loving me.
I think I’ll go see if the mail has come in today before I finish this. No, it hasn’t come in yet, we only get mail once on Sunday. I got two letters yesterday, maybe I won’t get one today. I hope so. I know, as I said before, that you don’t like typewritten letters, but don’t you think I write a better letter on a typewriter than with pen and ink? Yes, I know I mess them up with a typewriter, but I do the same thing with pen and ink. I mean it just a much no matter how I write it. Did you know you are the only girl I ever cried over or even felt like crying over? I am sure you remember the times, twice to be exact. One of those times didn’t count because I was inebriated. Did you ever cry over me, I mean cry for me and not because of what I had done? I don’t recall you ever telling me about it.
Oh, I just remembered the name of the shows I saw, at least one of them, it was “Just between us girls”. It wasn’t a bad show, pretty funny. The other was a story of the life of some painter, you know, the kind that paints pictures. It was kind of screwy. I don’t recall the name of it. [Dad, if you thought painters were weird, wonder what you really thought when I told you I was going to be a potter? - Okie]
I didn’t get up this morning till 11:30, you see, when we are supposed to have liberty on Sunday, we don’t have to get up unless we want to. This happens every other week-end.
I just heard that we would move the last of this month, of course it is just scuttlebutt, but it might be true, I don’t know and have no way of finding out. I will tell you all about the place when we move. Boy, I just know it will be a mess.
I thought I would go back over to see Bill today, but it is raining, not hard but it is still raining, and besides, i wanted to take lots of time to write to you. I started this letter at oNe o’clock (1300) and I will tell you the time when I finish.
We sure had a good meal today, that is dinner (lunch), we usually have chicken but today, we had roast pork and mashed potatoes with carrots and peas, as salad, and ice cream and cookies. Boy did I ever eat, you see I didn’t get up in time for breakfast. I sure did enjoy that sleep.
I never did buy that radio, but Bob bought one, so I don’t think I will. I bunk with him and I can play his so why should I buy one? I’ll just help buy some more batteries or tubes for it when it needs some. That is fair enough, don’t you think?
This boy friend of Clara Lue that joined the Navy Construction department will surely some here, because this is the main office of the construction Battalions, this is where he construction Battalions first originated. What is his name and I will look for him. They don’t have a Construction camp in San Diego, there is only two, one here and the other in Florida.
By the way, I have quit smoking everything except a pipe that I bought the other day, and I don’t chew tobacco any more. It is a cute little pipe, I just know you would like it, and besides, it is cheaper to smoke a pipe, costs about 15 cents per week. Boy am I tight.
It’s now 1630 and I have been writing since 1300 and haven’t said anything yet, so I guess I had better close and go see about some chow (food).
Love Allways (mispelled)
P.S. I Do Love You.
[Postmark: October 12, 1942]
1930 or 7:30
Oct. 11, 1942
My Darling Anna Mae,
It hasn’t been more than a few hours since I wrote you a long letter, but I am on duty tonight. I am standing by for a guy who is supposed to be on duty. In other words, I am working for him. We have a patient here to be sent to the hospital, pretty sick boy. Sure is a lot of red tape to this stuff.
i don’t have anything particularly to write about, but I am behind on my writing and I don’t want you to miss a day. I didn’t get a letter today just like I suspected, you know I got two yesterday.
I borrowed this paper from a friend, it is something different from what I have ever seen before, I think I’ll try to buy some. This probably won’t make sense because I am trying to write and listen to the Fitch Band Wagon program at the same time.
You asked me sometime back some thing about religion, I don’t know just what you wanted to know, but I am a God fearing man and I believe in a hereafter of some kind. There is sure to be something behind this old world of ours than just what meets the eye. I don’t know much about it and it seems the more you try to figure it out the deeper you get. I think there is no better laws than the 10 Commandments. What are your thoughts on the subject? I have often wondered.
Now I am listening to Charley McCarthy, so don’t be surprised what I write. Some is singing a song about a sailor with Navy Blue Eyes. Say, my eyes aren’t blue or are they? I really don’t know, do you?
Boy do I write a sorry letter, it isn’t bad enough that I don’t know how to type. Say, do you type? I don’t believe that you ever told me just exactly what you do. You said something about the figures on the gas bills, do you figure them up or type them in? I would like just as much about your work as you would mine.
I can’t think of any thing else to ask or tell you about, so good night and I Love You Very Much.
Your Sailor Boy.
[Postmark: October 13, 1942]
Oct. 12, 1942
Well, how are you today? I am just fine. I see by the clipping you sent that You know just about as much about this town as I do. I didn’t know it was that widely know, but it si the worst place that I have seen. I was wondering if you would believe me whan I wrote what I did yesterday, aobut this town. They call this place the a_ _hole of creation, & I believe it is.
I got a nice letter from Juanita today, ahe also sent me a picture of herself & Audeen. She said she was going over to the follies. I hope you all have a good time. I haven’t heard from Mother in some time, I guess she is still on her vacation.
I Love You
“Duke the Sailor”
Dad’s WWII Letters to Mom™
A celebration of love and discovery by Duke’s son.
Copyright © 2005-2006 — Arthur Dale Baker — All Rights Reserved
[tags]World War II letters, WWII, Dad’s WWII Letters, Camp Allen, Norfolk, Navy[/tags]