Wednesday, January 18, 2017


(For you who read my last blog, this is a continuation of that post. A journey with my dad through his letters to my mom during the Korean War.)

                                              INSTALLMENT 2

The news is unsettling: One 2-star general and one 1-star general are coming to Captieux to inspect the camp. Not music to Dad’s ears. Nor mine, as I know my Dad’s unease with any sort of confrontation.

That happy news is accompanied by the acquisition of five new ambulances, a dentist and several more troops coming to join his outpost. He is happy about the ambulances, not so much about the increase in enlisted men to supervise.

Because of the increase however, the army sends over a new major, who outranks dad (a captain), and assumes authority. The major is “hopping mad” because they made him leave a very soft assignment in Boston and sent him to what he thinks is the worst assignment in the world. Dad says the major feels he has been “banished to Captieux.”

Dad is neither upset nor threatened. He is relieved about now not having to be camp spokesman when the generals come to inspect. Dad is let off the hook! The first day, the major asks Dad if he will get up for the early sick call, and if he will, he can leave at noon. I am pumped along with him for an afternoon off!!

A few letters later, it is clear that the "job-sharing" arrangement with the major is more permanent than one day. Dad is very content with this.

The Army has finally given Mom a departure date on the Queen Mary ocean liner for Feb. 9, a month away! I wonder how long she and Mike have to sail. Dad is ecstatic and now counting down days. She is bringing with her a washer, a car, and a refrigerator for starters. Dad is adding to the list daily! He says they are so expensive in France that shipping them over and selling them when they leave will make them money.

He has secured his lease of the old house but still living at the inn with the officers. Fleas are still a problem. He has bites everywhere and I wish I could give him some 2016 remedies. Right now, I cringe as he sprays his room with DDT...all the officers are using it. He wears long johns to bed to keep the bites at a minimum. Madame Salm continues to make extraordinary meals for the men staying in her hotel, Lion D'Or. Good thing Mom was an excellent cook or she would be feeling slightly threatened with the meal standards that Madame Salm is setting feeding her husband!

The men still sit around after dinner and "share their Kodakchromes." Pictures and slides being mailed back and forth from families stateside is something he writes about almost daily. The Kodachromes are lifelines.  As are all these letters filled with such love: ”I will have enough staples bought at the commissary for us because we’re not going to want to leave the house for 2-3 days when you get here" and "You are due for beaucoup loving; come prepared!” I am warmed by their love as I read.

I wince mockingly as he writes to mom that he wonders if he could ever love another child as much as he loves Mike. I wanted to whisper in his ear that he could. And did. Lavishly. Never was a daughter more loved.

I love this daily accounting of Dad's army career, thoughts, decisions, feelings and tasks. He sometimes writes twice a day and then sends both at one time. Mom writes daily to him. In our digital culture,we have lost the treasure of a letter written on paper, in long-hand and found in our be read over and over. I feel so blessed to have these. the last leg of the wait for Mom and Mike....


Cole said...

Mary, this sounds like a book! What a love story!

On a side note, our women's retreat is on the Queen Mary at Long Beach. Is it possible that it is the same Queen Mary??

Cole said...

I just looked into a little bit of the Queen Mary's history and I think it's possible it's the same ship! I'll be onboard during the first weekend of March so I'll send pictures. :)