06 June, 2012

06 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 339 % Postmaster, N.Y.
6 June, 1945      0820

My dearest sweetheart –

I got your letter of 24 May yesterday – in which you told me of Florence, and honestly, darling, I hardly know what to say. I can well imagine how difficult it was for you, dear, to write the letter. I reread your statement telling me she had died – over and over and I just couldn’t and still can hardly believe it. It doesn’t seem as if she had half a chance. Meningitis isn’t so often fatal these days as it used to be. Did she get penicillin? What was the final diagnosis – I mean – what type of meningitis did she have?

My Lord – what a shock to Phil and the family! I’d like to write my condolences – but I just didn’t know Florence or Phil well enough. I was getting to like Florence – thru her letters. They were straightforward. I didn’t know about their having had a son who supposedly died with the same disease. I’m glad, darling, that you weren’t exposed – although I suspect that exposure would have very little effect on contracting the disease. There’s something deeper than that involved. It’s a terrible thing – and fundamentally – the one person who is taking the biggest licking is Phil.

A funny thing occurred in the past several days. I hadn’t heard from you in 4 or 5 days and yet mail was coming in. One afternoon I got to thinking of it particularly, and a peculiar wave of fear came over me – that something must be wrong. I thought about it awhile – and then pushed it from my mind.

Well, sweetheart, I can’t think of anything more I can say now that can help me express myself more adequately. I’ll stop at this short point because there’s nothing more to say in a letter of this sort. By now I hope the nerves of most of the family are a bit settled. I hope, darling, that you are O.K. yourself. I would have liked to have been home to help you take it a bit more easily. Be well, sweetheart, for me – and take care of yourself. Love to the folks – and
All my deepest love


about Meningitis and Penicillin

Greg mentioned that while overseas he continued to read JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. His question in this letter as to whether or not Wilma's aunt, Florence, had received penicillin for treatment of her meningitis may have resulted from his reading an article in that journal, dated 3 February 1945 in issue Vol. 127, No. 5. Here are excerpts from that article:

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