What do you think? Yup – you’ve guessed it – I love you more than anyone else in the world, and I just don’t want you to forget that. The moon’s getting bigger again – and it may still be big enough when you get this letter for you to look up at it too and realize that a few thousand miles away – I’m wishing on it – and the wishes concern you and me. I think we’ll spend a lot of time together – looking at full moons, darling.
Boy – I got a bunch of letters this morning: two from you – 10th September the latest, one from Dad A, one from Eleanor who liked my recent picture very much (and heck, dear – you said it was bleary, blurry and pretty good!) and two letters from Lawrence. Not bad, not bad – and enough to perk up my morale about 40%. That’s a lot – these days, dear. One of your letters was written when you were meeting Gus Bergson – and you seemed to be having a good time. I’m glad. I had forgotten just who she was – but she recalled the connection when she mentioned Joe Auerbach, Sid Papp and Henry Gesme. I knew them all. Phil Bergson sounds awfully familiar but I can’t seem to place him. Your description of Gus makes her sound swell and I’m sure I’ll like her. How is it – you’re friendly with her – oh yes – I almost forgot – thru Red Cross.
Your other letter tried to cheer me up. You had received a couple from me in which I sounded bored. I’m sorry, darling. I do try to hide it. But I am all right – and your reasoning is good. The fact is I certainly ought to be home in ’45. With any sort of break – it ought to be sooner; I’ll be home to stay and out of uniform not long after. A couple of months ago – I’d never allow myself to even think in such terms. So we do have a lot to be thankful for. It means we can really get started in Salem much sooner than I had hoped for. I’m not worrying one bit about us; I’m sure we’ll find we love each other in person as well as thru our letters – and I think I can make you happy. And as for single or double beds – hell – it won’t make any difference at all to me, sweetheart. Don’t forget – I still have my rubber mattress – although it does have a patch in it over a hole made by a bullet from a Carbine. I guess I can tell you about it now. It was fairly close. I had been lying on it one night and one of the boys picked up my rifle. I sort of turned – to adjust my radio – and off went the carbine – right through the mattress and out into the wall. It would have shattered one of my ankles, had I not turned toward the radio. This was back during the Belgian Bulge.
Before I forget it – if you see that hero from the 635th Q.M. Laundry Co – ask him how rough he found it up front. That’s what gets us mad – these boys who never even heard the sound of our own long distance (15 miles) artillery going off – let alone anything else – telling about other outfits not being up front. Oh yes – they got battle stars for the Battle of the Rhine – for example – by being back here in Nancy and Rheims. As you say – Phooey!! It’s too bad they don’t save some of that stuff for us. They know darn well – they wouldn’t get very far. Hell – I’m mad!
Well – I’ll change my mood darling, before I close and go out to eat. Can I tell you one more time that I love you dearly? Surely I can – and do. And what’s more – I always will, dear.
All for now – and love to the folks.
Summer had faded into the season which Western Indians called The-Moon-When-Deer-Rub-Their-Horns; September's hot days and moonless nights held the first, smoky promise of fall. Across the continent the people of the U.S. looked at a land at peace after the years of war.
Soldiers who had cheered Manhattan's towers when their ships docked now strained their eyes for the half-forgotten tree or turn of road which would mean the real end of their long journey home. War workers bound back to farms and small towns, millions who had been city-bound by gasoline rationing looked out again at the U.S. scene they best remembered—a two-lane highway seen through the windshield of a four-door sedan.
The wartime years had left their mark. Weeds grew around once immaculate service stations, in many a gravel drive and rural schoolyard. Vermont's neglected pastures were overrun with purple bergamot, and Louisiana's bayous with orchid-like water hyacinth. Fireweed grew on steep acres of newly logged land in the Western foothills. But in its broad sweep, in color and loom of hill, the land was unchanged.
The Hills of Home.
The fields between New England's stone walls were still lush and green. The salt smell of the sea still blew in from every coast. Highways still boasted their gaudy billboards; they ran past barns painted with baking powder ads and signposts cluttered with the weathered, cardboard portraits of political candidates. In the South the cotton was waist high. Beneath the northern border the wheat lands were bright with yellow stubble. The Western ranges with their white-faced cattle were sere again with the late summer heat. Sidetracked freight cars still bore the familiar slogans on their red sides: The Route of Phoebe Snow, The Katy, The Southern Serves the South. Leaves were turning yellow in the high valleys of the Rocky Mountains. In the Southwest, mirages still sprang up along the roads and the horizon bloomed with the dust of distant plowing.
But the feel of home and peace was more than this. In the cattle country it was the excitement of rodeo time: the smell of corrals, the sight of a squealing bronco making his first, lurching jump in dusty sunlight. To many an American it was the lovely, casual look of a yellow fly line falling out on running water and the first, heart-stirring tug of a hooked trout. There would be hunting soon and with it would come the cold feel and oily click of a rifle's cocking lever, the look of a deer slung across the car's radiator, the sight of ducks in mist or pheasant starting like an explosion of color from brown grass, the distant belling of a Bluetick hound.
There were other, less dramatic joys—a visit to a county fair, a meal in a roadside restaurant, an idle ride aboard a yawl or cabin cruiser or outboard-powered rowboat.
The Important Things.
For six long years the news had come from overseas. In war-jammed cities the important things of existence had been steel shavings coiling from a machine tool, the glare of a welding torch, the sound of riveting gun and typewriter, the brain fag and weariness of overwork. But now the U.S. experienced the quiet clarity of eye and mind which comes after a long fever.
The color and perfume of flowers was real again—Maine's goldenrod, Wisconsin's black-eyed Susan, New Mexico's Indian paintbrush. Suddenly there was nothing outlandish in the thud of a punted football, the rhythm of a dance band, the bright expensive look of department-store windows, and the solid, un-shattered buildings. Across the land last week it was hot, and once more the U.S. people could listen with contentment to that most peaceful of all evening music—the tinkling of the lawn sprinklers, turning drowsily in the darkness.