21 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 21 March 1943

Letter Date – 20 March 1943



My dearest wife and baby,

Here it is Saturday night and I am starting to write you again. I haven’t got a letter from you since I got that telegram. What’s the matter? Have you forgotten me? Now see here, you can love that baby of ours a lot but save some for me, will you? I would feel kind of lost if you give all that attention to our baby and none to me. Maybe I have a letter from you in the mail list, but the damn Corporal went to sleep and we can’t wake him up to hand it out. If you have sent me one forget all that I said at the top of this page. You may be wondering what these grease marks are on this paper. Well you see, I was on KP today and when I left the mess hall tonight I just took along about a dozen donuts. They must have been sort of greasy to make these marks. After today I sure feel tired, and I also don’t feel so well. This cold I have has settled in my throat and it sure hurts when I cough. That’s enough moaning about me. I ain’t really so sick when you come right down to it. This is going to be an awful short letter as the lights will be going out in fifteen minutes. I just have time to ask you how you are. Take care of yourself and please, if you haven’t already, write to me as quick as you can. I am getting worried about you. If there is something wrong let me know right away I will write you a long, long letter tomorrow when it is daylight. That’s all for now, honey, so will close with lots of love to my wife and baby, from Ralph.

Notes: Hard to ignore the whiney tone of this letter and others like it, and equally hard to reconcile it with the epic stoicism of the man I knew many years later. I was working with my Dad one day on the roof when he knocked the tip of his finger off with a misplaced hammer blow. He barely grunted. Another time, I was working with him in the kitchen on a dishwasher when a drill bit broke as he bore down on it and the jagged reminder still in the drill went through his hand. Again, he barely reacted, and both times he was back at work in the bakery the next morning, working around the injury. He never complained about being sick. He basically never complained at all. Perhaps he’s making an attempt at humour here, but you can see a vision of future Ralph when he says, “I ain’t really so sick when you come down to it.”

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