31 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 31 March 1943

Letter Date – 30 March 1943



My dearest Phyllis and Bonny,

I got your letter today and I’m going to sit right down and write you one back. That makes two letters in two days and that is the way I like to get them. I got some news for you. I was supposed to be shipped tomorrow but a guy in our room came down with the measles, so I won’t be able to be out for the next seven days. I have to stay in my room all the time except at mealtimes. That isn’t the hardest part of it, though. There were six guys in our room and they were all going up to Truax Field at Madison. At least that is what they told us. If it is true and I have to stay here I will be so damn mad that I don’t know what I will do. The guy that came down with them is one of the guys that just moved in our room yesterday. All the rest of the guys in our room that were going to go are pretty mad, too, as they are all from Wisconsin. All I have to do is stay in my room all day so I can catch up on some of the letters I have to write. I will send about two or three to you every day. I am so doggone mad that I don’t even know if I can write a whole letter now, but I will try to forget it and write. So the baby looks like me. I wish it didn’t as I want it to be good looking like you. You know yourself that I ain’t much to look at. I look in the mirror and wonder what you ever seen in me anyway. Now I bet you married me for my money, didn’t you? Ha, ha! After looking at myself in the mirror and then looking at your picture it makes me wonder all the more how you ever started going with me. I guess I was just pretty lucky. I have your picture sitting in front of me now and every time I look at it I get so  darn lonesome for you. In fact I darn near bawl every time I look at it. You are so far away from me and there is nothing I can do about it. I knocked one guy flat on his rear end for saying something I didn’t like about you. After he found out you were my wife he apologized for saying what he did. He thought that you were just some girl I had back home, but anybody that says anything against you or your picture has something on them hard, and that thing will be me. So you are spoiling our baby already. Well you had better do your share of it before I get home because when I get there I’m going to do a little spoiling of my own, and I really mean spoiling. When I get there I’m going to take her in my arms and I ain’t going to let her go for all the time I am there. I am also going to get a hold of you and not let anybody else touch you while I am there. I tell you honey, it is getting to be just hell being away from you. We will make it up when I come home, won’t we? You asked me whether you should get the baby baptized now and where you should have her baptized. As long as we were married in a Methodist church and you belong there I think we should have it one there. When I come home and if you want me to I will join the church. I suppose she will have to be baptized pretty soon, won’t she? If she didn’t have to be baptized for a while I would like to be home when she was. ‘Course if she has to be baptized right away you will have to go ahead and have done by yourself. I would like  awfully much to be there though. You know I made one hell of a mess of everything when I left. I should have saved some money last summer but I didn’t know what it was to take care of anybody. Now that I know I could cheerfully kick myself right square in, well, you know where. I will make it all up to you honey after this is all over. I promise that I will make it up and ten times more. I will give up everything have got if I can make it easier for you. You know, you never told me if you got my pictures or not. But you must have if you showed them to Clarence. Yes, I got them taken on the same spot as he did. Tampa, where he was, is only across the bay from here just a short boat ride. The way you talk about our baby makes me all the more mad because I can’t come home. It’s just the same as your picture. That don’t take your place at all but it sort of helps. I would so much rather have you right beside me in person. Gee, why if that could only be so. I don’t want you to spend any money on me because you need all of it that you can get. Of course if you want to send some homemade cookies or something down here that will be all right. Stuff like that really hits the spot. What do you mean I have a stubborn chin? You know very well that I never get mad at you, don’t you? Maybe I am wrong, though. How well I remember when I used to drive like the devil when we had a little argument about something. The best part of that was when you would snuggle up to me and tell me you was sorry for something you never did. It was all my fault in the beginning, but I couldn’t see that. How does my radio play since you got it fixed? I hope it is a lot better than it did when I left. Just had an interruption. One of our fire drills. We cleared the place in less than two minutes. There isn’t much more to write about now and it is getting along to nine and lights out, so just keep on sending my mail down here for a while yet. Until tomorrow night, sweetheart. Ralph

PS – More news tomorrow.

Notes: Neither of my parents were particularly religious. Dad was raised Lutheran and was confirmed. Mom was raised a strict Methodist of the variety that didn’t do much on Sunday other than go to church. By the time I came around in the 60’s we went to church once a year on Easter, other than some brief forays to local churches, mostly by us kids. In Daytona that meant a brief time at a neighborhood Baptist church, and later in St. Augustine a similar span at a Methodist church near the bakery. As for the pre-war, pre-marriage fights between my folks and Dad “driving like the devil,” we heard this story as kids. These “fights” were all entirely verbal. Never saw my folks raise a hand or anything else to each other, but they would damn sure raise their voices. Dad’s first car was a 1932 Chevrolet with a rumble seat (like the one pictured below) which, I believe, he bought from his older brother Clarence. He and Mom would be on a date and they would fight, and Dad would then start driving like a wild man down the narrow dirt roads of Waushara County.

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