13 April 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 13 April 1943

Letter Date – 12 April 1943



My dearest Phyllis and Bonny,

Got your letter today and was sure glad to get it. Just keep them coming like that and that will please me real well. It is nice to come in after a day on the drill field and lay down and read them and dream about you. It really makes me feel swell. But the way you wrote today’s  letter it didn’t sound so good. You wrote and said I was the only one you were sure of. Do you mean that you don’t trust yourself? Or what do you mean by the way you wrote that? I trust you honey with all my heart and body, but don’t write like that anymore. I know it is hard way up there alone, but it is just as hard down here for me. In plain words it is the worst kind of hell a person could ask for. Just pretend that I am beside you every night and try to forget about some of those ideas you have. You told me not to worry but I will until I get a letter telling me what you meant by today’s letter. Just keep on loving me, darling, ’cause you and Bonny girl are all I have in the world. You are the only ones I would do anything for. Even die if it would help you out. I was sorry to hear that Mr. Moon died. He was a nice old man even if he did make you mad once in awhile. What are Mrs. Moon and Garnet going to do now? I suppose they will stay there on the farm until Garnet graduates. I know what that is because I went through it three times and I can tell you it isn’t very nice. I am glad that you and the baby are both getting along swell. I hope Bonny girl doesn’t catch that cold, too. That would be kind of hard on her. Take good care of yourself and her, too, sweetheart. You must have an awful house full there with Joy’s mother there, too. As long as they all help with the work and don’t make you do too much it will be alright. It is kind of funny that Joy’s mother would come down there after all she said about you and your folks. Had an awful hot day down here today. We had lessons in Jiu-Jitsu all forenoon, then this afternoon double time for about five miles without stopping. That is what they call running down here. It is just a slow run, but in this heat the sweat was just thick all over me. My pants were all ringing wet. When they feel like it they can really work the devil out of you, and they did it today. We also learned the easiest way to break a man’s neck and arms. It is really simple to do it. We got the banner for our squadron today, and I have the honor of carrying it. Maybe it isn’t an honor, but the Lieutenant picked me out so I must be all right for something. It isn’t hard to work yourself up in the army if you do everything you are supposed to do. That is kind of hard to do sometimes. I can’t think of a thing more to write tonight. I forgot to write to Avis and Sookie last night so I have to do it now, so I will close with all my love and kisses to my dearest wife and baby from Daddy.

PS – I hope I didn’t make you mad with some of the things I said in this letter let me know if I did.

Notes: The opening section borders on paranoia. Without even seeing Mom’s letter I think Dad is reading way more between the lines than is actually there. The Mr. Moon who died was Elijah Moon, whose wife was Nellie Grant. Nellie was Mom’s first cousin once removed. Their daughter was Garnet Moon, who would have been 15 at the time and was Mom’s second cousin. Interesting when Dad says, “I know what that is because I went through it three times and I can tell you it isn’t very nice.” Is he talking about the death of a parent? He lost his Mom when he was 6 and his Dad when he 18. But what is the third time? And again it is odd that Dad would grouse about Aunt Joy’s mom coming shortly after her daughter had given birth for the first time, which would be perfectly natural. In later years Mom and Dad and Alvin and Joy were friendly, so not sure what this was all about other than Dad sensing that Mom was getting work dumped on her when she had also just given birth. Finally we again see the casual juxtaposition of how easy it is to break a man’s neck and the honor of carrying the squadron’s banner.

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