Letter or Postcard – Letter
Sender – Ralph Peterson
Recipient – Phyllis Peterson
Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida
Postmark Date – 26 April 1943
Letter Date – 25 April 1943
My dearest Phyllis and Bonny,
Here it is, Easter, and all I can do is send you my love. I will make up for it after payday, though. And as far as your birthday goes I guess you will have to wait for that, too. It sure is hell not having any money when something like that comes up. I wanted to send you a telegram for Easter but I just couldn’t manage it. So as I said again, I will just have to send my love. Let me know if you think that is enough. Well, it is a hell of a hot day here today. I haven’t got nothing to do until Monday at twelve, so that gives me a 28-hours in which I have all to myself. I am using it up right here at camp. I didn’t get up until eight, then I washed out a big washing in the forenoon. I had dinner, and after that I hung out my clothes. Now I am writing this letter to my wife out on the lawn. It is real hot, but then it makes a better tan. The last few days on guard duty my tan sort of bleached out, so I am trying to get back the color. I don’t know when I will get shipped out, but there is a big list of names that are going to be called out tomorrow. I would like to stay here until payday, though. If I am shipped before I won’t get paid until the next payday, so I hope that I ain’t moved. I forgot to tell you one thing that I did today. I went to Easter Service at two o’clock. It was an army church. There was about a thousand men there. I said church but you wouldn’t hardly call it that. It was held in a big park near here. Boy, was that nice and pretty. Lots of nice flowers, and after the service they give us each some cigarettes. It is the first time that I ever see them give anything away, but it was well worth going to see. There is not much news down here. I didn’t get a letter from you today, but I am hoping for a nice one tomorrow. Now don’t disappoint me, will you. This job I have now is sure an easy job. I get up when I want to. I can eat before the rest of the men do. I have no KP or any other work like that. I have not been down to the drill field for four days, so you can see what work I am doing. It is a lot different than driving trucks for Charlie all day. Darling, every time you write me tell me a lot about you and Bonny. What you do and how much you love me and miss me. And as quick as you can send me a picture of you and Bonny girl. I sure would like to see what my daughter looks like. Meanwhile, tell me everything she does. Has she smiled yet or is she waiting for me? This is all for now my dearest ones. Until tomorrow, all my love and kisses to my sweetest wife and baby from Daddy .
Notes: The St. Petersburg Times of the following day described several Easter services in the bay area. The only one that seemed exclusively for soldiers was a large gathering of 1500-200 men at Drew Field across the bay in Tampa. Most of the rest were sunrise services throughout St. Petersburg. As Dad clearly says the service he attended was at two o’clock those may be ruled out. But he does say the service was held “in a big park near here.” One of the sunrise services was held at Williams Park, which was St. Petersburg’s first real public park. It is located downtown not far from the hotel where Dad was housed. This was a possible location. It had a bandshell (seen below in 1941) and could accommodate a thousand men. Perhaps the army held their services here in the afternoon after the sunrise crowd had cleared. Interesting to see that what really excited Dad was the free cigarettes they gave out after the service. Sic semper smokers.
Dad drove a delivery truck for his Uncle Charlie Hansen’s bakery in Wautoma. As a child I recall a humourous story Dad told about driving into a farm yard to make a delivery. Unseen in the tall grass a young woman who lived on the farm was sunbathing. Dad drove directly over her and parked the truck, and was startled to hear and feel someone pounding the floorboard directly under his feet, cutting loose with some choice language. Miraculously he did not injure her. I am a bit taken aback that folks seemed so in to tanning back in those days.