Jul 31, 2017

Thu, Jul 31, 1947: very nice together

"Well, let's get the big news off first.  This family is increasing by leaps and bounds.  One more and it will have doubled in the last few months.  Daddy and Marjorie Carey are engaged!  However, since I had been expecting it ever since she got here, I'm not greatly surprised....
"Yesterday she drove out with him to get me at Camp Carlisle....On the way home, they talked like people do who are pretty interested in each other.  In fact, I felt like a fifth wheel very often, so pretended to go to sleep in the back seat. They look very nice together. She's old enough not to look like a giddy girl, and yet nice-looking enough not to look middle-aged.  (Which she is, I guess)  She's forty today--life begins at forty, they say. He said he stayed long enough last night to wish her a Happy Birthday, and today he sent her a dozen roses and gave her a big handsome picture (ah-hem!) and took her to Wichita for dinner."

--Letter from my mother, Hutchinson, Kans., to my father, U.S.S. McCard, Thursday, July 31, 1947. My grandmother, Wilma Dorth Murray, had died in 1943.

Jul 30, 2017

Wed, Jul 30, 1947: miss you

"One week of our time apart has already passed.  The longer that we are separated the more I think about you--and miss you.  At first I was so busy that thoughts of you were crowded out of my mind by affairs of the moment. Now, however, when in my bunk or alone all sorts of pleasant conversations and activities together keep coming back.  I believe that August 23 will be among the happiest days of my life....
"At times I get amused at the spectacle of grown men chasing around the Atlantic for no particular reason. Their days are quite similar to days spent by small boys with rafts on the river or sailboats on a lake -- only the equipment is larger and more expensive.  Yet they're all so dead serious about it. Of course, preparedness for war is a grim business. But if we should blunder into some senseless international conflict, I can't help wondering if this destroyer won't be obsolete in the face of the atomic bomb--the Bikini tests to the contrary."

--Letter from my father, U.S.S. McCard, off Rhode Isand, to my mother, Estes Park, Colo., Wednesday, July 30, 1947.

Jul 27, 2017

Sun, Jul 27, 1947: landlubber

"So the landlubber goes to sea.  In Oct. 1944 I was commissioned a deck officer.  They told me I was reasonably well-prepared for duty afloat.  Now that I've come aboard in July 1947 nearly all the vital facts about seamanship crammed into me during four hectic months at Notre Dame have escaped my memory."

--Letter from my father, aboard U.S.S. McCard, at Providence, R.I.., to my mother, Hutchinson, Kans., Sunday, July 27, 1947. My father was on a naval voyage as a Navy reservist.

Jul 24, 2017

Thu, Jul 24, 1947: looking better

“WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED THREE MONTHS-- (also a rainy Thursday night- remember?)
"The days are looking better-- explanation: 184 looks better than 185, 185 than 186, etc."

--Letter from my mother, Hutchinson, Kans., to my father, aboard U.S.S McCard, off Rhode Island, Thursday, July 24, 1947. My parents were keeping track of the numbers of days until their wedding.

Jul 21, 2017

Mon, Jul 21, 1947: dull & obscure playwright

"Probably my master's thesis will be on the influence of dull & obscure playwright x_________ on the dull & obscure playwright z__________.  The most shocking think I learnt recently on taking my PhD is that French, German & Latin will all be required."

--Letter from Jim Allen, Berkeley, Calif., to my father, Bloomington, Kans., July 21, 1947. Jim was a friend from the Navy language program and was planning to get a Ph.D. in English.

Jul 19, 2017

Sat, Jul 19, 1947: rubbed it in

"Uncle Sam really let me down today.  No letter from you.... Daddy rubbed it in because he got a special delivery from his girlfriend."

--Letter from my mother, Hutchinson, Kans., to my father, Bloomington, Kans., Saturday, July 19, 1947.

Jul 17, 2017

Thu, Jul 17, 1947: the feel of your arm

"From a carefree college student [10 1/2 months ago], sorry that she was already-half through and cherishing her independence gained from a summer of travel, to a girl trying to emerge into grown womanhood & eager to finish and marry the finest man she can find and depend on him the rest of her life. Independence has its point, but I like the feel of your arm around me and the thought that we'll do things together, darling."

--Letter from my mother, Winfield, Kans., to my father, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, July 17, 1947.

Jul 14, 2017

Mon, Jul 14, 1947: casualty of the automobile age

"Haverhill is a lively town during harvest season. Every summer for a few weeks it regains the flow of trade which its founders must have envisioned. Haverhill, like many settlements, of its size, is a casualty of the automobile age. The once bustling community even lost its depot agent a few years ago. Only the grocery store retains a thriving business. Most people go to Augusta, that metropolis of South Butler county, for trade, but for groceries they stop here."

-- Letter from my father, Haverhill, Kans., to my mother, Winfield, Kans., Monday, July 14, 1947.

Jul 10, 2017

Thu, Jul 10, 1947: your little brother

"What really made this day the brightest was your little brother.  As you may know, he wrote to me and I was tickled pink. I believe one more Brown has accepted me and I have certainly fallen for him, as you may know. I suspected a change in his attitude last Sunday afternoon -- maybe he didn't realize I was a normal human until I rode a horse and played Monopoly, or something. I certainly intend to answer him, but please let it be a surprise."
--Letter from my mother, Winfield, Kans., to my father, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, July 10, 1947.

Jul 7, 2017

Mon, Jul 7, 1947: Woodrow

"Woodrow came out to spend the night with us; so after supper he brought his slide projector into the frontroom to display some color pictures to the family. He had some dandies. Of course, a large share were of Phillip and Carol playing in swings, on the slippery slide, etc. A number were taken at our house--the cutest were those taken at a birthday party Mother had when Phillip was five.  It wasn't difficult to see where his chief interest in life was. Yet he has taken the loss remarkably well.  After that we had a long talk -- mainly about photography. Now it's bedtime."

-- Letter from my father, Bloomington, Kans., to my mother, Winfield, Kans., Monday, July 7, 1947. Woodrow’s children, Phillip, 9, and Carol, 7, had been struck and killed by an automobile while crossing the street in Wichita four days earlier on July 3. The two children had stayed at my grandparents’ house for extended periods, during times when their parents, Woodrow and Maryjane, were separated. After the couple’s second and final divorce, Woodrow was awarded custody of the children.  They were killed while on a visit with their mother. 

Mon, Jul 7, 1947: riding horseback

"Darling DeVere,
“It seemed that I kept thinking about you, so I thought it would be psychologically sound to write to you to clear you out of my mind so I could write on my theme. Also, I found my outline in this pad, so that proves I was right.... I just got back from a walk, which I justified because I was stiff from riding horseback and needed to work it out.  (I didn't tell you yesterday that I was getting very sore & don't you tell Stanley!  I'm not at all hurt by it.)...
"Well, my dearest, I'm certainly ready and willing to join your family and form here on out I'm going to act that way.  I do feel a part of it now.  I certainly want you & your immediate family to know how much I enjoy and appreciate them.  I had the best time yet this weekend and especially my attempts at education into farm procedure.  I hope we can be a family as good and family-like as yours.  I think everyone of you is tops.  It's mighty good of you to take care of me for such a long time.
"I'm quite positive there's no one as good and good for me in the world as you and fortunately, in just 201 days, I won't have to get along without you any more."
--Letter from my mother, Winfield, Kans. to my father, Bloomington, Kans., Monday, July 7, 1947.  This is the first time that my mother called my father DeVere in a letter.  His name was Sidney DeVere Brown.  Most of his family called him DeVere, while his college friends and Navy friends called him Sid.

Jul 4, 2017

Fri, Jul 4, 1947: North End Tragedy

“Truck Kills Two Wichita Children: Small Sister and Brother Struck Down: Carol and Philip Berger, 7 and 9, are victims in North End Tragedy; Police Probe Speeding: Wichita suffered its second fatal traffic accident Thursday afternoon when two young children, sister and brother, were struck down and fatally injured by a truck as they were crossing the street a block from their home, 2202 North Minneapolis, to buy some firecrackers.”

-- Wichita Eagle, Friday, July 4, 1947.  Carol and Philip were the children of Woodrow Berger, my great-uncle. Carol was born October 31, 1939, and Philip Eugene, May 27, 1938.  The children often stayed with my grandparents, during times when Woodrow and his wife Maryjane were separated. The couple eventually divorced. 

Jul 1, 2017

Tue, Jul 1, 1947: 'chawin' tobacco

"Bales of alfalfa from the field to the hay rack to the barn loft in an endless procession -- this sums up my day.  Mechanical gadgets handle nearly all heavy work on the farm; but none is inexpensive enough to be practicable for this work. Hence I spent another day lifting alfalfa hay -- green gold to the farmer of 1947.  Warren drove the team and old Mr. Dickson with his snaggle-teeth a product of long years of ‘chawin’ tobacco, helped most of the day.  For a man of 65 he gets around surprisingly well.  His predilection to talkativeness has run out -- and the old man was almost reticent today.  Dad characterizes him as a 'hill billy.'"

-- Letter from my father, Bloomington, Kans., to my mother, Winfield, Kans., Tuesday, July 1, 1947.