On May 29, 1945 my mom Selma and my dad Glenn eloped to get married by a justice of the peace in Magnolia, Texas. Magnolia was a small town 30 miles south of the even smaller town of Richards where they had grown up and gone to public school together. I’m not sure how they decided on Magnolia unless they had set out for Houston which was another 60 miles down the road – and couldn’t wait.
They eloped practically the day my father returned from England after flying 32 bombing missions over Germany as a navigator on a B-25 bomber. He had volunteered to enlist in the army soon after graduating from high school, gone to officer training school in the Army Air Corps, served in the 8th Air Force in England, received the Air Medal of Honor, was honorably discharged, came home to the rural Grimes County, Texas home he had left and married the woman he loved. She was 18 – he was 21.
My father had a brother, Ray, who was two years older than he was. My Uncle Ray also enlisted in the Army as soon as he finished high school. Even though the brothers had been separated for two years, they both were amazed to find themselves stationed together with the 8th Air Force in England. Ray loaded the bombs in the planes on the ground, and Glenn dropped the bombs from the air.
Ray and Glenn’s mother, my grandmother Betha Day Robinson Morris, kept this letter dated August 16, 1945 from a mother written to her from another mother in Doncaster, England. Apparently Betha’s sons had spent quite a bit of time in her home while they were stationed across the Pond during the war. Glenn was home and already married before Ray’s tour was over.
16 -8 – 45
Dear Mrs. Morris,
Many thanks for your letter. I was very pleased you appreciated my letter. I expect you have Ray home now. We do miss him but let’s thank god the whole war is over & our boys won’t have to face that Pacific. I dreaded hearing that any of the U.S.A. boys who stayed with me would have to face that ordeal. Fancy Glynn being with you when my letter arrived. I could just imagine him saying that about the Yorkshire pudding. Yes Mrs. Morris my dear son arrived home safely & we’ve had a lovely 10 days with him. We had his coming home party last Saturday & what a party. Ray will tell you what a lively house this is like your own. I didn’t know what to do when the telegram came saying he had landed in England. I laughed & cried together so I know your feelings when that great big son of yours arrives. He’s a great guy. We’ve got his photo on the piano. I often talk to him. Pleased to hear you have 3 children. We only have 2 boys and my grandson who really is a beautiful child. I’ll send you some snaps when we can obtain some films for the camera. He’s so proud of his dear daddy. Ask Glynn to send me a picture of his wife. She sounds a jolly good sort of a girl. We get very few American Boys here now. I see a few was over for J.V. Days & everybody went mad. Tell Ray the Market Tavern was crowded. When we got in, you couldn’t get out again. My son who works there was tired out. What beer they sold & we was all dancing in the Market too. Give Ray this message from Shelia “She sends her regards to him & if she wasn’t marrying Nash, he stood the second chance.” She’s a sweet kid. I’ll enclose you the recipe for Yorkshire pudding it’s really good. With roast, beef, mutton, or pork. We very seldom have a dinner without in England. As it’s very tasty with onions cooked. Let’s hope you make a success of it. It needs a lot of Beeting (sp.) up. Well dear space is short and time marches on. Give my love to my two Boys from their Limey Mum.
So I’ll say cheerio.
Regards from all the young at heart to Ray & Glynn
Sender’s name and address: E. Hughes, L.L. Christ Church Rd, Doncaster, England.
P.S. I can only imagine my grandmother’s strictly tee-totaling Southern Baptist self as she read the part about the Market Tavern, beer and dancing. Oh my god.
P.S.P.S. Family lore always attributed my name Sheila to a girl in England. There is truth to that story apparently. My middle name Rae was my daddy’s attempt to feminize his brother’s name. So I guess I might have been named Betha Day instead of Sheila Rae had it not been for WWII.