a man of letters (6) – love letters, that is


While Glenn was in combat training in the Midwest, Selma was busy getting settled into her new life in Waco at Baylor University. Since her mother didn’t have a car and wouldn’t  even know how to drive one if she had it, Glenn’s parents volunteered to transport Selma and  her suitcases to college for the fall semester, 1944. Selma was seventeen years old at the time.

Glenn’s daddy loaded Selma’s suitcases…

…while both mothers hovered

Louise (Selma’s mother) in the middle and Betha (Glenn’s mother)

Selma and a friend check out local sandwich shop in Waco

Glenn sent this Western Union telegram to his parents on November 15, 1944. He had planned to return to Texas for his 20th. birthday on October 06 (and his mother’s birthday two weeks later) – but didn’t make it home.

“Am sorry couldn’t come home but only got four days. Don’t write to old address after Friday. Will write later. Love, Glenn”

The two months of combat training concluded in November of that year, and The Crew shipped out to join the 8th. Air Corps in England. They made a brief detour for more maneuvers in Iceland before reaching their European destination near London. This was Glenn’s last letter before crossing the Pond. He wrote to Selma at the last minute, November 28, 1944.

“Dearest Darling,

As the snow lingeringly falls upon our unattractive barracks, I pause for a moment in my menial tasks to give my love to the only one in my life. There are times when you can’t help but be a little disgusted with me, because I am so unthinking and negligent.

I am lucky to have someone waiting for me who is forgiving and understanding. I do appreciate it. That is one thing I have to look forward to, your waiting for me when I get back.

Well, a little of what I’m doing. I’m expecting to leave as soon as the weather clears. I’ll probably go to the European theater of action. I’ll probably even get to see Ray. That’s just my idea. But my ideas are generally pretty good.

We were to fly a mission today, but it started snowing this morning and hasn’t quit. We have to fly that mission before we leave. Oh well, the sooner, the quicker. I’ve already shipped my clothes over and part of them home.

We were lucky enough to get a ship. Only 1/2 of the crews got ships.

Dan insists I go with him to the PX. PX – PT what’s the difference?

Be good, Darling.

I love you,

Glenn”

The month of December was a long one for Glenn and The Crew who were now on a temporary layover in Iceland waiting for their first assignments. Glenn wrote letters to Selma who was finishing her first semester at Baylor. This one is dated December 07, 1944.

“Dearest Darling,

You’ve probably been thinking nasty things about me again, but I have a legitimate excuse this time. You won’t chastise me, will you? You’re a pretty good kid. I guess that’s why I love you. I know it’s not because you’re so pretty and sweet. Imagine your being sweet.

Of course, I’m sorry. You wanted to know where I am. I’m in Iceland. Beautiful place. You’d love it, I’m sure. This is only temporary, however. Lucky me…You wouldn’t believe it, I’m sure, but I saw a good show today, Mrs. Parkington.

Montana and Mort are no longer with me. Maybe they’ll get here soon. I miss them.

I expect to be able to see Ray soon. I’d sure like to see the old fat boy. You know, it’s been a long time. Then, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you.

I’m sorry about Christmas, but you know how it is. I told Mama to get you something. All my love goes with whatever it is. Mama was laboring under the assumption that you wanted a ring. Set her straight, will you.

Be a good kid and write often. More than usual.

I love you,

Glenn”

“fat boy” Ray (l.) and Glenn in Richards before war

Four days later, on December 11th. he wrote from England.

“Dearest Darling,

I am in England now. Enough said. Or that’s all I can say anyway.  I think I like it here all right. The food’s o.k. I see a cinema every day. I hadn’t seen “Cobra Woman” until  today. It wasn’t so good. I suppose you’ve seen it.

I’ve seen several fellows I knew at Oklahoma A & M, Laredo, & San Marcos. Glad to see the old boys, renew acquaintances & what not.

I haven’t seen much of England yet but really intend to when I get away from here. Too bad you are not here to see it with me. Some day we’ll be together again, just you and me. Can you think of anything more wonderful? Sorry – I can’t either.

As I said in one of my previous letters, I’m sorry I can’t be there for Xmas. This will probably reach you about Xmas so here’s wishing you a Merry Xmas and sending all my love.

Glenn”

Waiting, waiting, waiting for that first assignment…

Meanwhile, Selma made new friends at Baylor.

Selma (l.) and girlfriends outside dorm

Selma (2nd from left) on campus

The Richards 2nd. Lt. was a long, long way from home like too many other soldiers were in the holiday season during World War II. He wrote four more letters to Selma in December including one on the 28th., a few days before his first bombing mission which was on New Year’s Eve over Germany in a city called Kassel where a subcamp of the Dachau concentration camp was located.

We’ll save those for next time. Thanks for staying tuned.

***********************************

Congratulations to the Charleston City Council for their apology on “Juneteenth” this week for the city’s participation in the institution of slavery. According to AP reporter Tom Foreman, Jr. the Council approved a resolution that is a “denouncement of slavery, a promise of tolerance in the future and a proposal for an office of racial reconciliation.” This is a positive step toward a healing process which I hope all cities will embrace. Bravo. I couldn’t be more pleased.

The AP report quotes Councilman Gregorie: “It was wrong to enslave people, to treat them as chattel and sell their children and break up their families. Sound familiar? It’s happening today, folks.”

Yes, sadly. Too sadly. People of good will must continue to press for a plan to reunite the families who have been severely damaged by those who have no regard for the worth of a human life or real respect for the “family values” they have campaigned on for years.

As for the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, I am trying to understand how you don’t know where infants and toddlers separated from their parents who are seeking asylum in our country are located. Seriously?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies who periodically indulges her desires to write outside her genre by trying to write fiction and poetry. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published four nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and a group of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly. Her Texas roots are never too far from her thoughts.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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