South Pacific
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Letters - December 1943

Letter from Mother, Dec. 3, 1943

Letter No. 25 Abilene Texas

Dearest Brother,

Well I've read the letter I got from you the other day over and over. Somehow it makes you seem very close. You said in it that you hoped to someday repay us for all we have done for you. Don't think such things. It is we who owe you so much. You are out there fighting risking all that our way of life may continue. Don’t you know we realize it and appreciate it? The very little things we've done were a very great pleasure to us but small and insignificant compared to what we would like to do. Darling we think you're a prince and you are our pride and joy. Our spirits soar to the skies when we get a letter from you.
Verla Joyce had a letter from Roy telling her he would be leaving San Antonio about Sunday. But doesn't know yet where he will be sent. I went to all the places that keep those little pocket books and didn't find even one but Charlie is trying to get them for me through his agency. Will know about them soon. If he can't get them I'll get Marie to get them in Dallas. I imagine she could there. When you receive my Christmas package don't think I have moved out to 19th and Swenson (Verla Joyce). I put that address because we could only send one package from one address. And a package could only weigh five pounds and be no larger than specific measurements. I sent the book in a separate package because it wouldn't go in my other package or your dad's. Well, your dad has worn those cadet pants of yours every day since I got them out six days. He surely likes them. Says they feel so good and warm. Do you ever get to see any shows or can you tell us? You always enjoyed them so much. Sunday night your dad and I went to see "The Sky's the Limit" with Fred Astaire. The dances were created by him and he had a new leading lady who is a grand dancer. Her name is Joan Leslie. It was at Paramount. When I was in San Antonio I went to the Majestic Theatre one afternoon. It is a very beautiful theatre. The baby was asleep and Roy and V.J. stayed with her. Saw Bob Hope in "Let’s Face It". It is very good.
Last night I dreamed I awoke in the morning and saw a girl in the room who began talking to us. She knew us and it seemed I knew her but couldn't think who she was. Just then someone came in holding two plates each with a big piece of steak and egg and toast on it and said "How does this look Dad?" I looked up and it was you and I realized you had cooked it yourself as breakfast for you and the girl. I said, "Brother when did you come?" and then said, "Am I dreaming?" Then I reached over your dad and took hold of your big strong arms and said "No, I’m not dreaming! There you are just as plain as everything." I was so happy I began yelling and I was really yelling in my sleep and your dad had to wake me up. It was the most real dream I ever had and you didn't know you paid me a visit that night across all those miles did you? But why couldn't I have dreamed who that girl was? That was probably my future daughter-in-law. We went to see Charity and Charlie last night. We took your letter and they enjoyed it. Mother was over a Hope's. Saw Hand in town yesterday and he asked about you. Hope you are well darling. I'll see you in my dreams.
Love Mother XXX
Letter to Rev. Willis Gerhart, December 13, 1943, Southwest Pacific

My dear Mr. Gerhart –

I must say I was most surprised and very pleased to find your Service Man's letter of Oct. 25th in our mail call. Ever since I received the first of them nearly a year ago I've looked forward to each new one since.
You'd be surprised to know exactly the feeling of confidence when you receive such a letter. You get to read about all the fellas you used to know and run around with – find out what they're doing and where they are. Letters like that put a new spirit into a man. It makes him realize that what he's doing is worthwhile or so many he knows and admires wouldn't share his feeling and be in it, too.
At the end of your letter you asked us to send any stories that could be published in your next one, but I'm afraid I'll have to save all of my good stories until I get back as they won't permit us to write much about what we've been doing. But when I get back I'm looking forward to a long talking – taking up where we left off the last time I was home.
By the time you receive this the new year will be bouncing in and the leaves of the old one turned. May God grant you the power to continue serving the civilian and soldier population in Abilene with the undying strength and dependability with which you have served them in the past. Though we may be thousands of miles away – you are with us and we are with you – in spirit.
Thanks again for your remembrance with the Service Man's letter. That's a grand thing you're doing and we appreciate it more than we can tell you.
Give my sincerest regards to Mrs. Gerhart and family and if you see any of my friends tell them I said hello. Most of them are gone, but if there are a few of the old kids left around there – convey my greetings.

Rev. Gerhart
Rev. Willis P. Gerhart
Rev. Willis P. Gerhart was known affectionately to thousands of Abilenians as “Parson Gerhart.” During his tenure as rector at Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest from 1920-58, Gerhart made a profound mark on people of all stations in life.
Hundreds of young servicemen stationed at Camp Barkeley during World War II were befriended by “Parson Gerhart”. It wasn’t uncommon for Gerhart to have a number of soldiers sleeping on the floor of the rectory while on weekend leave. Gerhart’s name became synonymous with good deeds.

Born in 1889 in Tennessee, Gerhart accepted the position of rector at the Church of the Heavenly Rest on Feb. 22, 1920. Before long the Great Depression gripped Abilene like all other parts of the country. Needy Abilenians soon learned of “Parson’s” generosity and took shelter at his home. The church even had to change Gerhart’s pay schedule from monthly to weekly because he so quickly gave his salary to the needy. One notorious Abilene agnostic was recorded as saying: "That parson of yours is enough to make even me believe in God. That may be one of the finest specimens of gracious manhood I've ever met."

"Parson" pioneered ecumenical thinking at a time when most people didn't have a clue what that meant. He ministered to members of ALL churches and was referred to as "everybody's preacher". He didn't just talk about God only; he ministered in his life and work by example. He was a role model for many in the community and everybody knew and loved him.
Church of the Heavenly Rest
Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest

On one occasion, a parishioner observed that Parson had been wearing an old, nearly threadbare overcoat and he purchased a new overcoat for him. Several days later Parson was observed by his benefactor wearing his old overcoat once again. When asked why he was wearing the old coat, he responded that he had met a fellow who did not have a coat and he was cold, and besides, the old coat still had lots of wear left. Anything anybody gave him he was known to have given away. Gerhart’s generous spirit knew no bounds and showed no partiality between races, creeds, colors, or religions.

Gerhart organized the first Boy Scouts in Abilene and often enlisted Guy's services as lifeguard for the Scout's summer swimming. Howard and Jean were married by him on October 24, 1938.

Everyone in Abilene had a friend in “Parson Gerhart.” Whether it was a lonely soldier boy or a family hit hard by the Depression, Gerhart seemed to find them and give comfort. His influence was so great during the years of the Great Depression and World War II, that, in 1999, Gerhart was chosen by the Abilenian of the Millennium committee as the most influential religious leader in Abilene’s history.

- excerpts from Loretta Fulton, Abilene Reporter News, Dec. 1999, and Jerry V. Smith, Dec. 1998

Letter from Jean to Guy (with photo of Roy enclosed)
Tuesday Dec. 14

Dear Guy:

I sure am sorry I haven't written you more but really I've been so very busy – . I really don't know any news so I'll tell you about last week – .
Sunday the 5th Mildred, V.J. and Judia came over. All of us played 42 while Judia and D.J. played. I had some candy for everyone to eat and I would – put my fingers in it and eat some. I paid for it with a very good case of asthma. V.J. said, "You ought to have it, you knew better!" She was right too – I should have – I'll learn – ! While we were playing Roy phoned from Corsicana. Howard got to talk to him too and he sure was thrilled. He sure is crazy about you two – . Sunday night Howard worked on pictures all night long. I was sick because of the darn candy and I was taking D.J.'s cold too – . I was in bed all week and didn't get up until Fri. Nice cold shots – – – !! I just took 11 of them and I still take a cold.
Friday, Richard's sister phone that Richard was in town. He really does look good – . Richard invited us to dinner at the "Three Acres" with he and Jeraldine White, his sister and his sister-in-law. I wouldn't go because I was afraid to get out. The weather was so ugly it was raining and was so cold. They made some pictures at the dinner. About 11:15 they all came over to our house. Howard and Richard took Richard's sister & sister-in-law home and then went to check in. Jeraldine stayed with me and we gossiped – as all women do – . Did you know the Whites are planning to move to the state of Colorado? Anyway back to the subject – . When they came back we stayed up all night until 7:00 the next morning developing pictures. They really made some good ones. Wish I had been there the pictures would have been twice as good – you know I photograph so W-E-L-L! Ha!
It was Sat. at 7:15 when we have just settled down for a nice long nap – . D.J. woke me up at 9:00 and I had to get up. I wrapped Xmas gifts and
Roy in San Antonio
Roy in San Antonio
made a lemon pie. Howard slept until check in time and as soon as he left, D.J. and I settled down for an afternoon nap. I had been asleep 15 min. when Richard phoned – Grrrrrr! I could have killed him – . Howard came home in a little bit and we delivered Xmas gifts and he wanted Howard to make some pictures of them. They said, "Let's all go over to your house and make pictures!" Oh! That did it! If it is at all possible imagine what a mess my house was in – . The beds weren't made – the picture mess – D.J.'s toys and dishes – oh! We told them to stop in town and get some flash bulbs and we ginned on home – . Believe it or not in 6 min. – I had the house in perfect order and was seated comfortably in a chair waiting for our guests to arrive – . That wasn't all to that daffy day so just read on – . They left and I ironed Howard 8 shirts for him to take on his trip – . P.S. The reason I was the last min. ironing them was because Howard took my iron cord to the bus station to fix it about a week before and I couldn't iron them – . Your Mom sent me her iron cord – . To make a long story shorter Howard left on the 3:00 bus for Union City, Indiana to get a new bus – . He hates trains and loves buses – . I hope he gets his fill of bus riding, it’s just 1200 miles up there. Oh! What a day!
How did I stood it!
Sunday we made pictures of Judia & D.J. for you. My Dad phoned he was coming after us so we arrived in Big Spring Sunday evening – . I am sending you some more pictures I hope you like them – . I must close and I’ll write you again soon Let me take the time to wish you all the luck in the world in this coming New Year – .
Good luck to you – Guy always – and God bless you – .
With Love,
Letter from Guy to Dad, December 15, 1943

Dearest Dad –

You'll never know how pleasantly surprised I was to hear from you. And it was such a long and interesting letter, too. And knowing how you hate to write – I was thrilled and honored to no end.
I was glad to hear about the new meters and how they are doing. I've asked about them in all my letters for the past couple of months, but everyone seemed to forget about when they wrote. Thanks again.
By the way – is your watch still running okey? If it's not – drop it by Crowell Jewelry (or if you don't have time – have Howard to) and have them adjust it. They'll be very glad to do it. And when properly adjusted – the watch should keep perfect time.
I was glad to hear you liked your key ring. I remembered that old one you've been carrying for years and the fact that it was about shot. I was hoping you hadn't bought a new one in the meantime. I got it in Honolulu. There wasn't too much I could get there, but when I saw the ring – I decided it would be as good a remembrance as any – and perhaps as useful. As I say – it wasn't much, but I assure you it was lacking none in spirit.
It's too bad everyone is so short of water and feed this year. I do hope it hasn't hurt you, too much. I was of the understanding you were pretty well fixed on water, etc. – Mother had mentioned several times that you had had a well dug and all. But then if you still are buying a little while most of the others are having to sell – it sounds as though you have your head above water. And knowing you as I do – you'll manage !!!
There's not too much I can tell you about myself and where I am. Of course – I'm well and all. Not even losing much weight. None practically.
Things aren't exactly home-like here. We live in tents, of course – and we do have cots. The insects are awful. I never saw so many flies, mosquitos, bugs, spiders, scorpions, etc. in my life. They're in everything – clothes, bunks, food – everything. When we get ready to go to bed – we have to rake some of them out of our bunk before we can find a place to lie down. And you can't get them all out. And as though that wasn't enough to interfere with our sleeping – we have to hit our fox-holes three of four times during the night because of bombing, etc.
Then, too – we don't have any tables or benches. I did get to dine in luxury a couple of days ago, however. I got to sit at a table to eat. Of course – it wasn't a real table, but it looked a lot like one. It was made of split logs and with a certain amount of imagination – presto!! I was eating at a table. Yes, sir – real luxury!!
We have some nice, big bath tubs. Very large, in fact. With a sand and coral bottom. Of course – it's rather salty, but it's wet – and clean.
But in spite of all of this – I'm happy enough. I'm where I've wanted to be for a long time. I only hope I'm doing some good toward ending this thing.
Well, Dad – I'm sorry I've made you read such a long letter. Six pages – Gad!! You must be nearly blind – looking at this purple ink that long.
Take care of yourself, Dad.
With love to all,
Your son, Guy

Letter No 29 from Mother to Guy, Dec 15, 1943

Dearest Brother
Well this morning when your dad left I said ”When that letter comes from Brother bring it over to me.” The temperature this morning was 16 degrees and as I had a sore throat thought I’d better not get out. It was two weeks yesterday since we received those four letters but when came at noon said there was no mail. It is now 4.30 and just as I got this paper out and started to write he came with a letter from you and darling you don’t know how happy it has made me. He also had one for Jean but she is in Big Spring. I will send it on to her. I won’t open it but if it had been the only one to come I surely would have. Couldn’t have kept from it. Verla Joyce phoned your dad and said she got one too. Say when those letters come we just go out of our heads we’re so excited. Howard of course is still gone on his trip for the new bus but he would give anything to read these letters. And say your dad came in all excited over the 1st Lt being on your letter. He had already opened my letter. He said Brother is a 1st Lt now. I said “when did that happen?” and he said “ He didn’t mention it in his letter.” Now honey why didn’t you tell us all about it when, etc. You know we want to know everything about you that you can possibly tell us. My! I think that’s wonderful getting a promotion so soon and we are very proud of you. Congratulations.
Yesterday Mr. Anderson (Bob’s father ) came in and talked with him quite a while back he and Mrs. Anderson both came to the bus station and talked with Howard and Jean about you boys. I thought it was so nice of them. Yesterday he told your dad that from some information they had received from a relative in another branch of the service and a news item of the past few days that you boys are now in Bougainville. That’s what your dad told me. Now if your dad didn’t get the name wrong. (He sometimes does) Your dad and I have planned to go to see Mr. & Mrs. Anderson sometime. I’d really like to.
Richard was here last week for six days. He got his commission in Yuma Ariz. And left here Monday to go to Calif. for more training. He surely looked nice. He took Geraldine, his sister, his sister-in-law, and Howard to the new society place here Mack Eplens “Three Acres”. It is the place on North First that the Williams used to run. Mr. Eplen spent a lot of money on it. They say it is swell. Jean was sick and couldn’t go. They ate in a private room with a fireplace and all decorated. They had steak dinners at $3.00 a plate. Some celebrating wasn’t it?
I’m glad you get to go to some shows because you always enjoyed them so much. Sunday night we went to see one f he Henry Aldrich pictures. I’d never seen one. Think this one was kinda old but I enjoyed it a lot, “Henry Aldrich, Editor”. But I think you made a better Mr. Bradley than the one they had. It surely brought back memories of your play.
Darling I’m going to brave this cold (it’s now 32°) and go mail this. Guess it’s hard for you to realize it’s that cold anywhere. Thanks for that very very nice long letter. I feel like a different person since getting it. Your letters are the most important things around here. Again I say Congratulations on your promotion. Tell us about it please. Take good care of yourself, Sweet Boy.

Your loving Mother

Letter to Anne(?) from Guy

Dec. 16, 1943

Dear Anne -
It's been a long time since I've written you, but it's been longer still since I've heard from you.
I must have said something in my last letter I shouldn't have, though for the life of me - I can't remember what it was. Your not having answered has puzzled me ever since. But then - perhaps you were too busy to write.
At any rate - I've been wondering about you - where you are, what you're doing, how you're getting along for a long time now. I've started to write dozens of times, but each time I would back out - not knowing exactly what to say or how to say it. For that matter - I still don't, but perhaps you'll bear with me.
I was in Abilene a couple of days in April and saw the Jay's, but didn't get to see the McDaniel's. Then in June I was there a few days on my way to the west coast. Bobby, his wife, and baby were in town at the same time. Bob and I talked about you. Do you mind? I saw the McDaniel's, too. They asked me out for a swim in their pool, but I was so busy those few days seeing all the folks that I didn't get to go out. I certainly wish I had. They were always so grand to me.
Tell me about yourself. Where you are, if you're in school, and all. Gee - for all I know you may be engaged, maybe married. It's been a good while, you know. A year and a half, in fact.
There isn't too much I can tell about myself. I graduated into the Marine Air Corps as a fighter pilot in April. I went through operational training in Florida - flying F4Fs and F6Fs. Then in early June I went to Chicago for carrier checkout (landings, takeoffs, etc.) on Lake Michigan - checking out on the USS Wolverine.
Then was sent to California to join my Squadron the first of July. I spent July, August, and early Sept. in El Centro, Calif. with our Squadron flying F4Us (Corsairs - perhaps you know the plane - has an inverted gullwill, etc.). I shipped from the States the middle of Sept. and I've been out here ever since. Of course - I can't say where I am, but perhaps you can guess.
Not knowing just what all has happened since I last heard from you - this may all sound rather silly and uninteresting, but I did want to write and say hello.
If circumstances permit - I would enjoy hearing from you again.
Trusting I will I am
As ever,
Letter No 31 from Mother to Guy, Sunday, Dec 19, 1943

Dearest Brother
My head hasn’t gone down yet from getting the “clue” about your promotion to 1st Lt. Guess a clue is all you could call it when all the information I got was from your address on the outside. Just how did it come about and everything? Of course I know you earned it and deserved it or it wouldn’t have happened. I’ve been wonder if you will still be in the same flight or be transferred and have any of the others of your flight been promoted? Guess these things wouldn’t be a military secret.
That very day I received your letter I went out to tell Mother and I said “I’ve got some news to tell you about your grandson” and she said “Which one?” I told her Guy and she said “Don’t tell me he’s got married.” I said, “Now, who do you think he could get married to where he is?” and she said, “Well, you can never tell.” I don’t suppose you’ve seen a girl that can even speak English since leaving Hawaii and probably only a few there. I told her about the 1st Lt rating and she said she was proud and glad it wasn’t the other. Guess she wants you to be an old bachelor. I don’t but guess you’d better wait until you get home and not bring me back a South Sea Islander for a daughter-in-law (ha ha).
Verla Joyce is now in Corsicana. We took her and Judia yesterday as they had too much to take on a train or bus. Had Judia’s bed, buggy, quilts and other things. When Roy leaves there Mr. & Mrs. Fox will go after them. Your dad told V.J. about Mr. & Mrs. Sheats living in Corsicana. They were the first ones who ever owned and ran the Dixie Pig. Maybe you remember them. V.J. wrote and told Roy so he looked them up. They were so nice to him and told him to take their car and go look for a place. Mrs. Sheats works in the office of the Ration Board and later when Roy was talking to her on the phone about a place a lady who also works in the Ration office heard her and said, “Since you know the people I guess I could let them have part of my house”, and she did. The have a nice large room nicely furnished and share her kitchen. She has a phone, vacuum cleaner, large bathroom to share with them and fenced in backyard on the South for Judia to play in. The lady isn’t as old as Aunt Charity and her husband is a flying instructor on a few weeks duty at San Antonio, so she was alone. She is very nice and likable and I know she and V.J. are going to enjoy each other. I think Roy & V.J. were the luckiest things to get the place but wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for our acquaintance with the Sheats. Mr. & Mrs. Sheats have invited them over to heir house Christmas Day. I know Mrs. Sheats and Mrs. Morris (their landlady) are going to do everything they can to look out for V.J. and Judia and entertain them. I’m surely glad Roy’s field is only six miles from town, we got out there about 4:00. Got hold of him about 4:30. He wasn’t supposed to be off until six but they let him off to go back to town with us and said he could make up the next class (P.T.). He had to be back at 11:00, but was to be off again today (all day). He said in two more weeks he would bean upper classman and as he is married will get to spend two nights a week in town. He likes there much better than San Antonio but guess he has written you all about it as he said he had just sent you a letter. He is still looking fine. We left there at 7:00 and got back to Abilene at 12:30. Lynn went with us and he was so tickled to see Roy.
Well Howard isn’t back yet with the new bus. Your dad got Luther (our oldest driver and most dependable) to check in for him yesterday and we were back for the night check in as it was Saturday night and buses don’t come in until 1:00 as you know. A card had come from Howard for Jean (He doesn’t know she has gone to Big Spring). Here is what he wrote, “It’s colder than H—eck up here. I just saw Horace at the Fort tonight and I’m heading home tomorrow morning. Will send other cards along the line.” The card was mailed from Indianapolis. There is where Horace is stationed. I know he was happy to see Howard. Don’t suppose he had seen a human being he knows since leaving Big Spring. Howard is going to be thrilled when he hears about your promotion. Roy surely was. V.J. had written and told him and she said the reason she didn’t metion it when she wrote you was she didn’t notice it until she had written and sealed her letter and went to get your address. Roy grinned from ear to ear and said “What do you know about Brother getting to be a 1st Louie?” Said, “That’s just alright.”
Honey I was wrong about the place Richard took them to celebrate. I must have dreamed it was the place the Williams used to run or just thought it was. Your dad says it is the Ed S. Hughes home way out on North 1st. Mack Eplen bought it and fixed it up Country Club style for parties, eating, etc. and calls it “Three Acres”.
Mrs. Anderson came to see us this morning. She brought Uncle Jeff back. He is going to stay with us a few days and then go out to see the Archie Jackson’s again. Of course he feels more at home there I guess because it is so close to his old home where he has spent the past sixty years. Mrs. A. said Dopey wrote that he inquired about you in Hawaii but couldn’t find out anything. He is carrier based somewhere in the South Pacific. Flies the Hellcat. She brought some pictures of Dopey to show us and of course I showed her all of yours. You can imagine what took place between these doting mamas. She had to go back today. She thought all your pictures were grand and told me to write and let her know about you. She and Dopey really seem like kin folks don’t they? Darling I must say goodbye for now.

Your loving Mother
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