Letters from a gushing war-time bride:
Jean Bayard, 1945
These letters were found among the effects of my mother, Jean Robert Bayard (she had officially taken the name "Robert" when her beloved husband of 48 years died December 7, 1993).
She had written them to her friend Biddle at the time of her wedding in 1945. On October 31, 2001 her friend mailed them back to her, saying:
"Hi dear friend,
"I've been going through letters & papers long stored in my desk. I've found some treasures you should have.
These are special letters -- beautifully detailed -- of your and Bob's wedding.
I hope they refresh your memory of that happy time.
There will no doubt also be sentimental tears -- know I'm having them too. I know neither of us could ever have wished for happier marriages.
How blessed we were -- you & Bob, Ollie & me & how grateful for long years together. My Ollie has been gone 3 and a half years & Bob a bit longer -- yet aren't they still with us every day? I feel Ollie is & I love him forever.
"Love, you -- Biddle"
When Jean started writing these letters, she was studying in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but she met Bob while she was getting her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Bob was finishing his engineering degree there while in the Navy.
The night that he first glimpsed Jean with her friend in the campus library, he went back to his barracks and told his buddies that he had just seen the woman he would marry.
He went back to the library every day until he saw her again so he could go up and introduce himself.
On their first date (and every date thereafter!), he asked her to marry him.
She often told me that she had not wanted to marry -- she wanted to travel the world first, become an ambassador, ride an oxcart across India.
Reading these letters is the first time that I realized how happy she was to forego all her plans and get married.
Dona Bayard Sauerburger
Meine liebste Freundin --
Oh, I must talk with you! -- Oh, Biddle, how I do wish we were together now! Darling, I hardly know how to write -- it's as though I could only talk to you -- but I feel you are near me, now, suddenly -- I have thought of you so intensely -- & now you give me help.
Biddle, you knew I was going to East Greenwich between semesters? I have decided it will be to marry Robert. We know that what we have is real, &, though we could wait forever, we should not if there is no need to.
I finish finals at five on Thursday, & shall catch the 6:11 on Thursday eastbound to go to him.
I have heard service-men get 5 days leave to marry, so perhaps we'll be able to be together all the time though even if he has to work at the base every day, we have quite a bit of time.
I should arrive there Friday just before noon; three days later, on Monday we can have the wedding -- I have been ill since I decided on this yesterday morning -- and got cramps from it, & haven't been able to swallow -- my throat muscles are simply locked -- & nearly fainted when I tried to stand up after lying down a while -- it's simply nerves --
On the phone (Bob called again last night) I did the same thing I did once before with him, & gurgled every time I tried to move my mouth or turn my head.
Biddle, isn't that a seltsam way for marriage to affect me? ["Seltsam" is German for "strange."]
I have much to do between now & Thursday -- not counting study for finals & do one more term paper -- I must buy a wedding dress, probably a blue or white suit --
& a hat, too, I think I'll have to, don't you suppose?
Also I need shoes, but that's impossible -- & he won't care about it, I know, & I must have many other things.
Annie Lou is going to talk to me about everything -- we'll have over a week, & I can also cut part of next term.
He is arranging for the minister -- think of hearing him pronounce - "to love & cherish, forsaking all others, in sickness & health, til death do you part" -- oh, I love Bob so much!
My regret is that you & my folks will not be here.
And I think of our relationship, Biddle -- people say things are different between friends after marriage.
That mustn't be with us, Biddle - after dif. schools & religions & hobbies, etc. didn't keep us apart, I know a love wouldn't!
I'll write again soon --
Wednesday, Feb. 28
Dearest Cow -
This is the very first chance I've had to write at all since my last letter was interrupted (by Annie Lou, Fran & Aline, who made me go with them to dinner, & who gave me a beautiful night-gown afterwards) - Biddle, now I'm Mrs. Robert Thomas Bayard!
Biddle, honestly, it's so wonderful to be married -- I wish you were too, so we could both begin being Mrs.'s, together!
It's so many things -- warm, & fun, and deeply satisfying -- soul-satisfying, really.
And even humorous - and Bob is so perfect! We keep learning new ways in which we're alike, or in which we complement each other.
I recommend it highly!
We're staying here in one of Mrs. Brown's "rooms" -- a real cosy little New England room - & will leave for Boston Friday, when Bob's leave begins.
He gets over 10 days - isn't that good?
After a few days in Boston we're going back to Ann Arbor for a while, until he has to report back for duty.
Right now I'm waiting for him to get back from work - so far, since Monday, he's had to leave by 6:15 every morning, but gets off at around noon.
We've hardly had any time to just relax, though - there's been so much business to take care of in connection with getting married. We're both just dead tired - I'll start with what we've both been doing since a week ago last Friday, & you'll see why.
As I think I told you, I decided Friday, or rather, Saturday morning early, that, since we'd definitely decided to marry someday, I shouldn't let any shade of doubt or hesitation mar our relationship.
The only reason I could give him for not marrying now was the fact that you & our families wouldn't be here, & I was a little worried he might think that only a pseudo-reason, and wonder whether I wasn't afraid he wouldn't come back, or would come back disabled, or that I wanted to stay free to go out a lot, and so on.
Anyway, I decided Saturday morning, & then went to take my very worst final -- and spent the rest of Saturday cramming & trying to finish two papers I still had to do -
Saturday night Bob called from my aunt's home in New Jersey (where he'd gone to visit) and I told him I would.
Sunday was so strange -- the idea of marriage so soon and so far from all of you, gave me the most peculiar feeling - I actually was physically sick --
and couldn't think and concentrate, though I still had papers & finals to work on. Monday at 8 I took my English final, made appointment for a blood-test & an examination, & looked for hours for Fran (her professor called while she was out, saying she still had a paper to turn in, & that if she didn't get it to him by 5 P.M. he'd have left town without getting it & would have to fail her).
Tuesday I had to wait literally hours for my physical exam & blood test - also phoned my folks, looked for a suit to wear at the wedding, finished writing my papers, studied for the last final Thursday afternoon, & went to the "shower-dinner" with Ali & Fran & Annie Lou.
Also, Annie Lou "talked" to me, in a very mysterious way that frightened me half to death, about marriage. All this while I was in an awfully strange mood --
exhilarated, & sad, & reflective - which kept me from thinking, actually.
Tuesday night I just neglected the homework & even the marriage books, & lay thinking with the red plaid poetry book -- Biddle, I've missed you so much!
your letter arrived here yesterday morning & I could almost see you writing it.
I think it was the first time Bob saw me cry -- When my last letter was interrupted, I was writing you that a marriage wouldn't affect our friendship adversely, & I know now that it surely will not --
if anything, it will enrich it, Biddle.
In a few more weeks Bob has to report in S.F., & will either be stationed there a short while, or be sent overseas real soon -- he just got his orders yesterday.
Wednesday Miss Douner was so nice -- I'd stayed up all night Tuesday night, & didn't feel I had time to go out to eat, but she'd seen my light, & when I didn't leave she appeared with toast & jelly, & coffee (which I only pretended to drink, of course).
At 9 Wednesday I went for the 2nd time to the gynecologist for birth control -- she was just wonderful.
The first doctor had scared me like anything, but the gynecologist talked a long time about marriage problems, answered all my questions, fitted me for contraception, & sent me away feeling very happy & confident.
I got a diaphragm -- do you remember Dr. Papenoe's description of it? He was against them, but they're really fine - no pain whatsoever, & very sure.
It was fun, in a way, to try it on.
Wednesday I turned in the last paper, and also ordered a suit and bought some clothes -- a pair of slacks, a long-sleeved blue blouse to go with them, and a new dress - like this [her drawing is to the right] - & all sorts of odds & ends, & went to Annie Lou to get her a suit for the wedding.
Wednesday night I read all of Hermann Dorothea for the Goethe final the next day, & on Thursday, after picking up the blood test results and going downtown to pick up my suit (which wasn't ready) I returned all library books, & went to study Faust.
At two o'clock the Goethe final began - and at five everyone was still writing - but my train was leaving at 6:11, so I couldn't stay to finish.
I rushed back downtown to pick up the suit, & just made it home (dripping wet) in time to close my bags (which Olive had packed for me the night before) & slide out through the rain to the taxi.
Ali brought me to the station & set me on the train -- I sat on my bags in the aisle, talking to an old couple from Germany, until we reached Detroit, when they left & gave me one of their seats.
From Detroit on - all the way to Albany, where I transferred at 5:10 A.M., I sat next to a v-12'er from Ann Arbor.
He told me he wanted to join the C.B's & to go to Camp Endicott, R.I., so I told him all I knew about it -
& he gave me our first wedding gift - a half-pint of light cream, which he somehow managed to get from the diner after several porters had informed me they had milk only for children!
During the night I began letters to you & my folks, but somehow couldn't write - I was too excited & nervous & tense.
In Albany 5 or 6 of us who were to transfer to the Boston trains dashed to the right tracks only to watch our train gaining speed as it rolled off without us.
We only had to wait an hour, tho, for a Boston local -- from which I transferred to a train to Providence, where Bob met me at the station.
Since Saturday night he'd been coming into Providence every single night on his liberty, getting a waiver for the 5-day residence requirement, arranging for rooms, flowers, church, license, tests for me, photographers, etc., etc., etc.
As soon as I arrived (at about 2:30) we dashed to the license bureau, & from there to a hospital, the State bldg., the city hall, & another place to get the license - as I had no way of proving my age, it almost didn't go thru, but at last they accepted my ration books.
By 5 we had the license, & went to see about flowers for the last time, & then took my baggage to the room in E. Greenwich.
While there we read all through a book on marriage, which Dr. Seabode had given Bob, & discussed everything the doctors had told us.
At one, as Bob was leaving, he suddenly remembered that he'd bought me a "surprise" to eat, some 6 hours before, & had entirely forgotten about it.
It had been a pint of choc. ice cream -- we drank it & it made the best malts I've ever tasted.
We found out later that it was home-made ice-cream, so made especially wonderful malts.
Saturday at noon I met Bob at the base & we went in to Providence & bought our rings. We couldn't get what we wanted at such short notice, but we were happy with them anyway -- I'll describe all 3 to you later.
Now it's Thursday, Biddle -- we were told today that Mrs. Brown's son was coming home, & we'd have to move, so we've been packing & carrying all day.
That's why I haven't finished this. I'll do it now -- in the base library.
After getting the rings, we bought gifts for the matron of honor (a bracelet) & best man (a rosary), bought me some wedding shoes with a stamp Bob's cousin had sent him, & met the best man who arrived on the 6 o'clock train from New York -- a wonderful, vivacious diver from Hawaii -- Bob's cousin -- named Glenn.
After checking on the trains from New York the next morning (so we could meet Annie Lou) we rode a bus to the minister's house to choose our ceremony & rehearse it.
Dr. Seabode was the minister - a most wonderful man, with ideas just like Dr. Caldecott's.
We chose the simplest service, one he'd written for his own wedding, -- we hadn't time to do our own & then rehearsed in the church across the street.
By 11 we were all 3 back on the East Greenwich bus.
Bob & Glenn took me home, Bob pressed my wedding suit for me, & then they caught the 1:00 o'clock bus back to their hotel in Providence.
Sunday - the day of the wedding - was a perfect, California, sunshine & cool-air day -- the first Sunday like it in months, people said.
I dressed early, & then, at 9, caught a bus to Providence, arriving at 10.
We were to attend the regular church service first, at 11, so I thought we would just have time to make it -- and only when Bob calmly boarded the bus I left, & told me he was going back for the LICENSE which he knew I must have forgotten (I had) in E. Greenwich, did I realize we might not attend the service.
Glenn & another of Bob's friend, a shy, handsome, very nice young Ensign named Steve, took me in tow then, & we hurried to the station to meet Annie Lou, whose train was supposedly due at 10:30. By 10:45 we were still looking & at last she found us.
She'd arrived early, at 5 A.M., & hadn't been able to find a room to sleep in, so had sat up in a hotel lobby until 8 o'clock, when a room as vacated. She slept from 8 until 10, & then came to meet us meeting her.
We all hurried back to hotel to let her dress, & then -- at 5 of 11 -- tried to catch a taxi to the church.
At first we just couldn't, so finally Steve asked a few sailors to let him use their taxi, & explained to them.
At exactly 11 we arrived at the church -- none of us had remembered to pick up the flowers, but I didn't mind.
We (the bridal party) sat in the first row of the second section of the church.
Bob (as I was afraid would happen, as it takes an hour one way to get from Providence to East Greenwich) didn't arrive until 11:45!
My, we were so glad to see him!
At 12, right after the service, the organist broke into Lohengrin ["Here comes the bride . . . "] -- instead of a recessional, & Annie Lou & I marched up the left aisle while Bob & Glenn kept pace with us up the right aisle.
We met at the center, and Dr. Seabode began the ceremony.
We were all 4 awfully nervous & tense -- just terribly -- & Mrs. Seabode said she hadn't seen her husband so nervous at any wedding since his own.
Bob, when the time came to put the ring on my finger, couldn't get it on -- & I, when I should've spoken my oath at putting on his ring, stated, instead of "with this ring I thee wed" -- "with this ring I thee pledge!"
At that I really almost fainted - it seemed like the last straw.
[She was supposed to say, "In accepting this ring, I thee wed and pledge my love." -- click here for a copy of the vows and service.]
It's Friday already & I'm not nearly finished, Biddle, & haven't had any time to really write you at all.
I shall mail this section of the letter now, then, so you will know how much I have been thinking of you -- and as soon as possible, I'll go on, starting with the wedding.
Biddle, marriage is really wonderful!
[The following letter was written on stationary from HOTEL STATLER BOSTON]
I'm sitting in the Writing Room of the base library, waiting for Bob to come back from getting his gloves, which he left in the pocket of a coat he borrowed from another C.B. after he lost his own coat.
Honestly, he loses just everything - together we've forgotten & mislaid things at least 3 times daily since we've been here -- & that includes ourselves.
Wednesday my watch ran 2 hours slow, & we had to spend several hours looking for each other after missing connections once.
This morning, too, we were to have met here at 8, & now it's 11, & we just found each other.
I'm going to try to help him remember things, while he helps me - every night we give each other oral accounts of things we have to do the next day, in order to be able to remind each other.
So far today mistakes or flapses of memory include: one gray suit, stolen from Bob - one bus, missed by me; one telegram, sent to this base to me, but mislaid by the telegraph operator; & (almost) a decision to go to Ann Arbor by another route than Boston, when half our luggage is in the South Station there.
Also, we forgot to reserve a place to stay tonight after our plans were changed the nth time by the Navy.
We have been having a really beautiful honeymoon though - we're both amazed that it could be so much fun just living together, and doing little things together.
It was so strange - I guess we expected the wedding ceremony to make a drastic change in us, but for 3 or 4 days after it we didn't feel married at all - we continually referred to post-war days as the time when we get married -- we both noticed that we felt exactly the same as we had before.
By now, though, we feel more "Mr & Mrs" -- it's growing on us.
It sounds so good when people introduce us as Mr. & Mrs. Bayard, & when train people & hotel clerks tell Bob his "wife" can travel with him.
Oh, I love him, more & more every day.
I know him & he seems gentler & wiser & more considerate all the time.
He has such a kind face - wherever we go, people see the sweet nature behind it, & smile & are nice to us.
They just love him, because he loves them so much - in the hotel & in the places we've stayed, they keep telling me how nice he is -- even my relatives (Aunt Radie & Uncle Jake & (large) family) he seems to know better than I do.
He almost never has to ask people for information or anything - they just pick up conversations with him voluntarily, & tell him everything he needs to know, &, often as not, offer to take us where we're going. He is firm, too, though - Saturday as we went between crowded tables in a restaurant - toward a booth - a brawny, red-faced drunken fellow looked right at me & said something indistinctly.
I thought he was talking to me, & asked him "I beg your pardon"" - at which he got up & bent toward me and snarled "I wasn't talking TOyou, lady!" real nastily & sort of insinuatingly.
Anyway, Bob just turned around very quietly & said to the man very calmly, in a deep, steady, low voice - "Don't get excited" - & the man backed away muttering "I didn't mean nothin, sir!" -- & said he was sorry.
Last Sunday - a week ago yesterday - seems ages ago, & the days since then are all blent into one in my mind but I'll try to tell you about a few of the things we've been doing.
I believe I mentioned in my last letter that the Saturday night before the wedding Bob & Glenn stayed in Providence, & I came out on the Greyhound from East Greenwich in the morning. I had the license, but got all excited Sunday morning & forgot it when I left. - it takes an hour to get from Greenwich to Providence and I arrived at 10, & met Bob & Glenn at the end of the line. Bob had meant to remind me about the license the night before, but had only remembered it after he left me - & hadn't been able to get phone connections through to Mrs. Brown's place to tell me.
He was afraid I would forget it, tho, so had called the minister to find out whether we'd be able to go thru the ceremony without the license & bring it later.
Therefore, he & Glenn waited until I arrived to make sure I hadn't brought it, & then Bob took the bus back to E.G to get it while Glenn & I went to the hotel to pick up Steve, a friend of Bob's who was going to the wedding, & then proceeded to the station to get Annie Lou, who was to have come in on the 10:30 train.
We looked for what seemed like ages, & at last she found us -- she'd arrived at 5 in the morning & had wandered thru Providence trying to find my hotel, & then had got two policemen to persuade the managers of the main hotel to let her use a room that had been vacated a half hour before to sleep in until time to meet us.
By the time she found us in the station it was 10:40, & she still had to dress, so we rushed back to her hotel, & she & I got ready for the last time in her room, while the boys waited below.
The room still hadn't been cleaned after the last person left it, & towels, bed clothes, & cigarette ashes were strewed all over it.
She wore a dark blue or black suit & an adorable new hat, while I had on a light blue travelling suit & my brown veil hat.
My shoes were new (in fact, Bob bought them for me the day before), I borrowed ear-rings from Annie Lou (I looked all through my room in Ann Arbor for something I had of yours, but couldn't find anything) - my suit was blue - & I wore the old Swiss watch my folks brot from Europe.
The service was to begin at eleven, so at 10:45 we all 4 rushed into the street trying to get a taxi to the church.
All were taken, & we finally got so desperate that Steve, who is awfully shy & self-conscious, took advantage of his officer's rank & actually asked two sailors for their cab - we felt awfully guilty, & poor Steve blushed for shame, but he explained to the sailors where we were going, & they laughed & assured us they didn't mind.
We did, tho, but couldn't help it.
We just got to the church in time - as we stepped from the cab we remembered the flowers we'd ordered but it was too late to get them, so we just went into the church.
The sermon was a good one - on tolerance, I believe - & the music, by two soloists & a very excellent organist, was wonderful - but I was too nervous to really enjoy it, especially as Bob still hadn't returned with the license.
I'm afraid the poor minister must've been a little tired by our behavior - I sat stiff as a mummy, while Annie Lou on my one side & Glenn & Steve on the other passed me encouraging notes & glances, & had to lean over me at least 4 times to exchange last minute admonitions about marching, holding the rings, where to stand, etc.
The minister, too, could see Bob wasn't there, & told us afterwards he could hardly think of what he was saying.
He is a fine man, though -- very like Dr. Caldecott in some ways - an idealist & yet a realist, & with a firm, dynamic way of talking, so that it was impossible to anyone (except his wife) to tell that he was nervous.
At last, at 15 minutes of 12! Bob came in! Oh, my goodness, I felt so relieved! He did too!
He sat by me, & we got to sing the last 2 hymns together. & then the organist began the Postlude, which we knew would become Lohengrin.
I was conscious of nothing at that moment - I only remember that Bob's little cousin, Marilyn, was leaning way back in her pew staring back at us, & then Annie Lou & I were walking up the aisle.
we both (B. & I) felt quite serious & very conscious of what we were doing by the time we were standing before the minister, tho - but his first action was to ask Bob, in a whisper, whether he had the license, &, tho no one but we heard it, it made me, anyway, feel all giggly.
I love the ceremony - a very simple, straightforward, & sincere one - but I ruined it by getting the words mixed up, & - Biddle, this is terrible, at my own wedding - I had to laugh, & kept my face half down so no one would see it.
Then Bob had trouble putting on my ring, I at last began to (as he later described it) push it on little by little, "tucking in the skin of the knuckle under it."
It's only size 7 & still has to be changed.
After we'd taken the vows, the minister declared us married, & I heard Annie Lou sort of sob - & then Bob kissed me.
Glenn was so nervous that every second seemed an hour to him (he told us later), & when he thought the kiss had lasted long enough (really, just a second) he took the edge of Bob's jacket & pulled it down to tell him to stop.
He didn't know the whole congregation could see him! And everyone tittered!
We marched, or walked, back to our places, & the organist played the regular postlude.
For all it's being such an apparently happy-go-lucky affair, many of the people in the congregation were crying & many of them filed out past us to offer congratulations & talk.
As we left the church, Bob's relatives (Bill & Ethel & their 2 little girls) poured confetti all over us, & hurried us & our 3 attendants to their car, which they'd decorated with crepe paper & a "Just Married" sign.
The two little girls, about 2 & 5, were so excited that, Ethel told us later, Marilynn (the older) got a sort of rheumatism (spelling?) that night from it!
Berube's also gave us our first real wedding gift -- a very pretty cookie plate.
They let us all out in Providence, & we picked up our flowers & had the wedding pictures taken (you'll get part of the results) before starting back to the district of the church, where a Mrs. Spiez, of the church, & from California, had a wedding "breakfast" for us (really a most wonderful dinner - peas, chicken pies, home-made ice-cream, wedding cake with a frosting that couldn't be cut!, cocktails, good cigarettes, (the latter two wasted on us, tho Glenn & Annie Lou took care of our share) & home-made biscuits).
We'd stepped on the bus to the reception, tho, when we realized we'd left our gift somewhere. So Glenn, & Annie Lou went back to Providence to find it for us, while Bob & I went ahead to tell Mrs. Spiez & the others (the minister & his wife, & another lady) that they'd be coming.
The "reception" was ever so nice - Mrs. Spiez & the minister left all their children in the parsonage, so there were just the 8 of us, & we had a wonderful time talking together.
I'd just finished a paper on education in Hawaii, you know, & Glenn was a diver for 10 years in Hawaii, & graduated from a Hawaiian high school, so we had quite a discussion of the race situation in Hawaiian schools, &, apropos of that, of the Japanese in California.
Annie Lou & Glenn got along perfectly together - both the devil-may-care jubilant type, & both married - & it turned out that Glenn accompanied Anne to N.Y., where she was going to spend a week, & where he's stationed with the understanding that he'd squire her about N.Y.
She didn't know anyone there, & he's lonely too, for his wife - so it should've been good for them both.
They left us after the dinner, & Bob & I invaded the phone dept. of the Providence RR station & tried to phone L.A., San Pedro, etc. We could only get thru to his folks, however, & to my Aunt & Uncle in N.J. - no, we'd phoned the Aunt & Uncle, my grandfolks, & some of his relatives the night before.
Anyway, by 9 we were on our way back to E.G., both dead tired.
You know, I was so scared of the wedding night - I hadn't been until I saw the first doctor & she'd been so pessimistic, & rather hurt, besides, that I'd become all nervous.
On the bus on the way home I hardly said a word for thinking of it, and I could feel Bob watching me - I guess he realized I was a little frightened, because as soon as we got home we each cleaned up, & then he made me eat something (I forget what) & put me to sleep until I waked naturally.
I can't describe how tender & thoughtful he is - It wasn't all exactly as I'd imagined it from the books, - I just cannot describe it, but it's wonderful, Biddle!
For the first 3 or 4 mornings he had to report at the base early, & got up at 6:15, making me stay in bed until time to catch a bus to the base where I would meet him.
I can't recall what we did Monday after he finished (at 11 A.M.), but I remember eating a sample of "K" rations Monday night as a snack.
We went to a Wild West Show Tuesday night, I'm sure, & on Wednesday had a lunch at the Ship's Service & then rode in to Providence to shop for groceries to bring to Bill & Ethel Berube & family, for whom we intended to cook a dinner.
We got very late, though, somehow, & only had time to get oysters (a quart and a half, they sold us, for 6 people!), fruit cocktail & fresh fruit to add to it, & some tomatoes, before we had to catch the bus to Pascoag, where they live.
So we were a little relieved, when we arrived, to find that they hadn't taken us seriously, & had fixed dinner already, including some of their special home-made lemon ice-cream, & milk from their cow.
When we came in the 2 little girls ran before me shouting "Here comes the Bride," while the dog jumped all over us from behind.
Right after supper Bill had to go out to milk the cow & let us watch him, & even milk some ourselves - it's the most eerie feeling!
The milk is steaming when it's real fresh; the little girls love it like that, & even make Bill milk just a little bit right into their mouths.
Marilyn tired of watching, though, & ran upstairs to hide from us in the hay-loft, where it smelled so warm & moist & farmy -- so while Bill took care of the cow, we & little Adele (two years old) looked for her in a prolonged
[This is the last line of the 4th page, there are no other pages found in this letter.] The following letter was written by Bob some time during the honeymoon.
The top of the letter says "This is a copy of a copy of Bobs wedding." It's not clear whether this letter was typewritten from Bob's handwritten letter or a copy of his own typing.
The note and letter are typewritten on a different typewriter than Jean used in her letter the following year,
with many mistakes and type-overs that were not typical for Jean's letter.
Here I am finally. About time.I guess. As you can imagine I've been pretty busy. I dont remember having writen after I first called you so I presume I didn't. After I called you,I went to Jean's Aunt and Uncle's place for the night.
The next day in the afternoon I went to visit Glenn in the hospital and he said he would be able to come to the wedding so I signed him up immediately as best man.
Jean had a friend in Ann Arbor who was going to be in New York so she came for Jean.
Well, after leaving Glenn I made my way back to Providence and went to the Church Hospitality Center and they recommended a mimister and I talked with him.
Then all that week Jean and I spent arranging things.
She came Friday afternoon and we got the license and we got squared off.
Saturday Glenn came in and he and I stayed in a hotel in Providence and Jean stayed in our room in East Greenwich.
Sunday morning Glenn and I were to wait at the bus depot for Jean and then we were all to go to the train depot for Annie Lou (Jean's friend)
Jean missed the bus and the next one was in about 45 minutes so when she came in I got on the same bus and went back out because she had forgotten the license.
Glenn and Jean went for Annie Lou and Steve Johnston, a felloe I had invited to come,and they all went to the church.
On the way out I remembered the flowers we were supposed to pick up.
When I got to East Greenwich I called the station at Providence to page them, but they werenot there.
As I suspected, they had forgotten them so we were married sans flowers.
They got to the church by eleven when it started but I didnot make it til about quarter after, and they were beginning to wonder if I'd ever make it.
As soon as church was over the organist started on the postlude but after a few bars changed to the wedding march.
Then Jean and Annie Lou got up and walked down one aisle and Glenn and I walked down the other.
The ceremony was very nice and slightly different from ordinary, being much more informal.
And instead of taking this ---- to be our lawful ---, we gave ourselves to be their lawful ---.
When it came time to put on the ring, I couldnot get it on so I calmed down and began to work on it, but it took quite a while and I think that the congregation was worrying if I'd make it.
Then when I was kissing the bride, Glenn thought it was taking too much time so he sort of pulled on my coat to stop me.
Then we went back to get our coats and the whole congregation mobbed with handhakes and good wishes.
When we got outside Ethel's biggest girl, in her fathers arms, showered us with confetti.
Then I picked up her little girl, Adell, and Jean and I walked out to the car (Berube's) which was all decorated up with paper and a "Just Married" sign.
Some one observed me carrying the baby and the confetti said "Who was married."
Well, then we all piled into Berube's car and we went up town and picked up the corsages (orchids) and went to the photographers.
Then Glenn and Annie Lou went to see Providence and Jean and I went to East Grenwich.
We dave been honeymooning ever since and are going to continue for another week.
Then I'll be home a week from Saturday and will have nearly a week home. I'll see you then
Bob was sent overseas, and served in Japan during the occupation. His younger brother Dick wrote, " He failed the physical to be a deck officer or engineering officer in the Navy because of his eyes. They had easier requirements in the CBs. Construction Batallions were the Navy's civil engineering units. They didn't normally go to sea except to get from base to base. They built air fields, did the mechanical work on various kinds of bases for the Navy.
"Bob volunteered to be commissioned into the CBs, and also volunteered to command an all-black unit, because he believed he could be less racist than most---and I think that was true. I don't know when and where he was united with his unit, but they were sent out to the island of Tinian--maybe the unit was already there and Bob just went to take command of an existing unit. I'm pretty sure he did not have to organize one; this was too long after the beginning of the war in the Pacific, and CB units were already all over the place out there.
"Bob told me that his CB battalion was in control of all the "rolling stock" on a Navy base on the island of Tinian. Tinian is where the B29s took off from to bomb Japan's home islands, though they obviously took off from Air Force bases. By "rolling stock" Bob meant every piece of machinery that rolled around on wheels or track-layers. Cars, trucks, cranes, earth movers from tractors to drag lines, etc. It is moved itself at all, his guys kept it rolling. They were there that spring, doing whatever was needed to keep the Navy base there "moving." After the bomb and surrender, Bob's whole unit went to Tokyo Bay and were the occupation unit doing the same kind of work at the Japanese Navy's Yokosuka Naval Base right in Tokyo Bay."
At Bob's request, his father, who was a photographer, took the photo of Jean shown here and sent it to Bob.
Bob was discharged March 3, 1946 and joined Jean in Los Angeles.
Nine months and 6 days later, Jean gave birth to their daughter, Dona.
[Jean's previous letters were all hand-written; the following letter was typed.]
June 2, 1946
Dearest Biddle -- --
Honey, I've just felt so happy about you and Ollie -- it's almost hard to write now, after not doing it for so awfully long, but Biddle, I---oh, I just think it's wonderful, and I'm happy for you!
Oh, Biddle, you'll be such a perfect wife--Ollie is a lucky, lucky boy!
Of course, I guess I'd never think anybody was really entirely deserving of you, except just maybe Ollie, and that's just because I think he's so swell.
Every since I saw him on the bus one day in L.A. I've been longing and hoping you'd accept him.
Gee, Biddle, it's going to be so much fun! Being married, I mean--heavens, they've just got to send you to LA to work! I mean, they will, won't they?
Biddle, I have a confession to make-please don't be angry with me. Bob and I were lounging on the bed when I read your letter--I was reading it and he was fixing some valves from a motor he's making, and we were just sort of lazily talking and loafing, you know.
Well, when I got to the line about your maybe getting married--honey, it just hit me so hard, I shouted it out just like that, before I even thought, I was so excited.
Then I read it over and realized the line before asked me not to let anyone know--Biddle, Bob wouldn't tell anyone--he promised, and so I know for absolutely sure he wouldn't, even if he knew anyone whom he could tell.
And he was so happy-& he's just like me anyway, sort of.
I know he won't tell, Biddle,--and I've already been tested often, when I see people we both know--but I never hint a word.
I guess you'll want to live in LA, won't you Bid? Of course--how dumb of me, if you both work here.
One thing, though--if you won't mind a little of advice--start soon as possible to try to find a place to live, Biddle, if you don't have one decided on already.
They are not existent. Really, unless you want to pay from $400 to $600 and up for a little house per month, you can't get anything.
Bob and I started looking with a maximum idea of $50 per month.
Before the war that would have paid for a whole house--well, it still does, I guess, only the people have lived in those houses for years and years.
Anyway, we ended up renting one room for $55 a month, with partial kitchen privileges.
Oh, I know you know what it's like, after looking for an apartment in Berkeley.
Oh, I must tell you though what we finally did!
It got unbearable in that one room--the landlady always talked and talked and talked, and her grandchildren were forever running into our room to play with "Bob and his mama"--we just never had any privacy at all, not to mention not being able to cook without three or four other people using the stove at the same time.
So--we bought a little trailer, and after looking for nearly a week, finally found a vacant spot in a trailer camp, and parked it.
It's only $3.50 a week to park it, plus electricity for the lights and iron and radio, etc.
And we get the use of the community showers and laundry machines.
We really like it. It's sixteen feet by six inside, with a table and two benches on one end and the bed (or couch, by day) at the other, with the stove, sink, icebox, closet (about four by two!) and drawers between.
It's just darling--just like a little boat inside.
It even rocks when you walk in it, like a ship.
There's not any room extra at all, but we discarded everything we possibly could, and it works out perfectly.
The neighbors are all really nice, too.
Of course, when the baby comes, I don't know where she or he will fit, with all the diapers, etc., that go with a baby--we think that by then we'll be able to buy a half acre or so somewhere in the countryside, and build a one-room adobe house.
Something like this-- (here's a picture of the trailer, too)---
Our Modernaire house fell through. The company isn't so very reliable, I guess--anyway, the loan never did come through, and we learned that the Modernaire people had never yet built a house for a G.I., which means the FHA, or something, had never approved one of their houses.
Then, too, when we came to sign the contract, it was entirely unchanged.
They'd said it would be done in 90 days from the day the loan came through, and would cost $6750 complete, with--oh, all sorts of extra things,-such as three heaters, siding on all sides under the stucco, a thirty-gallon tank, linoleum on the sink--and so it went.
So we're cancelling the whole thing.
Biddle, I'm so sorry I didn't write sooner! When I read the wonderful letter, I almost cried, it was so good to hear it.
I've thought and thought about it, even though I never wrote.
You see, we still didn't know for sure about the baby (in fact, we only knew positively last Monday), so I didn't take any shots or anything for the sickness, but I just wanted to die anyway.
Finally, after I'd lost eleven pounds from not being able to eat anything but jello, the doctor started me on B-1 shots, which helped after the fourth shot.
You see, the whole thing was that as soon as I went to the doctor to see about the baby they sent me downtown to take a rabbit test, in which they inject the rabbit with blood, and see if it shows signs of pregnancy.
Well, my darn rabbit didn't, and the doctor said I must not be pregnant.
But we just knew I must be--and it took a whole month to get another test, which finally turned out to be positive.
Meanwhile Bob had to scour the whole city of Inglewood for jello every night, and I was spending my days on the day-bed at work, and the other half being sick and dizzy and unhappy doing the work--and at night I just fell on the bed and tried to forget it all.
Now, though--oh, from about a week ago--it's all been gone.
Just those B-1 shots did it--Biddle, they're just wonderful.
As soon as we knew for sure we moved into the trailer.
(I had at last quit work, not being able to do more than a fourth of it)-- and we've been cleaning and settling it ever since.
Yesterday Bob finished fixing the water, and we got the stove to really working (it's a three-burner white-gas stove, and as black as anything on the kettles and towels.)
I brought the pretty towels you did down here, and took them right back to our chest again, after one trial on those sooty kettles.
Also, we got material for slip covers for the couch and benches, and tar paper to spread in front of the trailer.
Later we'll get an awning, and put a table and chairs out there, and plant potted flowers around it.
Oh, we love living like this!
It's so private! We close the door at night, and it's just so cosy and family-ish.
Bob gets home about 5:30, so I have dinner ready, and then we listen to the radio, work on his car (he's making a new one, a racer), or the bike (he made me a beautiful bike! Sleek and speedy, like a little jewel, really, it's so pretty!)
read, go to the movies or to some other play or concert even (he does like them, I finally decided), or just walk.
Gee, I certainly am learning to cook! Nickie gave me a Boston School Cooking Book, and I have a whole pile of recipes collected from Better Homes and Gardens
and Companions and so on, but there are two drawbacks.
(1) We can't get any meat here, except canned clams.
(2) There is no oven, and so no cakes, pies, or baked stuff. I must say, I've served eggs until we know them by heart--eggs la mimosa,
scalloped eggs, egg balls, egg nests, eggs a la suisse, boiled eggs, coddled eggs, creamed eggs, eggs a la goldenrod, fried eggs, chopped eggs, omelets, poached eggs, scrambled eggs--even stuffed, I have.
We have them for lunch and dinner. They cost a lot less than meat, though.
I was so sorry to read about Gladys losing her baby! Oh, that must just be so hard--after wanting it so much!
It's swell that she's alright now, though--next time perhaps it will turn out much better.
I got Loreen's address and phone from Mrs. Brown, and want to phone her soon.
Maybe I will tonight. . . . . it's be good to talk to her again.
Isn't that perfect about Alfie, though?
I think she'd enjoy life on a ranch too--it sounds just right for her and the little girls.
I haven't heard from Dorothy Patterson directly, but a girl named Lois (Biddle, I can't think of her last name now, but she works for the county where I was, and went to Washington, and was in our class-short, attractive, -- well, I know you know her.
She said Dorothy was teaching in a school (private, I think) in Hawthorne, and liked her work a lot.
That's all I know about her. I tried to find out where she lived to go visit her, but couldn't.
You know, the sixteenth isn't at all far away-- and then you're through, Biddle! My goodness, it will be good to be in the same city with you!
Would you like to go to the beach with us? You and Ollie, and Bob and I?
Oh, and I want to see you--will you be starting to work right off?
I'm positive they will like each other (Bob and Ollie, I mean).
There's no sham about either of them, and they're both real people.
Oh, they'll like each other.
(Wouldn't you think?)
Perhaps you know by now whether the test turned you out second or first, Biddle--of course you passed it, silly!
Unless it might be the physical--golly, I can't quite realize it, your working in LA perhaps! So close!
Gee, I have no news of anyone we both know whatsoever! I could tell you about Fay and Del, who live in the next trailer, and are 19 and 22, and call everybody Speedball, though--or Al, the grocery-man, who saves margarine for the trailer people and sells them chances for candy on a punch-board--or John, who is the welder at the garage near here, who welded the hitch on our trailer and the things on our water faucet, and whose brother is a missionary with wild natives in Mexico, and who has a little boy named (!) Ardelay!
Or the iceman, who walks right in the house if you have the ice-sign up, whether you're ready or not!
And about twenty-million flies, eighty spiders, several lizards, and some more flies (it's so horribly hot here, they come here for the summer, I guess).
Oh, you know Shirley, though. She's working half-time for the Veteran's Service, and writing the rest of the time.
She read us her latest story, and it's wonderful!
It may not sell easily, because it's about a rather abnormal child with all sorts of complexes, but it's good!
And Nickie--we went to her place for dinner with her and Shirl; she's teaching forty Mexicans, Negroes, and whites (2 of the latter) in Watts, and is crazy about it.
In June she has to leave their little house (it's part of an auto court) and will go back to New York to the religious school where she's been going the last year.
And Mary Lou is working swing at SP still, while John's on nights at the studio.
Her father-in-law (the real-nice-sounding one, you know?) was killed or died during a USO tour in Manila, and her mother-in-law just got back from there, and has no place to live now.
They had two little children, too, whom they were boarding in a San Francisco nursery while they went on the tour, so now she is taking them out, and doesn't know where to live.
So they may have to live with Worshams too.
And Mr. Worsham's leg is alright now (the remaining one, I mean) and he seems cheerful.
Eve and Jack are still in Berkeley, and probably won't be leaving until about September, when they'll move to Washington, D.C.
Jack got a scholarship to get his M.A. at the Fletcher (real good) Foreign Service School, and maybe they can then get exchange scholarships to foreign countries, Russia mainly.
Jimmie's due out yesterday from the Navy! Gosh, hurray! He's pleased as anything--he's been practically living at home, though, working on the house with Dad, and making a huge pigeon coop of rock and dump lumber, and planting a whole half-yardful of watermelon.
Jo is home still, too, and will probably just loaf until school starts again. (Art school).
I guess they can move in in a few months.
You know, I sort of miss your folks. Oh, I bet you do! It'll be sort of good to have you around, cow!
[Jimmy was Jean's younger brother, and those pigeon coops are still there today, used by Jimmy's son Gary. Jo was their 15-year-old sister Jeri, who became an artist.]
I am really finished this paragraph.
I'm going to shower now, and then mop the floor (we keep tracking gravel all over, from the dirt yard), mix the oleo, go buy some milk, fix Bob's lunch for tomorrow, and fix supper.
Wish you were here right now! Would you and Ollie come for supper when you're both here? Please do! (We'll have eggs!)
I'll write again soon--
With much love,
(from Bob too)--
Addendum(Thanks to Bob's younger brother Dick for his help with this!):
Bob's cousin Glenn True was a year younger than Bob, and was a mechanical person just like Bob and his brother John.
Glenn's father was a chief machinist mate in the Navy, and they lived in Long Beach when Bob's family came to California.
Glenn's family then lived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Dick says that among other things, Glenn worked as a commercial diver in the old pressure suits, and thinks that Glenn also was a diver in the Navy as a career.
Some time before their first baby was born December 9, 1946, Bob and Jean moved out of the trailer into a cabin in the woods. The cabin was very natural and primitive, which they loved -- Jean kept a large framed photograph of it on her bedroom wall after Bob died.
To get to the cabin, they had to walk quite a distance from where they parked the car -- Jean described that they had to climb down a steep ravine.
As Jean's baby grew, it got more and more difficult for her to make that trek, and they may have stayed with their parents for the last part of the pregnancy.
Two weeks after their daughter Dona was born, they piled into the truck that Bob had built by cutting a sedan in half and building a truck bed. Dona was suspended beside them in a hammock, and they hit the road for Pittsburgh, where Bob had just landed a job as physicist for Westinghouse.
They stayed with their friends Ed and Audrey McCoubrey until they could buy their own house.
Jean and Bob at the wedding of their son David. They are wearing flowers that apparently David and his fiance, Pam Whiting, did not forget to pick up for their wedding!
They had asked Pam's mother, whose husband had died just a few years earlier, to sit with them for the wedding.
As Bob looks fondly at Jean, we wonder if he is remembering their own wedding, 45 years earlier.