The Arcadia Opera House is a beautiful building and the Opera stage and ticket booths are still in order, but it’s rooms are now packed with ten decades of various artifacts. The building, not surprisingly, is considered haunted and a favorite investigation spot for local ghost hunters. A group named the Peace River Ghost Tracker has recorded what they claim are spooky sounding ghost whispers.
I found a neatly wrapped bundle of letters. It was labelled- “Cliff and Fran- WW II Love Letters- $40.” I asked the store owner about the bundle.
“Oh, they’re great,” he said. “They’re all from 1945, one half of the correspondence, just the letters from Cliff, just gushing his heart out to Fran.” He added that there were 34 letters spanning 1945 in the stack. I thought it was interesting and we left.
I couldn’t stop thinking of the letters and that night I had a dream I was reading them and was amazed by the contents. I went back and bought them. Since then, every few days I transcribe one of the letters while I drink my morning coffee. I found out more about the letters: they were written by Cliff, stationed somewhere off the West Coast, to Fran, back home in Portland, Maine.
A gear had turned in my head that a book collecting these letters might be possible. Although something along those lines could happen, there are two challenges:
1. There are already LOTS of books collecting WWII correspondence and love letters in particular out there. I found at least two dozen on Amazon. I’m not sure if that is a good sign or a bad one.
2. Good old Cliff isn’t the most eloquent writer, and a very repetitive one, as he himself admits in a letter. The “Passed by Naval Censor” stamp on each envelope insures that Cliff goes into no detail about his location or mission and so the letters mostly consist of him telling Fran how much he loves her and can’t wait to marry her a dozen different ways.
Still, I think there might be something here– perhaps these would be part of a bigger collection of writing from WWII or the basis of a fiction story line… it’s hard to tell why you’re drawn to something and what the forest might look like from the trees. Until I figure it out, I’ll keep transcribing with the morning coffee.
Anyway, the following is a letter I transcribed today. I left the spelling/ punctuation as is in the letter. The only explanation I’ll add to is a joke about a laundry business– in a previous letter, Cliff is complaining about having to do his own laundry, which Fran is obviously giving him some grief over.
Sunday, 3 June, 1945
Well Darling, I guess this will be the last letter you’ll receive for quite some time. I’ll be thinking and loving you just the same Sweet and writing every nite. I received one from you today Darling. I loved every word in it honey.
It’s been a dull Sunday Darling. I’ve missed you terribly. I never thought it would be this bad. I love you Darling very much and hope you’ll marry me when I come back. I live for that day honey and the day we’re together again.
What do you mean don’t I ever work. Darling you would be surprised. After we’re married you won’t have to work Sweet. I’ll take care of that end. You just be at home waiting for me. I agree hon that the only solution to your stopping work is to get married and I hereby suggest myself as the lucky fellow. I’ll be glad when you will be able to give me the final answer. You know how much I love you. I know you want that day to come as quick as I do.
You are right Darling when you say I love to hear you say that you love me. It really makes me feel nice. It’s nice knowing you think it will be wonderful being married to me Darling. Honest Hon, I love you so very much it’s torture being away from you.
What do you mean you wonder what the reason is for saving my money now. As if you wouldn’t guess sweet.
Okay Darling—if I can’t find a job in Portland we’ll keep out of N.H. and VT. I hope I can find one in Portland Sweet for you. I’d love to live there Darling. But then anywhere would be heaven with you Darling.
That was pretty clever about the laundry business after the war. I must congratulate you Darling and remind me about it the next time we’re together. I’ll get even with a certain somebody. You’re lucky I’m not there right now. I’d tickle you until you cried. Honest, Darling, I do love you with all my heart and you are wonderful Darling.
You really have the time of our last kiss don’t you. Do you keep a diary Hon? Not me. I’d love to kiss you good-bye tonite like I did then.
I’ll be closing for tonite Darling but I’ll be writing every nite just the same. Take care of yourself Hon and keep loving me. I miss you Sweet very much. I love you Darling with all my heart- always.
All my love- all my life
Yours forever Hon,
P.S. Say hello to everyone for me. Everyone’s fine at home. Don’t forget the good-nite kisses Darling. I’ll be looking at the moon everynite and thinking of you Sweet wishing we were together.
P.P.S. from Tea– my first book, Heroes in the Night, is now available for pre-order. You can also add it on Goodreads. More info in post previous to this one.