The letters were returned to the original writer 62 years after they had been mailed. They were yellowed with age and fragile. The mysterious letters were carefully taken out of the envelope. A young man who had entered the service in 1962 had written them. He wrote these letters to his best friend from high school, telling him about his first few weeks as a private in the United States Army. He wrote describing long hours of duty and short hours of sleep; how he missed his girlfriend, even though she wrote to him almost every day. He was surprised to be selected to go to guided missile school after taking aptitude tests. He also inquired about the other friends of his who had entered the service the same day that he was inducted.
The writer was excited because he was going to get married in about three months when he was on his first furlough. He hoped his girlfriend was coming to see him on one of the weekends that he would be free. He asked Ed when he was going to get married.
The couple now read the letters with smiles on their faces. They indeed had married on his first furlough and, together, for the next two years, they traveled to Alabama and on to White Sands, NM. They enjoyed the army life they shared. The other couple had also married and attended college.
My husband’s friend, Ed, returned the letters that Jim had sent to him while in the army. Why did he send them? Ed wrote, “I thought that you might like to have or at least look at these letters. They may stir up some memories.”
It was heartwarming for me to read the feelings my husband had for me so many years ago. Jim and I started remembering places we had gone and things we had seen in the early army years. I heard stories from Jim’s army days that I had never heard before; as the letters sparked memories, he talked about them. The phrases, “remember this and remember that” were repeated, as we relived some of our army experiences. I had enjoyed my years as an army wife, even though there were few luxuries.
New Mexico was a fresh adventure and, with friends, we explored the country, sleeping in our two-man tents. We loved visiting Ruidoso. In 1953, we traveled to the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, CA. Our California friends introduced us to pizza, and we tasted it for the first time. The kids cannot imagine that we were alive before pizza! The army years had been a special part of our journey in life. We owned our car and the clothes we brought with us. We understood it was not material things that made us happy.
It was good to receive and hold these letters from the past. I am glad they were not on a computer. There is something unique about a letter in the mail even if it is 62 years old. There is a warm feeling as you hold in your hand a special letter and see the handwriting of the writer.