Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Letter to Bob - June 5, 1942

Dearest Bob:

I know your location's a secret, but I'm hoping the Army will find a way to get this letter to you. I'm guessing you are still somewhere in Australia, and am trying to imagine my scratchy handwriting journeying halfway around the Earth into your hands.

I have sad news to report. After being diagnosed with tuberculosis, my mother died in the hospital in Portland. The doctor says he did everything he could to save her, but by the time he opened her up on the operating table her lungs were bloody tatters. Needless to say my father and I are devastated, but he's insisted I return to Seattle to resume my war work, so here I am.

Factory life is at least a distraction; it's hard to ruminate when you're surrounded by clattering air guns and roaring engines. We're working like fiends; Boeing's rolling out Flying Fortresses twenty-four hours a day, and the delivery pilots are rushing them into our soggy skies to do battle in Europe and the Pacific as fast as we can push them through the hangar door. I asked our foreman Tom how many B-17s we had built, but he told me our production figures are classified.

You'd hardly recognize me now! Gone are my flowered dresses and white gloves and jaunty little hats. Every day I'm in old slacks that are starting to get patched and oil-stained, and a ratty wool shirt and a headscarf. I tote a steel thermos and lunchbox just like the men, and I can't recall the last time I wore makeup.

Everything seems unreal now, with our normal life receding just a tiny bit further into the distance every day. Your suits hang in the closet, your briefcase lies on the shelf and the car sits in the garage, while events seem to rush past, hurrying toward some unknowable destiny. My fondest wish would be to push all this war back into the hellish depths from which it sprang. But since I can't do that I plan to fight just as hard in my own small way to end it as quickly as possible so that you can come home to me.

Your Loving Wife


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