Letter to Wilfred R. Franson
U.S. Army Air Force
Charleston Army Air Field, South Carolina
8 March 1944

Correspondence from
Vera Howe Franson
March 1944


1505 South Broadway
Urbana, Illinois
8 March 1944

Dear Bill —

I'm sitting in the midst of incredible order. In the kitchen. The surgical cleanliness is most depressing. The bedroom is perfection. Even the living room is fairly neat. A few items — broom, mop, and dustcloth — have been left there rather self-consciously, as proof.

After sewing on some more name tapes [onto Bill's Army uniforms], I put away more of your things — not out of sight, but strategically placed to remind whom it may concern that you are still in possession. Eventually I'll bring myself to take the dirty towels out of the bathroom, but not for a while.

My ride is arranged for tomorrow morning. [To her ongoing pilot-instruction work at Chanute Field.] New name tapes have been ordered. The films have been left at the drugstore. Everything under control.

Some kind strangers drove me downtown from the railway station. [After she saw Bill off, for his transfer from Chanute Field in Illinois to Charleston Army Air Field in South Carolina.] An elderly couple, who had been seeing their daughter off on your train. After the train pulled out, I was just sort of standing there for a while, and they spoke to me. They gave me a ride, some kind advice on the efficacy of prayer, and a short personal history — all in 2 blocks. We exchanged names and addresses, and then parted. At the drug store they said the films would be ready tomorrow.

I have just dined sumptuously on cakes and milk. After inspecting the icebox (reefer to you), I decided that I can live indefinitely on cakes and cream and oranges.

⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓  Intermission  ⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓⁓

Time out to listen to Mr. District Attorney. And now I'm going to bed. No slippery covers. No falling slats. No Bill to keep me warm. I miss you, honey.

          Your ever-loving wife,


Sky Trails in a Link Trainer - Link Aviation Devices Inc. (small)

[Bracketed in-line notes in all letters are by RWF,
unless stated otherwise.]

Notes by RWF:

Wilfred R. Franson and Vera Howe Franson met at the beginning of 1944 in an airplane hangar at Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois; and married 25 February 1944 at Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Among other common interests, both had been hobbyist small-plane pilots before World War II, and each had been a member of a small club which owned a plane: Bill in Oregon, and Vera in Wisconsin.

At the time of this letter, Bill is a U.S. Army Air Force instructor in celestial navigation for pilots; he has just left on reassignment to Charleston, South Carolina. Vera is a civilian instructor in celestial navigation for Army pilots in the ground school at Chanute Field.

This letter is written on the evening of the day that Bill left for Charleston. I believe it is the first letter that my mother ever wrote to my father.

Since Bill and Vera are newlyweds at this date, married for not quite two weeks, and (I believe) having known each other less than ten weeks so far, cementing their marriage via letters during this first separation was important to both of them.

Correspondence between my parents over the years came in bursts, during separations due to one needing to move before the other (as here), or during briefer wartime or business trips.

The icebox / reefer word-usage point also alludes to Vera having heard from Bill about his earlier working in The Jefferson Ice Company in Chicago; see his memoir. Both of them grew up in the era when a family frequently bought ice to put in their icebox to keep the food cold.

My mother's mention of "falling slats" may refer to their breaking a bed early in their marriage, which I was told about long afterwards.

© 2013 Robert Wilfred Franson

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