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

Correspondence from
Vera Howe Franson
March 1944


1505 South Broadway
Urbana, Illinois
29 March 1944

Dear Bill —

The coconut is gone. I got tired of it as a decoration.

This isn't going to be much of a letter, as it's after 11 o'clock. I've been working on job sheets again. It seems impossible for me to stay caught up. I could do them in the afternoon, but I've been giving Simmons a review of the computer.

Your letter came today. — The wobbly one that you wrote on our [one-month] anniversary. About the rabbit. I didn't want to tell you until I was sure, and didn't know just how you would feel about it. And now it's all off (I think). If you were only here, I could tell you about things that I can't quite put in a later [sic: letter]. Personal details.

Bill, what about the job? Have you found out anything more? I haven't given notice yet, at the field. [Chanute Field] What did Lt. McB. say about my application? Did you get the others?

Tomorrow I guess I'll have to go out on a one-man searching expedition for Jake, who has my watch. He's AFI [awaiting further instruction: that is, officially told to expect an assignment], and will be overseas if I don't catch him. It's a $150 trinket, and I certainly want it back.

Nothing new has happened at the field. Not even rumors.

I'm pretty tired, so I guess I'll go to bed. I think of you the last thing before I go to sleep. I guess I still love you — after all this time. We've been married over a month.

          Your ever-loving wife,

Bill, I hope you can find a furnished apt., because I'm afraid my furniture is going to be a burden. If we don't have so much stuff, it will be easy to move if you should get transferred again. You never can tell, in the Army.

          All my love,

When the telephone rang tonight, I got quite excited, because I immediately thought of you. But it was only a wrong number.


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, recently reassigned to Charleston, South Carolina. Vera is a civilian instructor in celestial navigation for Army pilots in the ground school at Chanute Field.

Bill has only a rented room in Charleston, versus the current apartment Vera still has in Urbana. Since she doesn't want to commit them to an apartment in Charleston until she can secure a job there, this letter shows Vera's ongoing concern with securing employment for herself in Charleston before she moves, and not being over-burdened with furniture in case Bill gets more re-assignments. — As events turned out, Bill spent the remainder of World War II and the following draw-down almost entirely in Charleston. After Nazi Germany's surrender in May 1945, though, Bill expected that having done only Stateside assignments he would be transferred to join the planned American-British invasion of the Japanese home islands; the atomic bombs forcing the surrender of Japan made that invasion unnecessary.

To Vera and Bill in 1944 a computer primarily meant the instructor's controls for a Link Trainer. For illustration, see Letter, Vera to Bill, 8 March 1944 (the first in this series).

Vera's writing later rather than letter is a rare slip of the pen. Surely the pregnancy possibilities had left her wobbly, as well as her husband.

Tiredness at the end of her long days, when she did most of her personal letter-writing, certainly facilitates slips. Not only was she a superb proofreader, but these clear, handwritten letters have (or need) scarcely any corrections of any kind.

Vera apparently gave her wristwatch to Jake for repair. $150 represents multiples of her monthly wage. She dressed well when appropriate, but this was an exceptional "trinket" for her.

Long-distance telephoning generally was considered too expensive for anything short of great news or an emergency, hence Vera's excitement that it might be Bill calling from Charleston.

© 2014 Robert Wilfred Franson

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