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

Correspondence from
Vera Howe Franson
April 1944


1505 South Broadway
Urbana, Illinois
19 April 1944

Dear Bill —

Five letters from you today. It's wonderful. But I can't understand why they all came at once when some are postmarked the 16th and some the 17th. And I didn't get any yesterday.

I forgot to give you any clues on the Mystery of Bill Franson's Picture. Little Butch came over with an Easter basket for his Grandpa and Grandma. And he hid some chocolate candy behind the picture. Hence all the canine commotion.

How did you like the smell of that package? Isn't it ghastly? That's how this apt. smells (dichloricide) plus a few other not-so-elusive fragrances. Today after work, I spent some time filling all the cracks in the living room floor (under the carpet) with naphthalene flakes and cedar chips. Squirted flit in the bedroom. Hung the rugs in the sun. Put camphor bars in closets & drawers. It took quite a while.

The reason I asked about your WTS [War Training Service] course was on account of that clipping I sent you this afternoon. I think you can get a private license [a current small-plane pilot's license] without taking any more tests. Why don't you talk to the CAA inspector. If you do, you also might ask him how are chances for getting ground school students. He'd know the situation better than anybody else.

You neglected to sign that clipping about post-war K. P. So it isn't legal.

You don't have to send me any money. I cashed some bonds. Had to. The money seems to melt away. And I don't think I'm extravagant.

Why does it take so long to get a statement of availability? I don't know. As I told you, everything is frozen till the end of the month. I'm tempted to start a wild rumor — that the field [Chanute Field] is going to open a big new school for rocket ship maintenance men. But I guess that's a little too wild to spread.

In our [projected] aviation ground school, don't you want to be treasurer, too, and relieve me of such sordid details? I hate to collect money. When I had a regular class [of student pilots], I collected. But when I helped individual students, I didn't charge anything, because they were friends of mine. So I wouldn't take any money. But they gave me presents. I'll never get rich that way.

A correspondence course would be fun, but it would take months to write it. Still, it's a thought.

It's nearly ten o'clock. I've had my solitary supper, waged my solitary battle against the moths, but I have to take my solitary bath, and then tumble wearily to my solitary bed. And I am weary. But mostly I'm solitary. Without my Bill. I love you, honey. Good night.

          Your ever-loving wife,

No. No allotment checks yet.


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.

I have no further information about Butch, the hidden candy, and the canine commotion.

My mother's joke about non-existent "rocket ship maintenance men" is particularly interesting to me. The number of science-fiction fans in 1944 was still very small compared to later decades, and the number of women in 1944 who were long-time science-fiction fans was vanishingly small.

© 2013 Robert Wilfred Franson

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