“Dear Bob”: Ruth Lehrer’s Correspondence With RAF Serviceman Bob Sumner

During World War II, Allied soldiers often served in grim conditions. To lift their spirits, the International Red Cross in America and Great Britain arranged for young women to write to Allied servicemen. My mom, Ruth Lehrer, exchanged letters with Robert (Bob) Sumner, a ground crewman serving in the 356 squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF). Bob died in 1983; Ruth, in 2013. Their correspondence came to light in February 2014, when three of Ruth’s letters were discovered in England by Bob’s daughter, Maria C. Sumner, and her husband, Barrie Walters, as they were cleaning out the loft of their home. “I [had] moved from my childhood home in 2000,” Maria explains, “taking all my father and mother's war time records … for safe keeping.”

Searching the Web for “Ruth Lehrer”, Maria and Barrie found the YouTube video of my mother’s 2013 funeral service, and in turn my eulogy, The Book of Ruth. Maria immediately reached out to me, asking me to post my mother's letters here. Thanks to Barrie's scans, we can now read what Ruth shared with Bob in 1945, when each was about 23. Regrettably, no record of Bob’s letters survives.

 Left: Ruth Lehrer in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, circa 1946. Right: Robert (Bob) Sumner in India, 1945.

Left: Ruth Lehrer in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, circa 1946. Right: Robert (Bob) Sumner in India, 1945.

As Maria wrote to me in February 2014,

The squadron dad was serving with flew Liberator aircraft and dad was ground crew. That squadron was formed in India in 1944 and moved on to the Cocos islands early in 1945 as the Allies were moving to re-capture Malaya. He served until 1946, probably one of the later ones to be demobbed [demobilized] as he was single and had no dependents. It is possible that [earlier and later] letters [between Bob and Ruth] were lost as they were moving around quite regularly and the war was ending; i.e., the war in the Pacific ended in August 1945. So it is quite possible they became demob happy and looked to get home. Can’t blame them, really; it must have been difficult to be so far away from home and loved ones for so long.

Your mother writes in a happy and cheery style and the letters, I am sure, would have made my father happy to receive them. He kept them for 37 years up until his death (when (unknowingly) I inherited them) so they were treasured by him and travelled through, India, Burma, South Africa, Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean and back to England during some of the most horrific fighting imaginable.

Not just Ruth’s legacy but my Dads as well. After reading them for the first time this afternoon I was impressed with your Mum’s ability to project such a friendly, open and welcoming letter to a man she had never actually met. She must have been a very special person indeed.

Ruth went on to marry Sam Stregevsky, my father. Bob wed Elizabeth (Betty) Phyllis Payne, mother of Maria and her elder brother, Paul. I publish these letters with Betty’s blessings; I’m sure my late father would have given his blessings, too.

Letter 1: July 24, 1944 (8 pages) (added 2016-04-30)

To view a page full-size (about 2550 x 3509 pixels), click it.

------------------------------------
 

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 1 of 8)

Monday, July 24 – 1944

Dear Bob:

"I received your very interesting letter last week and was glad to hear from you. I really owe you an apology for failing to answer your last letter but I have to confess I wrote a very long letter and never mailed it, just one of my war time habits which I’ve finally overcome by having my dad mail it for me.

"I’m glad to hear that you saw civilization for awhile and got the opportunity to dance. I’ve been catching up on dancing lately myself but these overnight self-made orchestras are distracting. We’ve no right to complain though, especially in our city. It’s very un-military as far as servicemen are concerned. That is to say – we’re almost 95% civilians.

"Bob – I received the photo you sent with you and your friends and considering how hot it must be, you were really a little overdressed. Really – you are much like several American boys I’ve known so nationality is comparatively alike as far as appearances go. We had a wonderful treat at home last week. My two brothers (age 19 and 20) haven’t seen each other in 2 years. They’re both still in the U.S. and serve in the army. One’s an Infantryman and the older one is in the cavalry. Not because they’re my brothers – but they’re very good looking boys ...

------------------------------------

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 2 of 8)

"as well as real gentlemen and having them reunited at home was something we’ll never be thankful enough for. I had a week’s vacation from work (dad and I – as well as my other sister) and we managed to be together often. But men will be men and women played a big part in my brothers’ lives. They had 2 dates a day –

"I received a promotion last month as private secretary to one of our executives and I feel very excited over this. However – when this particular party dictates a letter – I shiver with fear that I’ll make an error and consequently I do quite a bit of shivering all day long (that’s American for feeling uneasy).

"Summer here is very very warm and over the week end we do quite a bit of swimming. There are about 240 people too many in almost every pool so we can’t move about very freely. You never know from one season to another, whom you will be stepping on, but we’re used to it.

"We still have very good movies but some of the ...

------------------------------------

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 3 of 8)

"very handsome & best leading actors are in service so we sometimes have to witness a middle aged Casanova making violent love over a sweet young actress. It’s really a little embarrassing, when you stop to consider that some of these men have grandchildren.

"How did you find things when you had your leave? Did you feel quite strange. Most boys who come home on furlough are unused to their homes for awhile but they grow accustomed to them.

"Baseball is one very favorite summer sport in the U.S. and Cincinnati has one of the major baseball teams. It’s very entertaining but I’ve never gotten used to sitting through such lengthy ball games. It’s a man’s sport anyway so they’re welcome to it.

"My grandmother had 4 great grandchildren in 2 months & is she proud. There are very few women who can claim to be loved by everyone and she is. Have you any grandparents? Do they live in England?

"I’m writing with a radio going full blast plus a loud ...

------------------------------------

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 4 of 8)

"piano selection (my sister) and it’s really distracting but once I get ahold of a paper and pen, I just write.

"My girl friend has just written me from England where she’s a Lieutenant army nurse and she mentions how differently from America she found England. But she likes it immensely and she’s a wonderful nurse.

"Bob- I’d like to send you some of our good American sweets – candy – cookies but a letter of request is required before we can mail any parcel overseas. So in your next letter – you can mention this & I’d be very happy to send you a parcel.

"The second most interesting news item her now, aside from war news is the presidential election. Franklin Roosevelt is going to run again in November for the next election and it’s pretty certain that he’ll get re-elected. Maybe I’m just being sentimental but he’s one of the greatest men in our times (sorry if the censor should disagree). I’d better not mention politics anymore because I don’t know that much about it.

"We have a very large and ...

(Letter 1, Ruth to Bob, July 24, 1944, page 4 of 8)

------------------------------------

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 5 of 8)

"popular amusement park in our city which has everything in it possible. There are rides of all kinds – boat riding – game devices – large Moonlight Dancing Gardens with famous orchestras.

All in all – it’s quite a place. Maybe to anyone who hasn’t seen anything like it, it would seem eccentric but it’s nice, clean fun. (You can spend 1Ž2 of your life’s salary there but it seldom happens.)

"Our new neighbors downstairs from us are an older couple. The woman was born, raised & educated in England and her husband is French. This woman has us all gazing at her when she speaks. We all adore her English accent.

"Right now, the news from the fighting front seems encouraging & I hope it remains that way.

"By the way – I don’t like to recall past events but you remember this Edgar Edinger whom you met in Calcutta & who gave you my address. Well – I really haven’t made it a practice to correspond with strangers – no harm – but it never seems quite ethical. But it’s quite different I believe when you write to someone ...

------------------------------------

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 6 of 8)

"from a different country because there’s such an exchange of ideas. However – there’s no harm I believe.

"Regarding this fellow Edgar. He had at one time worked at my father’s place of employment. Dad worked there too and so when Edgar signed up for the army he came up to say goodbye to dad and I met him. We all wished him luck. He wrote to me & I answered his letters – only on a friendship basis. Evidently he thought otherwise & the 2 times at which he came home for furloughs, I found myself facing a serious problem. Well it ended up with a hard and bitter feeling on his part but it was no fault of mine if he supposed otherwise. I wish him luck wherever he is but he certainly is an odd person. I really can’t say I know him well. I hope he doesn’t circulate my address all over the globe.

"Do you do your own cooking in your outfit? Have you had rations or how is your food prepared? Mere curiosity. Is it always warm in India? What are the women like (If there are any) ...

------------------------------------

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 7 of 8)

"A boy who worked at our office was recently home from overseas on furlough & while we were all gathered about, speaking to him – he pulled a large set of teeth out of his coat pocket which turned out to be upper and lower sets of teeth from a Japanese soldier he had killed.

"I missed 3 meals after that but to civilians it isn’t an ordinary everyday occurrance [sic].

"I saw several English movies recently “King Henry VIII” with Charles Laughten. This is an old film but it has just been revised. The English are good actors but the censorship is not as strict as some of our movies and it was a little more realistic.

"I found two stray kittens this week and brought them home for a luncheon of milk and bread. In 10 minutes one of these cats disappeared and believe it or not we’ve never found him so for all we know he might be hiding under our beds – What a shock that’ll be for us.

(over)

------------------------------------

(Letter 1, July 24, 1944, Page 8 of 8)

"We have summer opera here, all out of doors and they’re really delightful. Popular opera stars and movie singing stars take leading roles. The opera outdoor theater is 3Ž4 of a mile from our house so we have it very easy as far as going out is concerned.

"We have 3 cousins visiting with us for the week and one is a 4 year old boy who [is] a real house wrecker. He puts his hands on everything he can do [sic] to destroy it (the furniture and all). But he is so adorable that in spite of his meanness you can’t be scolding him all day.  ah-ah- as I write this my little sweet 4 year old has just dropped my hand mirror (oh relatives, they’re nice at times from very distant places).

"Well – that’s all of the news for now. Hoping to hear from you soon. I’ll try to enclose a picture in about one week & send it to you. The photographers here are swamped. So long for now & good luck."

                                                                                                Ruth

Letter 2: April 8, 1945 (6 pages)

To view a page full-size (about 1650 x 2200 pixels), click it.

------------------------------------
(Letter 2, April 8, 1945, Page 1 of 6)

Sun. April 8 – 1945
Dear Bob:

“I’m going to apologize for not answering … your previous letter earlier. I received a letter from you this week and another letter from you almost a month ago.

“Needless to say, your letters are always filled with interesting items and I feel as though I’ve really seen the world myself after hearing of the places to which you’ve been.

“Glad to know that you had a nice Christmas but I do hope that next Christmas finds you and all of the other boys safely home in England. After all, there is no place like your own home to stimulate Christmas spirit.

“You mentioned in your previous letter that you spent some time in Calcutta with your cousin and I know how thrilled you must have been. It’s really funny, but we don’t appreciate our relatives unless we’re away from home. I have so many cousins in the service and when I write or receive letters from them, I know more about them than I did when they were home.

“So you had a nice leave in Bombay. Like many other fellows in the service, I suppose Bombay was a city to which you never dreamed of traveling. However, I hear that the scenery is exquisite. I smiled when you mentioned one white girl among all of the (wolves). “Wolves” is American slang for men who seek the girls – then we have a special whistle which accompanies a wolf. Of course, any girl who hasn’t been serenaded by a wolf call, …

Ruths_April_letter_P1of6_LevelsAC_1645x2229_UM50-2-150_Q97.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 2, April 8, 1945, Page 2 of 6)

“… just hasn’t much charm.

“Well, Bob, like all of the others back home, I want nothing more than peace again. We in America, unlike England – France and other invaded countries, haven’t been affected by bombs or air raids yet, somehow or other, despite good homes and luxuries, we just can’t be happy merely alone. I would give anything on earth to bring my brothers, friends and relatives back home again.

“Speaking of family, we received a written citation by the War Dept. this week which stated that my younger brother (in Germany) had received the “Bronze Star Medal” for heroic duty in Germany on December 1 – 1944. He had never mentioned this to us and knowing my brother, he never would, if we hadn’t written that we knew of this. Seems as though my brother’s company was on the front lines under fierce enemy attack and ammunition was running low. Covered by enemy fire, my brother crossed open fields, repeatedly risking his life, to bring back an adequate amount of ammunition. Because of his courage and initiative beyond the call of duty, his company was able to complete their mission. We cried a little, of course, but inwardly we’re very proud of our boy. He typifies a real soldier.

“My other brother was due to go overseas, but 6 weeks ago, he …

Ruths_April_letter_P2of6_LevelsAC_1658x2202_UM50-2-150_Q97.jpg

-----------------------------------
(Letter 2, April 8, 1945, Page 3 of 6)

“… was transferred to a camp only 175 miles from our home. In all that time he wasn’t able to leave home but he expects to have a furlough in several weeks as we’re all waiting patiently to see him.

“Well, Bob, spring is here. Spring used to mean quite a lot. In fact it still does. The weather is ideal for walking and since walking is a favorite [pastime] of mine, & my girlfriends and I wear the leather from our shoes to take advantage of the weather.

“About a month ago, there was a flood in our city and thank goodness, it’s all over with. I live in a suburb which is far from any flood area, but those poor people living near the river received quite a catastrophe. Our firm (the firm I work for) isn’t far from the river, and consequently Old Man River rolled right up to the door. Several floors were flooded and no one worked during that time. I helped the flood refugees and perhaps I won’t feel guilty about having a 2 week vacation from work.

“Our gardens are being prepared for victory gardening. We have a fairly nice sized back yard but [every time] we plant something, the dog next door starts digging for bones and tears all of our hard digging apart. Speaking of dogs, …

Ruths_April_letter_P3of6_LevelsAC_1651x2234_UM50-2-150_Q98.jpg

-----------------------------------
(Letter 2, April 8, 1945, Page 4 of 6)

“… these animals aren’t allowed to roam the streets as they did years ago. About 4 years ago, an epidemic of [rabies], due to dog bites, became known, and dog owners had to take their pets out on leashes. Now, they’re allowed on the streets again. I was bitten by a tiny dog when I was younger (about 10) and since then, I shudder at the sight of them.

“Daddy seems to be a real favorite among cats and dogs. Each evening, he steals away from the dinner table to carry out scraps of food for the waiting cats and dogs on the porch. This used to annoy my mother but she has resigned herself to the fact that she married a very sweet person and even the animals love him.

“Bob, have you been told about one of our most popular all [-] star cast for an army musical “This Is The Army”? The production is several years old and traveled all over the U.S. Enlisted U.S. soldiers with professional talent and acting ability were the cast for this musical comedy. For the past year, these boys have left the country and are traveling all over the globe whenever Allied and U.S. soldiers are stationed in order to present this play for them. …

Ruths_April_letter_P4of6_LevelsAC_1661x2204_UM50-2-150_Q98.jpg

-----------------------------------
(Letter 2, April 8, 1945, Page 5 of 6)

“All profits for this production when it toured our country [were] given to [the] army-relief fund. I do hope that at [some time] you are able to see this wonderful play. The singing, dancing and comedy are something you’ll remember for a long time.

“Isn’t cricket a favorite sport with Englishmen? I believe cricket is as popular in England as Baseball is in America. Our baseball season opens this month and lasts until September. Cincinnati (my town) has one of the most outstanding Baseball teams in the country. Although I’m not an enthusiastic fan, I do like to attend baseball games. We have a huge stadium where at least 50,000 people can be seated and in the good old days, there was never an empty seat. Most of the people work during the day so the games are scheduled for evenings. Have you ever seen our boys bat a baseball.

“One boy stationed in England told me that he prefers cricket, now that he knows how to play the game.

“I can tell by your letters that one of your favorite sports is swimming. I enjoy the pool myself, but—confidentially I’m not …

Ruths_April_letter_P5of6_LevelsAC_1654x2208_UM50-2-150_Q98.jpg

-----------------------------------
(Letter 2, April 8, 1945, Page 6 of 6)

“…too brave when it comes to diving into the water. You could mail diving instructions but please—don’t encourage me to dive. Perhaps I sound like a typical girl but I prefer to live a little longer than sinking to the bottom of the pool.

“Did you have a nice Easter celebration? I hope that you had some special services for the holiday. English girls like our own, must have come to town in their newest hats and dresses on Easter and I suppose they still do. As long as there are women there will always be silly hats. Nice clothes boost their morale but decrease the pocketbook.

“Bob – I’m taking some photographs this month and I promise to send one. If you don’t like the photo – well I won’t know if you tear it up—

“That’s all for now. Mother has dinner prepared and we have company. Besides, I’m supposed to go out this afternoon – 

“Write soon.

“Sincerely —

"Ruth

"P.S. Say hello – to all of your friends for me – a good old U.S. Easter greeting"

Ruths_April_letter_P6of6_LevelsAC_1656x2184_UM50-2-150_Q98.jpg

Letter 3: May 24, 1945 (2 pages)

To view a page full-size (about 1650 by 2200 pixels), click it.

Letter 4: July 16, 1945 (8 pages)

To view a page full-size (about 1580 x 2080 pixels), click it.

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 1 of 8)

Mon. July 16 – 45
Dear Bob:

“I received your letter dated from June and at a most convenient time. As I walked out of our yard on Thursday, I was called back by our jolly, lovable, postman who handed me your letter. The envelope always reveals the writer, so I knew this letter would be enjoyable to read. One of my cousins writes six pages on his excellent skill jumping into fox holes.

“Well, quite a lot has happened since I last wrote and I hope that I don’t repeat myself. For one thing, I’m just [recuperating] after a 2 ½ week vacation at home. About three weeks ago, I resigned from my position at the office where I had worked for 4 years and I’m not at all sorry. "We had a frustrated old maid who worked in the same office and she was a copy of the Nazi regime, quite a tyrant. The employers are great and the work interesting but I felt as though this woman wrecked my nerves. Seems as though I had more pleasure in leaving than ever because the girls and the employers presented me with a lovely gold locket (which I already broke). After a nicely planned dinner party and theater party, I …

Ruths_July_letter_P1of8_LevelsAC_1580x2086_Expo-BP30-Co30-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 2 of 8)

“…bid everyone goodbye and here I am, unemployed. However, like England there are more positions available than there are people to fill them so tomorrow I’m starting my journey from office to office.

“Bob, I can read from your letter that swimming to you is as important as water to a fish. It’s nice to know that you are able to dive into a pool when the heat becomes too greedy.

“By the way, shouldn’t you be entitled to a leave back home after four years in India or should I [you] discuss this with the RAF leaders?

“The most notable change in all cities now in the United States are familiar faces of returning servicemen (soldiers, pilots, sailors, WACs, who are returning from Europe and are spending a thirty day leave at home before debarking for the Pacific theater of war. It really feels homey again to walk up the road and meet old friends who have been away from home for 2 or 3 years and more. Most of these boys, despite …

Ruths_July_letter_P2of8_LevelsAC_1585x2078_Expo-BP20-Co20-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 3 of 8)

“…what they’ve gone through in Europe. Seems as though no soldier looks underfed so the army has really been using their rations to good advantage.

“As for our own family, we’re almost a family unit again. My younger brother, the 20 year old who received a facial wound and broken jaw in Germany late in April is back in the States and is here at home. He was sent to a nearby [convalescent] home and has been given a thirty day rest at home but he isn’t doing too much resting. I’m afraid that there is no indication that he had been injured and he look[s] better than ever, having gained weight and filled out. My other brother left for the China, India, Burma theater on the day which this one arrived here (U.S.). We’ve all been making the most of my brother’s care here and I’m certain that you’ll get the same attention and admiration which all of the returning soldiers are receiving. Seems as though a serviceman (regardless of country) isn’t …

Ruths_July_letter_P3of8_LevelsAC_1576x2084_Expo-BP10-Co10-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 4 of 8)

“…used to feminine adoration and his sisters, mother, cousins, and friends always seem foolish when they insist upon being affectionate.

“Well, this is July, the month where our city of Cincinnati is always too hot. [But w]e’re amazed to discover that cool weather here just won’t disappear. As for being able to swim, it’s useless. I went into a pool of water this week and my lips turned blue. For years I’ve dreamed of having a tan complexion but never have acquired one. I was born milk white and have given up hope of color again (Tan I mean). All during the week we had a cousin of ours at our home for a vacation. She’s from New York, a city you know about, and has seen all of us for the first time in her life. What a cousin! She’s in her early twenties and is lovely as a picture. What fun we had. A friend of ours, with the aid of my brother’s gasoline ration coupons, …

Ruths_July_letter_P4of8_LevelsAC_1576x2084_Exp0.2_BP10-Co10-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 5 of 8)

“…drove us through the entire city and I saw spots which really interested me and which I’ve never seen.

“We’re in a conservative town with a population of ½ million. I don’t believe they counted me yet but that’s the amount. We’ve taken dozens of snapshots last week and if they turn out satisfactorily I’ll send one. If not, well I may enclose another but I’m camera shy.

“That oil painting of which you spoke about in your letter sounds like a masterpiece. Were you doing any artwork before you entered the RAF? I’ve always envied an artist, that is most of them.

“Our summer parks and amusement centers are in full swing now and we look forward to summer because of them.  Dancing is still the device for an evening in town so the girls practice the latest step.

“I was led into doing a…

Ruths_July_letter_P5of8_LevelsAC_1586x2088_Exp0.2_BP10-Co10-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 6 of 8)

“…dance on a large night club floor recently called the “Tango.” Well, you shake some part of your body and I didn’t know which so I remained in natural position. I’m afraid that half of these dance steps just aren’t civilized enough but we manage to survive.

“Bob, it’s good to know that you and the boys see our movies, and yet so far from home. Eddie Cantor, the star in Show Business, is one of our greatest and most beloved comedians. I met him once when he made a personal appearance at one of our theaters. Unlike his roles in films, he’s distinguished looking and can be very serious. His generosity is well known. A few weeks ago I saw Gracie Fields, the English star in “Molly and Me” a new movie. She certainly sings in a unique style and we all love her for what she’s done to …

Ruths_July_letter_P6of8_LevelsAC_1579x2094_BP10-Co10-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 7 of 8)

“… boost the morale of our wounded men.

“Goodness—as I’ve been writing this I’ve eaten almost ½ lb. of raisins which were lying on the armchair of a chair nearby. I don’t know what affect [effect?] it’ll have upon my weight but I feel sick!

“Bob, may I compliment your English folks for hospitality. My brother told us that he had a short leave in Bristol from the hospital where he had been staying. Teas is your favorite drink and I’m going to admit that it’s getting to become ours, that is at home. Two little English girls talked my brother into sipping tea with them several times a day and he acquired a taste for it. At home, our tea pot boils frequently but give me coffee any day. Milk is still the drink but I’ve never found that it contained much flavor (over) …

Ruths_July_letter_P7of8_LevelsAC_1556x2088_BP10-Co10-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
(Letter 4, July 16, 1945, Page 8 of 8)

“… Summer out door opera is popular here now but seats are never available so the public has decided to help towards the building of a larger open air theater. The opera is right inside of our zoo, where hundreds of animals screech all day long. However, when the operas begin, the zoo is closed. But every once in awhile, a wild animal will join in with the opera singer and disrupt everything. When I start to laugh at this, I can’t restrain myself and cause embarrassment to everyone including myself.

“The sports season is still in progress, principally baseball. The present teams aren’t very encouraging but the best players are in the army.

“It’s raining now so before the cloudy mood of depression gets the best of me, I’ll close now with the best of luck from the U.S.A. – and

“yours truly – “Cherio”

Ruth

Ruths_July_letter_P8of8_LevelsAC_1579x2084_Exp0.1_BP10-Co10-Cl10+UM50-150-10_Q98.jpg

------------------------------------
Letter 5, December 20, 1945 (6 pages) (added 2016-04-30)

To view a page full-size (about 2550 x 3509 pixels), click it.

------------------------------------

(Letter 5, December 20, 1945, Page 1 of 6)

Thurs. Dec. 20 - 1945

Dear Bob,

"I received your thoughtful and lovely Christmas card and letter this week and want to tell you how much I enjoyed them.

"Certainly is good to know that you’ll be home soon. Perhaps right now you’re sitting in your comfortable lounge chair at home, at least let’s hope you’ll be home for the holidays.

"The Christmas spirit in the States comes out of more than “bottles”- meaning that everyone, well almost everyone, has their lost member home this year. Nine of my cousins are home from the service this year and its’ [it’s] like old times again.

"The biggest problem these days is mens’ clothing; too many men; not enough suits. Hardly anyone fits into their clothes anymore so they have to buy new ones.

"My younger brother attends the university now – but is working at a large department store now. He attends school for 8 weeks and ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 5, December 20, 1945, page 1 of 6

------------------------------------

(Letter 5, December 20, 1945, Page 2 of 6)

"... works  for eight – this is called a co-op course. He and most of the other students are selling mens’ furnishings now but at the end of a day my brother tells us that he has waged another war. He was never this exhausted in the battle of “Germany” but of course the mad Christmas crowds are fun and no one minds them.

"Winter is here finally. We have an odd climate in Cincinnati. From winter, we go right into summer it seems and half the time there is no spring. It takes so long to put a winter outfit on (coat – gloves – etc.) that I prefer working with my coat on. How is the weather in England?

"Our drama class at the university is presenting several plays next month for our friends and teachers in evening college. I am fine until I get on the large stage and ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 5, December 20, 1945, page 2 of 6

------------------------------------

(Letter 5, December 20, 1945, Page 3 of 6)

"then I shake like a leaf. I don’t know why, but the thought of all eyes on us petrifies me.

 "I’m a great lover of your “Will Shakespeare” and when we have Shakespearean plays in town – I don’t miss them. A friend I knew in England (while he was stationed there) told us he had seen the Stratford players in London and thinks that the English actor is most capable of acting in Shakespearean plays.

"Bob, what are your plans now that you’re soon [?] to throw away your air corps [capitalized?] uniform?  I suppose you’ll just rest for a long, long time, dancing and seeing all the things you missed so long.

"The returning servicemen here haven’t changed too much though. This is the first year that a man doesn’t attract any attention when he makes an entrance into a store – or on the street, since so – [?] many boys are here again. ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 5, December 20, 1945, page 3 of 6

------------------------------------

(Letter 5, December 20, 1945, Page 4 of 6)

" ... I suppose your younger brother (isn’t he a red-head) is quite grown up by now. He’ll be able to tell his big brother a few things now I suppose. As for your mother – well, she’ll be so happy to see you – that she may be speech-less [speechless] with joy for awhile.

"My present position at this publishing company isn’t all glory. Our employers are always losing their tempers and we have to listen to them all day long. There are 3 [three] generations in this firm, and everyone [every one] of these men- grandfather – son – grandson are [is] alike. It seems as if no place is perfect and if you like the work - the people are not very nice. This 22 yr. old employer of mine uses words that have to be looked up in our dictionary, but his letters never make sense. Oh well – perhaps I shouldn’t do too much complaining. ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 5, December 20, 1945, page 4 of 6

------------------------------------

(Letter 5, December 20, 1945, Page 5 of 6)

" ... Bob – please pardon the paper I have been using to write my mail on. Seems as though I don’t have any nicer stationery [stationary] at my disposal. However – I saw a large box of stationery [stationary] in my sister’s desk drawers so I’ll use that.

"Bob – if no good came out of this war, it did do something for me. When I went to high school, I wanted to correspond with a French girl or boy because I studied French. Well – I never had much luck. I wrote one letter to a girl in French, but evidently the girl to whom I wrote the letter must have thought I was a fool. My French must have made her lose faith in Americans. So – now – I’ve got an English friend and I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed writing to you.

"If I never see England – I’ll at least know something about it. Wherever we are though, we can all be happy now that place is ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 5, December 20, 1945, page 5 of 6

------------------------------------

(Letter 5, December 20, 1945, Page 6 of 6)

" ... here.

"I suppose New Year’s eve in England will be celebrated in grand style this year. I’m just wondering when Winston Churchill will throw away his cigar. I’ve never seen him without one.

"Well – there’s quite a bit of confusion here. The radio is on, the doorbell is ringing, the folks are talking, and I’m running out of ink.

"So – I’ll close now with lots of luck for future happiness.

"Promise you a photo of myself [me] – soon as Christmas is over.

"If it’ll make the letters any different I’m5 ft. 4 inches tall – green eyes – black hair - light skin (couple freckles on my nose) [,] 120 lbs, and in love with life - that’s me."

Ruth to Bob, Letter 5, December 20, 1945, page 6 of 6

------------------------------------

Letter 6, February 1946 (5 pages) (added 2016-04-30)

To view a page full-size (about 2550 x 3509 pixels), click it.

------------------------------------

(Letter 6, February 1946, Page 1 of 5)

Thurs. February ??, 1946

Dear Bob,

"Well – well, I hardly know what to say to you, now that you’re in England again – But you certainly deserve the best after all the wasted [?] time [away] from home. Good luck wherever you are.

"I suppose there aren’t enough hours in a day to make up for lost time from England but gradually you’ll settle down to being a civilian. The boys back in the U.S. who have been home for a few months claim that their army careers are so remote that it’s as though they’ve never been away from home.

"Well- I saw my first glimpse of an English girl today. As you know, thousands of our boys have married English girls, [note: omit comma] and reared families. Of course the English brides want to join their husbands now that peace reigns. Again, all cities [,] including ours, are giving the English brides real publicity. Yesterday our train station brought 30 English girls here to join their husbands -; the newspapers had photos and interviews printed and although American girls are lovely, if I must say so, there was no imperfection in these girls so I must commend our American doughboys on their excellent taste. ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 6, February 1946, page 1 of 5

------------------------------------

(Letter 6, February 1946, Page 2 of 5)

" ... Into our office today walked an ex-soldier and his English wife. We adored hearing her voice (real English dialect) which is very rare here.

"So England is having clothing problems too? Well I can sympathize with you because the men here are ready to wear barrels instead of suits and shirts. We haven’t been rationed on any article of clothing now or prior to VJ Day but worse than that, there are 100 men to one suit of clothing and at the rate which our boys are coming home, we’re really having the demand for clothing. I think that the boys would rather wear paper suits than their uniforms – Blame ‘em? But in due time, this situation should remedy itself. After the weather in India, Bob, you should be used to wearing a minimum of clothing.

"Now for news. Things are pretty well back to normal. ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 6, February 1946, page 2 of 5

------------------------------------

(Letter 6, February 1946, Page 3 of 5)

" ... Our household (with the exception of my one brother who is in the Phillipines [sic] is intact and normal again. Most of the boys are attending the university free of charge paid for by the U.S.A. government. (for all servicemen)

"We’ve got a boy living with us now, who is a friend of my brother’s. He had been stationed in London for 2 ½ years with the army and upon returning, he found that his folks intended moving to another city so [he] decided to remain here with all of his friends. Besides, he is engaged to be married and is so so much in love that he seldom says a word or eats a bite. That’s life I suppose.

"Today is Feb– and we were surprised by a downpour of snow and ice. We had almost been prepared for summer. Our town is noted for its changeable weather.

"The newest thing to happen to me is the opportunity to appear in a play. A small theatrical group ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 6, February 1946, page 3 of 5

------------------------------------

(Letter 6, February 1946, Page 4 of 5)

" ... has been formed by 20 of the neighboring girls & boys and we’re presenting this 3 act play in March. I have the role of a secretary who is engaged to her employer. In several scenes – my leading man and I are supposed to play these great “love scenes” but we are so –  unprofessional I’m afraid we’ll spoil the scene but I love to act.  

"Glad you liked the little photo I sent. I don’t believe I’ll ever go abroad – perhaps – but at least my picture traveled some distance.

"My girl friend who was a nurse in England (Bristol) for 2 years has been home now for 4 months. She is a civilian again but tells me that she can look back on her “nursing career” with the army has its pleasant side as well as its tragic side. For one thing she showed me the most beautiful hat which she purchased in New York. All of our friends are jealous due to the fact that the hat is lovelier ...

Ruth to Bob, Letter 6, February 1946, page 4 of 5

------------------------------------

(Letter 6, February 1946, Page 5 of 5)

" ... than any they’ve seen.

"Well – I could write more, but truthfully I’m getting sleepy. Right now there is a snow storms out of doors, and there’s a drowsy feeling here.

"So until I hear from you – here’s wishing you the best of luck.

"By the way – are you living near any of your former RAF friends? In almost 4 years you must have made some real friends.

"Have you decided on a career or job as yet? Whatever you do – I know [it] will be a success.

"So from an American friend – I say,

                                                             "Cheerio

                                                             Ruth"

 

Ruth to Bob, Letter 6, February 1946, page 5 of 5