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June 7, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.

Dearest Rita,

Got a letter from you today just full of all sorts of little goodies.  But I’ll tell you right now I’m gonna get ticked off pretty quick if you don’t get a picture of the ring to me pronto.  To heck with your fingernails, I wouldn’t look at them anyway.  All I want to see is the ring.

Everybody in our class is kind of ticked off right now.  We’ve got detail again this weekend, just like we’ve had every weekend since we’ve been here.  The other two classes haven’t had any.  A lot of our guys have had detail three weekends in a row, and some have detail both Saturday and Sunday.  I had detail last weekend and get it again this week — KP.  We’ve had enough — tomorrow about half the class is going to the first sergeant about it, and if he doesn’t do anything we’ll go to the inspector general.  Usually if you just threaten to go to the IG they jump, so here’s hoping we won’t have to

I’ve been put up for PFC by our class commander.  Don’t know when I’ll get it though.  Only thing I’m afraid of is I’ll spout off too much tomorrow and blow my chances.  But I can’t very well shut up when there’s a guy in my squad scheduled for 36 hours duty this weekend.  Out of 48 hours that’s pretty good.

Today we had a big parade and ceremony for a new battalion commander.  Used all of our so-called “free” time, and then we got chewed out for not having our barracks spit shined.  If I were an officer around here I’d be afraid to walk alone in the dark, because some guys around here feel like sending a few to the hospital.  And I don’t blame them.

Enough griping.  On to a more cheerful subject, like you!  I’m glad you’re happy with your (our) ring.  I am too, almost too much to believe.  Honey I miss you!  I keep seeing the moon getting bigger and bigger each night, and I remember nights we had together.  It makes me feel so lonely I can’t think of anything but you.  When you mentioned the park I remember when we used to spend an afternoon there just lying around.  Just summer being here reminds me of that day we spent together out at the lake.  And I keep remembering things like that walk in the snow, and the first time I said “I love you.”  Things like that, just remembering them, make me love you more each day.  And now you’ve got my ring.  I know for sure I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have a wonderful girl like you for my own.


Oh, oh, now you’ve had it.  I got a letter from you today (it’s Saturday now) and YOU CUT YOUR HAIR!!  But, I kind of figured it wouldn’t last long once summer came.  No, I’m not mad, I guess, but there are 26 other guys downstairs here who will never speak to you again.  That’s the price you’ll have to pay.  But, remember you faked me out once before, so I’m not going to believe you until you send a picture.  And I’ve got a picture of the ring on the way now, right?  I better have!

I’m glad to hear you got a job.  I think you’ll enjoy working there.  But I was happier to hear you got that ACT bit taken care of.  Just don’t wait until the last minute to get your college application in, okay?  Remember, if you have any problems of any kind in connection with college, go see dad.  He’ll help you any way he can, especially now.

Now, back to local news, at my end that is.  We didn’t go to the first sergeant like we planned.  We decided to let it ride for a week, and if they aren’t better next weekend we’ll go to the IG as a class, instead of a few as spokesman.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Last night (at 2:00 this morning actually) a guy in my squad bought a car — a 57 Pontiac for $100.  Today he had CQ duty all day, so he let me use it today.  Two other guys and I went to Virginia Beach and lay around.  Boy, is that town jumping!  School just got out so college kids just kind of moved in.  Broads running all over the place, but of course I didn’t have the least bit of interest in them.  Well… maybe I peaked just a bit, but I guess that’s only normal.  I never did see anything to compare with you though, so you needn’t worry.  I’m pretty well sewed up, I guess.

I have a lot more to tell you, but it’s after 1:00 a.m. and I’ve got KP tomorrow, so I’m going to have to close.  It’s really too hot to sleep out here, so I just lie awake thinking of you.  I love you, Rita!

Forever,

Jeff


It’s funny.  Mom just called me a couple of days ago about this.  She said that “Winter Wonderland” had just come on the radio and it reminded her of this particular walk that she and dad took in the snow, that he wasn’t there to reminisce with so she called me.  She described the walk: it was after dark and the streets were empty, huge snowflakes falling down silently as they held hands in a long “chatty stroll.”  I told her that we had just had our first real snowfall of the winter, with a couple of perfect inches on the ground.  Mom lives in a warm climate now, one that doesn’t get snow, and I live in the midwest where we get entirely too much. She said there’s nothing more romantic and encouraged me to go home and next time it was snowing, take my wife out for a long chatty walk.

I would be a fool not to take her advice.

Ethan

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Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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