July 17,  1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.

Dearest Rita,

Today I received the most beautiful letter I’ve ever got from you.  When you talked about our future and our dreams they all seemed so real and so close.  Sometimes they seem so far away, so when I feel that way from now on, I’ll just read that letter.  Thank you, honey.

And now it’s Tuesday morning, and I got another letter today!  Boy, I must rate or something.  Keep them coming.

The best part of this last one was about the announcement of our engagement.  You’d better get a clipping off to me pretty quick or else… I imagine my folks will be sending me one too, but that’s okay.  I’ll keep one and carry the other one around in my wallet.  I just wish I could be there with you now.

Yes, I am jealous, jealous because Bob’s there with you and I’m not.  But I’m glad he gives you something to do.  You’d better tell that little rat to write me though.  Tell him I’m getting very pissed off, okay?

So what exactly happened between him and Ruth.  Hope it wasn’t a “Dear John” while he was out in California.  He never said anything about it to me.  But it’s been quite a while since I’ve heard from him.  Keep riding him about that, okay?

Honey, you can tell Beth for me that a puppy would be the greatest wedding gift she could possibly give us.  I just wish we didn’t have to wait so long to collect it.  Even if we can’t have any children right away we’ll have something to raise, right?

Say, how does Bob look with short hair?  I really can’t imagine that.  Why don’t you try to get a picture of him to send to me?  With all that extra weight and short hair, I want to be able to recognize him if we can ever get together.  I still don’t know just where he’s going to be stationed though.  Why don’t you try to find out and tell me, since he may never get around to it.

How does Bob like our ring?  Say, don’t you two have a bet he’ll collect on?  Hope you don’t mind losing that one.  I’ll always be thankful to him for what we’ve got now.  You know something?  He knew long before we did that things would work out this way.

Rita, thinking about you and our ring and the announcement has really made me homesick.  It would be just great to be back there with you and Bob, just goofing around like we used to.  Isn’t it funny how the good times of the past are so hard to bring back?  Yet there’s always the future, which looks great to me.  Honey, our love is the biggest thing the future holds, as far as I’m concerned.  I love you so much that I just couldn’t see any future at all without you in it, Rita.  I love you honey, very very much.

I got to knock off now and get some things done here.  Don’t forget to send the announcement and pictures of the rings and your short hair (grrr) and Bob if you can, okay?

All my love!

Jeff

PS.  Tell Bob to say hi to Dayle at Muggs.  He was out of town when I was home.


First, I think it’s hilarious that just after I post about Bob saying they were “always in communication,” dad lays into him for not writing.

Second, we’re looking everywhere for the announcement so when he finally says “Hey, I got the announcement and it looks great!” we can post a scan of it for you.  Unfortunately it’s been difficult to locate and could be hidden in a couple different states.

I hope mom took her time sending it.

And finally, I only have two tapes left before I’m done transferring everything I have from tape reels to digital.  With luck, this Saturday I’ll finish them and we will bring an end to the saga… at which I have to start editing it all.  Most everything is from Vietnam, so it might be a bit before we get the actual tapes posted.  In addition to dad’s we have one tape from my uncle Alan, one from dad’s ROTC hearing (where they decide to kick him out), and one from some of dad’s buddies in Vietnam who sent it to him after he was discharged.

There is also one special one.  Some years later, after Alana and I were born, dad must have pulled out the old reel-to-reel and tried it out again, because you hear him turn it on, speak into it for a second, then set it down and leave it recording.  Alana and I (and one of Alana’s friends) are playing hide and go seek, messing with the recorder, and generally goofing around.  Alana must be about 6 and I about 3.  We even try his patience for a minute or two.

If I see an appropriate time to put that up, I will, but I have many many hours of audio to wade through, and since dad seldom decided to mention the date, I’m having to infer as to when most of them were made by picking out clues: mentioning how long until he gets out, how long he’s been in, how long until R&R, etc…  should be fun.

Ethan

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