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December 10, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Dear Mrs. [my last name]!

I should have known you’d put that on your return address one of these days.  I can’t wait until that is your real name.  I’m kind of partial to the idea.  I can’t see why you’d want to trade your name for a common one like [mine].  But I sure won’t argue!

I got two letters from you yesterday, which made my day.  I think one came today too (I peeked in the mail room and saw one in my slot) but I couldn’t catch the mail clerk to get out.  I’ll just have to wait until tomorrow.

I still haven’t got your Christmas present yet.  I just can’t find anything suitable.  The things I’d like to get for you cost so much you would kill me.  After this week is over I’ll have time to get into town and find the rest of my presents (I hope).

So our wedding date got set back a day, huh?  Well, with the rest of our lives ahead of us, I guess one day won’t make that much difference.  But Reet, talk your mother out of that second reception, okay?  One’s bad enough.  I don’t mind the pictures afterwards, but after that we’re cutting out.  I don’t mean run off 10 minutes after the ceremony, but I don’t want it to drag on and on either.  You know what I mean, don’t you, honey?

When are you ordering the announcements?  The reason I ask is that I don’t know when I’ll know whether or not I made SP5.  Not that it really makes that much difference, but if that’s what I’ll be when we’re married it would be nice to have it on the announcements too.  But right now I don’t know if the orders will come through even before Christmas.  I’d sure like to get it, but I’m not sure if I have enough time in grade yet.

Say, in all the preparations for the wedding, don’t forget to go see a doctor about some pills, and I don’t mean pain pills.  I mean those beautiful little things that take the worry out of being close, right?

You know something honey – I love you.  When I look at your pictures at the foot of my bunk I just want to reach out and hold you.  I can’t believe I could be so lucky.  But you know something else?  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt lonely.  You just seem too close for any loneliness.  But I’ve got a lot of memories and a lot of hope for the future – for our future.  And I’ve got a lot of love for you.

All my love,


So classes are finally over… and yet I still have school work.  Not enough to keep me from doing letters though, so we’re back at it as of today.

Now, I have the same common last name as my father and my wife and I went through a similar discussion when we got married.  She had a pretty original last name that we both personally liked.  Being a hip and progressive 21st century people we had a discussion as to whether or not she would take my last name.  When she asked me my opinion I told her that I didn’t much care if she changed her name to Bob as long as she showed up at the church on time.

One of her more radical college friends was aghast that she would take a man’s name.  That was until my wife reminded her that she really only had the choice of taking her husband’s name or keeping her father’s.  At that point it didn’t seem like such a big deal, though sometimes I do still refer to her by her maiden name which, as I said before, was a pretty good name.


Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


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May 2009