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December 24, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina


Hi Beautiful!

Merry Christmas, honey!  Sure wish I was there with you.  It doesn’t seem like Christmas without you.  But at least I’ll talk to you tonight.  I figure on calling about seven or so, and hope I can get through.  One guy had trouble a little earlier this afternoon because of heavy Christmas calling.

I got your present today.  It’s under the tree right now.  I’ll open it later tonight.

I’ve got guard duty today too.  Ain’t that a heck of a way to spend Christmas Eve?  I won’t get off until noon tomorrow, so I’ll be sleeping all afternoon.  I have to go on my first shift in a few minutes, so I’ll have to close now and finish later.  Merry Christmas, Reet! I love you!

Back again Rita, and it’s Christmas day now.  I never did get through to you last night.  I tried about seven o’clock your time, but all four payphones in our area are out of order. They never get around to fixing them.  So I had to wait until after eight your time before I could use the phone in the orderly room (we’re not supposed to use it at all), but then all lines were tied up.  So I figured I’d call at midnight (11:00 your time) when I got off my guard shift.  But my relief was nearly an hour and a half late, so it would have been after 12:30 before you got the call.  So I decided to wait until tonight.  I’m going to the show and call after that.

I opened your present last night.  If I hadn’t already started this letter I sure would have made use of it.  Thanks, hon.  I can really make use of it.  Did there happen to be any hint involved there?  I notice there was a very broad hint in the card!

By the way, you never did say if Paul & Strat were going to do our singing.  And has everyone we wanted been asked?  You’ve never said anything about that, so I am curious.

Well, I tried calling three times and I couldn’t get through.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  But right now I’ve got to get to bed.  Alone.  But it won’t be that way one month from tomorrow.  I love you Rita!

All my love,

Jeff


Good news, the new system is working and I have about 7 letters in the can.  You are now assured of posts for a while without interruptions.  Thanks for your patience.

I’ve noticed in this letter, and in many others, that he makes small repeats in his writing.  Like saying he “would have made use of it,” then one sentence later “I can really make use of it.”  I notice that I do the same thing sometimes when I’m trying to communicate in a noisy place or when I’m writing a long post in sporadic 30-second bursts.  Conjunctions sometimes just drop out and tenses shift, so occasionally you’ll see me make a correction to his letters in brackets [like these] so that the passage makes sense and is readable (and also so you don’t think I’m the one making the errors).

I’m a product of technology and can’t imagine a time before spell check, so I’m certainly not going to pass judgment on his writing, just wanted you to know what you were seeing.

EDIT: I have no idea what the present was.  A pen? Stationary?  Not sure…

Ethan


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Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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