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December 19, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Hi Honey,

Say, it doesn’t sound like that’s any kind of weather to come home to.  I’m not used to that anymore.  Maybe I’d best stay away — it’s too cold for me.  Of course, if you promised to keep me warm I might be tempted.  Promise?

Seriously, I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like.  But horses couldn’t keep me away.  I will be home the 18th.  I’m going to fly to Kansas City the day before.  Bob starts his leave the 18th so we’ll drive up.  It’ll be a little cheaper, and I do want to see what kind of a set up Bob has.  You never know, I may decide to stay a bachelor.  But I kind of doubt it.

If you did order the invitations like you said you were going to, I hope you ordered SP4 on them.  It may be that I won’t get five before I come home.  I’ve heard a rumor they won’t be given out until just before we ship out.  Can’t tell about the Army.

Most of the guys around here are getting ready to go on Christmas leave.  Less than a third of our unit will be here over the holidays.  Gonna be kind of deserted.  Sure wish I could be there with you.

This is Saturday now.  I was right, it’s pretty deserted.  Most of my closest friends are gone now.  Several I won’t see until I get to Nam.  Bill L. is the only one left, and he’s leaving Christmas day.  Say, I want you to send a wedding invitation to Clayton, [at this address].  That’s actually his fiancée’s address, but he’ll be there more than at home.  He lives in Covina.  Also send one to Kim P. and Bill L., both SP4 at my address.  They said they will be very hurt if they don’t get one.

I got a letter from you saying you did order SP5 on the invitations.  I guess I warned you too late.  Sure hope the orders come through before then.  I’d hate to have everyone think I was busted.

You don’t know this yet, but I’m going to call you tonight.  I just decided.  You lucky girl you.  I hope we’ve got money to cover it.

Say, you’d best get busy and study.  Sure, the wedding and work are important, but so are your grades.  And it’s not as easy to slide by like it was in high school.

What was I going to get you that you’d kill me for?  Well, I was looking at watches, but the good watches cost at least $55, and I didn’t want a cheap one.  But if I had spent that much I figured you’d be kinda pissed, cause we can’t afford it.  Sure wish I could though.

I’ve been going to ask about your period and our wedding date.  Thank goodness it’s before the wedding and we won’t have to worry about it again after that while I’m home.  I guess it wouldn’t be too serious if we couldn’t make love before that.  After all, the wedding night it supposed to be the first.  After this long it will seem like it!  I love you Reet!

Back again.  This is Sunday night now.  I’m on guard duty.  Pull it from 8-12 & 4-6.  All it amounts to is sitting around in a tent keeping awake, unless an officer comes around.  Then you have to try to look like you’ve been out guarding the place.  I might have trouble doing that if I’m caught writing, but what the heck.

It sure was good to talk to you last night.  It really made my day.  And I will call you Christmas Eve if I get a chance.  But you won’t get this letter until after the call anyway, I guess.

The few of us here really got in the Christmas spirit tonight.  We went to another units area and chopped down a pine tree to decorate in the barracks.  We also cut several branches off a holly bush for wreaths.  Things were really getting to be Christmasy when I had to leave for guard duty.  Most of the decorations are made out of beer cans, but they’re pretty fancy.

You said you’re going to have to take out a loan for your dress — $150, right?  Well, when I get home I’m going to have to borrow around $200 probably, so I’m going to do is this — I’ll go to the same place you did and borrow it, and have both loans consolidated into one.  That way we’d only have to be paying on one instead of two separate loans.  We shouldn’t have any sweat on paying it off, although I hate to borrow in the first place.

Got to close now and check the motor pool.  So long for now.  I love you!

Always,

Jeff

[PS.] 27 DAYS!


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December 17, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Hi Beautiful!

I’m afraid this is going to have to be short again – I’ve got KP tomorrow so must get to bed early.  And I have to write the folks again – it’s been a week since my last one.  Should write Bob too, but he’s going to have to wait.

I went in and talked to the CO* tonight.  I’ve been having a hell of a time catching him in up to now.  Anyway, he assured me I would be able to take my leave when I wanted it.  Remember the first sergeant said he thought I could but wouldn’t promise.  I’m glad to know for sure.  I could imagine what a mess it would create if it had to be postponed at the last minute!

Actually we’re not [getting] our pre-deployment leave until February 11 – March 11, but the major said he’d let me go anyway.  But – he probably won’t be able to get me the partial pay I wanted.  He’s going to try though.  He tried to talk me into waiting until February so I could get it, but I told him our plans were too far along to change them now.  I imagine you’ve even ordered the announcements by now, haven’t you?

In the letter I got from you today you said you didn’t care about a big wedding – “a judge would do just fine.”  You know, you’re lucky you didn’t say that a month ago or I would have held you to it.  But I guess there’s no way I’d do that when I know how much it really means to you.

Say – do you know any more about Dale**?  I haven’t had time to write him yet, but I thought maybe you’ve seen him around since I talked to you.

I’m going to have to finish this up now honey.  But I’m counting the days until I see you again.  Only one month from tomorrow until I’ll be home.  I have a feeling our wedding day will come almost too fast.  We’ll have a lot to do in that week.

I love you, Rita.

Forever,

Jeff

PS.  We found out that our battalion’s CO & XO*** who were in Nam with the other half of our battalion, were killed when their ship was shot down.

*Commanding Officer

**Old boyfriend

***Executive Officer

December 15, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Hi Beautiful!

Sorry I haven’t written for several days, but I’ve been running around trying to get my Christmas shopping done, and I finally did it.  Hope I can get them mailed tomorrow, and I hope they will get there in time.  It may get pretty close now.  I just hope yours gets there in time.

Clay had CQ the other night and he ransacked the Major’s desk.  He found copies of our sp5 orders, and it looks like I’m definitely going to get it.  They’ve gone up to division for final approval and we should get them before too long (I hope).  They’re supposedly backdated to December 1, which would mean more money before I came home which would be real nice.

I’m getting kind of worried about what our money situation will be while I’m home.  I haven’t been able to save much this month because of Christmas.  And just next months pay plus a partial pay I’m going to get will still leave us pretty tight.  The savings bonds I have at home will help, but a honeymoon and renting a room at the Sawnee will still cut it pretty close.  Why don’t you check and see what a room for two weeks will run?  That will give me some idea of what to expect.  Also, I’m checking into getting a ride with a guy who lives in Minneapolis.  It would take longer to get home but would save a lot of dough.

I’m glad my folks seem to have come around to our side.  I’m surprised Brian acted the way he did though.  I can’t believe he was being serious.  You must’ve caught him at a bad time or something.  That’s all I can figure.  He’s always thought you were the greatest, and I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt you.

Honey, do you realize that in a little over a one month we will be man and wife forever?  That’s a long time, but I wish it were longer.  I hope you talked your mom out of that second reception because I don’t want us to be too pooped to enjoy our wedding night.  Won’t it be wonderful to be able to make love whenever we feel like it?  And then go to sleep with you in my arms every night.  And that’s not very far off.  I love you Reet.

All my love,

Jeff

PS.  Sorry this is so short but it’s my last sheet of paper.

“The evil men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones,”  – Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene ii-

It’s a bummer that Brian only gets mentioned occasionally and then when he gets more than a single sentence it’s about when he was less than polite.  In the many years that I’ve known him the worst thing that he’s done that I can personally attest to is his indoctrination of all his nieces and nephews, brainwashing them so that they never refer to him as simply Brian, but always as their “favorite uncle Brian.”  And though it is very possible he would have earned the title  fair and square, he ambushed us when we were young and impressionable, swindling it out from under all of our other uncles, making certain that it would be forever applicable only to him

Diabolical.

The Sawnee was a hotel in downtown Brookings until the mid-70s.  Mom and dad stayed were thinking about staying there after the wedding as, naturally, they weren’t too keen on staying with one of their parents in town after the wedding.  The building is still standing today and houses a number of businesses.  Recently the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission had a meeting to discuss putting the hotel on the national register of historic places, and they recorded quite an extensive history of the building, which you can find here (pdf).

Ethan

Sawnee Hotel

Sawnee Hotel (click to embiggen)

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,

Jeff

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.

Ethan

December 8, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina


Dearest Reet,

I’m working right now, believe it or not.  Only we don’t have anything to do, so we’re sitting around.  There’s only about 30 guys from our battery here — everyone else is out in the field, and it’s snowing and cold.  All our officers and the first Sergeant are out too.  Our platoon sergeant is in charge, so he gave half of us yesterday off and half today.  He just wants to make sure the CO doesn’t find out.  Then he’d be up a creek.

Since I was off yesterday I went to town shopping.  Got most of it out of the way, but I may have a tough time getting to the post office to mail them.  I still haven’t bought yours yet — can’t find anything around this hole I’d like to give you.  But I’ll keep trying.

The folks called last night to find out who I wanted added to the guest list.  I gave them all I could think of off hand, but may want to add a few later on.  I think it pretty well covered it though.  When I mentioned Jeannie, mom said she had thought of her but wondered how you’d like it.  I told her it would be fine with you so she put her on the list.  It is okay, isn’t it Reet?  I hadn’t really thought about it.

They also said you’ve been pretty busy what with school, work, and planning for the wedding.  And a bad tooth on top of it.  They said they had talked to you a couple days ago (Friday I think), but didn’t get to say anymore because Brenda wanted to talk, and never got back to it.

How is your tooth?  Hope it’s all taken care of by the time you get this.

I’m sending you some pictures I took a couple weeks ago.  Most of them won’t mean much to you but I thought I’d send them anyway.  I sold a camera took them with, but I hope I can get another one so I can take some pictures when I get to Nam.  I wish I had it to take pictures with while I’m home, but I needed money for Christmas gifts.  I’ll borrow dad’s for us to use on our honeymoon.

I guess I spoke too soon about doing nothing.  This is Monday night now and I haven’t had time to write or even think about it.  So I’m going to get this off now.  Write again as soon as I can Reet.

I love you!

Forever,

Jeff

December 6, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Hi Love!

I’ve got several letters from you that need answering, so I decided I’d stay here tonight and do just that.  I’ve been going into town shopping a lot this week, but really haven’t got much of it accomplished.  In fact I’ve only bought one present so far, for dad.  For the rest of the family and you, I’m stumped.  Any suggestions?

Remember I said we were going to the field the 7th – 12th?  Well, I don’t have to go but I have to work twelve hours a day in the hangar.  So if you don’t hear from me for a few days, that’s why.  That screws up my Christmas shopping to.  I just hope that I can get something sent early enough to get there in time.

About your list of people — I didn’t really know all that much was involved.  In fact, I don’t know what most of them are for, never heard of some.  But I’ll take your word for it.  Still don’t know who to go with Mary.  Ask mom about that, okay?  Maybe Steve R., Nancy’s brother would be a good idea.  Nope.  I keep forgetting how old he is now.  Well, like I said, ask mom.

And of course you had to get the most expensive gown in the store.  I’ll bet it’s beautiful!  I’m really anxious to see it, especially to see you in it and coming down the aisle.  Fifty more days!

Have you talked to Reverend Pittenger again yet?  Sure hope he has that date open.  I’d hate to have to change it now, I’m too used to thinking of January 25th as our wedding day.  One month from Christmas.  Guess what I’ll be thinking about Christmas Eve?

I’m sorry mom seemed so bitchy to your mom.  Please apologize to your mom for me, and explain that her bark is worse than her bite, but it’s a hell of a bark.  And you said you prayed my folks wouldn’t keep us from getting married.  Ain’t no way they can do that.  You’ll just have to take everything with a grain of salt until I get there, okay Reet[?]  She’s just the type to get overly concerned about something like this.  Sorry, hon.

You know something, Rita?  When I think about having you for my wife for the rest of my life I nearly jump for joy.  But I get kind of scared too.  Will I be able to be a good husband to you and father for our children?  Will I be able to provide a good home for you and give you everything you really deserve?  I hope and pray I can.  It may take a while to build the life we want, but getting married is a good start.  I count on our love to see us through the hard parts.  And I guess that’s the way it should be.  I love you Rita.  I love you.

How do you like your work so far?  Have you found out if it’s something you can keep through next semester?  And have you let them know you’ll be taking some time off towards the end of January?  I’ll bet you have.

I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble with your tooth.  I’m glad you’re not losing it though.  Hope it’s all taken care of soon.  Sounds painful, to say the least!

About Bob’s letter — you’re right, it’s pretty bad.  But that wasn’t as bad as some of them.  But then I’m used to it, and it wasn’t meant to be read by you.  Bob would turn green if he knew you saw it.

I’m going to close now — long day tomorrow.  Even working Sunday.  Don’t like that at all!

I love you Rita.  And I’ll be telling you that myself before long.  I love you!

All yours,

Jeff


Well, we’re neck-deep in wedding planning.  Yep, we are planning a wedding.  Fun fun fun…

Ethan

December 2, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Hi Beautiful!

And how are you at this wonderful time of year when Christmas bells are ringing and good cheer is in the air?  But I think I hear wedding bells too, don’t you?  In fact, they sound like they’re only about 54 days away!!  And getting closer!  And only 47 days before I leave this dump and head home to see my beautiful bride-to-be.  What more could a guy want?  Besides a discharge.

If I sound drunk — I am.  But just with happiness.  I’ve never seen the world so beautiful or the future so bright.  And that’s pretty good considering where I’m at and what I’m in.  See what you do to me?

Tonight I sat down (actually I was standing and writing on my bunk) and wrote a long letter to my folks, and told them all about the plans we’ve made so far and all the who’s, what’s, when’s, and how’s we’ve decided on so far.  It’s really the first they’ve heard from me about specific plans in fact, it’s the first letter I’ve written in over a week.  But I told them to start a guest list right away.  Have they?  Anyway, they’ve got the big picture now and I think they’ll stop fighting it and give a hand now.

In a letter I got from them today, they (mom) said they knew once I made up my mind it wouldn’t change.  They just felt I wasn’t ready to accept the responsibilities of marriage.  Maybe I’m not, but I’d like to believe I am.  But then, is anybody really ready to accept them when they’re married?  I doubt it.  But most manage, and if anyone can, we sure can.

Don’t you ever dare get so frustrated you say “forget it,” because I won’t let you.  Not on your life!  You can’t weasel out now.  You’re going to be an old married woman before long.  (Hope you don’t mind)

Have you contacted your little cousin about being your flower girl?  And how about Brenda?  I told the folks but said not to let Brenda know.  I know you want to tell her yourself.  I still don’t have any ideas for opposite your cousin, but I asked mom and dad.  Maybe they’ll have an idea.

What did you find out about your job at Waltz?  Sure hope it pans out.  Even if it’s just for the holidays, the experience and reference is good.

Outside of that, I don’t have a damn thing to say besides I love you.  And I could say that all night!  In fact I do, in my dreams.  But I’m waiting for the day I can tell my wife that.  I love you, Reet.  With all my heart.

Forever,

Jeff


“Waltz” is the now defunct Waltz Hardware, a place mom worked during the holiday season before the wedding.

Ethan

November 29, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Dearest Rita,

I probably won’t be able to finish this tonight, but I figured I’d at least get a start.  I’m going into town a little later to do some Christmas shopping.  I sure wish I could be doing it with you, but it’ll be worth the wait.  I have a feeling that getting married will beat Christmas shopping all to hell

I’ll send fifteen bucks along with this for the rings.  When you take it down there find out how much we have left and let me know, will you Reet?

I still haven’t written Bob to say anything about us getting married, much less being in it.  I’ll try to get that done this weekend.

This is Sunday morning now.  Sorry I haven’t finished this, but I had KP again all day yesterday so didn’t get a chance.

I heard yesterday that I’m up for Sp5.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I should find out next week for sure.  I sure hope so, but not counting on it.  I found out long ago it doesn’t pay to count on anything.

Did I tell you that I sold my Polaroid and got another 35mm camera?  Well, anyway, I sold that one now.  Of course I made money on the deal.  I’m looking around for another one now.  I’ve got one roll of pictures from it back in another one should be ready next week.  I’ll send you some.

I went into town to do some Christmas shopping last night, but it was so late by the time we got there I didn’t really get much done. I’m at a loss as to what to get for anybody, especially you.  I plan on trying again this afternoon.  Have you heard anything from my folks yet?  If not, why don’t you go out there some night and talk to them?  I haven’t heard anything from them and haven’t written or called myself since last week.  I’ll try to get that done today to.  They don’t really know anything except that we are getting married in January.

You know something, it doesn’t seem like January 25 is very far away at all.  Already time is going faster.  But once I’m with you and we’re husband and wife, I wish time would stand still.  I’m sure not going to feel like coming back after a month with you.

You said you were going to write New York about your wedding dress.  Have you found out about it yet?  I can’t wait to see you coming down the aisle in it.  You’re going to be the most beautiful bride in the world.  I know it.

Say, are we going to have the pictures taken before the ceremony?  Seems to me that would save an awful lot of bother.  And you know I don’t want to stick around any longer than necessary afterwards.  About an hour for the reception and were gone, right?

You also suggested in one of your letters that we get a room at the Sawnee while I’m home. I don’t know what they have available, but I would like more than a hotel room for our first home, even if it is just temporary.  But if it is necessary we can.  It would be nice if we could find an apartment or trailer to rent for a short time, but I imagine that would be pretty hard to find.  I’m going to ask my folks to look around and see if they can come up with anything.

I’ll ask them to get in gear and start a guest list.  They can make one of all the relatives and family friends, and all I’d need to add would be my personal friends.  How many invitations do you plan to send out[?]  I mean have you set limit as to the number?

Have you told Brenda you want her in the wedding?  If not go ahead and do it.  Tell Dex, too, and I’ll try [to] get a letter off to him soon.  In fact, I’d best knock this off and start some others, although I’d rather write you.

I love you Rita, and can’t wait until you’re mine forever.  And it won’t be long now!

All my love,

Jeff


PS.  Sending $20, the extra five is for any phone calls I make, okay?


I’m in the home stretch on my coursework for this semester, so I’m barely getting these done before they post.  Commentary may be limited until the middle of May when classes end.

On the other (good) hand, my sister brought up another huge box, this time it contained pictures instead of negatives.  In fact we’re pretty sure they are all of the pictures for all the negatives she gave me a couple of month back

Good thing I’m a horrible procrastinator, or all those negatives would have been developed in vain.

Ethan

November 27, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina


Dearest Rita,

I received a letter from you today — mailed last Saturday yet.  It’s the one you wrote after I talked to you.  You can see how long it takes me to get some of your letters.

This is the first chance I’ve had to write you since Sunday.  Monday I had KP from 3:30 a.m. to 8:30 PM.  When I got off I wasn’t in any condition to write.  Last night I felt about the same way so I hit the sack right after chow.  Today I’m barracks orderly, which means I sit around on my dead-end and write you a letter.

Monday I got two letters from the folks.  One was a Thanksgiving card.  The other included this article I’m sending to you.  With it was a short note saying she (mom) hoped we could understand how they feel, and saying they only want the best for us.  I thought it was real good, but doesn’t fit our particular situation.  Thought you might like to read it though, if you haven’t seen it before.  It can give us an idea of some things we may run up against.  Mom asked that I send it back ’cause she wants to keep it, so would you see that she gets it, Hon?

I talked to the first Sergeant today and canceled my Christmas leave.  I turned in another leave request for 18 January through 15 February.  That would give me a week before we’re married and three weeks after.  Top said he couldn’t approve it until after Christmas, but he said there won’t be any problem.  The worst that could happen would be to get a couple days shopped off, which wouldn’t really be too serious.  So, plan on 25 January, Reet.  Only 59 days!  And after that a lifetime.  I love you, Rita!

Yes Rita, we do have a wonderful God up there.  How else could we have such a wonderful love?  When I compare our love to God’s love for us, ours is small by comparison.  But I’m willing to bet that ours is as strong a love as any two people could have, thanks to God.

Tomorrow I’m going up to Lee B. for Thanksgiving dinner.  I hate the thought of all that hitchhiking, but anything for a home-cooked meal.  Actually, right now I feel like just staying here and sleeping.

December 7 — 12 we’re going out in the field, to play war games I guess.  Only part of us are going out (including me) while the others will be working around the clock on maintenance.  It’s supposed to be the way things will be set up in Nam.  More than likely it will be a farce.

I’m going to close now and work on my boots.  They’re getting pretty scroungy.  But I’ll be thinking of you and loving you all the while, like I do every hour of every day.  I love you, Reet, so very much!

Forever,

Jeff


P.S.  Only 59 days until we’re married, and only 805 until I get out of the Army.  But if I could be with you I could care less if I ever got out!

November 23, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Dearest Rita,

How’s my spoiled wife-to-be?  If she’s as happy as I am right now she’s doing good.  At least I know for sure we’re going to get married!  Nothing could be greater, and I hope the time between now and then will go fast.  I’m sure it will, especially with all the planning.  Of course you’ll be doing most of that.

I finally got three of your letters today.  I’m sorry you had to call because of them, but often letters lose a day at this end.  But it sure was good to talk to you, hon.  Your letters really made me realize how much planning and how many arrangements must be made for a wedding.  It’s too bad we didn’t start making plans earlier, but…

I’ve got about a million questions to try [to] answer and to ask from your letters.  So I’ll just start with the first one and go down the list, okay?

First of all, your folks acted just about the way I figured they would.  Now that they’re getting used to the idea I know we’ll have their full support.  Did I ever tell you that you have just about the greatest set of parents you could get?  I think so anyway, and I’m sure you agree.

No, I don’t mind getting married at your church – in fact, I’ve never told you this, but I’d prefer to.  I think my church is too damn big for anything but a great big wedding.

What the heck am I going to do for attendants?  I always figured on Dex as best man, but then there’s Bob, Jim, and Galen to consider too.  But, if you’re going to have Brenda and your little cousin, who will I get for opposite them?  Any suggestions?  I know Bob, Jim, and Galen will understand that it just wouldn’t be a big enough wedding to include them.

Yes, you will definitely have to see a doctor about some pills.  Because if you weren’t on pills when we got married I have a feeling you’d be very pregnant before long.  We’d have a honeymoon baby for sure, only I wouldn’t be there when it was born.  And if something were to happen to me in Nam, it would be bad enough to leave a wife, let alone a child.

As far as leave goes, it’s all a screwed up mess.  I don’t think even our C.O. knows what kind of leave policy we’ll have after Christmas.  But I will talk to him before I call you Wednesday and find out what I can.  I’m pretty sure I can swing it though.

I’m going to call my folks tonight and talk it over with them.  I don’t think there will be any problem though.  You only thing I hope is that mom doesn’t try too hard to help you plan our wedding.  I don’t think so though.  Don’t be afraid to go to my [mom] with any problems or questions or any help you need.

This is Sunday now.  I talked to my folks last night, and it went just about like I figured it would.  They weren’t too enthusiastic about us getting married before I go over, but they know that if we’ve made up our minds we’ll do it anyway.  They just asked that we give it a lot of thought, and I told them we have thought it over pretty thoroughly.  So – they know what’s pulling off.  I suggested they talk to your folks soon.  I think that will make them a little more receptive to the idea.

Mom brought up one point I hadn’t even thought of.  Most churches, and I’m sure yours is this way, require some premarital counseling with the minister before a marriage.  Usually this is over a period of time and includes several meetings with him.  That would be impossible since I wouldn’t be home until about a week or so before the wedding.  Why don’t you talk to Reverend Pittinger about this and see what is required and how we can arrange it?

Okay, back to your letters.  Yes, I really like the gallon you picked.  But you know I can’t look at a picture and tell if it would look good on you or not.  I like to dress though, and if that’s what you want you definitely have my approval.

As far as a honeymoon goes, I don’t know how much of one we can swing, honey.  I’d like to take off for at least a week or 10 days and go pretty much where we want to in that time.  I’m sure my folks will help us out on that.  I would’ve liked to get a cabin in the mountains in Colorado or someplace, but I’m afraid the middle of winter isn’t the time for something like that.  Or perhaps we could use Marvin Larson’s cabin in the Black Hills for awhile.  Let me know what you’d like though, because our honeymoon is going to be the way you want it.

I don’t know if my military title should be on the announcements are not.  I would guess that it would be.  Here’s another thing… do you think I should wear my dress greens or a civilian suit?  I’m in favor of my greens, since I’m in the service.  And that would save us some money I’d need for a new suit.  All I’d have to get is a saucer hat to wear instead of my service hat.

I think it would be great to have Strat-Phill sing at our wedding.  And if you want another suggestion for song, how about “He.”  If I remember right it was sung at Galen and Anne’s wedding, and I loved it.  But again, it’s up to you, like so much of the planning and work involved will be.  Sure wish I could be there to help.

Rita, you asked if I really felt we should wait, if I was sure about getting married now.  Honey, there’s only one thing that I’m sure of, and that is my love for you.  There’s nothing compared to it.  I know I want to marry you and live with you forever.  I do question whether or not getting married now is the wisest choice, but I don’t feel that can be answered yet.  All I know is that we won’t be sorry for going ahead and getting married now.  It won’t be easy, but with our love for each other it will all work out for the best.  With a wife like you, we’ve got it made.

If I write much more I won’t be able to get this in an envelope.  I’m counting the days – 61 – until we’re man and wife.  Until then remember that my love for you grows with every day.  The thought of being your husband makes me happier than I ever dreamed possible.

All my love,

Jeff


Looks like I need to get the recording of their wedding ready to go!

Ethan

November 15, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina


Dearest Rita,

I got a letter from you today, or rather a note.  You reminded me quite bluntly that I haven’t been writing as often as I should, and you’re right.  I know I’ve told you before that I’d do better, but this time it’s a promise.  Will you forgive me this time?  Please?

I wrote my folks tonight and told them we have been talking about getting married, but I haven’t made any decisions.  If you get a chance why don’t you go out and talk it over with them sometime?  And let me know how your folks feel about it after you’ve talked to them.

Say, I just had an idea.  I told the folks I’d call them next Saturday evening, so why don’t you see if you can get out there then?  I forgot, or rather I never thought of telling them, but you can tell them I wanted you out there when I call, okay?  I’ll expect you to be there.

You know something Reet?  The thought of marrying you in February is driving me nuts!  I want to so bad it hurts, yet I can’t help wondering if what I want is clouding my better judgment.  The idea of being able to spend even a short amount of time with you as my wife just about blows my mind.  I love you Rita, and I want you.  I want to be able to hold you close whenever I feel like it, and spend every night together as man and wife.  I love you!

Reet, one thing I thought about is that we wouldn’t be able to have much of a honeymoon, and I know every girl wants one.  I would love to give you the best honeymoon any girl ever had, but that just wouldn’t be possible.  There are so many things I want for you that won’t be possible whether we’re married now or next year.  I just hope all my love will be enough until the day comes when I could make it up to you.

I have to hit the sack now, Reet, I’ll be dreaming about you.  I love you with all my heart, and if we get married now or later my love will be the same – always growing.

Forever,

Jeff

PS.  I love you and long hair! (reminder)

June 11, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Hi Honey,

Writing this between classes again.  We’re going to be working on the helicopters themselves before long, so we drew our toolboxes today.  Now maybe things will get more interesting.  They were getting kind of boring for a while there.  But I don’t know when I’ll have time to write if we don’t have classroom work.  This is the only time I get any writing done anymore.

Don’t really have a lot to tell you, but I was thinking about you and decided to scrawl a few lines.  Oh, you asked about the instructor bit — forget it, no chance now.  It sure would have been nice though, wouldn’t it?  Don’t know what next, but I’m not going to count on anything except Nam, and you’d best not either honey.  If I get ordered somewhere else where we could work things out easier for us, great!  But chances of that are small honey.  I just wish I could swing it so we wouldn’t have to wait so long, but I’m afraid I can’t.  But I’m ready to grab anything that comes along, so maybe there’s a chance.  I pray there is, yet I can’t complain about Nam.  It’s just that I’d rather be coming home to you each night.  Wouldn’t that be great?!!

By the way, you got our wedding all planned?    The way it sounds, between you and your mom all you need is me.  And how about the announcement?  Are you planning to put one in the paper?  Remember, if you do, be sure and send me a copy.  Just wish it could be a wedding instead.  One step at a time though, darn!

It’s Wednesday now.  I got a letter from you today.  Great!  Only I was sorry to hear about that night in the bandshell, after the carnival.  Why did you get so depressed honey?  Surely there’s someone for you to do things with.  I know many of your friends have their guys, but surely not all of them every night of the week, do they?  Maybe, since Bob will be home by the time you get this, things will be better for a while.  Sure hope so.  Make him do things with you, and be sure to take him out to our place, okay?

Now, what was I supposed to tell that warrant officer?  To get what?  Shame on you!  Of course I feel the same way.

Honey, I miss you.  The last couple nights when we got out of class I’ve gone outside and just watched the moon.  All I thought of was you, and how much I miss you.  Honey, if there’s a full moon while I’m home, we’re going to go out to the lake, spend all day there, and most of the night, right?  Remember, we’re going to go “skinny dipping” too.  I’m looking forward to that!  I’m looking forward to a lot of things, but mostly to just being with you again.

I really don’t have much more to say except “I love you,” and I guess I say that all the time.  I guess I’ll close now and whip out a few lines to Bob, okay?  Okay.

Love you Rita,

Jeff

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

Photobucket

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