Ruth’s Letters

After finishing transcribing all 359 of Walt’s letters, I fell into a winter slump. Let’s call it a vacation. I’ve crept back into transcribing by working on those two pilot logs (log1, log2), and now I’m starting on Ruth’s Letters by scanning them and filing them into folders—I hate that part.

Walt mentioned a few times that he was returning her letters for the scrapbook she planned to work on (but never did). Most of her letters were bundled into envelopes, except for four that were returned to her in their original envelopes. She might have picked those up when she went out to visit him. The last bundle is dated 26 July 1942. Walt doesn’t head out to Texas until November, so it’s unclear why the returning ended in July. Nevertheless, that’s all there is. Walt and Ruth would be together after December, so there was no need for letters in 1943. The war obviously made it unlikely that Walt could return any letters received overseas. Beyond that, I don’t know what happened to the idea of the scrapbook, even though there is a large one with a photos of other soldiers in it.

My scanning plan is to scan all of an envelope’s contents into one PDF. For the transcribing, though, I’ll do that one letter at a time, with each letter page in JPEG format. Bear with me.

While there is nothing new to read, imagine me scanning and organizing.

San Antonio after the War

The August 1945 letters ended abruptly when the Japanese surrender was announced, and while I don’t know how long it took for Walt’s group to wrap up and return to the states, it must have required some time, including travel. Maybe on hearing the news, Ruth started packing and planning to return to San Antonio to meet Walt. I don’t know when they finally met up, but we know that they remained in San Antonio until at least the end of 1946, as their first child was born there in November.

During their stay, I have evidence that they tried to enjoy postwar life. There are three photos in souvenir folders, at least one of them taken by Truesdell Night Club Photography. It is the only dated photo, dated April 13, 1946. The tables and chairs in that photo differ from the other two, which are marked as from Club Sevenoaks.

Here’s a closer look at the photos. This is the one from April:

These two are undated, but seem to be from two different outings, as evidenced by Ruth’s hairstyles:

Something to Look for in 1945

As I’m beginning to transcribe Walt’s letters from 1945, here’s something for readers to keep an eye out for.

Charles Garner talks about a few incidents that he and his friends experienced in his letter to Ruth after Walt’s death, and he’s writing 7-8 years after the fact, so he can be forgiven for any mis-remembering. In a recent post, I quoted him, but stopped short of what he says happened to Walt in January 1945. Here’s the entire passage from p. 4:

And then a day or two after Thanksgiving, 1944 J. J. got hit & lost a hand. Dec. 4, 1944, some few days later, I lost an ear. Around Jan 5, 1945 Frank went west—& Pitt spent a couple of days on a raft. Pitt was the only one physically able to return to flying. He did so & flew close to 200 missions.

Garner makes it sound like Franklin’s death and Walt’s time in a raft happened together, but maybe not. Ruth told me quite a few times that Walt was shot down in WWII and spent five days in a raft before being rescued. The five days seems to jive with Garner’s recollection of “a couple of days on a raft.”

There is a big gap in the letters in January between the 9th and the 24th. In fact, Walt mentions in the letter of the 9th that Franklin has been killed in a runway accident the day before. Then the letters resume on the 24th but with no mention of his having been shot down in the interval. So, Garner’s date of the 5th was a little off, but close.

Then there is this telegram sent to Walt’s parent’s address instead of to Ruth’s address:

It says Walt has been missing in action since January 10th, but the time stamp is dated February 7th. We know Walt resumed writing in late January, so he is not still missing at the time of the telegram, but the initial date may be correct. Would family notification really have been so slow?

So, keep alert for  any small references to such an incident—if indeed he is allowed to mention it in a letter.

Oh, and I guess that would have been the end of the Ruth-Less plane.

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More Wedding Day Photos

Walt’s cousin Elizabeth found some photos among her mother’s possessions after her death in 1999 and sent them on to Ruth. Her mother was the Aunt Ruth Walt lived with when he was in Ohio. The photos show Walt and Ruth in other wedding day poses in San Antonio.