The Cook Forest mentioned in the letter is a state park in Pennsylvania, not far from Walt’s home town. The Clarion River borders the park and the park still has some of the few remaining stands of old growth forest:
- From the area of Cook Forest State Park came the famous Pennsylvania cork pine, so named because of the white pine’s thick, cork-like bark. There are four old growth forest areas in the park: Swamp, Seneca, Cathedral, and Cook Trails areas.
- The Swamp area consists mainly of ancient red and white oaks, red maples, and black cherry. Some trees are over 280 years old. There is an impressive stand of eastern white pine, eastern hemlock and American beech trees. The Swamp Area lies in the extreme northeastern section of the park. Baker Trail runs through this area
- The Seneca area lies on the hillside northwest of the Clarion River and southeast of Fire Tower Road. Trails leading through this area include Deer Park, Mohawk and Seneca.
- Along with white pine and hemlock, some large pitch pine of nearly 300 years old is also present. Tornado damage from 1976 can also be seen here.
- The Cook Trails growth areas consist mainly of eastern white pine, eastern hemlock, and American beech. Many white pine and hemlocks in this areas approach 350 years old. Scientists believe this old growth areas began growing following a large forest fire in 1644. Some trees survived the fire and are almost 450 years old. Many American chestnut snags are still standing, 80 years after the chestnut blight swept through the area.
The other interesting part of the letter is the reminder that this is a horse cavalry unit, not well represented in old WWII movies that I’ve seen. Even though Walt doesn’t stay in this branch of the Army, it’s interesting to hear about the horse warriors.
A transcript follows the letter images.
Feb. 11, 1942
I rated high today—I got two letters from you today—made up for yesterday.
So you got some shellac. Unh?—Get it on your fingers—Ha.
Those pictures we took at Cook’s Forest are at Aunt Ruths—The last I saw of them, they were behind the clock on the mantle—”undeveloped”—If you want them—get them.
You sure take in shows when you get started Unh?—That’s the way.
I’ll have plenty of time to think of you to-night
as I go on guard at 2:00 in the morning—I’ll be all alone—Darker then pitch.—I’m not sure, but I think it will be “Stable Guard”—we have just so many stables to walk through—I’m not sure how many—to many in any case—Ha.
Gee—Honey—I’m sure sorry I can’t be there so we could go out someplace.
I don’t know just what to say about a furlough, I’m kind of dicouraged on the point—They told us there would be no more furloughs issued—but I’m not sure—We would have to be here some months before they would issue us one any-
way. I didn’t want to say anything for I know how you’ll feel—I feel the same way.—I’ve knowed this for some time—I just didn’t say anything—But I thought it over and thought I’d better tell you so you won’t expect to much—I don’t know whether its authentic or not but don’t rely on this [arrow pointing to side of page]
They say around here that we ought to expect action with in 4 or 5 mos.—but I think it’s just propaganda in order to season our minds to it—It is a hard thing to take—But personally I don’t rely
It won’t make any difference to me (in a way) as long as I know I’ve got you waiting on me.
I’ll say Goodnight and sweet dreams now as I think the lights are about to go out.
Goodnight Sweet heart
With all my love
[illegible cross out] I’ll write a longer letter if I ever get a chance—I hope I soon get the chance.
Loads of Love
“Your future husband”
I’ll write till the lights go out, so if this ends funny, why—don’t be surprised.
I think your design for the album is O.K. Couldn’t be better. I think your (our) album is a nice or good idea.
So Ruby is going steady unh?—Well that’s alright.—Good luck to her.—Better luck then we had—When I do find the one and only—A war has to break out.
Do I still love you?—I’ll hope to tell you more then ever—and I don’t see how that is possible. And Honey—You never write any thing dumb—its just a beautiful as it can be—like the sender.
Say did you ever find a cheap locket in the 5 and 10—I would sure like to carry your picture with me—With it no harm could fall—I’m sure.
Well they just “hollered” lights out.
Sounds like old times—Saying good night so often, Unh?