The only post-war letters we have were written when Billy and June were apart, obviously. After the war, this only occurred when he was in Newfoundland in 1953-54. Unfortunately, we feel that some letters are missing. There are none from 1953 except the "Mint Julep" write-up, and the birthday card linked below, but in at least parts of 1954, letters were written almost daily. For this reason, I believe it's possible that some of the 1954 letters are also missing.
Here are summaries and some quotations from these letters, plus links to the scans. Note that I have retained some mis-spellings and incorrect grammar if I felt it conveyed the spirit of the written letters, but I have corrected some typos.
Birthday card with a short note. Scan includes the envelope, which shows a postmark of July 28, 1953. June's birthday was August 4.
Tidbits from a letter dated February 5, 1954, with a couple of interesting items (this image is from the top of the stationery upon which this and other letters were written):
"As Wind Chill exercise approaches, I'm having more and more to do and my days are spent in a jumbled mess of meetings and paperwork."
"The long talk I had with the boss about going to the Transport Group failed to move him and I'll be here in the office now until my tour ends."
Highlights from a letter dated February 26:
"I've often wondered which of our eight years means the most to you Sweetie. I would find it hard to pick the one I would like to live over again."
"Still making plans to leave for Sondrestrom on our about 14 March. I'll be there for about 2 weeks."
A long letter dated February 27, contains a lot of interesting thoughts and ruminations. Here are a few:
"I have written several more checks but have failed to bring my check book with me today to give you a rundown. I'm going to have to cut down on my day to day spending."
"Maj. McCutcheon...is in the States and he's left me his MG. I've had it all week and I'm getting lazy again; don't want to walk anywhere."
"My nasal drip is giving me a fit this morning. When I leave here I would like to go to the desert and live a few years."
From a letter dated March 6:
"Yest[erday] I past my instrument check o.k. and now I'm set again to work at my regular job which is mainly turning out paper."
"This next item I was going to keep from you for awhile, but since every one else on the base knows about it I don't see why you shouldn't. I have been placed on the recommended list for Major and will be able to wear the rank and collect the pay about the middle of May. So I will come home a Major."
"...now we are enjoying a letdown and a few beers in one of the swankiest clubs in the Air Force. The weather is beautiful and the sun brilliant. The temperature in the sun is 25° below 0."
A letter dated April 5, refers to an unplanned night away from "home" due to bad weather, as well as some thoughts on their upcoming anniversary:
"I was too late to get to the PX in Harmon and I was sorry too in that I wanted to pick up another little Hummel doll. I have one that I haven't sent yet and its for Joanie."
"I have known the complete happiness that comes when you look into the eyes of little ones and see something of the girl you love and something of yourself too...Should I die tomorrow life would owe me nothing—truly I have been a lucky man."
The picture at the left shows our family's collection of small Hummel figurines. The only one that I know for sure was purchased in Newfoundland is the "little school girl" on the left. June always told me that Billy sent that home for me since I was to start kindergarten in the fall of 1954. The figurine he refers to in the letter quoted above as being "for Joanie" might have been the one on the right, the little girl with the chickens.
A letter dated May 20 refers to the Hummels again, and mentions how much he enjoys riding in a friend's convertible:
"I know how you feel about them, Baby but I sure would like to own one. I'll bet Kathleen would go along with the idea too."
A short note dated May 25 refers to Billy's recent promotion and the fact that he will be making $100 more per month as a result.
"The major like the captain loves you more than life itself. ... I wish you were with me. Promotions are rather empty things without the one you love sharing the thrill with you."
June 27 letter is important for more than simply another discussion of cars and how much Billy wants a convertible. It's the first documentation of his indecision about staying in the service. Note: the "offer" from Liverman is not mentioned in any other correspondence. Is it another academic offer such as the one discussed in some subsequent letters?
“I signed another indefinite statement last week. It was so hard to know what to do being way up here. I just couldn’t take a chance on not having something definite to do when I got out in November and I would have definitely been released immediately upon return to the ZI [Zone of the Interior, i.e., the U.S.; the immediate release presumably would have happened if he had not signed this letter] With no definite statement from Col Wilkins and me undecided about Liverman’s offer, I thought I had better sign. This means that I can’t get out now for at least another year. Being at home when I can plan and make arrangements for the separation may mean that I will get out in a years time. Of course there is the other side to the decision; the world situation seems to be getting worse instead of better and the Air Force is still in dire need of pilots and operational type people. I’m sure that my services are still desired if not required.
Anyway little Sweetheart you can plan on being a Air Force wife and sometimes widow for at least another year, but I promise you this one thing—if I get out in a year or stay in for another thirty, at no time will I go without you and the kids if there is any possible way to take you with me."
A short letter dated July 5 has more about cars (a Cadillac is being raffled away on the base) but also some remarks about Billy's travels around eastern Canada:
"I flew all over the island on Saturday....I'm supposed to go to Halifax with Col. Ramsey tomorrow. It will be the first time that I've had a chance to visit the Maritimes and I am looking forward to it."
An undated note was probably written on July 2, since in it he refers to his trip to Thule a year ago. The note also contains the following interesting news regarding a possible academic career:
“I received a belated letter from Wheeler the other day. He has an assistantship open in September which will pay $2400. It is a little late now but I'll tell him maybe in midterm or next fall. I'm still not anxious to return to LSU especially under Wheeler and Chilton."
A note dated July 14 repeats the gist of the July 2 information about the letter from LSU, with a little additional detail, plus an indication of where he hopes his next duty station will be:
"Tomorrow I'm forecast for return to USA. I certainly hope that it will be the Southwest and Training Command and actually with my background I can't see them giving me anything else."
"I received a very nice letter from Wheeler, however, it was a little late.He has an opening (Luke's) which will pay $2400 for eleven months. After I get back if it is still there I’m sure I can obtain release from [the] Air Force. It can be done and has been done."
Yet one more undated note refers to the military-academic conflict:
"I hope by now that you have received my last letter giving my decision. It gives me a little more time to think and talk about what I'm to do when I get out."
July 13 Billy wrote Professor Wheeler explaining why he could not accept the appointment at LSU:
"I was so happy to receive your letter and I can't tell you how pleased and excited I am about the assistantship. My only wish is that I could write a definte "yes" in answer. The press of duties and the fact that my release from the Air Force is still not as definite as it could be has interfered a great deal in my making definite plans....I plan to visit LSU immediately upon my return to the ZI and if there is still an opening at LSU, I hope that I may be considered."
"I sincerely hope that circumstances permit me to return to academic life at an early date."
A letter dated July 19 describes a mounting frustration with his situation in Newfoundland, as well as an indication of a stateside trip that's not mentioned anywhere else:
"This has been a typical Monday. I've had to fight the livelong day to keep my mind on what I was doing. The place was in an uproar when I walked in this morning and it staid that way all day."
"...did you ever receive my last batch of slides covering the air drop of the 82nd division at Ft. Bragg?"
The last letter we have from Newfoundland is dated July 27. In it Billy complains about the food there and recounts daydreams of cooking, inspired by looking at recipes in homemaking magazines! (I remember that when he had the time, he was as likely to be cooking at our house as June was.) He also complains about his sleeping conditions, and remarks that the closer he gets to coming home, the harder it is to concentrate on his work:
"I'm in for a restless night in this blasted hot building. I just can't seem to keep the room they give us cool."