Talk of Marriage, a World War II Letter from Elwood Bolinger to his Parents

John’s Parents Bonnie and Elwood, during World War II,
not yet married!

In this letter, Dad talks of his plans to marry Bonnie, whose consent he already has.  It turned out that the two would have to wait more than a year because of finances and the war, but the mere thought of marriage to the girl he loved so much filled him with joy.  JB

Feb. 17, 1943
                                                                                                                                              Battle Creek, Mich.

Dear Mom and Dad,

     How are you?  How is everyone else there in the little towns of Highland, Griffith, Gary, & Hessville? I am just fine.  My cold is gone and I am all settled in my new company.  I’m getting used to these guys now and they seem like a pretty good bunch of men.  We are doing the same thing in the company as we were in the 1801st.  I am even working with the same guys over at the garage that I worked with before.  We went to work this morning, but this afternoon we stayed here for driving instructions and practice.  We kept taking turns driving a truck around over the field.  Some fun!  I received three letters from Bonnie today so I am very happy with army life.  The only thing is that I haven’t received any from you or Eddie, or Jesse, or Vi.  Tell them I want them to write and if they don’t, I’m going to flip my lid.  Boy, I just got a laugh.  De Grazio was restricted to camp for a week, and he was just now playing ping pong with the 1st sergeant.  He thought he was getting good so he says, “Sergeant, I’ll play you a game of ping pong for my restriction.  If I win, you forget about keeping me here and if I lose, you restrict me another week, only you have to spot me ten points,”  so the sergeant says, “ I’ll give you a better chance, I’ll spot you eighteen points.”  They played the game and De Grazio won, so he left with a big grin on his face.  After he left, the sergeant told us he was going to lift De Grazio’s restriction tomorrow anyway.  There isn’t a better 1st sergeant in the army than him.  He was my 1st sgt in the 1801st but he isn’t now that I was transferred.  Did I tell you I have a steel bed now?  Well I have.  No more army “cots” for me (for a while anyway).  I’m resting better now than I was before too.

     Mom & Dad, I have some good news for you.  Bonnie & I are going to try to be married this summer.  Isn’t that swell?  I’m about the happiest guy in the world right now.  I called her last night and it sure seemed good to hear her voice again.  I haven’t been gone very long but it sees like a long time to me.  Oh yes, I took that ticket to the train depot here in Battle Creek, and Ill bet you’ll never guess how much of a refund I got on it.  I got exactly 13cants, and it cost me 20 cents to ride the bus in town and back to get it.  I was so mad, I couldn’t see straight.  Well, did the battery charge up in the Chev, or was it ruined?  By the way, next payday, I’m going to send you $10 for my 1943 license plate.  I’m sorry I couldn’t get it while I was there, but it is a good thing I didn’t.  Well, I’ll close for now, but I’ll write again soon.  By for now.

                                                              Your loving son,

(I hope you are as happy over Bonnie’s & my hopes as we are.  Bonnie & I have been praying for three years now that we could be married.  I only hope our prayers will be answered.  So long. 

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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