How Do I Love Thee?

My love for you continues right along from one letter to the next and oozes out between the envelopes and makes an awful mess of the airplanes, just like I do of you when I get hold of you.

It just isn't fair to give me a lot of things I don't care a bit about like money and good looks and brains but then take away the only one thing I can't be happy without and you know who I mean... Maybe to send you in the other room to take a nap and not even see you, but know that pretty soon you'll be getting up with a bad taste in your mouth and want something to eat. Ironing or sewing or any of my jobs mean so very much more when you are sleeping in the other room! Perhaps I should just pretend you are in taking a nap, because I know you'd like to be (that isn't meant for a crack). Some day you will walk in and ask for something to eat, and the time can't come soon enough.

I didn't get a letter from you today, but I don't worry about it. It's not like just falling in love with you and worrying about whether you like me or not and when you don't smile, maybe you're thinking about someone else. I just feel happy about it (just a bit like snuggling) and know that you are writing me and loving me and working hard, and darn the post office for not getting your letter to me today. Loving you isn't a rut, b'gosh, it is comfort and security and a wonderful warm feeling that's there no matter how many miles the Navy puts between us.

I had a nice dream about you last night. I rescued you from a bunch of Japs. I kept whistling Siegfried's horn call to you to signal to you, and we had fun after I had you rescued.

I haven't had time to look up your letter about Wordsworth's poem. That is quite an assignment, but I'll do it perhaps tomorrow and let you know. It seems to me I did receive it, but occasionally a letter gets away from me, so I better check. Now look here, young man, are you writing these letters for my immediate amusement or are you writing them for posterity?

You know I am sure the reason our marriage didn't get in a rut is not a gift from heaven, but the fact that we both work on it. I don't think it ever will, either. We do enjoy every minute of it, and perhaps it is a good thing that some day we will get old and shift our interest from physical things to purely spiritual. Otherwise, we might eat each other up.

There is a new song, "My dreams are getting better all the time," which I got a kick out of. Mine are, too. Yes, Honey, I love you. God keep you safe, sweetheart. You're very precious to us, very essential, so take good care of yourself and know that we are taking good care of us for you, too. Think of us a lot and often, as we do of you, but don't worry about us because we are alright and intend to stay that way. Ursula said she had a nice little dream about you last night. She was very tickled about it. I know how she feels, because I have them, too. Goodbye for this time, dearest.

I have been having wonderful dreams about you every night. I hope they last, and it makes going to bed a great pleasure. I wake up and just lie there with that delicious feeling of having been near and very close to you and I get every drop of pleasure and contentment from it. We do all sorts of things from going dancing and things like Tacoma to digging around our garden here.

Good night now, dearest, I hope I dream of you instead of moving furniture all night long.


Here are some of the ways Peg started the letters:

Dear Sweetheart
Dear Honey
Dear Stubby
Dear Angel
Dearest Roland
Dearest Honey
Dear Roland
Dearly Beloved
Dearest Husband
My dearest husband
Dear Baby
Dearest sweet husband
Dearest Rolandhusband
Dearest Bug
Dearest beloved Honeybug
Dear Guzzola
Dear Duckbumps

You mentioned a man out there that is loving me and living for me. I know one, too. I wonder if he could possibly be the same one. You know there is a woman back here, too. When those two look at each other again, believe me some doors will open and neon lights will flash on. It will be a happy meeting, and one that I think of constantly and wait for. I hope it won't be long.

I haven't heard from you for a while, but hope every day. [The Block Island was on its way from Pearl Harbor to Ulithi Atoll.] I hope you are alright and I love you immensely and know you are writing. I'm missing you very much these days, but it seems as if I always am.

People think keeping house alone is hard, or driving across the country. But at least those can be worked at hard and gotten over with quicker. This can't, and it's the constant waiting and hoping that is so terrible. Whatever else I am, you can write it in your heart: I'm a confirmed sissy about you, and I always will be.

Today is a very special day because you wrote me a poem. One just for me, so intimate that it can't be shown to anyone. That is a pity because it is such a wonderful poem, but you are wonderful too covered with warm clean skin and I wouldn't let anyone see you either, but would just hold you very close because you are mine and precious to me. That is the way with your poem. I can't express what it means to me for you to have written it and for me to have it to read and read as often as I want to. You may be sure it will be read often. And only when I am alone and want the time to ourselves with nothing to interrupt the beautiful feeling your poem inspires.
You probably felt as I am feeling that it is a bit of sacrilege to bang it noisily on the typewriter and put it onto cold paper. But it is our only connection to each other, so we must take that as it is. I know and you know that we would a thousand times rather breathe the whole meaning that all these words are trying to say in one kiss.
I read your poem this morning. All day I have had that haunting feeling that today was special and would wonder why and then remember the poem you wrote to me. There was keen anticipation too because I knew I'd read it again many times and linger over it after the children were quiet. I just finished a letter to you, but wanted to put this in a separate envelope and not with the pruning of the rose bushes and nailing on of the roof and all the other daily chores. Those all are a part of loving you too, but your poem, as so many of our nights together, is a distilling of that love we have into something so intense and pure that it often hurts me to think of it. As you well know, many times it has been so intense that I couldn't stand it and I'm afraid I cried, but I think you knew why.. The sheer beauty and wonder of the combination of the two of us and our love is too much for me to grasp sometimes --- or rather, always when I try to think about it too closely or to analyze it. It is something very wonderful that becomes more wonderful all the time. It must be from such a relationship that mortals grasp an insight into heaven.
Your poem says what I have often felt. That the next day was very special for what preceded it. That daily routines were the same but I was walking on air just because of you. I'm thrilled to see you feel the same thing and express it so beautifully. Your poem is one of those nights, one of those mutual experiences and I'll walk on air for many days because of it and because of you.
Because of you,

I had the most wonderful dream about you last night. I woke up a couple of times and then I'd just go back to sleep and keep right on dreaming about you again. It was all very nice because the Navy must have undergone a change of policy. I and a number of other wives were living on the Block Island with our husbands. I can remember Doug Cairns' wife particularly. One of the gals kept getting seasick, but the rest of us had a wonderful time. We were in a large room and Roy Swift was there too, down at the end. This was a sleeping room with bunks. We had separate bunks and I remember being a bit embarrassed when you came over with me to snuggle a bit because I knew you wouldn't have very good control and I figured Roy had one eye open.

We love you very much. I had very nice dreams about you last night again, so I feel good today. Also the sun is shining. It always spits in my eye about five thirty when it will be a nice day. Goodbye for now, angel husband, and always think of us loving you just as much as we can.

And then the thing that has made me feel good all day and sort of happy. Last night you came and sat on my bed again. This isn't like a dream; in fact, I told you I was dreaming, but you said I wasn't and then I knew too that I wasn't...That has happened twice before, and it is a very funny and very real experience... I wonder if the captain missed you. Come and see me again, but don't stay away from your ship long enough so they know you slipped off home.

...Just so your sentence, "I will come back to you sound in body and mind." Forgive me for having so little faith that you will. Whatever else I have in me that is good, I can't think that this love for you that makes me so fearful of losing you is a fault, but still I find it hard not to be afraid for you. But with your sentence in mind, it will be much easier.

I have a bad taste in my mouth these days and nothing seems to please or satisfy me. I think it is quite temporary and nothing that will not be cured by one sight of you. You probably know what I mean --- my stock is just mighty low right now, and I guess yours does the same now and then.

Those letters certainly make the world go around for me, and when I stop to think of the sum total of all the mail that makes so many people's worlds revolve, it adds up to quite a lot. And Tom Hall says sentiment is hocuspocus and worth nothing. I told him to just wait till Warren gets ahold of him!

I took a tray of ice cubes over to my neighbors after supper and was surprised at how much cooler it was. They have no ice box or anything over there, and they get an enormous kick out of a tray of ice... They both have a good sense of humor and we kidded a lot. I think you will like them and I know they'd think you some sort of Olympian god. Just as I do.

Here begin ten successive sign-off sentences, a sample of the sign-offs to dozens of other letters:

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were together next year for our anniversary! I love you very much, my husband, and I hope the time we have been married is only a very small fraction of what we have ahead of us. Love, Peg

I am very happy being your wife! You said, "I will come back to you safe in body and mind" and I'd like to tell you too --- when you come back you'll find me safe in body and mind, too. So, dearest, Peg

I love you so very much that just thinking about you is fun, though. I'm just living for the day when we'll be together and meantime trying to get as much done as possible. Love, Peg

Next morning about to go down for mail --- I still love you today, even this early in the morning. Another swell day, too. Peg

I'm trying to catch up on a lot of sleep I lost here not so long ago when I was doing too much prowling around at Commencement time. Love, Peg

I love you very much, Rolandhoney and loving you is a wonderful thing. Peg

Oh Honey, how very much I want you and need you. Honey, I think maybe I better get dressed and go down and send you this letter. I love you. Peg

I love you; I wish I had the chance to tell you and show you how much. But it's a lot, and a lot for me to contain all by myself with no help. Peg

You are the most wonderfully perfect Honey I could hope for. I love you, kid. Yup, guess that's it. Peg

God keep you, angel Honey, and take care of you and bring you home to me soon. I love you very much. Peg

Today is a beautiful gorgeous day... Today we would maybe take the rifle and go off on some hill and shoot and take a picnic. Or maybe we'd find some woodchucks to plink. Or maybe play tennis. Or perhaps paint the house or work in the garden. But we'd feel wonderful and know it is the best possible world. Maybe we'd just look at each other for a few minutes and then without saying anything we'd just go off upstairs for a little while. But whatever we'd do, it would be wonderful because we did it together.

It seems like weeks since I heard from you, but I guess it is not quite. Though you did halfway indicate that you might not get a chance to mail a letter again for a while. [Roland's carrier, the second USS Block Island, and task group went down to Borneo, covering the Allied recapture of that island.]

The newly built USS Block Island

All the love in the world is yours, Honey; I am just sorry I have to keep it all cooped up in myself instead of giving it to you in person. A lot will be stored up for you and whatever affectionate notions you may have on returning home will find a very warm welcome, you may be sure. Meantime, have wonderful dreams of me.

This one was the letter telling about Okinawa. I knew you were there because Jade wrote me of it. I would rather not have know at the time I think because it bothered me a lot. The radio would say that seventy-five ships had been suicide dived at and I'd get an awful feeling and a tight stomach that finally about got me down. But Dr. Taylor fixed me up with some sedative that works fine. Perhaps you noticed for a while that I didn't do much on the house or anything else. It was partly the weather too, and partly my prowler. But mostly worry for you.

Sweet, I'm glad if I drive you insane once in a while. You are such a well balanced person, even in your insanity which is so wonderful and completely demoralizing to me. Being so very mad about each other and letting go completely when we are together I think makes us much better balanced in other things. I have so often pictured various ways in which I will set you on your ear when you are home again. I hope I don't have long to wait because I have thought of so many ways to harass you that you may not be able to stand my concentrated fury when you do get back here. In three words, I love you.

I'm sure I had more things to tell you, but I can't think of them, so I'll just finish this one off and apologize for its being so dull and uninspired. I love you to distraction and I suspect I'm jittery because of the news [of the atom bomb on Hiroshima]. I wish it would get over with and I'm anxious more about when you think you'll get back. I'm looking forward to your letters of next week. I love you very much Roland. Peg

I feel that in a couple of weeks we will know a little more about when you will be home, and meantime I think it fitting and proper that they bring home the war prisoners first. [Roland had written that his carrier had picked up several hundred emaciated Australian and some American war prisoners from Formosa and had to establish a hospital for most of them on the hangar deck.] I really wouldn't want you back if some of those fellows were still in their rotten camps. The Navy, as usual, does things right, I guess. But still I'd sure like to have you back.

You are such an angel in so many ways. I don't know of any way that you are not except for changing your socks and taking baths. But maybe I can take you in hand when you come home.
Did you know I love you?

Also there is one part of your letter --- what should you do if you should get leave. Now Honey! I can think of all sorts of answers to that question --- ranging all the way from facetious and silly to just plain mad as hell. I say get your leave and then see what you want most to do with it. Good gosh, man. If it cost us a thousand dollars of someone else's money I'd say come home, come home, a million times over. Even if it's only for a day, Honey come home! Just to be sure of you, I'll enclose a blank check and if you want to cash one for any amount to catch a plane home, or get a round trip ticket, write out a check, phone me and let me know, and I'll borrow the money to cover it in the bank here, and they'd lend us up to two hundred dollars --- perhaps more --- anytime, just for the asking. Particularly if it were to get you home.

I am getting damn sick and tired of going places all by myself!
I am getting damn sick and tired of not having my Honey around here!
I am getting damn sick and tired of the whole damn war!
And I don't care who knows it!
I'm about to become a psychoneurotic, but I don't suppose the Navy gives even a little damn. You can tell them I am a case of pathetic dependency and extreme hardship. Besides, I'm cold at night...
Regular Navy? Fiddlesticks!

Inasmuch as you seem to be plagued by "sists," don't you really think it is about time you discovered that the spelling is "cyst," which is what you had removed, in distinction to "cist," which Noah [Webster] says is "a sepulchral chest or chamber." I suppose a sepulchral chamber would be a privy down in the basement. Anyway, sometimes your spelling appals me. But I love you none the less and hope that Doc was most very careful with that knife. After all,...... I don't know what I started to say above, but I couldn't think of any way to end it that would not embarrass the censor. I'll take care of you when you get home.

What that bathtub needs considerably more than any four inch stool is about three more feet in length. No kidding, you can't imagine it till you see it, and don't dream too much. It would be like landing a B29 on an LST. But we have a lot of space in our broad acres for baths, planting seeds, or what have you.
Strictly double talk for the censor.

Now about this business of acting nasty just for dramatic effect when you feel like starting something. I really can't go into it in a letter, but believe me, you try it at home with me or anyone else, and I'll flatten your ears for you... I don't know Peterson, so I can't say much. I know lots of people I'd love to bite, and occasionally I do it in a mild way. But Doc Ballbach seems a harmless sort, though not too bright. But Honey, I think he thinks a lot of you. He couldn't possibly help but like you if he is so close to you and sees how wonderful you are. Without loving you, I still think he must have been hurt and disappointed. I don't know that the funny look on his face was worth it, but maybe it was... Oh, gosh, now I didn't mean to go into it all like that. I hope you don't mind too much, because I love you and love to have you as perfect as you are.

I'll sure be glad when it is over. If it's a whole year more, then I'll just shrivel up and die. If you should come home next September and not find me around but find an old dried up lime or maybe a lemon, squeeze it hard, because it's probably me.

But what a poem! I don't agree with you that it can be shown to anyone in spite of the figuration. I feel that there is not the least mistake about what it is saying or in its meaning all the way through. It is a very nice particular poem from you to me, but I won't show it to anyone because it is too personal. It is a beautiful thing --- like our love --- and could only, I believe, be inspired by such feeling. For that reason it is a very precious thing to me to have received and precious for you to have written. It is another of those many things that are just ours. We can go around with a Mona Lisa smile on our faces and know something that no-one else knows or can know because of it. Thank you, dearest, for the poem. I never doubt it for a minute, but when I get something like that then I know you're still you.

When you finally do get back, I fully intend to go completely limp. For more reasons than one. I am so tired of making all the decisions and having the responsibility for the good of the family that I'm going to toss it on to you so fast you won't know what hit you. I will expect to have you bring me breakfast in bed and tell me what to do and how to do it and do most of my work for me. I'm going to be a clinging dependent woman. And slightly selfish too because I won't let you out of my sight, nor will I let any other woman talk to you. I love you, Honey.

I had a letter yesterday from Mother. I guess I told you about [Brother] Bill's points. She sent a picture taken of some British men you fellows picked up and they were certainly pitiful. I feel sorry that you have to see such things, but that is typical woman, isn't it?? At the same time I know how glad you are to be doing something that is worth while and not just polishing shoes and drilling and inspecting. Mother is about to start job hunting again and says she doesn't want house work, which I can well understand. I imagine other jobs will be getting scarce for Mother now that the war is over and people will be filling up the sort of jobs she has been able to get.

I love you. I hope I'm still the girl you'd pick out of a crowd when you come home. Because you are the boy I'd pick out of the whole world hands down and just skimming the tops of other people's heads, as I always do when I'm looking for you in a crowd. I'm glad you are mine.

I certainly hope you are home before the second semester because you will look mighty funny teaching and hugging me at the same time. I wish I knew what sort of duty the ship has these days. You don't mention it at all, before it did not surprise me. Maybe you still can't say, or maybe you didn't know. But it would be so nice to know that you were bringing troops home.

The radio announced this morning that all Navy men with three children or over were to be released immediately. Well, we sure missed the boat that time.

I also had a letter from you about when you snitched the jeep and drove all over Okinawa, Naha, etc. It was a nice one, but didn't mention any scuttlebut about coming home. The time of your coming home is all that keeps my life going these days.

Orvis is back home. He has not been discharged yet, but it is nice to know another one is back, even though I don't know that I'd know him from Adam. I told you Nellie's husband got back to this country. She has not seen him for over two years. He telephoned and after she hung up the first thing she did was lose all her breakfast. She hasn't been able to keep anything on her stomach since. You can see how you men affect us.

Peggy White's husband phoned last night from Switzerland. She has a sick tummy today from it. I guess we are all like that. But it doesn't seem at all the proper reaction.

Baby, the poems you wrote me are separate from your letters here on the side of the desk. So I can read them when I want to, which is often. I just read the one about the sunset and moonrise. It recalled you so close to me. But somehow you were not just special for me alone, but I had a sort of series of pictures of you in company with other people, and realized over again how proud I am of you. One picture was you giving that speech at Hammondsport. Then asking questions at faculty meeting or of a speaker at ACF; and sitting at Harders and you holding the floor but heaven knows how since you can hardly be seen behind the two big feet you hold up in front of yourself. They do cut off the most beautiful view, you know. Funny but all the pictures were of you in civilian clothes. One was more than a picture. We were standing up and I was hugging you --- I guess you were hugging me too --- inside your coat and your vest was all scratchy against my chest. And doggone if you didn't have a pipe in the pocket to poke me too. This sort of remembering you hurts, but it hurts very nice. Because I love you I suppose. Golly, I'd like to say that to you instead of writing it. On the typewriter I write it fast or slow, or punch the few keys very hard, or just trip over them flittingly. And sometimes I poke it out laboriously with the little finger of my left hand. But the variety of execution still all looks approximately the same on the typed page.

But lover, the ways I will say it to you or whisper it to you or just plain act it to you when you come home! I swear to goodness I'll fling this confounded typewriter to the top of the highest spruce tree. But I guess we should love all its screws and springs because it has made my letters more legible.

I think this exercising thing is wonderful, but I am beginning to gather that you have lost considerable weight. You are much snugglier when you are fat and I'd rather have you that way. Don't wear yourself all out if you don't have to. You know, even at your weak puniest I am not going to try to fight you off. If you lure me with faint praise, flowers and candy, I'll be putty in your hands. I may put up a little struggle just for the fun of it, but if you showed signs of giving up, I'd rope and hogtie you in a hurry.

You write wonderful letters. I think you have made more progress in that in the last two and a half years than in anything else, except perhaps fierceness. You sure have learned to beetle those brows, but you don't scare me. I know where you are ticklish!

You say in your letter that you ate some canned pairs. I suppose that is some kind of stewed group? Your spelling slips more and more, but I love you just the same.

No mail from you today. I ought to get several any day now, but I am afraid the first thing I do is hit the high spots to see if you are coming home. And if you do, I'll wet my pants sure I'll be so excited.

For the record, the following letter commencement was written on August 6, the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima:

Dearest Bug:
I have hung around waiting for news at ten o'clock, but couldn't get anything but a French station and that was raving about the atom bomb, so I didn't get the news anyway. I suspect it was all about the big bomb, which shut out everything else tonight.

August 10, 1945
Dearest Roland:
Well, so far this is quite a day, and some think it will be more so than ever before the day is over. Personally, I am holding my breath and not believing a thing till it is definitely announced that Japan has surrendered and that we have accepted it. But I am definitely sure that it can't be long now since the surrender offer (with Hirohito) has been confirmed. But no one is going to start Peg on some false celebrating. That I will save till you are safe back home.

What a letter from you yesterday! Good news and plenty of it. I just hope nothing falls through now, and I'm holding my breath. But you were a smart boy to pick out a ship coming this way, weren't you. Not only do you get home quicker, have something to do on the way, and undoubtedly nice quarters, but also we save a couple hundred dollars train fare.

What a break!

I'll write your parents the good news, though I am sure you wrote them right away. But I always write them good news just in case you have not had time or their letter went astray or took longer. Such news is too good to keep. Seidlins were tickled silly. They acted half punch drunk when I told them. They sure think a lot of you and they are not pretending either.

The seventeenth of December is five weeks from today. I am counting days, of course.

They are considering another faculty show. I think you should demonstrate how you tie a bow for the kids' shoes. It would show that you are only human after all.

I am working on perfecting the plans for an atomic kiss. I will have to wait for the practical experiments, but it promises to be good.

Something comes up --- some date in the future --- and I think "I'll be going to that with my Roland."

That is all I think about. Ursula has changed her tune from Block Island to Salerno Bay when asked Honey's ship. She says three more weeks and he will be home. We are waiting now for the phone call in about ten days or so. Honey --- it isn't possible, is it? The supper last night didn't go down at all well, but just because of you. I don't know why your coming home should give me collywobbles, but maybe you have them too.

No mail again today. This is getting just too wonderful.

All you wrote about for fifteen pages (well, almost) [while aboard Salerno Bay coming home] was this other sociologist. I'm sure glad he is a man!

The following is the sign-off on Peg's last letter to him before his return:

Honey, I love you and get completely foolish when I think about you. I am glad you are getting closer. It is closer, but still a miss is as good as a mile and I'm not going to let you out of my sight either when you are back here. Love, Peg

Continue with Friends
Return to Letters from the Home Front