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When Next We Meet
By Leslie Shumate
 
"When Next We Meet." book cover
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Excerpts
Historical       Day-to-day       Romance       of Friendship

From Gene:      April 12, 1945
      It’s very hard to write and make any sense right now.  I’m, still at the office.  The place is in a turmoil, of course, since the news of the president’s death, with all the news facilities striving to give complete coverage on all bands.  And since our complete coverage is for troops and foreign consumption, they’re striving hard to give as full a picture as possible, because, of course, everyone wants to hear all the details.
      I think the news came as the greatest sensation since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  The effect it has had on most people I’ve seen is profound.  And the universal doubt as to Truman’s ability to carry on is depressing.

      All of radio is working hard tonight to do justice to the tragedy.  But radio was caught by surprise and the efforts seem weak, bordering on the maudlin.
 
From May-Floyd:      April 12, 1945
      A momentous evening, and I’ll wager that the combined networks could not have survived the tension, if it were not for the Midwest dean, Glen B. Law.  Roosevelt’s death is more shocking and perhaps ominous than it is saddening.

      I hope, sincerely, that Truman will prove an unexpectedly good president.  Thank the Lord that Wallace is not in there, at least.  The consensus within the walls of 613 is that Roosevelt’s death may be the way of Providence in planning a better future.  Rather a sacrilegious way to put it maybe.  I’m banking on Truman’s Missouri background to bring out the best in him, if he’s retained it.
...
 

 
 
  Gene at the microphone
Gene, on duty

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Sara, May-Floyd, and Leslie - in 1943
Sara, May-Floyd, Leslie '43
From Gene:      May 7, 1945
      V-E day tomorrow, I guess.  Should have been today, apparently, but somebody, somewhere, fouled up.  I can’t censure Associated Press.  They had a story, somebody in Army HQ in Paris cleared it — even though they deny it — and the official announcement was delayed.  That wasn’t A.P.’s fault but it makes the whole thing very anti-climatic.  It will however be a great relief.  And for the people of Europe; they can breathe freely for the first time in 6 years.
      Perhaps some of the countries will help in the Pacific, but at least their cities are safe now and their children can come back home.
 
From May-Floyd:      May 7, 1945
      A most confusing day, wasn’t it!
      Daddy called us about 9:30 to tell us to listen to WGN—this was V-E day!  So we did and believed all, until I began to put a few facts together and switched to NBC just at the time Eisenhower’s announcement of “no authorization” came through.  But WGN died hard.  For an hour or so later they continued with their V-E shows.  I switched to your short wave stations, too, and heard they were announcing it before the correction was made.  So AP couldn’t even be dramatic!  I wonder whose fault it really was.
      Whoever jumped the gun will no doubt be thoroughly whipped.
...
 
of Daily Life during the war...
 
From May-Floyd:      April 7, 1944
      Honey, if there be such a thing in your office and it wouldn’t retard the war effort, could you snitch a couple (or more) rubber bands and stick them in an envelope for Sara and Leslie’s hair?  We’re down to two broken and knotted rubber bands that threaten to give out completely, soon.  Something’s gotta be done about it or I’ll have to shave their heads.
     
      There being nothing of interest to write, would you like a few notes on civilian life as it is now?  (1) There isn’t a piece of Kleenex in sight (apropos our colds!);  (2) Peas and beans (green) are off the ration list at the moment;  (3) No paper shopping bags in the stores.  The A&P stuffs so much in each sack that you have to hold one hand, one eye, and your chin on the top to keep things under control;  (4) No jelly beans for Easter.  Stuffed rabbits are $3.00 and up…mostly up;  I thought there’d be more items but that’s all I can recall.  Dull, isn’t it?!
 
From May-Floyd:      May 17, 1944
      Sara invited Dickie in to watch her eat lunch today and Mother and I sat in our usual state of silent convulsion, listening to their chatter.  I’ve told you how Dickie talks this wild baby talk.  At the same time he fidgets with his overall straps ‘til they’re in an awful mess.  The pay-off this noon came when Sara looked at him calmly, a little bored and said, “Your traps are twitted.”  Then turned back to her next bite.  “R’oh”, said Dickie, for oh, and went on talking, not the least bit insulted.  I nearly went under the table.
 
From May-Floyd:      May 9, 1945
The day:
        8:00 AM Chicken Pox
        9:00 AM Grocery Shopping
      11:00 AM Lunch
        1:30 PM Downtown for Mother’s Day presents
        5:00 PM Supper
      And along the line the motorcycle cop placarded the house front and back, the painters arrived to work in dining and living room, the upstairs toilet backed up, the plumber came, the school nurse called, etc.
     
      Far more eventful than V-E Day!
...
 

 
  May-Floyd
May-Floyd

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Gene in uniform
Gene in uniform

From May-Floyd:      April 22, 1944
      I want to remember on paper: The nights we dug pennies out of unused pockets to buy two cokes, and were happy as if we’d wined and dined; the night we walked to Ainsworth’s — that once — and you beefed about it and I laughed because I knew you were not so unhappy as you let on; the night we laughed ourselves silly with the Linehans, playing Doris’ new word game; the nights we’ve giggled over nothing at all, with the covers over our heads to keep from waking Sara; the night I sent you out in your pajamas to see what part of the house was burning from the lightning.

      There are so many things to remember because they have happened and may not again, and others to remember because they will come again.  There could be no two people who love each other more, could there?
      My most immediate wish is for the war to be over and for us to be at home.  Secondly, I wish for a maid and a ticket to San Diego.
signed: 'I love you faithfully always, May-Floyd'
 
From Gene:      August 10, 1944
      It’s 9:30, you’ve been gone 10 hours and each passing hour seems to become increasingly, instead of decreasingly, hard to bear without you.  I’ve been lost and lonesome and close to tears many times since noon.  A movie early this evening helped some and I guess sleep will help more.  At any odds, by the time you receive this I will be drifting back into my rut of insensibility that seems to be the only answer to the turmoil that is always with us.

      I hope I was able to tell you how happy you made me and how pretty and refreshing you are.  You grow better with the years, darling.  As nice as you were 6 years ago, you are now even more beautiful, more understanding and more refreshing than then.  I suppose that’s why I love you more with each passing year.
signed: 'All my love, always. Yours, Gene'

...
 

 
 
  Robert Ryan and Jessica
Robert Ryan and Jessica
June 22, 1945

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Eddy Lyon, Gene, Glenn Ford
Eddy Lyon, Gene, Glenn Ford
June 22, 1945
One of Gene's Corps favorites was the movie actor Robert Ryan who, with several films to his credit, joined the Marines in 1943.
 
There are several references to Bob and Jessica Ryan in the book "When Next We Meet" including a letter featured in its entirety, which Ryan wrote Gene in June of 1945.
 
The two Marines amused themselves with a running gag over every event being referred to by both military and media as "shortening the war considerably"…but neither ever offering an actual time frame.
 
Speaking of his daily routine Ryan wrote,

      "…and I tumble into the hay around nine after eating and grunting at Jess at times.  Also, I had an officer's class for two weeks and it was grim indeed.  Some of my fledgling leaders of men couldn't lead a troop of boy scouts through a church social."

He went on to say, "We have a couple of guys who carry more stars than the American flag and seem to have no regard whatsoever for 2nd, 1st or any other kind of lieutenants.  Must say however that my tent camp 2nd looeys were swell guys whom I would have been very happy to have gone into the mill with.  That bunch, incidentally is with the 5th somewhere (what's left of it)."

In closing Ryan said, "Nothing much happens in Grand Hotel and my poor sun-baked brain doesn't seem to evolve much sense after 17 Marine Corps months.  However, if the Nips surrender, it should shorten the war considerably.  Eh?"
      signed: 'my best, Bob'
 
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