15 Jul Shoot-the-works Bauer, 9-7 & 11, 1944
As the creator of this evolving story, at this point, I’m compelled to speed up the pace a bit, as the number of letters is still enormous, and I’ve committed to transcribing at least two per day. I’m going to post another few now. I have to admit, that this has been a very emotional process for me. I never dreamed it would be. Of course, I know the outcome: my father came home from the war (like so many other men) and found out that his wife was in love with another guy! I grew up with the man that in many ways was defeated by this single event in his life! He never stopped talking about it! For my entire life, I resented hearing about the war, and his sad story about coming home and no one appreciating him.
But NOW, reading these letters every day – after an entire life of trying to get away from my Dad’s pain, I am profoundly aware of how deeply he loved his wife Mary, and how very much he wanted the life he had at stake with her to work. How could he ever know that the circumstances would be such that she had to go about creating a life that worked for her?
So, as I read these letters, I’m curious about the world events that were occurring – I want to know more about the war torn region that my father was living in. AND I also am captivated by the unfolding melodrama of his love for her and how he was interpreting the letters that were coming to him. I don’t have any of her letters to read, but can only imagine what she said vis a vis his response.
I honestly want to say that I don’t blame Mary in any way. I’m sure she had her hands full with a young child and trying to support herself with her husband away. God bless, I would not be alive if it weren’t for the break up of their relationship.
What strikes me to the core, and really touches my soul, is how deeply Rollie loved Mary.
7 Sept 1944 V-Mail
addressed to Mrs. Rollin Bauer, 305 Riverside Drive, New York City, N.Y.
Hello honey – Still haven’t heard about the house, but expect a ltr when the mail man comes today. Hope so. Most anxious to know what happened. Golly, how the kids swarm around us here. One very cute little gal invited me to supper! I settled for a crude Fr. tricolor (?) which she made herself. I told her I’d give it to my fille – showed her the pictures and she was delighted. I’ll send it in my next box home – which will be as soon as I can find one to pack the other junk I’ve collected. It’s turned cold as a son of a gun. We’ll have to dig out my long-johns if it keeps up. Also a lot of rain again.
10 Sept Sorry to have been delayed so long in here, but we been on parade again. People passed out jam sandwiches, waffles (delicious), pears, plums to us. But the kids are getting cagey. Hold out beer, but at a distance – first cigarettes, then you get the beer! Unfortunately, we can’t talk to them. I’m happily ensconced beneath an apple tree. Hope to wash & shave soon. Oh, nearly forgot! Found a man & wife who spoke Fr & they gave us a couple of drinks of curacao they’d been hiding from the Jerrys. Might fine. I got the box off to you (1st box, wooden shoes, etc – this, 2nd, has perfume & stuff). Miss you more every day, darling. Tremendous hugs & kisses to you & K.
All my love Pappy
(Side note: I asked Richard, who has spent some time in France, what he thought a “tricolor” was – assuming it was some kind of food! He said, “the French flag”! But of course!!!)
11- Sept 1944
Mary darling, Three big ltrs today. The house sound sensational. I’m sure that I’ll like it, and I can hardly wait to get home and live in it! So swell that Mercedes & Dolores will be with us. But how come you’re planning another house in five years? Long range planning?
Shame about the Lemonts. Hope they get over it. I’ll write ’em if I get time (Big question mark!) After all we must live our own lives, but hope we may always be good friends with them.
Pictures are very cute. That Karen! But what ever happened to all the other pictures? No Pittsburgh pics yet arr. only the 3 snaps of Maine. Did you send others?
We’ll manage the finances OK. Don’t worry. If you like the house, I’m satisfied. Enclosing the joint bank account slip – signed two ways. Also the power of att – signed the way you ask for it. also, Lt Sheldon thinks maybe this other slip will be necessary, so we’re adding it if you want it. He said he hoped I trusted you because I was signing my life away! ‘S okay by me – without you & Miss K (and the as yet only potential bigger family) there isn’t much else. Shoot-the-works-Bauer – at’s me.
It’s dark, and I’m writing by flashlight now, but I want this to be sure to get off in AM’s mail, so I’m finishing.
Haven’t had time to reread & assimilate all of your letters, but you sound like a pretty busy kid. You take it easy, now darling and just sleep through a few of your vacation days. I want to see you blooming when I come home.
Golly – I miss you sweetheart – all my love Rollin
(Side note: for those who know the end of the story, this letter is especially poignant for me. His lieutenant asked him if he realized he was signing his life away, and his response shows how totally devoted he was to his wife and the life that he thought he had waiting for him when he came home.)