Love Letters of WW2 Story

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Love Letters in the Hope Chest

Arline’s Hope Chest and Love Letters

Love Letters of WW2 is a true story based on 300 letters written in 1942-1946 by my father, Morris (Mose) Densmore, to my mother, Arline. In 2012 Arline gave me the love letters from her hope chest. The focus of this creative non-fiction is Mose’s freshman year at Bowdoin College 1942-1943. In 1944 Morris enlists in the U.S. Navy and deploys to the South Pacific.

For years I had wondered about my mother’s childhood. She refused to discuss her dad with me. I wanted to know how experiences she had growing up could somehow have affected my life decisions, my relationship difficulties with men. I never told her that was the reason, but she once muttered. “If you knew you would blame me for everything.” That wasn’t true. I had no idea what she was thinking. No Arline, rather this: “I thank you for everything.” Thank you for the love letters.

My love letters journey is a discovery of family history in the broader context of American history. WW2 shines light on events, then and now, such as fake news, socialism, communism, Henry Ford’s prophecy, mind control, evil done in the name of medicine, and media propaganda. Turner Classic Movies regularly displays these themes in old movies.

In 2014 I expanded my study of 1940s culture and family history to Christian Science. No one explains FAKE NEWS mind control, hypnosis and magnetism better than scientist Mary Baker Eddy. No one explains quantum physics better, for practical use, than Mary Baker Eddy.  “Make it rain,” is a theme explained plainly in Mrs. Eddy’s science.

Publication of the 1940 census answered many questions for me. Harvey, my maternal grandfather, was an alcoholic. The census showed he was an inmate, an indecent in 1940, living in a group home. The history of poor farms is something lost, how it was. It never needed to cost to much to take care of the poor or down and out. Arline’s parents spilt when she was 12 and her younger sister a year younger. Divorce was unusual in that era. Arline never saw her father again though they both lived in the small city of Portland, Maine. She once told me she regretted this.

Love Letters of WW2 core story takes place in Brunswick, Maine in the 1940s. First though my parents were all-American high school sweethearts in Portland. Arline was standing outside her science teacher’s room when she heard about Pearl Harbor. She told me about the shock she felt, as she just stood looking at her teacher. Morris and Arline get together at Deering High in their senior year, the summer of 1942. Both were overcoming turbulent childhoods in the Great Depression. Both were refashioning their lives and ambitious in a high school career. Deering High was like what we might see in a very high end prep school today. Arline was petite, beautiful and smart. She loved drama but played basketball with her friends. Morris’s passion was sports. He played varsity football, baseball, and track in high school and at Bowdoin. Arline campaigned with her gym teacher and school principle to be the first female cheerleader. She enlisted her basketball girlfriends as cheerleaders. They meshed into the all-male squad.

Morris was sports editor the 1942 Deering yearbook. He was president of Deering’s “D” club, a varsity letter club.  After high school then came Bowdoin and his love letters start here. Story highlights include moments of childhood in families during the Depression. Then 1942 high school sports culture is followed by the climate at Bowdoin College in 1943. WW2 pressure, trauma, turns the college and its community upside down. Even the pool is set on fire to train young men to swim through flames.

The life of a college freshman, school sports, army sports, fraternity practices, parties, formal dances are all colored against a severe backdrop of a college take-over by the U.S. military. The life of college administrators grappling with the unthinkable, and the unsayable. My favorite historical figures at Bowdoin are President Sills, Dean Wilson, and Prof. Robert P.T. Coffin.

Liberal arts here is education as it was. Prior to WW2 Bowdoin college taught Christian morality as the cornerstone of “common good”. Christian values were revered as the standard for both mental fitness and good character. But the spirit of the Maine school was penetrated using the vehicle of federal necessities. The question is poised: What does it means to be a man? What is most vital for survival? How does spiritual progress affect humanity? It comes down to life choices, to education and its sufficiency.

The case of Maine manhood is ardently made through the vehicle of Morris’s english teacher, master poet, Pulitzer Prize winner and Rhodes Scholar, Professor Robert Peter Tristram Coffin, R.P.T.C.

Link to blog about Bowdoin’s teacher, Prof. Robert P.T. Coffin.