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. As described in his Bowdoin yearbook that year, it was the last year the college would offer a true liberal arts education. In 1944 Morris enlisted in the U.S. Navy and deployed to the South Pacific

Bowdoin 1943, Liberal Arts College

Bowdoin 1943, Liberal Arts College

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. 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 Christianity vs. propaganda mind control, hypnotic animal magnetism – such as deployed by all sides during the WW2, better than Mary Baker Eddy. The theme of Christianity is relevant because it’s the foundation of classical liberal arts, and central to Bowdoin college history.

Anyway, Love Letters of WW2 core story takes place in Brunswick, Maine in the 1940s. My parents, in the beginning, 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 science teacher. Morris and Arline got 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 both were ambitious in their high school careers. Deering High then, though a public institution, was like 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 was a trauma that turned the college and its community upside down. Even the pool was 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.

Prof. R.P.T. Coffin teaching students at Bowdoin

Prof. Robert Peter T. Coffin at Bowdoin

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 necessary for statesmanship. But the spirit of the Maine school was penetrated using the vehicle of federal necessities. The question is poised: What does it mean 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., a contemporary of Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

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