Bowdoin College

Love Letters of WWII blog and book project content is about Bowdoin College

WW2 Love Letter 75 years past D Day

Posted by on Jun 6, 2019 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, LOVE LETTER, Media, Navy, Poetry, WW2, WW2 Letters, WW2 Love Letter, WWII Letter | 0 comments

I wrote that I’d write. That plan didn’t turn out as well as D Day did. The good news is we still live in Brunswick, Maine and Robert Peter Tristram Coffin is still my favorite poet. And, Arline will be adding another clocked year here in just a couple weeks.

To honor the 75th Anniversary of D Day I’ve chosen to publish a complete letter my father penned to Arline from Bates, just a couple days after D Day, on June 9th, 1944. He was in Lewiston, Maine. She was in Portland. The distance between them was a world war.

If you read it you’ll see that his heart was just as sunk as ever. Against the back drop of the successful invasion in Europe, bringing hope and excitement abroad, Mose would none the less not be free. If he hadn’t enlisted in the navy he would have been drafted. He had no choice. At this date in his navy career Mose was enrolled at Midshipmen’s School at Bates. Next would be the Naval Academy at Notre Dame, then off to fight.

Being still a Bowdoin student, but enlisted in the navy and at Bates College, the arch rival of Bowdoin, was a time of emptiness and sad feelings. Old and best friends were leaving for the war. New friends at Bates were transient, many from out of town, out of state, there for just for a training period. So much disruption was crazy. But Mose did find some interesting things to say and some humor.

The Armed Forces had the Bowdoin boys play on the Bates athletic teams and wear the Bates uniform. Mose did this and had to play against Bowdoin. We have official photos of him donning the Bowdoin team uniform and Bates.

Arline helped me make peace with all this saying that the boys liked to play games and baseball, it was definitely an enjoyable sport for them, and good thing for them to do at this time regardless of the uniform they wore. They had fun. I’m sure she’s right, though Mose does mention some mixed feelings about it in another letter.

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Martha’s Merry Maine Christmas 2017

Posted by on Dec 24, 2017 in All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Holiday, LOVE LETTER, Media, Vintage Style | 0 comments

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!

Merry Christmas 2017!

Merry Christmas 2017!

America is having a come back. So are some Densmores. In September of 2017 I moved my mother back to Maine. We rented a farmhouse in Pemaquid a couple months. During that time we bought a house in Brunswick near Bowdoin. Our new house borders a 300 acre working organic farm. We look out upon a great expanse of land, beautiful pasture and crops.

One afternoon in the fall of 2017 I was driving Arline on a back highway here. It was Saturday. The Brunswick escrow had just closed. I was driving Arline back to our rented farmhouse.  It would be our last weekend there in the Hope Woods. I turned on the radio and flicked it to an AM station.

There’s a radio station here in Maine called The Memories Station. 1960s songs were playing.  Watching farms go by, many with American flags, frame by frame the purity echoed. So here I am in an Americana paradise. Classic like a Palm Springs cocktail in the 1950s. Like a Las Vegas travel ad in the 1960s. Like a TV Christmas special in the 1970s. Time never left this place. It’s never left. Back roads and farms and quaint old houses. She’s here breathing. Oh America, why did it take so long? Like an old love letter.

I’d just been contemplating Love Story’s slogan that love means never having to say your sorry. The theme of “Love Story” sung by Andy Williams started playing. The second song after I turned on the station. Then came “For All we Know” by Karen Carpenter.

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King Chapel at Bowdoin, June 2016

Posted by on Jul 4, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Photo, WW2 | 0 comments

Bowdoin campus is quiet in mid-June. I wanted to get with the old guys of my father’s day, away from current campus culture. Of course you can’t escape campus culture. The first thing I encountered was a poster on the inside of every toilet stall door (in every restroom) to remind me, again and again, even after I just passed the same poster on the restroom wall–the only poster in the bathroom–that a long list of names of specially trained students is on stand by to help me come out of the closet and or if I think I might be the victim of a sexual assault. Every time I had to use the bathroom there was the missive that had nothing to do with me.

Bowdoin College, King Chapel Doors

King Chapel Doors at Bowdoin

Anyway, I slipped through two great old doors leading into the chapel. Antiques and art are everywhere at Bowdoin and always have been since the earliest days of the college.

When I got there a lady was playing the organ. The chapel is dark from absence of many windows. In place of any large stained glass, the chapel has gorgeous museum quality murals.

Bowdoin's College King Chapel

Bowdoin’s King Chapel

Bowdoin has been always the greatest of art collectors. The interior chapel is walled on its two long sides by giant murals of bible scenes. To compare, I thought back to my trip to St. Petersburg, to castles and cathedrals I’ve visited. And to rare Byzantine murals of Jesus and the Apostles on cave walls in Turkey. None is more perfect than the King Chapel at Bowdoin. It’s so well preserved it’s almost like a dreamscape. Absolutely awesome. Later I picked up a brochure about the chapel.

Just today, the 4th of July, the chapel brochure informs that I’m a Bowdoin community member. Yea! Bowdoin community is defined as alumni and their immediate family members (that’s me!), active or retired faculty and staff and their immediate family members, and members of the Association of Bowdoin Friends. I’m proud to be Bowdoin.

Bowdoin College King Chapel Centurion, stained glass

King Chapel Centurion

In homage to a bible story is the great centurion today. He stands as a stained glass window high above the chapel’s front doors.

Waiting for a campus tour, I picked up the “The Orient”.  An article by a self-described minority female student is about how it badly it feels to be subjected to Bowdoin’s oppressive colonialist imposition in portraits of old white men in Hubbard Hall. Rather than scholarship, four years of college for her was about a matter of feeling at home. She wants social justice. She wants the walls to reflect diversity, modern Bowdoin. Though I love Bowdoin’s heritage I understand how she feels because I used to feel the same way when I’d vist the bio-medical library at UCLA. In the lobby are huge portraits of founder white men in black scholar robes. Feels imposing, presumptuous, oddly out of place.

Bowdoin College King Chapel

Bowdoin College King Chapel

Excessive political correctness vs. free speech on college campuses directs me back in time to Bowdoin’s founding principles. Liberal arts at Bowdoin is defined best historically. True liberal arts is a science that trains Man how to think. No more, no less.

I noticed, and I may be wrong, but it seems there’s a mistake in the brochure. The description of the murals on the North Wall, starting from the door states “mostly” New Testament themes. That wall is ALL New Testament themes. The stained glass centurion is from the New Testament too. They’re all one theme. All Bowdoin.

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Calisthenics at Bowdoin College in WW2

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Media, Navy, WW2 | 0 comments

When college coaches were sent to war, new athletic managers were recruited.

Newspaper Article on Bowdoin WW2

As teams coaches were sent to war, new athletic managers were recruited from slim pickings

In 1943 Bowdoin College boys were required to take rigorous calisthenics 5 hours a week.  It was normal for boys just out of high school to be weak in reading and writing. Ordinarily the college would greatly focus on upgrading writing and math skills, english, foreign language, history, debate, American literature and the classics.  But in 1943 best efforts at Bowdoin were strained by the war. Bowdoin’s tradition of liberal arts, Christian morality and preparing the intellect for a common good created great thinker leaders of democracy.

Young men like Mose were already heavily burdened with extra classes plus training for sports. Morris played baseball, football, tack, and basketball. Even though Mose wasn’t yet enlisted in the navy the cause of the war subjected Bowdoin fellows to a new curriculum that included extra physical ed classes to ready them for war.

Sportsmen aged 18-21 instantly dissolved from Bowdoin’s varsity teams. Freshmen like Mose were added on the fly. Mose loved to play ball. He must have still managed to have a good time.

Morris’s freshman year at Bowdoin in 1942-1943 was a critical time in American history. The college had to comply with the Army-Navy requirement to get the boys fit for war. No part of campus life remained untouched by war. This film shows an idea about the mentality of bootcamp style military calisthenics.

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Preparing for Notre Dame Navy Training

Posted by on May 31, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Mail and The U.S. Post Office, Navy, V-12 Navy Program, WW2, WW2 Letters, WWII Letter | 0 comments

Excerpt Letter 6-13-44

Excerpt WW2 Letter 6-13-44

Tonight I pulled a letter from Mose at Bowdoin College in 1944. June 13th will be 72 years since it was written. The boys at Bowdoin just saw a film on Midshipman training and “it really inspired the fellows about to leave”. The course curriculum has all been transformed to concentrate the young men’s minds on the needs of war. Morris has reported his grades. He got an A in Naval Strategy. During the war Mose served on an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific.

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Bowdoin Graduate, a President of the Christian Science Church

Posted by on Jan 17, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Christian Science, Medicine | 0 comments

My historical family survey based on 300 Love Letters my dad wrote in the 1940s included letters from his freshman year at Bowdoin. I sometimes wonder how the war was used to stabilize business interests at the time and to control American society at large. Christian Science was for decades, until the great wars, the fastest growing American religion and natural healing science even into the 1930s.

It attracted men of education and also a great number of Jews. What would it take to forestall such a religio-political powerhouse, an American Christianity that was also scientific, demonstrated, medicine replacement and cure-all, or al least cure much?

This 1932 Christian Science Journal article records that “Judges and lawyers have accepted Christian Science, and medical doctors have left their medicines for Christian Science as being a more scientific and efficient remedy. The Hon. Ralph O. Brewster, former Governor of the state of Maine, and a graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Law School, has recently been appointed President of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, whose branches, including college and university organizations, now number upward of twenty-six hundred. Men of this caliber do not leave their medical beliefs nor their former religious affiliations for a so-called foolish faith cure.”

Source: My attention has been called to the “Boonastiel Pennsylvania Dutch”…  / Christian Science Sentinel

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