Bowdoin College

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

Writer Scores Victory Scrapbook 1943

Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, High School Years, Historical Portland, Media, Photo, Portland Maine, Vintage Style, WW2, WWII Letter | 0 comments

Writer Scores Victory Scrapbook 1943

I remember as a child my father coaching me to catch the ball. “Keep your eye on the ball,” he’d always say. I was fortunate to spend several days with my mother over Christmas. I was organizing her front closet and delved into another old trunk. I found a scrapbook. I’d seen it before. We all have. It needs care and preservation so I brought it home to look at. I’m sure glad I did.

My dad made it. It commemorates his sports life at Deering High and Bowdoin College during 1942-1943. It’s ironic because I’m the one person in my immediate family that didn’t become a jock. Not for lack of talent. In high school I excelled in ballet and modern dance. I was also an equestrian in high school. But I preferred the pleasure of riding my horse to the hassle of competitions. I won a ribbon here and there in sports, one for swimming, a couple with my horse. But I never followed baseball or football. And I went to an all girls high school so that put a damper on things…I wanted to be a cheerleader. But not for all-girl volleyball.

My two older brother’s were basketball jocks in high school. My cousin Pete Ladd (on Arline’s side, her sister Ruth’s son) pitched for the Milwakee Brewers in the 1982 World Series. Nothing is more thrilling than watching your cousin pitch on TV.

So here I am, a non-sportsperson writing about my dad’s sports life in high school and college. Thank goodness Dad made this extraordinary catalogue of newspaper clippings from important games and turning points during the war.

Newspaper clipping 1942

Densmore Celebrates Birthday Beats Blue in a Post Stadium Tilt.

How much help can a writer expect? It’s amazing to think that in those days being a high school sports star would get you regular press coverage in the local news. My parents were both featured in the local Portland newspaper at various times including Arline with the headline “The Deering Girls had a Hoop Season”. I never realized she was that serious a player.  It’s super to see my dad like a Titan god killing the competition in a “hurling duel”. Dad in a duel! He truly is a star.

And then it’s incredible to look at his selected clippings from that most historical year at Bowdoin including watching each athlete leave, alone or in groups, called away to service. There’s a clipping of Mrs Roosevelt from the speech she gave at Bowdoin. Eleanor declared that the war would make you a better citizen.

Newspaper Clipping 1942

Densmore Best in Hurling Duel

Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks to 1200 at Bowdoin College

Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks to 1200 at Bowdoin College

Read More

“Generation” by P.K. Page

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Media, Poetry | 0 comments

I sit in the hotel lobby in San Fransisco. Ella Fitzgerald is singing “Blue Skies”.  Like tarot cards I pull a poem from seventy-two years ago, July 1943.  Morris was in summer school at Bowdoin. He wrote Arline often then. No mail delays. I pull up the table of contents in Poetry Magazine 1943.  I’m drawn to read the last on its list “Generation” by P.K. Page. Last lines hit me first “crash helmets of permanent beliefs”. I study the poem. It’s a lot truth, how it was. I love the line “freed from the muddle of sex by the never-mentioned method”. That sure was handed down- the never mentioning part anyway. I reflect on the poem. Art Garfunkel is playing and sings “let your honesty shine”.

Read More

Bowdoin College Moonlit Pines 1943

Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Holiday, Vintage Style, WW2 Letters, WW2 Love Letter, WWII Letter | 0 comments

It’s 1943. The WWII draft is on. For all he knows it may be his last Valentines season. Seventy years ago Morris finds exceptional beauty in a winter night at Bowdoin College. Moonlit pines weighted with snow glisten like Christmas Trees. He writes Arline a Love Letter a few days post Valentines day, “I have never seen Bowdoin as beautiful…”

WWII Letter excerpt

Bowdoin College Winter Night 1943

 

Read More

Sailor who Never Went to Sea

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Mail and The U.S. Post Office, Media, WW2, WW2 Letters, WW2 Love Letter, WWII Letter | 0 comments

Today is February 1st, 2015. I pull a WW2 love letter, the first one that matches the date, but 1943. Today lends itself to the fine the art of avoiding writing by reading sentimental old love letters.  This is how one writer spent her Super Bowl Sunday. Morris would be at the T.V. if he were here. But he’s now seventy-two years ago, the Morris who is at Bowdoin College in winter. His good friend has just been drafted, got a notice and is leaving. Morris is returning from the movie Casablanca and finds a sailor lying out in cold Maine snow:

Excerpt WW2 Love Letter

Sailor who Never Went to Sea. Image of WW2 Letter

Read More

Christian Science at Bowdoin College

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Christian Science, Holiday, Media, Portland Maine, WW2, WW2 Love Letter | 0 comments

Young people impress me. I hope if I ever visit Bowdoin College that it will be the best the trip of my life.

Bowdoin College Tea Cup

Chai Brew in Bowdoin China Teacup

I spent two years traversing history to meet my parents in the 40s. It started with 300 love letters from my dad to my mother. Arline had a fall soon after she gave me the letters. I nursed her  for two months over the 2012 winter holidays. Two years later I’m back on extended visit. My chai tea multi-cultural brew is delicious in old Bowdoin teacups.

Family history research dropped me at the door of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), founder of Christian Science. It started when my eye caught a first edition of her CONCORDANCE to MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS at a thrift store.

Concordance to Miscellaneous Writings

CONCORDANCE to MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS by Mary Baker Eddy

In Miscellaneous Writings (1883-1896), in Easter Services, there’s a sermon by a “former member of the Congregational Church”, a Bowdoin Graduate named Rev. D.A.Easton. “He left his old church…because he was not satisfied with a man-like God, but wanted to become a God-like man.” What Easton found in Christian Science surprised him.

Google is like a concordance. I googled Bowdoin and Christian Science. I got: “Student Lecture Series Debuts with Talks on Christian Science and Squirrel Diabetes”.   The 2013 article highlights “Food for Thought” lectures. The twice a month talks are presented as a fun study break “for students to talk about anything they want to”. The speaker on Christian Science, Alioto, refers to her faith as being in the category of Bowdoin “topics such as religion — ones that students tend to view as taboo or uncomfortable”. Her talk was titled “Go Away…I’m Healing”.

In other old news Bowdoin made headlines last year when it ousted a Christian Bible study group’s leaders, despite student protest. Chapel was mandatory at Bowdoin in Morris Densmore’s day, the 1940s. Important and serious talks were held there. The September Commencement of 1942 graduated sixteen “Accelerated Seniors” at Bowdoin. Three degrees were conferred in absentia for the men already in the service. That left only thirteen graduates in attendance. It was a small Commencement, first time in Bowdoin’s history the ceremony was moved to the chapel.

Critical thinking requires intelligence plus an open-mind. In an earlier blog I jotted about how WW2 was an attack on liberal arts and critical thinking. To understand Christian Science takes an open-mind.  In Christian Science the Bible is explained in mystical intelligent context.  C.S. is a good fit for Bowdoin.

At the Food for Talk debut students “flooded in”. No short thirst for knowledge there. The squirrel diabetes lecture was presented as comedy. But when Alioto shared about being a Christian Scientist, finally in her senior year, apparently sort of outing herself as a Christian to the community at large “Her anecdotes and reflections on life as a Christian Scientist on a college campus inspired a stream of questions from the audience, as well as a discussion about the presence of religion in the Bowdoin community.” Yea, a mid-course correction. She welcomed the “gifts” of intellectual curiosity.

Christian Science was no squirrel in 18th century New England. Here’s a link to a film about Mary Baker. I dismiss commentator views that C.S. was more applicable before modern medicine. In light of modern physics and my own experience as an RN and acupuncturist, C.S. Divine Mind fits better than ever our modern days. I ponder God. I sure am thankful for great minds like Mary’s, for her teachings, for my Bowdoin heritage and beautiful Bowdoin china.

Read More

A Fan of Professor Coffin

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Poetry, WW2 Love Letter, WWII Letter | 0 comments

“A man should choose with careful eye the things to be remembered by.” ~ Robert P. Tristram Coffin

Strange Holiness
won Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 1936

…When Morris went to Bowdoin’s in 1942-43 (he returned and graduated after the war) his english professor was American poet, Robert Peter Tristram Coffin. On the evening of May 5, 1943 Morris writes Arline:

I have been sitting in the living room for more than two hours listening to him talk. He is really a remarkable man but he is a bit hard to follow. He was giving us some insights on the intellectual abilities of the medieval man. Then the conversation, or more appropriately monologue, shifted to religion. He gave us some amazing information on many religious sects such as the Shakers, Mormons…etc. It isn’t often you have the chance to talk firsthand with a Pulitzer Prize winner and Rhodes Scholar.

Read More