WW2 Letters

These blog posts contain photos or content of WW2 era letters

Arline Helen Densmore Memorial Day 2020

Posted by on May 25, 2020 in All Blog Posts, LOVE LETTER, Medicine, Photo, Vintage Style, Vintage Video, WW2 Letters | 6 comments

Portrait of Arline Densmore

Arline Helen Densmore

June 25, 1924 – May 16, 2020

Dear Friends, This is a historic time. Years ago I made the decision to take in my mother, and provide her care myself. I nursed her through her delicate years right up to the process of active dying in the few days before she passed. A natural death was something I had wanted to witness. I wanted to see what a natural death looks like. I wanted to have a home death, a home funeral with a doula at my side. Natural, not medical. Natural, like a home birth. God blessed us both when it was time. During the last days I went in and out of her room to give her morphine around the clock for comfort as her systems gently went through the final shut down. I had put on some orchestral music. But it was not what I wanted. I had quickly looked for hymns, but the classical was peaceful enough. Then with family coming and so many things I had to manage, the same music was left on a couple days. As usual, I was left to manage everything alone, after hospice instructions and other basic support. My dear death doula was there for the important parts. She knows about flowers, brought several arrangements, helped facilitate Arline’s last call to my brother and his family to say their tearful goodbyes. And she helped me bridge to the sacred atmosphere with candles and oils. She also came to wash the body after. But she also needed a day off, the day Arline died. So everything was even, quiet, efficient, perfect, just the two of us as usual, softly passing shared hours. I had to change her position every few hours and be up through the night. Then on the last afternoon, with sunlight beaming through closed curtains, she opened one eye just a crack and seemed to be looking at me. She might have murmured. I gently changed her position from side lying to make her comfortable on her back. I stretched her legs, one by one, out straight over the sheepskins to rest them. She’d been in excellent health just a few days before walking on the road. I took pride that there was no scratch or scar left from the ordeals of slips, falls. With her looking at me I got it together to bring in her CD player. I grabbed a CD, Frank Sinatra hits. It had played through once. Then I came back in again to comfort her. This time I was singing with the song, whatever it was at that moment, dancing around her bed. With every kiss and words of reassurance I felt the keen awareness that just next-door at a nursing home the elderly are basically in lock-down in their rooms, room numbers are posted on windows to find them from the outside, their family members required to stay outside, doing their best to communicate through the closed windows which must always be closed. Weeks and weeks and weeks and that still goes to this day. So my kisses to my mother’s neck, my touch and whispers in her ear, our closeness in the moment was extra appreciated. Her breathing was regular. I massaged the back of her neck. Whispers of reassurance. Then in a moment her breath ceased. The music was swirling and I was telling her Morris was there, and Ruthy, the family names. Like we were all dancing at a wedding, and my father cut in. She passed away in my arms. It took a couple minutes to fully register. Yes, the pulse was gone. This was it. After some tears during some song or other suddenly “That’s Life” came on. It struck me, clear like a bell. Clear like a message from angels. She stole my heart! You just had to be there. The message. The synchronicity. It was everything I had wanted to know. It was just what she wanted to say to me, perhaps to all. God bless you Mom. We’ll always be together, a duo, but you, Arline, are the Star Queen. Such a class act. Love, Martha


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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.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 11.42.55 PMScreen Shot 2019-06-05 at 11.43.19 PM


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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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Scent of a WW2 Love Letter

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Mail and The U.S. Post Office, Navy, South Pacific, WW2, WW2 Letters, WW2 Love Letter, WWII Letter | 0 comments

Arline sent Morris scented letters during WW2. The collection is stored in a new cedar chest, smaller than the hope chest. I had the box made just for the letters. The hope chest always smelled so good when I would peek into it as a child. The new chest’s cedar scent is fresh, holy, pungent.

Cedar Chest for WW2 Love Letters

Cedar Chest for WW2 Love Letters

Arline as a teen had little money for things like perfume. I asked her a few years ago what perfume she wore. She didn’t remember much about perfume or her make-up. In her photos she doesn’t look made up at all. But Morris mentions her lipstick. She probably did use scented powder in the letters. How wonderful for any person serving overseas to get a scented letter. “Half way around the world” Mose wrote back.

Scented WW2 Love Letter

Scented WW2 Love Letter

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Note from Albert Einstein for Pearl Harbor Day

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Mail and The U.S. Post Office, Vintage Style, WW2, WW2 Letters | 0 comments

Today is Pearl Harbor Day 2015. If Pearl Harbor Day were Christmas I’d ask Santa for this letter. The letter is an item listed on E-Bay, buy it now price $3,900. The letter is by Albert Einstein. It’s dated April 22, 1947.

Albert Einstein Letter

Albert Einstein Letter

As I read Einstein’s ideas on materialism and energy, I hear absolute reality. I hear, strangely enough, an echo of Mary Baker Eddy’s ideas about materialism. This letter states our idea of materialism is “outmoded” and “narrow”. I hear in this letter the idea of spiritual harmony, sacred truth and understanding. I picture Einstein at study in the Christian Science reading room. This much we know, he went there and spent some time.

Not long after the end of World War II, Albert Einstein founded the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists. He and co-founder, scientist Leό Szilάrd, toured our country to educate the public on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Ironically, an earlier letter signed by Einstein—warning President Roosevelt of the dangers of a possible German atomic bomb—is credited with starting the U.S. drive to establish the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bomb.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Here’s what the letter says. Stand now in the footstep of a great thinker who seems to be saying that the ability to exercise reason is the only hope of man:

“……through the release of atomic energy, our generation has brought into the world the most revolutionary force since prehistoric man’s discovery of fire. This basic power of the universe cannot be fitted into the outmoded concept of narrow materialism. For there is no secret, and there is no defense; there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the peoples of the world.

We scientists recognize our inescapable responsibility to carry to our fellow citizens an understanding of the simple facts of atomic energy and their implications for society. In this lie our only security and our only hope – we believe that an informed citizenry will act for life and not for death.

We need $1,000,000 for this great educational task. Sustained by faith in man’s ability to control his destiny through the exercise of reason, we have pledged all our strength and our knowledge to this work. I do not hesitate to call upon you to help…Faithfully yours.”


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Reading My Poems from WWII

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in All Blog Posts, Poetry, WW2, WW2 Letters, WWII Letter | 0 comments

Poetry Magazine  1970 issue published “Reading my WWII Letters” by William Meredith. The poem is large scale in few lines. Takes me back to the feeling of opening a whole new world the first time I read one of my father’s letters.

Reading My Poems from WWII in Poetry Magazine

Reading My Poems from WWII in Poetry Magazine


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