"A FAIR WIND AND THE HONEY LIGHTS OF HOME ARE ALL YOU SEEK."
Sometimes you’re just happy to have a place to call home. After re-learning how to dig a fox hole (see May 15 V-Mail) it probably makes you particularly happy, even if it’s a tent shared with a good friend. Sometimes it’s a “room of one’s own” where you feel like you belong. In May of 1944, neither Betty or Ang had great options. Living with her in-laws was probably pretty difficult for Betty, although she and Ang’s sister, Jen, got along quite well. I’m not sure there have ever been two sisters-in-law who loved each other more and could make each other laugh the way Jen and Betty could. Meanwhile, Ang devoted a page in his scrapbook to display his various “homes” on Corsica. His first room mate was Arne Bylund, of his “original crew.”
There are no flights recorded on his Form 5 so I believe he was mostly busy getting settled in with the other members of the 486th Bomb Squadron and working on setting up the tent with Arne. And training. There was always more training. He writes one more long letter about his visit in Africa with his friend, Bud. He mentions catching up on his letter writing, and he also mentions having a publicity photo taken. Here’s another early crossing of paths with his friend Tom Cahill. Ang doesn’t mention Tom, but Tom mentions Ang in a letter to his mother in July when he includes the publicity photo that Ang mentions to Betty! Sixty-plus years later, when I first began working on Honeylights, I searched for Cahills and eventually found Tom’s niece who had come into possession of Tom’s letters home!
Sunday May 14. To Mass, home & wrote letters. To Grams after dinner & downtown to movies. Home & bed by 10:30
May 15. Warm still. Really worked hard today. Cooled off in PM. met Jen and shopped. Washed hair and bed by 11:00.
[V-Mail. No envelope, but 5-24 noted at bottom, so it looks like Betty received it on 5-24.]
Well, Arne & I are finally all set up—tent etc. Its wonderful what a person can do with a few nails & some wood. Before we get thru—it will be just like home—or as close as we can get to it.
You may not know it, but your husband does have a few muscles. He can feel both of them aching like hell. I just finished digging a fox hole for myself. I’m not a professional yet—so it doesn’t look very pretty—but boy is it deep! I guess that’s what counts when you need it.
Arne has just finished building a closet for our clothes—real class. I guess that’s about it, sweets--
I love you.
May 16. Stormed during the night. Not too busy at office. To Grams for dinner and stayed all night.
May 17. Rained again last night. Very warm again—but turned cooler in P.M. To show downtown with Jen. Bed 11:30.
[V-Mail, postmark 5-27-44, no dateline, no date received]
Not much new today that I can talk about—more digging & more building. The tent really looks good & looks very comfortable. We just added a table to our collection (master carpenter Bylund)—all we need is a couple of easy chairs & we’re all fixed.
Say dear—if you could manage to pick up a small radio—please send it to me. The Germans put on a good program for us—the music is swell! Also, please send me about 3-4 electric light bulbs. Wrap them in a good sturdy box—maybe one of them will get here whole. We’ve got plenty of electricity—but no light bulbs—and I hate candles!
I guess that’s about all now darling.
I love you—Love, Ang
#1 Just a tent in the valley - very hot. So - - -.
#2 We built shack on hill. As a summer home it was wonderful - there was always a cool breeze. However, along came winter. The breeze was still there, but it became an icy blast, so - - -.
#3 We moved down in valley & built our home. We bought a radio - got air mattresses for our sacks - and even got a private generator for our electrical system.
May 18, 19, 20 blank [Betty’s diary]
[Letter, written with pencil on air mail stationary, postmark 5-19. Addressed to Chicago, and forwarded to 502 Westlake, Los Angeles. Note on envelope: “Recd 6-15”]
You’re about due for a nice long letter—so here goes. As usual I don’t know what to talk about—so I’ll talk about Bud and what we did while we were together.
As I’ve told you—he almost passed out when he first saw me—it sure was the last thing he ever expected (me too, for that matter). We stayed at their little villa that day and all of the next. The food and hospitality were wonderful. We just laid around and talked, and leisurely killed off about 6 bottle of vino (ugh).
Anyway, all good things must come to a pass, so we had to head back to camp that night. Bud picked me up the next day and I spent the day at his camp. He conducted me on a cooks tour of the place, and---well I’ve already described his camp to you. At night I sat up in the projection booth with him and saw him run off the movie—quite interesting.
The next night he had a date and with the usual Roehm ideas—he insisted that I come along. I don’t know how the girl felt about it—but I don’t feel that she had a kick coming because she brought her brother along. The usual Roehm situation. One girl—one brother—one buddy (that’s me) and Roehm in the middle trying to make a good impression. What a life—he never changes does he?
Anyway, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The girl was really very, very nice—that is for a French girl. She had studied English at school—and spoke it very well. When she made a mistake, Bud would correct her. That is, he did, until she started asking him questions about the past tense, passive verbs, etc—then he shut up—but fast! I asked her what “Ooh, la, la” meant. She thought it over very carefully, and said “I guess it means the same as the American “Get off my back.” Boy that floored me—these Frenchmen sure learn fast.
We went to the nicest place (and the only place) to eat in town. These Frenchmen may have trouble finding food to eat—but they always have vino. They load the table with vino for every course—and if you can find the food between the bottles, you’re pretty lucky. So, we ate—and then went to her house—sat around and listened to the radio while she and Bud danced. Then we went home.
Bud likes her quite a bit (“for a foreign girl”)—and I don’t blame him. She’s pert & pretty—talks well & has a sense of humor—in fact shes the closest to an American girl that can be found over here. That’s high praise--
Well, honey, that’s the full dope on Bud—I had to leave the day after and didn’t see him again. Maybe I’ll get over there again one of these days though—I hope!
I haven’t got anymore of your mail. Some of the boys coming from the last place said that I had a stack of it a mile high though—so one of these days it ought to catch up. I’m going to be a plenty busy, and happy man then.
Please excuse the pencil—but ink is pretty hard to get around here. I guess that’s about all I have now darling. I love you very, very much—Love, Ang
[V-Mail, 5-27-44 postmark]
I’m going to see if I can’t catch up on my letter writing today. I’ve just finished one to Bud—and now I’m tearing along on my second one. Yesterday I put out three—so I’m not doing so bad. Pat me on the back.
Yesterday they took some pictures of us for the home town papers—so maybe one of these months you’ll see your husbands face beaming out at you from one of the newspapers. Ah, this Air Corps—all this glamour & publicity!
We had chicken last night—and boy was it good. It sounds funny—me raving about chicken, but after all this “wholesome” Army food I’ve been eating—chicken is a real treat. However, don’t tell my mother, or she’ll pack a couple & send them on. Love, Ang
May 21. Up, & down to meet Mom. They were so tired. Ann and Bill over for a while. Sat up and talked half the night.
[See photo below. Henderson Women. Probably May 1944. Adele Henderson Hatch, Margaret Henderson Russell, Kay Henderson Affeldt, Anna Harrington Henderson (mother) and Ann Henderson Goodwin. At the time, of Anna's 12 children, there were also four living sons. Betty's mother, Margaret, visited from California. Ann, Margaret's youngest sister, was pregnant at the time. Ann & husband Bill visited Betty & Ang in Columbia in March 1944.]
[V-Mail, postmark 6-1-44, addressed to Chicago, forwarded to LA]
I know you’ll excuse me for not writing yesterday. I got ambitious and decided to get rid of my letter writing obligations. I wrote eight letters—imagine that! I don’t know whats come over me.
I still haven’t got any mail—and I’m slowly but surely working myself into a fury. Oh well, some day it will start coming in a steady stream and I’ll be happy again. I do wish it would hurry though.
I don’t feel much like writing today though—so I guess I’ll satisfy myself with this one. Its Sunday—and I’m restless. I even went to the chapel this morning—so you can see for yourself.
I love you sweets. Love, Ang
Joni Adams Sesma, daughter of Angelo and Elizabeth Adams. Ang served on Corsica with the 57th Bomb Wing, 340th Bomb Group, 486th Bomb Squadron. April 1944-April 1945.