by Whitley Clifton | December 5, 2019 3:19 pm
This tale is too, too good not to be told, although the speaker asked that her name not be used. She was much too modest to have her name in the paper. However, if you live around Norristown, you have probably heard the story of this war bride.
Many romantic stories came from World War II. Later wars played out on TV, but WWII stories were told by the actual lovers. No era can compete with the beautiful songs of these lovers separated by an ocean with scant communication. Letters from Europe and the South Pacific took weeks to arrive to the wife or sweetheart waiting to hear that her fighting man was alive. At best, she knew her loved one was alive when the letter was written. A packet of letters might arrive all at one time, and the pages sometimes had sections cut out that were thought dangerous in the enemies’ hands. It was a tough time for the fighting man and the one waiting at home.
Early in the war years, the future war bride was in her last year of school and scheduled to graduate from Adrian High at the end of the term—but she had other plans. Her long-time boyfriend had felt the call to serve his country. He chose to join the navy and was luckily stationed at the Atlanta Naval Station. I questioned if landlocked Atlanta actually had a naval air station, so I turned to trusty internet. In 1943, there was a naval air station at Atlanta.
She carried a folded letter from her sweetheart in her pocket for several days and read it over and over. One line was on her mind and in her heart. “If you love me as much as I love you, meet me in Atlanta and be my wife.” Her answer was, “Yes! Yes!” She planned the elopement carefully and boarded the school bus as usual. Instead of heading to the high school, she raced to the corner where the Greyhound to Atlanta would stop, and she boarded. She must have carefully concealed her suitcase on the school bus. Waiting for her in Atlanta was her handsome sailor boy. They were married and lived as happy newlyweds until the groom’s duty took him to the Philippines Islands, where some of major fighting of the war was taking place. Many were naval battles.
The Greyhound took the bride back home to Adrian. Her father met her at the bus, and since she was headed to school when she last left home, he asked, “Is school out?”
Now came the time of waiting and praying. She watched patiently for the rural mail carrier to pass and leave a Vmail in the box. (Vmail was one sheet and folded to make an envelope.) The U.S. government did not charge postage to the fighting men overseas. All news of the fighting was history by the time it was shown in newsreels at The Dixie.
Some of the romantic songs of all times helped her keep up hope during these years: “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places. I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”
The waiting and the war did end, and her sailor boy came home. The war bride and groom settled in Norristown, owned a large successful farm, raised a family, and enjoyed the peace. The groom was a highly respected farmer. An Emanuel County road is named in his honor. He died at home in Emanuel County after a long and loving marriage. The bride is still living in their home and is a well-loved community leader.
Shirley Proctor Twiss may be reached at email@example.com.