#4 – The Letters

During their separation and before their marriage, Marcelle lived in Chicago, at the Naval Air Technical Training Center 87th and Anthony Avenue as a Disbursing Officer, and he attended NSCS at Harvard University, McCullock Hall at Soldier’s Field, Boston.  She wrote letters as often as possible, from July 10th, until November 7th 1945.

Marcelle’s first letter to Harry was dated 10 July, 1945. I imagine that they saw each other frequently on campus since they met in May and this was their first real separation.  Her handwriting is so familiar to me, and when I read her notes to my father before he was my father, I can put myself in the room with her, a young woman, about my height and weight. I can remember being 26.


Cambridge, MASS, Jul 11 11:30 AM.

Return address:

Ensign Swanson SC(W) USNR

Box 38 Wood, Wisconsin                         “Free”


Lieutenant Harry J. Hicks, SC, USN

NSCS Harvard University

McCullock Hall, D-21

Soldiers Field, Boston 63, Mass

J.M.J.                                                            10 July

Dearest Harry,

My first letter to you on our last night here – have quite a mixture of emotions – I hate to see the group break up but then I guess you can’t have a thing like this go on indefinitely – you must get out and get things done. It’s been such fun with all the girls – I’ve not known anything like it before. And then, knowing you has been very wonderful – I don’t need to tell you how much I love you and how happy you have made me. The fact of our parting is too soon upon  us, I can’t speak of these things which I know you understand so well – our last “time” must be crystallized so that each of us can cling to this reality until we are together again. I know everything is going to be all right – it’s like making an appointment with the dentist – the anticipation of the thing is sometimes worse than the actualy thing itself! But then it’s all part of life and if this be the least of our troubles we’re getting off easy, hey, Pay?

I hope you don’t mind me calling you that once in a while. I’ve not heard it before Disbursing and suddenly took a fancy to it – in my jargon it has become a tterm of affection – means “I’m here with you – is everything going  all right? Is there anything I can do to help you?” and to tease a little bit.

If I’ve not been too satisfactory about answering when you’d ask if I will write, it was just to tease. Of course I shall write – it is the only means I have of being with you and I want to be with you more than anything else. Perhaps on paper my heart will be able to speak to you more freely than I have done when I am with you.

When you were teasing me about writing and just who would get mail first, I knew (like I knew the first time you took me out that we were going to be married!) that when I arrive home there will be a letter from you and that you’ve probably already written it! Thought I’d beat you to the draw – heh! heh!

Will write again very soon. Miss you very much and love you more than that!


J.M.J.                                                            16 July

Dearest, darling Harry,

It’s just 17:30, we haven’t had chow as yet and as I sat on the side porch steps alone, I started thinking about you – the sun is still quite high and a wonderful breeze is chasing through the trees – how I wish you were here!

I sure hit the jack pot at mail call today!! Poppa came home from the office at noon and started parceling out a huge stack of mail – I received five letters – three of which were from you!! How I love you Harry!!Have good news about a place to stay when I first arrive in Chi. On of the waves who will be stationed at Great Lakes ahs a friend who is willing to take me in with the condition if I want to stay a while I can and she will even help me to find a place for myself!

When I came home Sunday from the Lake there wer two letters and a package – was it wonderful!! Candy – darling Harry – you’ve made me so happy with every thing youdo. So I passed it our and everyone agreed it was delicious. Thank you so much.

I have ‘Cile take care of my foot and she couldn’t fix it, so I hobbled across the road to our new neighbor Dr. Gilbert, rousted him out of the basement and had him take a look at it. He left the room and returned carrying his little black bag. They  are not completely settled as yet, having just moved here about three months ago. Consequently, when he wantd this instrument or that other kind he went from the attic to the cellar assembling his gear even before he started on me. But when he started it was terrific! I think he fixed it okay.

I’m awfully happy for Jack – be sure and tell him congratulations and have a beer on me for the heir.

Very, very happy to hear about a picture of you as being ordered! Sir, I can hardly wait. I am sure it will be scrumptious! Please forgive me for being so superlative in everything I say. Only everything is going so well and I am very happy, it just comes out in the superlatives. I love you in superlatives, too – it is at once intense and gentle, and sweet and strong and every bit to the finest point and biggest lot you can have. It encompasses you wholly and yet I don’t miss any of the small things. Heigho, how I miss you. Please God, make it soon

Wherever did you find the card about the cross-eyed batter? Thought I’d split laughing when you told me aobut it and then to receive it through the mail!!

This is being finished quite a bit later than supper. Had a few distractions – set out for the doctor’s many times but didn’t get there until later on in the evening. Had a nice visit – he’s a rare one. Not realy old, has a daughter in highs school and is always inventing something. Interesting to talk to .

Tell me what you think of this – I had in mind to stop my Gov’t insurance (10,000.00) because I have a policy from civilian life and I figured it wasn’t worth it for me to be covered by so much and thinking instead of converting it later on, it would be quite an expense, I’d just drop it altogether. So Dr. Gilbert across the way started talking about all the benefits for servicemen and gave a lengthy discourse on the Insurance topic. So I’m thinking twice about stopping it and maybe I will continue it. How about that?

Believe it or not, I’ve been talking over many problems for over two hours – it’s surprising how many things can accumulate when one is gone. How I wish I could talk to you in person at length. Am too tired to write it all down. Sure am learning a lot.

I miss you so very much, harry – and love you so very mucy, Pay, darling. Am very tired so will close sending all my lovingest love to you. Hope you can use it, Sir!


This one with a cartoon “Are you sure I’m learning to swim?”

J.M.J.                                                            20 July

My dearest Harry,

This is the third letter I’ve written to you today. But you said if ever I got feeling blue that I could write to you about it. It’s all over now and I thank you for listening to me. Please forgive me if I said anything to hurt you – sometimes it’s hard to understand just what a person is going through when you read about it on paper. But I have every confidence in you, Sir.

I carry a series of snaps with me of you and wherever I go, in the family circle that is, I show them around. Poppa and I just returned from Jim’s home to visit – they are all very happy for me with the proviso: if this is what I want. So then I get to thinking about you and I say, This is what I want – one Harry Joseph Hicks, Lieutenant, SC, USN! It’s a little different being away from you and saying that – proximity lends force to decisions. With me sitting out in the middle west and you in Cambridge I can have you at arms length and consider just what I’m getting myself into! I’m pretty sure that at this point were’ doing what is right, besides the fact that we love each other, we can make a success of our venture. Please pray.

I asked you your ideas on a family and your ideas of the purpose and objective of a Christian marriage, which is what ours is going to be. I want to do everything the best way possible or not at all – and I’m really convinced together we can do this.

Honestly Harry, life with you will be wonderful. I love you, Sir – and want to be with you. It’s the kind of love that goes for longevity and a full life. (I can cook, too!)  All the sparkle-y, giddy stuff that accompanies people in our status I will have until I’m with you.

(More to come as soon as I can transcribe them. Check back here. And leave a comment).