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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Jean Holdridge Reeves to parents, 1945

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Object ID: WV0383.4.013

Description: Reeves details the surprise party for Betty, including the food. She notes their desire for cold plates, fresh fruits, and vegetables; making mayonnaise; having banana splits; and the return of a Red Cross worker from what Reeves thinks was an unnecessary hospital stay.

Creator: Jean Holdridge Reeves

Biographical Info: Jean Holdridge Reeves (b. 1920) of Marion, Ohio, served in the Pacific as a member of the Red Cross from 1944 to 1946.

Collection: Jean Holdridge Reeves Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text: Dearest Folks,

At the end of my last letter I was just ready to tell you about the celebration for Betty’s anniversary. The evening before three of us had planned it for a surprise so the fellow invited us down just before going to chow. They always have coke, fruit juice, lolly water, on hand. As we walked in Betty was aghast at the table set with yellow luncheon cloth we had made: yellow lavender and white flowers in a blue & white fancy fruit cake box; bread and butter plates (this heavy old china but at least it wasn’t the usual [illegible]); We got her taking her coke as the story grew into one that was quite fantastic— Toglia (Tom’s Master Sgt) was announcing his engagement and we had prepared dinner and all for them. Well, Toglia has met a girl here to whom he is engaged but Betty didn’t know that the formal announcement had been made— so as 6:00 o’clock drew near we thought we’d put the tomato cocktail on and leave for the mess hall. At this point it was all so funny that we hardly got ourselves out the door and when we did we decided to go back in again.

That was the first course with the best yet to come. The greatest food desire we all have is for some cold plates and fresh fruits and vegetables. Each of us had made a list of articles to scrounge or pull out from your souvenirs until we had tomatoes stuffed with tuna fish, potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs and asparagus tips. I had it all arranged on the plates, of course, so they were easily served along with ice tea! Tom had gotten bananas from somewhere with which he made ice cream. None of us could say a word during the meal but just sat in ecstasy.

I’m so glad I remembered how to make mayonnaise and it turned out well even without an egg beater. That is the first mayonnaise I’ve had. Now we have all the ingredients except fresh eggs and whenever we get those I’ll make it again. What is the exact proportion of corn starch & water?

Today is very hot and sticky and I’m sewing again. Sunday is the only time I can use the machine at the time. They are huge power machines with automatic foot raises and everything but I am more accustomed to the simple things in life.

Since I worked all day yesterday I slept in the evening until Betty got off work and then the four of us had banana splits even in the real banana split dishes (really our ash trays). Some of the Chinese gave us bananas which are red on the outside and have a faint wild taste about them. They are about half as long as our big bananas too but often as large around. We had ice cream at the club with chocolate sauce and since Kay’s package arrived already we even had peanuts on top. That just made the evening. Now who in the states would have such a good time over a banana split?

Oh, Mother. I have the nicest locket of a picture of you in it. One of the post company boys made it out of a coin with plexoglass over the top. Then with a dog chain I’m all set.

Penny is back after ten days in the hospital. Betty and I ran the club all the time by ourselves. It went smoothly by one working morning, one afternoon and both at night. There really was nothing wrong but a slight rash and she could have taken care of it otherwise. She felt the need of a rest and when they wouldn’t give it to her otherwise she managed to get it.

Each afternoon I’ve been going to the hospital to see a boy who comes to the club regularly. Sometime ago he suffered a severe fall and feels the effects of it in his head and stomach several times each year.

Expect you’ll be in Joy now so will hope to catch you there.

Lovingly, Jean