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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Catherine Cox to Bob, 1944

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Object ID: WV0366.4.001

Description: Kay Cox gives a lengthy description of the physical and emotional state of wounded soldiers returning from overseas to Stark Hospital in Charleston, S.C. She informs Bob that they say conditions in Italy are horrific and that England is a preferable overseas assignment. Cox also discusses attending discounted performances at a local Charleston theater, food on base, and dances with G.I.s.


Biographical Info:

Collection: Catherine "Kay" Cox Letters

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: Dear Bob,

I received your very nice letter the other day. Good heavens man but you are working a terrific schedule. You must be simply exhausted by the time you hit the hay—which may indeed be fortunate if Skunk Hollow is such an isolated spot. At least I know one thing for sure—you can’t possibly feel like hiking to the P.X. and movies after such a day. Does all this go on seven days a week—or do you get a day off at some point? Or are you saving it for that three day pass? Needless to say, Bob, you and that prospect of a five hour trip make me very envious. And I suppose that it is Salem you would be going too[sic]?

We have been extremely busy here this week as we have just gotten in a bunch from overseas. That, if you happened to have looked up that article in Life I mentioned, you know is the prime function of this particular hospital. I do so wish Bob, that I could describe the reactions of these returning boys to you. First off, they can’t believe that they are here. Then they flock to the P.X.—some hobbling, others on crutches and wheelchairs—and those that can see lead those that can not. Coke—good American coke—is first on the docket and they will drink four or five in fifteen minutes time. Then ice cream and all the other various things of that nature that P.X.s carry. It is impossible for a person like me to walk into the P.X. without being asked to sit down for a coke and “please talk to us—it has been so long since there has been a girl we can understand.” Of course, you can’t refuse and each one insists upon buying you a coke—til you have visions of floating away.

Then there are the inevitable calls home and telegrams galore. I usually try to look up Mass. boys. I found one today from [Brueton? Brocton? Brockton?] and he and I fought out the [Brueton?]—Salem game of about ’37 I think—when [unclear] was playing for Salem and Montgomery for [Brueton?]. Sometimes it has been months since they have heard from home, and even though I do not come from right around there [sic] locale—there are questions like weather and places and things and in Boston that they like to talk of. It really makes you feel awfully good to go thru the wards talking to them and doing whatever errands you can for them.

They all come back convinced that America is a heaven on earth. And that they have never appreciated before. Italy sounds horrible and I do hope, Bob, that if you must go over that it is not to there. England, they say, is just like a furlough—so hope for that Bob—if you must go. Thus, as you say, being in the medics has its compensations even tho—ugh I am far removed from actually working with the boys.

A person could get frightfully discouraged here—because above and beyond speculating about the tremendous destruction that exists—we have an opportunity to see the actual harvests. There is one redeeming feature to all this though—and that is the boys themselves. Honestly, Bob, I have never seen such high morale and the worse their injury the better their spirits. They haven’t let anything get them down and they are swell company to be with.

But that is enough about that—I had to laugh when you mentioned service dances. They are rather awkward things aren’t they? I remember the last one I went to I got tangled up with a fellow from Idaho—our meeting was informal to say the least. He punched me on the shoulder and said, “Come on, chum, lets wiggle.” I had no choice in the matter for he wrapped an arm around my waist and started pushing me. Well, I am old-fashioned too, Bob, though I prefer to call it conservative and that sort of thing just doesn’t go, as far as I am concerned. I wouldn’t have budged for a formal introduction, but at the same time there was the matter of being civilized about the whole thing. Of course, some of the boys you do meet are nice but the rest sort of spoil it for you.

As for jitterbugs etc., yes, Bob—I agree with your tastes completely. Only please don’t call it old fashion—we aren’t dated you know. Conservative is a much nicer words—and doesn’t carry powdered wigs, hoop skirts and minuets for connotations.

I had a wonderful evening here in Charleston last week. I enjoy going to the theatre very much. It may possibly compensate for my lack of interest in opera—which I never can make head or tail of—but possibly you can set me straight on that some day. At any rate here in Chas. They have an old theatre which has recently been renovated. Last week—Ruth Draper—a monologist was the big attraction. And she was wonderful, Bob. Most of her program was take-offs on various parts of New England so I felt that it was old home week. She did an old Maine Sea Captains wife that was so real I could have imagined myself talking to anyone of four or five people in Maine. Then one about a woman who kept loosing [sic] her glasses—just Mom all over. I just killed myself over that. The associations that run these programs make it possible for service people to have the best seat in the house for less than seventy-five cents—and believe me I certainly intend to take full advantage of it.

Bob, I am still looking forward to that picture you mentioned some time ago. I hope that you haven’t forgotten it. As for mine I have finally sent to Mother for one taken before I went into the service—last June—in fact. I simply cannot get up my courage to go before a camera. A dentist is nothing in my young life—but a camera—oh Lord. It’s a silly phobia, I suppose—but I confess its a weakness.

I am glad the food is so good and plentiful at Bradley Field—for that is one item that can make or break life in the army. We have relatively the same situation here— though with considerably less emphasis on the milk unfortunately. But we have coffee that must be strong enough to run one of your bombers all by its’ lonesome—and I think you know what I mean.

Well Bob in about ten short minutes it will be time for me to get off work and go home—so I will close now and mail this on the way to the barracks. Obviously from the length of this letter, things have settled down to their own quiet self at the Information Desk—and I have taken to writing letters on the job again. I hope to hear from you soon, and don’t forget to tell me what happened to the plane—you’ve left me in suspense.

As always Kay.