May 8, 1945
Letters from Harold J. Dahl
May 8, 1945
Dear Mom & Lou,
Mom’s birthday should be very happy what with one war over now. Let’s hope the other one gets over as quickly. The boys who have been in to allied towns on pass say it is swell to see no blackout.
There is something I want to tell you that up to now has merely been hinted at. While we do not plan to do it here in Europe, Nancy Woodell and I are to be married as soon as both our G.I. jobs are done. I know it sounds precipitous and all that, but I can assure you that I have my eyes wide open and know that I could never find a better wife. To give you a thumb-nail sketch - she is 28 - comes from California - has been in the Army Nurse Corps for 5 years - 2 1/2 overseas - is a 2nd Lieutenant. She is small - comes up to my chin & weighs about 110 - Nan is very dark, has a bit of Indian blood that gives her strong facial bones.
She is intelligent & kind & very, very honest - wants a home & children (more of them than I do). She, after so long in the army, has been around plenty - knows very well what she wants and sees that in me. Hovel thinks the world of her. Her religion is obscure - like me she favors the Catholic church over here but is not a member of any church. She is extremely neat, wiry of build, gets in trouble for speaking her mind; not exactly the thing to do in the army.
I have had many affairs - but at no time have I been able to escape the feeling that if Yolanda were to show up she would have me in a minute - that is, until now. For the first time since Jo was in New York I have the feeling of going all-out for a girl - without her my mind is not at home -
So you will see her point of view I quote below her reply to my question of when did she want to get married.
“When? - whenever possible - where? - wherever we are - How soon things can be arranged depends not on us - but the convenience of the government. I don’t think we can really make any definite plans, Dear - there is still too much to do - Darling I love you as completely as my self is able but I intend to stick to my job until it is over. You know as well as I that we must finish this before we start our own lives. When we do marry I want it to be a complete marriage - not one for a few days and then more months and years perhaps of separation. I want to begin together and build together from there on. The early years of a marriage are the important ones and those are the ones we must have together. Just remember I love you from now until forever.”
That is a little on the personal side, I know - but it tells you more about her than I could ever describe.
I’m sorry, Mom, that I could never see myself married to Mary [Van Duyne], much as I like her. If you are in any way disappointed I’m sure you will feel better about it when you meet her, - I mean Nancy, of course. One of the main things is that she stacks up well against comparison with such people as Olga, Gracie & Jo Pardo, who, much as you disapproved of her, was the most loyal, devoted friend I ever had.
Instead of sending home the Luxembourg painting I bought, I am sending it to Paris to Nancy to brighten up her room in lieu of the ring I obviously cannot purchase for her here. She will care for it well, I know - especially with Hovel’s help.
Incidentally - she told me that Hovel’s sketches are to be published - whether by Brentano or not, I don’t know. He wants me to collaborate by writing comments but I don’t know if we will be able to get together on it, communications being what they are. A letter from Paris takes 10 days to reach me!
Tracy had a repetition of his previous bad luck - this time more seriously I fear. And Riggs & Cap’t Raynor still have not come back to us but we’re still waiting.
Answering your letter of April 24th - It was wonderful to be in Paris, although I didn’t sleep between sheets since I forwent my G.I. accommodations and slept in a pension so that I could be near Nancy [Woodell]. The subway doesn’t run after 11:00 PM and we wanted to stay out later than that. I slept only 6 hours in the 3 days time.
I have asked Nancy [Woodell] to send you a copy of a picture she sent me -also asked Hovel to send you a copy of a snapshot of us two - she & I. The jacket I have on she gave me & Hovel gave me the lovely, shiny paratrooper style boots. I like them even better than my combat boots & the jacket is the best G.I. garment ever put out. I’ll bring it home when I come.
When I get it, I’m going to send you a snapshot of me taken up in Bourgliminster with a little barmaid who wanted to be photographed with an American soldier.
Let me know how you make out with the bookplate and the framing of the Lux. painting I sent.
Today on guard I spent all afternoon talking German with some Russian girls! Remarkable how they understood my broken Deutsch!
Hope to see you soon -
P.S. You will think kindly of Nan?