Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen



Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen


Another long rambling letter describing his thoughts and feelings. Very pleased to receive her letters. Writes about films and their possible future. Writes about the United States and differences in spelling English and American. Continues with long ramblings on occurrences, activities and friends.




Temporal Coverage



Eight=page handwritten letter


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[United States Army Air Forces crest]

Monday, Oct. 1 – ‘45

San Antonio, Texas

My darling!

Monday again – but definitely not blue Monday – it’s green – see my change of ink? Know why? At mail call this A.M. yours very truly received no less than 10 letters – and of these 1/5 (2) came from a certain little lady I used to know (what am I saying – used to know???) Many months ago in a spot known as England. What’s more one of these epistles contained a very nice likeness of this Yorkshire lass, & I am very happy, and gay, and the blues are long forgotten; just enough time has lapsed since reading these joyous communiques for me to have a bite of lunch (I didn’t go to the mess hall; I went across the street to the P.X. for a chocolate malt, a coke, & a couple of sandwiches) before I begin a reply. I mailed you an air mail letter Friday of last week, and I’ve sent innumerable letters regular mail (before I was paid) which should come in at various times. Also I’ve sent postcard views of New Orleans, & folders giving many scenes & an abridged history of the fair city. Also cards of various Texas cities – I don’t know what mode of conveyance is employed to get this class mail to England – probably sail-boat, but it definitely doesn’t go first class – I’m sure (OVER)

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To say that I was wildly pleased to have received these long epistles from you is to put it mildly. I was – shall I say delirious with joy? It seems that all your communiques are arriving in pairs – and if I read correctly my last 2 you received came simultaneously.

The studio promised me the prints tomorrow, & if they [underlined] do [/underlined] arrive, I’ll send them to you immediately I receive them. And as soon as I get home, as much as I hate to, I know Mother will want me to put on my Army uniform for the last time & make a portrait – if they flatter me, I’ll send you one; if not, I won’t.

Darling, I appreciated your discourse on Stan & my admiration for him – I think it was hero-worship more than anything else. Every kid has these stages, when some ideal is set up, and anything remotely connected with this ideal is to be idolized. You went much deeper than this lame-brain of mine incapable of functioning, but I got the general impression.

Like Chopin, “I am possessed of moods” – remember George Sands telling him she thought she knew all his moods, except that last one? I will be happy one minute & unhappy the next – I am capable of such varied emotions, BUT, fortunately they

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usually are short lived - & soon forgotten (my darker moods, I mean) & replaced by the sunshine of laughter, for which man was made.

I bet you & I could have a lot of fun together, planning a home, arguing as to what sex the first kid would be, me grumbling because you boiled my egg 5 minutes instead of 4 1/2, travelling around seeing American, sailing back to England for a holiday (“Oh! to be in England, now that April’s there.”) maybe going on to gay Paris, and Vienna, and watching the waters of the Danube (“blue, they say, only to those in love”) To me it would be the most beautiful blue I have ever seen. And Venice & Genoia with their canals - & gondoliers & musicians strumming guitars to lovers. On the mountains of Maine in the spring, and fishing in the cool, mt. streams, or Miami in the winter – sunshine palm trees, swimming on Christmas day, when the rest of the U.S. is shivering in her blanket of snow. Laughing, living life. Or curled up on the divan some Winter’s evening, before an open fireplace – the wind howling outside; thunder booming through the Heavens, and rain pattering against the window pane. Safe inside, listening to gay, festive gypsy music, or Chopin’s plaintive

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creations, or Tschaikowsky [sic] (that’s the composer) Letting the world with her agonies & miseries roll by, not touching us. New Orleans at carnival time (Mardi Gras) which is undoubtedly the most extravagant celebration anywhere, anytime, in America. When joy & gaiety reigns supreme, & all cares are forgotten – winding your way along crowd-infested streets, dodging confetti, & showers of rice & paper; magnificent floats a blaze of multi-colors [sic] – and the police dept. takes a holiday for a week – you can do no wrong. This is a heritage of the days when New Orleans was populated by French alone, and today it surpasses the like celebrations held in Paris, or anywhere in the world where a Mardi Gras is held.

The tap-tap-tap of my typewriter knocking out another masterpiece; my consultation with you if the English [underlined] always [/underlined] insert a “U” before an “R” when it is supposed to be “OR” – like HARBOR (Am. version) or HARBOUR (English version) and me telling you it’s useless, and a wastage of a letter; Arguing England’s & America’s merits – but in fun, telling each other his country stinks; is no good – but we’ll both know the other is joking.

Oh, there are a million things I’d like for you to see – the expression in your eyes when you gazed straight up for more than

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a quarter of a mile at New York City’s Empire State Building, easily the world’s tallest – can you imagine a man-made construction 102 stories in height – so high, in fact that one becomes dizzy just looking at it. And other bldgs. 60 – 80 stories in height – once considered tall & elegant, but long [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] dwarfed since the Empire’s construction. Imagine getting in an elevator (lift) and going to the summit; gazing down at the little fly-like creatures – men – walking around on the streets.

There would be new things to see & explore every day, & life wouldn’t be boring. We take just as much pride in our new & modern architecture as Europe does in her old creations. We were born too late for antique things, so we devote our resources to concocting things new & different; things that the rest of the world has never thought of. I was looking at a book of statistics & the things (and percentage of these things on a global scale) we have amazed me. About 70 percent of the world’s telephones, over 50 percent of the Autos; I thought everybody had these things in all the countries the world over, but I’ve found we are the world’s “laziest” people. i.e. – we spend all our time & effort on new inventions to save us labor [sic] & give us more leisure. If ever the energy of the atom can be corraled & used to [underlined] good [/underlined] advantage, instead of destructive force, it will certainly be a boon to the American people. They won’t have to work at all.


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One of the letters I received today was from my buddy’s Mother (the sailor I met in London when I was supposed to have met you & our dates of pass didn’t coincide, remember I wrote you about the hilarious & half witty time I had, & dressed up as a sailor for a day, etc.) in Elmira, New York. Well, she has taken a fancy to me, even though I have never met her, but she sends me 2 or 3 lengthy epistles every week, usually with some funny story to cheer me up. She is married to an Englishman & thus she doesn’t like anyone of English breed. She & her husband have a partnership like the one you mentioned – girl 30, man 60 – this one is purely platonic, & right now I’m trying to persuade her that [underlined] I have [/underlined] found the English person who [underlined] IS [/underlined] different. Her husband is lazy & she works all the time, running a farm, & playing in town (she’s an orchestra leader, & wizard pianist) 4 nights a week, so she thinks all Englishmen are like her husband. She’s being a little unfair & unjust, though. I’ve grown very fond of her through her epistles, & I shall visit her at the termination of my Army career (at her continued persistence) and possibly settle in New York. She is acquainted with everyone in the newspaper business, & says she can help me to get a place on one of them. She also want me to go to Cornell University, just 16 miles from her home & study journalism, staying with her while doing so. She says she is so glad that her son met, & became friends with someone like me. She flatters me; even though I don’t deserve it, I love it.

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She said she thought the Navy might change Bob, but fortunately it hadn’t; that he [underlined] still was particular [/underlined] about whom he chose for his friends – indicating that I, myself, was an all-right guy.

Bob wrote me that his Mother had fallen in love with me, & jokingly said I must have a way with the women, for them to feel like that even before they met me. Aren’t I self-centred?

Enough of that.

Last night I went to the movies here on the base & saw “Love Letters” – laid in Essex & London with Jennifer Jones (who won the academy award for her first picture “The Song of Bernadette”) and Joseph Cotton, & Ann Richards, a new actress just come to Hollywood from Australia. Was sort of mushy, & oozy with sugary-love, but was a nice treat. Now that I’ve seen (part of) England I have a greater appreciation for pictures with that setting. It involved war, murder, amnesia, & everything you might wish for. But a little on the “impossible” side.

To accomplish all those things I have written about, I must first find a place for myself in this world. I couldn’t possibly ask you to share with me what the world may dish out. There are likely to be many hard knocks, and rough sledding & at this moment all my ambitions are in the dream-stage. What the outcome will be, I haven’t the slightest way of knowing. Sometimes


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it takes years, decades, or a life-time for a writer’s work to become recognized. Of course there are other things I could do until I become a success, but would I be happy? Everything isn’t right now – I mean about security, etc. because I’d ask no girl to share a life with me until I had these things which are imperative. Some people say hard knocks make a couple happy, but I don’t see it ….

But I never knew how much I really missed you until 5,000 miles of ocean & land separated us. But life is like that. Darling, I’ll send the pix tomorrow if they arrive. Write often, because your letters are a joy to this old heart of mine. I’m so sleepy I can hardly hold the pen up. Thanks again for the nice letters & the photo. I’d better taxi out of here, & get some sleep. So I’ll be dreaming of you.

All my love

As Ever



F Killen, “Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 17, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39856.

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