Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen



Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen


Writes that he had received her letters and describes his latest activities including meeting up with his brother who he had not seen for 4 years. Mentions his plans for the future and describes in detail a friend who Cathie seems to have disapproved of. Gives reasons for his plans to go and live in Elmira New York. Continues with long ramblings and speculates on her coming to the United States.




Temporal Coverage



Nine-page handwritten letter


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[crest of Patterson Field Telephone Service Centre, Dayton, Ohio]

Oct. 30, 1945.

My dearest Cathie:

I came home yesterday, and received a surprise when I found about a dozen letters from you – There was another surprise – too – I spent the night at my Aunt’s in Alexandria & she is now working, so I slept late. What should happen, but a knock came on the door, and I opened it – to face – my brother whom I hadn’t seen in four years. He was standing there with a chest full of ribbons (after 3 years of fighting in the Pacific) – he deserved them. He had also been discharged (I received mine Oct. 9 in Dayton, Ohio (yes, they finally shipped me out of Texas)

After I was released I went on to spend a couple of weeks with Mom McDougall, the lady you so vehemently ran down. I wish you hadn’t jumped to conclusions – I

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admit I couldn’t figure why she was prejudiced to all Englishmen, but after visiting her I could easily understand her side.

Regardless of what you may say or do, she IS my friend, and she’ll ALWAYS be my friend. My own Mother couldn’t have been more kind, & showered more affection or devotion on me. I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE MET A MORE SINCERE PERSON. She cried when I left, and I’m going back to Elmira, N.Y. to live – I’ve made my mind up. There isn’t one ounce of pretention or sham in her makeup, and her frankness is something I admire. So if she has an utter loathe for all English persons, I know she has good reason. So, if you will bear with me, I’ll enlighten you, my dear, to the situation.

She is a great musician – piano & [indecipherable word] combo., and since she left her first husband (who was unfaithful - & later regretted it) she has made a comfortable living for her two children – the court declared him an unfit father,

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and gave her full custody. Never has he contributed one cent toward their education or livlihood. [sic]

Seven years ago she met Mr. McDougall – a widower with a little boy her own son’s age. They were married, & she showed no discriminations toward her flesh & blood children & her step-son. In fact she never referred to him at all as a step-child & the kids all called her Mom & him Dad. The step-son had a weak mother & he had always had his way. She became a true mother to him & today her own son takes no fonder place in her heart than Bobbie –

Soon her husband started to drink excessively, & several times struck her. As his salary wasn’t so generous she kept on working, making $125 (about £30) a week to give all the kids things he could not afford on his salary.

She left him 3 times & went back to him each time because the kids (both hers & his) declared they’d never come home if they separated permanently. They live under the same roof, but not as man & wife just for the

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sake of keeping the boys contented.

It will be at least 3 years before all of them are out & she can be free to divorce him. This is the one factor in her life I blame her – she should divorce him, regardless of what the kids said. Because he is lazy & does nothing around the house. She works from 9 – 1 each night, attends to all business matters, keeps the house, and is busy redecorating their winter home. I helped her with this, painting & decorating three rooms myself, & do you think the great McDougall lifted his hand to move one thing. Can you expect a woman to have RESPECT for a man who is built like that? It may work in England, BUT NOT IN AMERICA. American women are the most royally treated in the world. We don’t think of them as automats; things to labor [sic] & slave for us. No, Cathy, I’m afraid your conception of the American woman isn’t quite clear. We consider them treasures – something to be proud of – and not mere robots to jump at our every command. Women in America

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warm clothing, a large sum of money, 40 lbs. more on his bones than when she took him in. He left with enough cash to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life – yes, her POOR, POOR husband; my heart bleeds for HIM, too. If he were in my house, I’d not only talk about him; I’d [underlined] do [/underlined] something about him.

NO. 3 – (and the last straw) Elmira is near the Canadian border & some English airmen training there often came across to the U.S. & into the café where mom McDougall plays. One flight officer in particular whom they gave a royal welcome, & tried to make feel at home.

He persisted in dancing with his cap at that ungodly angle on the side of his head, & he was warned to remove it while dancing, regardless of how fetching he thought he appeared. So Mom politely re-

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moved it for him when HE wouldn’t. He doubted her authority to perform such a deed & proceeded to use strong language, & she slapped his face. Then is when he made a crack that England was doing allright [sic] until we stuck our “bloody” nose into it. One only has to look at the records, to see the sense in that – or listen to Gen. Montgomery’s statement who said, and I quote: “We were down on our knees, and our last hope vanquished until America came into the war.” Possibly Monty is in a position to make an authentic statement – perhaps moreso than the wise f.o. Two of Mom’s friends CPOs in the U.S. Navy politely escorted the guy to the door & through it to the street, in no polite manner either. She refused to tell them his exact words, because she knew he’d probably be killed by the sailors, & it wasn’t worth it – from a nincompoop like the f.o.

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Can you say or believe America hasn’t done her duty in this war? These two wars, for about 80 percent of all the forces in the Pacific were American. When our factories turned out 100,000 planes a year & all plants went full-blast & we sent food to every nation under the sun. Show me [underlined] one [/underlined] country with an equal population that has come near to rivalling this effort. Great B. controls almost a quarter of the world’s population & land surface, yet OUR Armies & Navies, & Air Forces, at peak strength, were greater than any in the world.

Mom’s parents came directly from England; so she isn’t judging the whole peoples by her own POOR husband. If she wants to renounce the country of her ancestors, that’s one thing in America that one is allowed to do. A man can rise as high as his knowledge & wits permit. There are no family restrictions, no customs that an aristocrat mut go into the president’s chair because his father was in there. That is one custom we don’t tolerate –

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You may not think it worth my time to persuade Mrs. McDougal to like you – Gee, I wish you hadn’t written those things about her – because I showed her a couple of your letters & she liked you very much & she even wanted to get you a Visa to come to the U.S. She has pull & it was no trouble to get passage for her husband’s father, either to come to America, or when he returned to England.

She wanted you to come on a 3 month Visa, & said you were always welcome at her house – she was to do this for both our goods. She wanted us to know each other under normal conditions; wanted us to see if the 2 countries COULD meet & get along. She wanted to know if YOU could leave your parents & home-land and have no regrets.

But I don’t suppose you’d want to accept such hospitality from a person you so thoroughly despise.

I’m afraid I’ll have to accept your scrubbing of any plans to come to

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a scientific world that we are, but I wouldn’t be happy. If I write books that won’t sell – all my life – and achieve happiness, then I have gained everything.

I don’t know if you’ll want to keep writing to me, or not. The newspaper that published my other article wants me to write one about the Pacific, tracing my brother’s experiences & escapades – now I’m bickering over the financial situation I [underlined] don’t [/underlined] have to write it; the editor needs it, & if I spend a couple of days laboring [sic] over another eight column story, he will pay – plenty.

For now I’ll cut this off – It’s time for lunch –




F Killen, “Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 20, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39859.

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