Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen



Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen


Quotes from a poem and wishes her happy upcoming Christmas. Speculates on her coming to the United States and possible future. Mentions his worse traits. Says he has looked at other girls but keeps remembering her who made him so happy. Continues with possible plans to get her to him. Continues with long ramblings on his feelings.




Temporal Coverage



Four-page handwritten letter


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Sunday, Dec. 16, 1945

My darling Cathie:
I saw a little excerpt from a poem I liked; decided you might like it to – if you’ve seen the picture “You Came Along,” the story of 3 American flyers, you’ll know it, because it played a prominent part in a fine picture. If you get the chance, see it – for my sake – i.e. – if you haven’t already

“He giveth you wings to fly,
And breathe the air on high,
And care for you everywhere,
Who for yourself, so little care ….”

I think it was written by Longfellow – I’m not sure.

Honey, Christmas is just around the corner, and I can’t be angry very long when it isn’t a festive period, & at this time, when I think of how this old world needs “peace on earth, good will toward man” I could never think of being angry at anyone – especially you, when I need you so much & want you so. I’ve tried to tell myself that we were too far removed from each other to make a successful go of it, but I knew all the time I was lying – and it all boils down to this;

You may be sorry for it if you do come, how ever I want you to, and we can give it a trial. I’m warning you now that I’ll spill ashes from my pipe & cigarettes on the rug; I leave the bath-room littered with clothes; I don’t like to pick up things after me; I have an uncontrollable fondness for a bit of spirits ever [sic] so often, I’m moody, and like to read the morning newspaper at the breakfast table, and during that meal you’d probably never see me; I’m the world’s worst dancer; I can’t carry a note (although I try to sing), I loathe tea, and drink gallons of coffee every day; besides the “Lady of the Lake,” “The White Cliffs,” is the only poem I ever read & liked, I’ll probably be poor all my life – a struggling young


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writer who writes books that’ll probably never sell (I can always revert back to my early Army career when I was doing K.P., and get a job as a dishwasher) – besides I won’t have to work after you become the Sarah Bernhardt of this decade – I don’t like to shave, and I’ll look like Monty Wooley perhaps, and numerous other faults I’ll not mention, but if you think you can stand them (and not ever try to reform me, because the Air Forces have given me a supreme hatred of discipline) would you like to share these offenses to perfection with this an one – say for about a lifetime?

God only knows why you should desire such a life – for my debits decidedly obscure my credits, as far as the habits of the human race go, and although I’m not selfish enough to make any demands, I AM human enough to want you.

And if you won’t disclose my secret, and abuse my confidence, I’ll let you in on a little secret: The first time I saw you, tearing down the hill at Cyderstone on your bicycle, I said: (to myself, I might add in all fairness to you) “That is the girl I am going to marry.”

Jeez, Cathie, I’ve looked at other girls since I’ve been back here; I’ve gone out with them; I’ve tried to make myself like them, but I keep remembering a lil ole half-pint of a person who used to make me very happy, & laugh & forget that I was 4,000 miles from home. So what do you say?

Tomorrow, or the next day I plan to leave for Elmira, N.Y., leaving one life behind, and starting another anew. I think I can go to work on the Morning paper there, to supplement my funds while down putting out my “masterpiece,” and I’ll be only 250 miles from New York City, ready to take off whenever your boat comes in.

So, if it takes an engagement to get a visa, or passport, you can present this letter, for although a

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ring is lacking right now, (I’ve depleted my savings, almost, on civilian garb – suits are $50 apiece, top-coats $75, & I’ve spent about $800 (£200) on various things already – including having myself a sweet time – which I think I deserved after being discharged) you can consider your “esteemed, honorable [sic] self” engaged – if you wish – I’ve mustered enough courage to speak thus far; and I may never get it again. Let me know, pronto, what your decision is, and I’ll look around for a ring as soon as I get to Elmira. No need to get it until I’m sure. If so (you say “si, si, oui, oui, ya” or any language meaning “yes” I’ll know) – English preferred though – what size do you take – 3rd finger, left hand? Better use a piece of string to measure it, too, because American & British sizes may not correspond. And (although you gave me this info, or part of it once before – another fault – very poor memory; I’ll forget birthdays, anniversaries, important events) give me a complete resume of the size dress (length included, if that is done) stockings, shoes (shoes aren’t rationed anymore – in fact no commodities (except sugar) are – all meats, & everything are point free; clothes never were rationed.

You see, milady, though I’ve known quite some time, I know very little about you, and I know a lot too – if that makes sense.

I do know you like Tschaikowsky, [sic] Shakespeare (High school days dampen my appreciation for him because of 30 line passages I had to memorize from “As You Like It,” “King Henry, the Somethingth” [sic] which hizzown [sic] reverence conceived) & nature & beauty …. I could go on indefinitely.

You’d love the mts. around Elmira (incidentally Mark Twain married a girl from that city & his remains,


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study, so forth, are there yet. And it was in Chemung County (of which Elmira [underlined] is [/underlined] the County seat, and that the Yankees defeated a superior Red Coat Army & Indians in the American Revolution, & was where our independence, virtually was won.

It’s so high that when one stands on the peak his ears thud, & he feels bright & happy, and about 2000 feet below – in an [indecipherable word] (excuse spelling) of train winds its way, snake-like through tight passages, leaving a billowing trail of smoke & cinders belched up by the mighty engines. When I was there the leaves were truly a wonderland, a virtual panorama of vividness, in bright red slashes; pastel, subdued tans, yellows, greens; Autumn serenade –

Someone has the [two indecipherable words] us – we, the inhabitants of the so-called South, have been undermined, & betrayed. It has snowed here! True, there were only a few light flakes, melting long before they touched the ground (they were nice to see, floating airily from the Heavens, seemingly to appear opaque in their oblique descent toward a watery climax, terminating a brief but beautiful life, as the talons of a sodden earth, hungrily disepating [sic] little geometrical flakes, never allowing them a moments respite. (This could go on forever; what I’m trying to say is: Snowflakes start down, they come in a diagonial [sic] direction, they melt when they hit a rain-soaked earth. That is all – “roger, over, & out.”

But the inclement weather didn’t persist – lasted only a few hours; now the sun is shining once more, and although it’s far from warm, everything is nice.

Before I sign off, please tell me what month your birthday is in & the date –

For now I’ll tap out of here, hoping to hear from you very soon – All my love – always,

Yours forever

P.S. I still want a tinted photo. Will send you one – if you want it – soon –



F Killen, “Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 20, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39860.

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