Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen



Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen


Writes that he had spent time in Louisiana and that it was a long time since he had written in longhand. Comments on weather and says he buys every Vera Lynn record. Writes about shows he has seen. Continues with long rambling passage on thoughts and feelings. Reminisces and wishes they could be together. Goes on and mentions activities and goings on in his location.




Temporal Coverage



Eight-page handwritten letter


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[United States Army Air Forces crest]

Mitchel Air Force Base

June 27, 1948

My dearest darling Cathie:

At last I get ready to write again – after weeks in which I seldom knew whether I was sane or not – whether I was coming or going. It’s a long story & I won’t bother you with details. But it was a family matter. I spent 30 days in Louisiana. That was added to the trouble I’ve had at the office – But let me forget those past few weeks – I’m still praying that you’ll be able to get across this year. I’ll have the money – I hope (if nothing else arises) in 2 or 3 months.

This letter is the first one I’ve written in long hand in a LONG time, and I must admit I’m a little out of practice. And I’m sitting on my bed, writing on my knee – so I hope you will forgive in illegibility of this letter. It’s Sunday afternoon – it’s raining – Long Island weather is much like England’s. And the radio is playing – a nice Sunday program – orchestra – It’s “Tree in the Meadow” – an English tune that I have just now heard for the [underlined] first [/underlined] time. I understand it has been popular there for a long time.

I buy every Vera Lynn record that is issued in this country – I like her so much. She has become a great favorite [sic] over here since another ban has gone on recordings and none of the companies


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are allowed to make any new recordings until a settlement is made with the labor [sic] & musicians’ unions. “You Can’t Be True, Dear” is by far Vera’s greatest American success “How Lucky You Are” is another one of her biggest successes. Gracie Fields “Now Is the Hour” has hit the jackpot –

Another English favorite [sic] who has scored is Bea Lilly – in “Inside U.S.A.” – It’s the biggest hit musical on Broadway & tickets are practically non-existent – and Miss Lilly is being impersonated on every Radio program & in every stage show – a real proof of success.

I have just returned from the post theatre where I saw “The Iron Curtain” starring Dana Andrews (Remember him as the disillusioned young Air Force captain in “The Best Years of Our Lives?” However this was cheap propaganda & lousy – not near as entertaining as “Best years”….

Darling, Cathie, there are so many memories – so many little things that bring back moments of yesterday – little things that make me want to cry out – and return to England. Cathie, dearest, have you ever grown up? Is this growing up? I never really wanted to fully grow up – I wanted to cling to those memories of the past that were so dear to me for a little longer at least until I have you in person – then I won’t have to live in the past – there will be nothing in that which is gone by that will interest

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me once I have attained that for which I was looking back.

It never rains but it carries me back to a little spot near Aylsham – or Oulton – and it’s been raining so much of late … I never look at a rhodend (I can’t spell it – the large beautiful purple flowers which punctuate the roadside between Aylsham & Norwich) but what I remember our bicycle trek to the city of Norwich & back – you & I – in love, but I was too ignorant to know it. Why must I always be so stupid? What a fool – a blind, stubborn, fool. But actually, darling heart, I don’t think I was ready for marriage then – life was just one sweet adventure with visions of grandeur about what was waiting for me back in America. Not that I can say I am fully qualified to get married now, but I am moreso than when I left England… I’m tired of being unhappy & lonely – I want something that is real & dear & belongs to me alone. I want to be happy – I want you!

Darling, if I could but see you tonite [sic] – hear that tinkling bell you call laughter, see your eyes crinkle – oh – if I don’t get you this year I don’t know what I’ll do – but I can’t even think that our dreams will not materialize = this year.

How I would love to be in Devonshire with you. It must be wonderful country – I’ve heard so much about it but never had the good fortune to get there – but there was so much of England I couldn’t see because I was blinded by my own selfish desires & my love of London –


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Incidentally, how is [underlined] my [/underlined] city? Do they still feed the pidgeons [sic] in Trafalgar Square and do the “unholy” women still roam the depth of Piccadilly? Do the “entertainers” still “perform” for the people in theatre [indecipherable word] – and do the orators still preach from soap-boxes in Hyde Park? And do the crazy old lovable taxis still creek along Oxford & honk at Regent St. & Shaftesbury Ave? And is London deserted on Sunday morning until noon – and do the urbanites still join the cinemas on Sunday afternoons –

Do they still serve lousy boiled potatoes at Simpsons – and serve good cold beer at Lyons Corner Houses? Do they still put powdered milk in boiled tea? I wonder if you can still stand on the banks of Southampton Waters and watch the super liners plowing [sic] through the waters – headed for wonderful destinations – Tokyo – Africa, New York, Halifax? = Darling – has the brown-out been lifted – are there lights again & real peace? Do the RAF bombers still thunder overhead – and do the balloons still “protect” the larger cities or have they all been removed. We used to joke about them saying they held the island afloat – that so much artillery was stored on England that she would sink if the balloons were cut free.


Honestly, though, I’ve tried every angle I know to get to Germany – but they won’t let me go – the requests far exceed the quota for Europe – everybody wants to go. Pacific is open but no one wants that part of the earth. I can’t blame them. I have seen so

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much of this so-called “land of plenty” that I would love to see another part of the world. New York to me is a mass of steel and glass and pavements, cold and hard, engulfing 8 million persons in a life & death struggle = I can’t like the place – maybe it’s because I don’t want to like it – I’m just a country man at heart – But I loved London – that doesn’t add up – does it dear?

I have 2 pairs of nylons on the way to you – which I hope arrive in good condition. I’ve had them for some time, but lost them & found them again, so mailed them before they were misplaced again. Hope they will come in handy.


Yes, dearest heart, I received the sweater (pullover) and I thought it was a magnificent job – it must have taken many long hours of tedious work for you to complete. Everyone who saw it was pleased & said “It’s such a nice real English wool” – The “snowflake” pattern caused quite a bit of talk – how hard it must have been to make the pattern – Honey, I wore it several times before it got too hot – I’ve had it dry-cleaned and put away until this Fall when it gets cold again. Thanks, a lot sweetheart – I’m proud of it – but why did you have to work so hard on that sweater? It’s a beautiful pattern


The Mitchel Players, local amateur group staged their second production while I was away – “Separate Rooms” – from what I heard it was well-received – a comedy. Most G.I. audiences go for comedy – nothing

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serious = They’ve sort of made me an honorary member because of the publicity I give them – I went on a clam bake at Jones Beach, 11 miles from here, with The Players. Although I don’t eat clams – I never ate one – so I don’t know if I would like them. But I did have some roast corn ([underlined] maize [/underlined] to you) and had several cans of beer – the first I’ve had in a long long [sic] time--

They’re sponsoring an all-day outing at a nearby lake early in July & I’ve been invited. Suppose I’ll go – they’re going horseback riding & I haven’t been riding in a long time –


Darling, I’m glad you can now tell one bird from another – and one flower – about the only flower I’m sure of is the sunflower and rose.


I want to have some pictures made; I want to send you some – also some to my mother. I have a WAC staff photographer, so I’ll get her to make some pictures – I will also have studio pictures made. But darling, I still want a tinted one from you – a large one without the theatrical makeup – please, darling, please –


How are you doing with the Players? You speak of rambling around the country from one place to another. There’s something very glamorous about all this –

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from a layman’s point of view, but I imagine to you, dear, it must get boring – After such a period that the newness & glamour wear off …


If you only had a chance to emote where all the people could see you – I still want to see you before the footlights. When you come here I hope you will join The Mitchel Players & add a professional touch. They need good leading ladies – also good directors – you would be perfect in either role.


Sweetheart, I’ve just about made up my mind to defy the Air Force, State laws & everything else and have a trans Atlantic [sic] wedding. Perhaps New Jersey, Connecticut or New Hampshire or even Pennsylvania recognize this kind of wedding – they’re all neighbouring States. I’ve been inquiring, but I suppose I’ll have to write direct to the State capitals.


Sweetheart, It’s growing dark now and I’m alone here in a crowd – alone with my thoughts of you – I’ll write you again very soon - & I hope I hear from you shortly. Also hope you receive the nylons –

So for now darling Cathie –

All my love – my life – forever & Always –




F Killen, “Letter to Cathie from Ford Killen ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 20, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39867.

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