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I thought I would offer a bit of explanation as to how the team of "Amanda and Dad" went about writing the James Neville and Catherine books that has led us to be providing our readers with a "Chapter 2-A" today.
When we finally started on the war letter stash the letters were spread out on the dining room table in my house in Cumming, Georgia. I've previously mentioned that the letters were sorted by date and letter writer before the reading process began. Notes were taken on every letter on a blank over sized desk type calendar; one calendar sheet for his letters and one for hers.
After a couple of months worth of letters were read I actually started the writing process and quickly realized that the chapters would be defined by where James Neville was stationed; what "Camp" he was in. I often called Amanda and read interesting letters to her over the phone and we shared the early misery felt by James Neville and the loneliness and fatigue of Catherine. I finished writing Chapter One in about two weeks since it only contained about three or four weeks of letters. and then e-mailed it to Amanda so that she could see the form and style I was using.
Chapter Two took longer as he was in Abilene for over three months. Writing was becoming more challenging as decisions about what to include became more difficult. As basic training in Texas drew to a close and he boarded a train to begin his "Tech School" training I was able to put a period on Chapter Two and send it off to Amanda for her editing. At the same time I was able to give Amanda a box containing all the letters through August 10, 1944 along with the daily notes I had made.
|Catherine and Duke in college|
After making several changes to "my" Chapters One and Two, Amanda introduced the idea that several letters that were exchanged in July deserved special treatment. So, Amanda put together what became known as Chapter Two-A. We include it at this time for your reading pleasure.
James Neville and Catherine,
The War Years – 1944-1946
Chapter Two – A
“Should I not come home…”
There is a particularly powerful exchange between James Neville and Catherine that deserves special attention. On July 18, 1944, he writes to her on a subject that had remained unspoken about up to this point, what should happen if he does not return from the war. “Should I not come home, all I would ever expect of you is just to remember that I loved you. Whatever you decided to do or live would be strictly right and proper from any standpoint. I love you. Now don’t let these last few paragraphs in this letter worry and upset you. If I were miserable and did not expect to return I could not write them. They are things that should be said by any soldier at some time when he has courage to say them. I know of many persons who ruined their lives because they lived in the past. I shall never mention these things again, so let me say them now once and for all. … I would not want my children’s life darkened by a mourning mother.”
“Darling, I love you,
I got back to the P.O. early today, right on the stroke of 12 noon. Your letter was waiting for me. I opened it and read the first few lines, as I always do just to see how you were feeling. I knew almost before I had read a line or two that it was a happy letter. It made me happy too. I came in the house humming aloud. Myrtle wanted to know if someone had sprinkled stardust on me. I felt as if they had. All your letters are dear to me and I feel I couldn’t live without them, but one like this one today is perfect. It “sends me” as the youngsters say today. So full of humor and news and understanding, so very dear. I love you so much.
Read the rest of Chapter Two-A here....
Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)