Friday, June 10, 2022

"Feeling Great Enjoying Everything"

Today we're taking a quick peek at the letters of Willard S. Smith, a New Hampshire man who served as an army chaplain during World War II. Written between August 1944 and February 1945 from positions in England and France, he describes life in the army, his thoughts on the war's progress, and the news he receives from home. His writing style is verbose and playful, and as such his letters are an absolute delight to read. In one, Willard outlines his seasonal calendar at home with "Nor will it be too long now before sap time, then mud time, then arbutus time, then graduation time, then haying time, then Murphy Cottage time, then (and always) lovin' time!"

There isn't a lot of biographical information out there on Willard, but we do know that he was in his forties  during World War II, with a wife and children back at home. He worked as a minister and was a practicing magician - some of his letters refer to putting on shows for local French children and to his correspondence with all his "magic friends." If his correspondence is anything to go by, he was an enormous personality and we recommend getting to know him better. Until then, we'll leave you with one of the first pieces of correspondence in the collection - a telegram that reads, in full: "Feeling great enjoying everything always remember dear keep smiling."

To read Willard's letters yourself, ask for MS-757.