This is the story of Walter and Ina. It begins before they met, when he was taking aerial photographs of occupied France from a Sopwith A2, and she was looking for work in rural Texas and worrying about the boys “over there.” They continued on separate paths until 1924.
That year, he was conducting agricultural research near the town where she lived, and one Sunday they met. Thus began a forty-year relationship. From that time on, they wrote letters to each other whenever they were apart. The result is a first-person narrative of love, war, and science.
This is not fiction. It’s transcribed directly from my grandparents’ correspondence, and I’ll be posting a new letter or two every day in chronological order. Any text in italics is from me, but I’ll only be stepping in when a letter seems to need more details and context. Ina seems to have done a better job saving Walter’s letters than vice-versa, so you’ll hear more from him than from her. Don’t worry, though – it’s easy to pick up her story from his letters, and you will also be hearing from her directly on occasion. I’ll also be posting letters from some of their friends and co-workers, and related documents that help show what their lives were like.
Please remember that this correspondence starts early in the 20th century, and I’m transcribing it verbatim. If you’re not accustomed to reading historical documents from that time period, you may be surprised to see words that are no longer “politically correct.” It’s important to read them in the context of the time. Also, please note that I’m just a transcriptionist on this blog – I’m presenting their correspondence, not endorsing their opinions and linguistic choices.
One final note. Both of these people are dead now. Readers should feel free to comment on letters they find especially interesting or moving, but keep it civil.