The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 29 Part I

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The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 29 Part I

  1. 1. Welcome to the first of five parts of Chapter 29, which I’ve been calling the War Years Chapters. This firstone tells the story of what happened during the Second World War from the point of view of Rosalie SeiffThorne, the eldest of Taddy and Calla’s children. There’s also a bit of Gilbert Seiff’s story thrown in as well.For all the War Chapters, the warnings are the same: language, subject matter, and character casualties.War is not pretty, so there are parts of these chapters that will deal with difficult subjects.I think that’s all. Please enjoy Part One of Chapter 29: The War Years.
  2. 2. Alice,As you requested, attached you will find my memoirs from the past few years. I am certain they will makean excellent addition to your little war project. If there is anything else that you need, please don’t hesitateto ask. Of course, I am rather busy with the children, so it may take a while before I am able to reply.Warmest regards,Rosalie
  3. 3. The war was a great tragedy, of course. Far too many people, myself included, knew someone who waslost to the cause. But despite all that, I did my best not to let it interfere with my life, but naturally, someaspects of it were unavoidable.
  4. 4. First and foremost, the war ruined my carefully laid plans in regards to Bruce. I’d met him my freshmanyear of college when he was a sophomore. I’d set my sights on him right away, after doing my homework,of course. He was from a good family, had good job prospects once he graduated, and was ideal husbandmaterial.I know that Alice and Shirley snickered about me behind my back, joking that I was only going to college toget my MRS degree. There was some truth to that, but it was not nearly as vulgar as they suggested.Unlike them, I hadn’t been fortunate enough to meet Mr. Right in my youth. I was merely trying to make upfor lost time.
  5. 5. Of course the war threw a wrench into the works. As I sat in the parlor of our boarding house, listening tothe news on the radio squash the happiness we felt over Nick and Alice’s engagement, I began to revisemy plans. Silently, of course. It would never have done to speak my thoughts.
  6. 6. I had to plan my strategy. It was well known that married men were exempt from serving, and I knew thatwhile Bruce was a patriot, he wasn’t too keen on serving in the military. I casually reminded him of that facta few days later.“I was thinking about that when Nick and Walter were pressuring me to go with them to the enlistmentoffice. Of course, the timing’s not perfect. You still have a year of school left, and I was planning on usingthat to get settled into work before we got married.”“I don’t see why we can’t alter those plans just a bit. We simply get married a year sooner than weplanned.”“And what about your senior year of college?”
  7. 7. “I was only planning on finishing college because it was a way to pass the time while I waited for thewedding. I’m sure my parents will be upset, but they’ll forgive me, eventually.”
  8. 8. Bruce and I were married that spring, in the garden of my parents’ house. To say they were upset with mewas a bit of an understatement. Father yelled, and Mother cried, and they wouldn’t speak to me for days.Even Gilbert tried to convince me to change my mind, but it was made up. I wanted to be Mrs. Thorne, andthat would keep Bruce from going off to the front. It was a win-win situation, as far as I was concerned.Since Alice had already gotten married, Shirley was my only bridesmaid. She was rather furious with me,as I insisted on her wearing a dress, a pink one at that. I don’t know why she made such a fuss. It was abeautiful dress. As I marched up the aisle, on the arm of my father, I thought that it was probably fortuitousthat Alice couldn’t be a bridesmaid, as the dress would have clashed horribly with her hair.
  9. 9. Since Bruce wasn’t able to save up to purchase a house before we married as originally planned, wesettled for renting an apartment in the city. It was a small place, and not at all what I imagined my firsthome would be like, but I did my best to make it homey. While Bruce was at work, I cleaned, did thegrocery shopping (I was quite excellent at making our ration coupons stretch), and did my best to make hisfavorite recipes with the restrictions on certain items in place. If I had time, I would do a bit of sewing, eventhough it was certainly not my favorite activity. I was a model housewife, and I was ever so proud of that.
  10. 10. After a few weeks, when I’d settled into my new role, I found myself looking to do something to support thewar effort. Everyone else was doing something, and I knew that there some who looked down on myfamily and I because Bruce wasn’t off at the front. I hoped that by volunteering for something, I coulddeflect some of the negative gossip.
  11. 11. I found my calling with the Red Cross. There was a group that met in my neighborhood, one that was partof the Production Corp. We met every week to work on making comfort kits for the soldiers, repair clothing,and make surgical bandages. We usually met at the house of Mrs. Smith, who was the head of the group Ijoined. She was a perfect hostess, and I found myself trying to emulate her.
  12. 12. Though I’d watched my cousins Nick and Walter leave for war, and felt the sting of rations, it wassometimes hard to remember that the war was really going on. It all seemed so far away. I knew thatwouldn’t last, and I was right.One day, Bruce came to me and told me in a calm, business-like way that he would be leaving for basictraining soon – apparently men married after the bombing of Plumbbob Harbor weren’t exempt fromservice after all, and his draft number had come up. I accepted the news with as much grace as I couldmuster.
  13. 13. Things changed quickly for me after Bruce left for training. I could have stayed in Portsimouth, in our littleapartment, but Bruce worried about me living alone, and pointed out the practicalness of me returninghome for the duration. We could save Bruce’s army salary, and use it to buy our own house when the warwas over.As much as I wanted to keep running my own little household, I knew that Bruce was right. Besides, hewas my husband, and listening to him was the right thing to do.
  14. 14. Mother and Father were glad to have me home. Mother never was much of a homemaker, and she gladlyturned much of the household management over to me. Father was busy with Uncle James and Mr. Alcott,working on material drives and such, so I pretty much had free reign. I used what my grandmother hadtaught me to plant a victory garden, something I wouldn’t have been able to do in the city.I started a Red Cross Production Corp in Simsfield as well, and most of the young ladies, clearly eager tobe around people their own age, joined. Rather than always hosting, as Mrs. Smith had done, we rotatedaround several of the houses in the neighborhood. It seemed the diplomatic thing to do, as nearly everyfamily in Simsfield thought they were the most prominent, even though it meant carting supplies all overtown and inconsistencies such as meeting space and refreshments.
  15. 15. One of the other reasons I was certain that Mother and Father were glad to have me back at home, albeittemporarily, was Gilbert. Upon graduation from high school, he’d enlisted in the Marines. After readingabout what they’d done on Guadalsimnal, I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was all he talked about forweeks.I was the most shocked out of everyone when he came home and announced he’d signed up for theduration plus six months. After his goings-on with Clarence Alcott, I was certain that he wouldn’t beconsidered fit for military service. Mother was horribly worried about Gilbert; we all knew that the Marineswere involved in some of the most horrific fighting of the entire war, and she feared he wouldn’t come back.
  16. 16. Father was outwardly proud of his only son. After all, Gilbert was the only one of the boys from Simsfieldwho went into the Marines. Still, he worried as Mother did about the possibility of Gilbert not coming home.With him gone most of the day between work and war drives, I knew he was relieved that I was there tolook after Mother.
  17. 17. After my initial shock, I was thrilled. Gilbert’s enlistment, coupled with Clarence’s accepting a position as amanager at the shipyard due to the fact that he had a weak heart and was unfit for military service, was thebest news our family could have gotten. Not only would the two of them be a world apart, but with all thoseMarines around Gilbert would be bound to knock some of the foolishness out of his head.
  18. 18. It was with a heavy heart that we sent my little brother off to training, but I put on a brave face for his andour parents’ sake. I knew we probably wouldn’t see him again until the war ended, even though he keptsaying that he’d get leave between training and going overseas. I tried to tell Mother that, as she sobbedwatching the train pull out of the station, but Father just shushed me. I knew she needed to believe thatshe’d see her baby again before he went off to fight, even if it wasn’t the truth.
  19. 19. With both Bruce and Gilbert gone, life fell into a routine. I tended the garden, worked to make the rationsstretch with creative cooking, and wrote to both my husband and my brother on a daily basis. I did my bestto fill my letters with news, though to be honest not much seemed to happen from one day to the next. Iwrote about Papa helping Uncle James and Mr. Alcott with the material drives, and Aunt Cindy and Aliceperforming at a concert to raise money for the war effort. I didn’t write about Father’s complaining aboutnot being able to have his beloved three cups of morning coffee because of the rations, or the fact thatMother spent most of her days in bed complaining of a headache. The rations and Mother’s headacheswould only end when the war did, and the fast the boys got business taken care of the faster it would beover and they would come home.
  20. 20. Simsfield and everyone in it did their part for the war effort. It was somewhat disheartening to see howmany women rushed off to work in factory jobs or at the shipyard like Shirley did. I know the manpowerwas needed with all the boys gone overseas, but there were still so many men left behind who could havedone the manual labor. Men like Clarence Alcott, who sat in an office all day and pushed paper when hecould have been riveting and welding battleships together while someone like Shirley added up thecolumns of numbers and kept track of quotas.But Shirley loved her job, which didn’t surprise me. Of course, it meant that she wasn’t of much use to mein the Red Cross, but Alice made up for it. Until the baby was born. Then both she and Cindy wereabsorbed with the little redheaded boy. Not that I can blame her. If I’d had a baby, he would have been thecenter of my world, too.
  21. 21. Soon, I received word that Bruce had been assigned to the War Department itself in Washsimton. Hewould be staying stateside for the war! To say I was relieved would be an understatement. Of course, I letit be known that he was disappointed in the fact that he wouldn’t be fighting like Walter or helping out in amore involved way like Nick. I knew that the war was generating paperwork that had to be done, but itwasn’t polite to rub in the fact that my husband was only a train ride away and that the greatest danger hewas facing was a paper cut.
  22. 22. The war dragged on. 1942 became 1943 and then 1944 and 1945. I was able to go to Washsimton onceor twice to see Bruce and the nation’s capitol, but I tried to avoid unnecessary trips as the War Departmentadvised. I wrote to Gilbert, though he wasn’t always regular in his replies. I knew he was in the thick ofthings even without him having to say it; the newspapers and the newsreels at the movie theater were filledwith the heroic actions of the Marines. Each time I heard of something they’d done, another island they’dtaken from the Simpanese, I practically burst with pride.
  23. 23. We read the news about the Marines storming Iwo Simwa on a Tuesday. I don’t think I’ve ever seenMother and Father so worried. The press referred to it as the D-Day of the Simcific, and I rememberedhow bad the casualties had been then.That evening, most of Simsfield gathered in the old church. It was a common occurrence over the courseof the war, but I don’t remember the church being so packed before. I happened to catch a glimpse ofClarence Alcott, and he was looking very grey.
  24. 24. The battle raged on for days, and our entire existence revolved around the arrival of the morning andevening editions of the newspaper. Father devoured it like a starving man, while Mother clutched at hisarm hard enough to leave bruises. I tried not to let it shake me, but I was worried about my baby brother.Even if I didn’t always agree with his decisions, he was my brother and he would be the one to carry on theSeiff name.We live the better part of a month like that, breathing war news. Finally, the battle was over with theSimericans victorious. Everyone around us celebrated, but Father was weary, and I understood why. Wehadn’t yet heard from Gilbert, and we both knew from personal experience that it could take days or weeksto sort out the casualties. Until we had a letter from Gilbert, none of us would sleep easy.
  25. 25. I’d gone to the Bradfords one afternoon in early April to see Alice and Steven. He was an adorable littleboy, and Alice was doing an excellent job of teaching him his manners. It had been weeks since I’d heardfrom either Bruce or Gilbert, and Alice hadn’t heard from Nick in a while either. The final pushes were on; itlooked as if we were going to win the war. But Alice needed a distraction from the thoughts in her head, asdid I.
  26. 26. We were just settling in to cups of tea while Steven played with his toys on the floor when the phone rangand Uncle James called out that he’d get it. Shortly after, he came into the room.“Rosalie, that was your father. He needs you home. Now.”I’ll never forget the expression on his face. I knew there was bad news waiting for me at home.
  27. 27. I hurried home, running for the first time in years. When I got in the front door, the doctor was comingdown the stairs, his head hung low. He looked up when he heard me trying to catch my breath from myimpromptu run, and he shook his head sadly. He patted me on the shoulder as he went out.
  28. 28. I looked up the stairs to see Papa standing there, shoulders slumped. I knew he saw me, but he couldn’tlook me in the eyes as he descended the stairs. He put his hand on my back and guided me into the livingroom. He sat down, and I sat next to him. It was then I saw the telegram crumpled on the floor.“No,” I whispered.Papa took my hands in his. “Gilbert’s not coming home.”
  29. 29. I pushed Papa away from me and stumbled forward to pick up the scrap of paper from the floor. Throughmy tears, I could barely make out the words.The secretary of war desires me to express his deep regret that your son PFC Gilbert Seiff was killed inaction on Iwo Simwa 28 February 45. Confirming letter follows.“No,” I cried as Papa wrapped his arms around me.“I know, Rosie, I know.”
  30. 30. After I’d had a chance to sob myself out, Papa gently guided me back to the sofa.“How’s Mama?”“Crushed. I had to call the doctor to sedate her when we got the telegram. She’ll be out for a few hours,and he left me something to give her if I have to.”“What…what do we do now?”“I don’t know, Rosie. I just don’t know.”
  31. 31. After the memorial service, which was attended by nearly the whole town, Father sent me to see Bruce. Iprotested, not because I didn’t want to see my husband but because Mother was still nearly catatonic and Iwas worried that Papa really wasn’t much of a nurse or cook. But he said that Aunt Cindy and Mrs. Alcotthad promised to help him out, so I went to Washsimton.Bruce knew what had happened, as I’d called him as soon as I’d had a chance to compose myself, so hewasn’t expecting the bubbly, happy wife that he was used to. He was ever so kind to me over the two daysI spent with him. Unlike my previous visits, we really didn’t spend much time exploring the city. Instead,we holed up in the hotel room Bruce had reserved and I spent the majority of the visit letting all my grief outfor my brother in a way that I didn’t feel I could at home as I was trying to be strong for my parents.
  32. 32. It wasn’t long after that that the Simmans surrendered, and Simsfield went a bit mad for one night. Theboys who weren’t yet of draft age but were close had a bonfire on the beach, while the adults hung backand watched. I tried to get Mother to come for a little while, but she rarely left her room or even bothered toget dressed anymore. So I went alone, but didn’t stay long as I wasn’t feeling very well. I thought it wasbecause of all the emotions coming up around part of the war being over and my brother not being aroundto hear it. But I later found out that I was wrong.
  33. 33. It turned out that my few days with Bruce had resulted in me getting in the family way. Initially, I was upset.I’d planned on waiting until after the war was over and Bruce was home for good before we started ourfamily. But the situation was what it was, so I wrote to my husband to share the news. He was thrilled, andpromised to save up his leave so that he could (hopefully) be there when the baby was born, if he hadn’treceived his discharge by that point.
  34. 34. I was sick as a dog for months. Alice, bless her, was there at the beginning to help me. Then somethingamazing happened.Mother, who had been just a shell of herself since we got that dreaded telegram, woke up. She beganmanaging the household again, allowing me much needed rest. Father was torn; of course he was upsetthat I was suffering so much in the early stages of my pregnancy, but I knew that he was also relieved thatMother was at least going through the motions of daily living once more.
  35. 35. Then, when I was a few months along and starting to show, it was over. We’d dropped some kind of newbomb on two Simpanese cities, and they surrendered. I’d thought the celebrations on VE Day weresomething, but they didn’t hold a candle to the ones on VJ Day. Somehow, someone got their hands onsome fireworks to set off in addition to the bonfire on the beach, and everyone watched as the coloredsparks danced across the sky.As I sat on the blanket Mother had brought for me, I let my gaze drift onto each of the families that wasthere. I didn’t think there was a single one who wasn’t touched in some way by the war. Some, like mine,had to face the tragedy of someone close who had made the ultimate sacrifice, and the others had gottentelegrams telling of serious injuries in the course of the battles. I wondered how anything would ever feelnormal again.
  36. 36. After that, things seemed to move quickly. The War Department did their best to muster people out asquickly as they could, and Bruce was one of the first one of the soldiers with Simsfield connections to comehome.I was huge at that point, and really didn’t want to leave the house but it wouldn’t have done to let myhusband come home and me not be there to greet him. He came into Simsfield rather than Portsimouth asmy parents had insisted he come stay with them until we figured out what our living situation would be.
  37. 37. I was anxious to have my own home again, now that Bruce had returned, but he put off making a decisionuntil after the baby was born.“Your father’s told me about how much better your mother’s been since you’ve been expecting,” Bruceconfided. “He hasn’t said it, but he’s worried that if you leave she’ll have a relapse.”I’d nodded. “It would probably be good to have her around, at least at first. She knows more about babiesthan the two of us put together.”
  38. 38. So we stayed with my parents. Father opened his wallet, and insisted on redoing the bedroom that hadbeen my grandparents for us, saying we’d be more comfortable in our own space than crammed into mychildhood bedroom. We purchased the necessary things turn my old room in a nursery. Gilbert’s oldroom, the room that had been the nursery, hadn’t been opened since he’d died, and I didn’t want to broachthe subject of doing anything with it.
  39. 39. Just after the New Year, our sons were born. We named them Douglas and Franklin. Both boys had theirgrandfather’s light blue eyes, and brown hair like most of the family.They were the most perfect things I’d ever seen.
  40. 40. Now that Douglas and Franklin had arrived, I didn’t expect to stay with Mother and Father much longer.Bruce had gone back to his old job, taking the train into the city every day, so I assumed we’d be movingthere soon. One day, just as I was putting Douglas down for a nap, Bruce asked if I could speak with him.He took me into the newly renovated dining room; Mother was going through the house room by room andupdating them to give her something to do. I secretly thought it was to put a new face on the house so thatit didn’t look like it did when Gilbert was alive to help her cope with the loss. The fact that she had yet toopen the door to his room confirmed it to me.
  41. 41. Once we were seated, Bruce began what was clearly a well-rehearsed speech.“Your father and I have been talking a lot lately, Rosalie. With your brother gone, he’s decided that he’sgoing to leave this house to you, and he’d like us to stay here.”My face must have fallen, because he took my hands in his.“I know you were looking forward to having a house of your own again, but your father’s really worriedabout what will happen to your mother if we move out. She’s finally started to act a bit more like herself,and he doesn’t want her to have a setback.”
  42. 42. “Of course,” I said. “But what about you? Aren’t you tired of taking the train into the city every day?”He nodded. “I’m going to use the money we saved for a house to buy myself a car so I can drive to workinstead.”“I don’t know,” I hesitated.“Rosalie, we both want a big family, and we’d never be able to afford a house to accommodate that, not fora few years at least. If we stay here, we can do that, and your mother will be around to help you. We’d bedoing your parents a big favor.”
  43. 43. I could tell there was something he wasn’t telling me, and I called him on it.“Your parents have made the decision to have your brother’s remains brought back here, instead of leavingthem on Iwo Simwa. Your father’s worried that the strain of a real funeral will be too much for your mother,and wants us to stay here as support for her.”Knowing that Gilbert was coming home at last and what that would do to Mother solidified my decision.“Of course we’ll stay here. You can tell Father right away.”
  44. 44. The day that Gilbert came home was a somber one. It was just us to see him laid to rest in the littlecemetery by the church. After the simple service was over, we all turned to go back to our house for aquiet reception.As I made my way through the gate, I caught a glimpse of someone standing in the shadows at the back ofthe church. I slowed my step just a little, and watched as Clarence Alcott pulled a handkerchief from hispocket and wiped at his eyes. He’d gotten married at some point during the war, to a girl that he met whileworking at the shipyard. I watched as he made his way to my brother’s grave and knelt before it. I felt apang of pity for him, if only for a moment. What they’d been doing together had been wrong, of course, buteven Clarence deserved the chance to say goodbye to my brother in private.
  45. 45. I suppose there’s not too much more to say than that. Mother’s doing better, of course, with the childrenaround to distract her. Bruce and I have made my childhood house our home, and everything has prettymuch returned to normal. We still miss Gilbert, of course, but I honor his memory by telling my children allabout him, and how brave their Uncle was. We’ve even put his official military portrait, the one we had athis memorial service, up in the living room. It always gives Mother pause, but she can deal with it now.With the children to help her focus, she’s found a way to move forward. As we all have. *****
  46. 46. Dear Clarence,I’ve arrived where I’m going, though I can’t tell you exactly where that is of course. I can tell you it’s hot,and the mosquitoes are the size of my palm. Thank goodness for netting, though they still manage to findtheir way in and snack on you as you sleep.Right now, we’re “standing by to stand by,” if that makes any sense. Basically, it’s a big game of “hurry upand wait.” There are Marines here who were on Guadalsimnal; the look different somehow. Like they’veseen things that people shouldn’t live to tell about. I hope that I don’t end up like that.
  47. 47. Dear Clarence,You know, it’s supposed to be the fighting men who don’t have time to write letters home, not the other wayaround. I know you’re busy at the shipyard and all that, but can’t you drop a line or two? Rosalie’s lettersare dull as watching paint dry, and we have plenty of dullness around here.Is Shirley working for you? I know she’s a regular Rosie the Riveter now, and I was wondering if you sawher ever. She was always nice to me. If she is, have her give Rosalie a hug before she’s had a chance toclean up from her shift. Rosalie will love it.
  48. 48. Dear Clarence,I’m beginning to think that the promises you made the night before I left mean nothing to you. What’swrong with you? I know people gossip, but can’t you write a damn letter and drop it in the post box withoutsetting all the old biddies of Simsfield on you? I need to know how you are.We’re going to move soon, I think. There’s more drills and shooting practice, and more men coming in. Iwish I knew where we were going, but I don’t. Maybe it’s better if I don’t know what kind of hell I’m headinginto.
  49. 49. Clar,I guess my letter scolding you for not writing and your letter crossed in the mail. I still mean it. You shouldwrite more often. It feels like everyone else is just writing random stuff so I’ll get mail. And while mail fromhome is nice, letters that actually have substance are better.I’m actually on a ship right now, steaming towards wherever it is they’re sending us. I won’t lie; I’m scared.Terrified, actually. I keep trying to remember everything I learned in training, but it’s not helping. Hopefully,I’ll make it out of whatever’s coming. I’ll write as soon as I know.
  50. 50. Gil,I wanted you to hear it from me and not from that bitch you call a sister. I’m getting married, to LorettaWalter. I’m sorry, but I have too. I can’t face the questioning looks anymore. I need to do something tomake people stop it, and this is the only thing I can think of. I met her at the shipyard where I’ve beenworking. I think you’d like her, if you’re willing to give her a chance.I wish it could be different, I do. But you’ve had to do what you had to do, and I have to do the same.ClarenceI love you. I’m sorry.
  51. 51. Clarence,I received your letter announcing your upcoming nuptials. I would offer my congratulations, but I’m not atall happy about the news.How could you do it, Clar? How could you fucking write me a Dear John letter when I’m overseas fightingand you’re sitting at home in front of your fire with your wife acting like nothing’s wrong?I got back from helping my unit capture our objective (read the damn papers; I’m sure you can figure outwhat I did) to find your letter awaiting me. I managed to hide my true feelings by telling my buddies herethat the girl you were going to marry was a tramp and you deserved better. I think they believe me.There’s a big push coming for us. I know because I’m on another ship as we speak headed for destinationunknown. We’re going to try and knock the Simpanese back once and for all.I no longer really care if I make it back or not. There’s nothing there for me. Sure, I could find a girl andfake my way through the rest of my life, but I’m not you. I’ve never been ashamed of who I am or what Iwanted.Thanks again for putting my head into a bad place before a key battle. I’ll be sure to tell my parents in theletter I’m about to write them to blame you fully if I don’t come home.Gilbert (don’t fucking call me Gil ever again)
  52. 52. Clar,I was pissed when I wrote to you yesterday. I know you’re just doing what you have to do to survive, andthat I’ll probably end up doing the same if I come home. I just…Clar, I’m fucked up. The Simpanese aresome of the most horrific fighters I’ve ever seen. They’re ruthless. You shoot them ten, twenty times andthey keep fucking coming at you. The poison the water sources so you go mad with thirst. They’d ratherdie than be captured, and you can’t imagine what that drives them to do. I’d take the Simmans over theSimpanese any day of the week.Look, when I get home, we’ll figure something out. Please forgive me for being an ass the last time I wrote.But you can’t be dropping something like a wedding on me so suddenly. If I’d had an idea that you werethinking that, I wouldn’t have reacted the way I did.The bell just rang. It’s time for me to start preparing for the landing. Clar, if I don’t come back, and believeme I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I do, know that you are the most important person in theworld to me. I love you.Gil
  53. 53. (Unopened, returned-to-sender letter from Clarence Alcott to Gilbert Seiff)You’re right, I should have warmed you up to the idea that I was marrying Loretta before I dropped it on toyou. I shouldn’t have just sprung it on you like that.I promise to do what I can to make this thing between us work. We can’t be the only two people in asituation like this; there’s got to be some way that we can keep face in the eyes of society and still haveeach other. Maybe we should both take up hunting and spend time up in the mountains. No one willquestion that, as long as we actually bring some game home with us.I’m praying for your safe return every day, every night, every second of every hour.
  54. 54. There’s something else I need to confess to you, Gil. I don’t really have a weak heart. My dad talked withthe doc, and I don’t know exactly what happened. At my physical, the doc announced that I wasn’t fit forservice due to medical reasons. I didn’t believe him; I mean, you know how much strenuous activity I couldget up to and not be affected. When I confronted my dad about it, he denied meddling but I could see in hiseyes that he was lying to me.And I did nothing.I could have gone to another doctor, gotten a second opinion or something. But I didn’t. Because honestly,I was scared to go. I didn’t want to go off and fight and possibly die far from home and the people I loved.So I took the coward’s route out. I always take the coward’s route. I’m not brave like you.
  55. 55. Clarence Alcott slipped out from behind the church where he’d watched Gilbert’s remains be reburied in theSimsfield church graveyard. He saw Rosalie, Gil’s sister, eye him critically, but she only quickened herstep away from the cemetery, leaving him in peace. He was grateful. He and Rosalie had never reallygotten along, especially after she figured out exactly what the nature of their relationship was.
  56. 56. He stood before the gravestone, his feet sinking slightly into the still-soft earth.“Gil,” he whispered. “I’m sorry. I wish you’d come back. I…I need you. Loretta’s a good woman, and I’llbe a good husband to her, but she’s not you. I’ll never love anyone like I loved you.”
  57. 57. *****So that’s the first War Chapter, telling Rosalie and Gilbert’s stories. I hope that you enjoyed it.Rosalie is a real pain to write, as she’s very self-absorbed, but in the end I’m glad I decided to tell her story.Gilbert, on the other hand, was easy to write; he’s a good guy.For those that don’t remember, I put all the boys of generation 7 (or the girl’s name with so-and-so’shusband as a placeholder) into a randomizer. I did statistics on how many of the boys from Simsfieldwould have died and how many would have been wounded, and the randomizer picked who lived, whodied, and who was injured. Gilbert was one of the unlucky ones and was not going to make it home, whichis why I had him enlist in the Marines. The Marines suffered horrific casualties in their fighting in thePacific.Gilbert and Clarence ending up together was not planned; I was learning ACR and they randomized as gayand bi, respectively, and things went from there. I would have loved to pursue their plotline of trying to betogether more (talk about an opening for dealing with McCarthyism!), but it was not to be. I’ll be extra niceto Clarence from here on out, since I did kill the love of his life.
  58. 58. So Rosalie, being the diva that she is, decided to throw me natural twins. Of course. Well, consideringgeneration 8 will be part of the baby boom, I can’t complain. Plus, they’re adorable.
  59. 59. Bruce is holding Douglas, who is a Sagittarius like both his parents with a personality of 2/3/9/10/1.Rosalie has Franklin, another Sagittarius, with a personality of 3/4/9/7/4. Both of them are going to be ahandful, I’m sure.
  60. 60. CreditsI’d like to thank Di for the loan of Mrs. Smith, aka Alexandra Smith, and Lark for the loan of Rhodri Tudor,one of Gilbert’s fellow Marines. They were excellent extras.Next up is Shirley’s chapter. Hopefully, it will follow quite quickly.You can leave comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop, on my Live Journal, or on myDreamwidth, whichever you prefer.

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