The first set of letters is from Sewall Tolbert Butler to his father Sylvester Benjamin Butler. Both Sewall and his mother Eva Lutz Butler were attending the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
I'm sorry about this long wait that you have had for a letter from me, but I've been busy courting a girl and going on trips so that I seem to have no time for writing letters or anything. Another thing is that I haven't had six cents with which to mail a letter.
This past weekend we went on an overnight trip with some anthropologists up into northern N.M. and had a very interesting trip. We found quite a few arrow points and other artifacts. We slept right out under the stars which was the best feature of the whole trip. It wasn't at all cold and the stars were out and it made it very pretty.
Oh yes another piece of news for you about school. Next year the tuition for me will be $75 a semester instead of $60 some odd dollars for a non-resident. Next year I won't be able to get away with it because mother won't be here. How much is the tuition in Conn do you know? I won't be able to go there anyhow, but I would like to know.
I see that the government is trying to put the draft age down to 18 - 22 now so that there won't be so many people rejected from the draft. I guess that means that yours truly will be in the army pretty soon. Have many of the kids from my high school gone yet?
Don't forget to send the checks before you go off on a long tangent up there at the Supply Train Reunion. I know you won't, but I thought I'd just remind you anywho.
Mother has had a cold the past few days and that coupled with her trip to Mexico is her excuse for mot having written to you. She wanted me to put that in my letter and send out all the greetings from Albuquerque.
The canoe which you ask about is down at the Laffarques the last I knew. I brought it down there last summer when we didn't use it up at the lake. So that the thing is well taken care of I believe.
I can't believe that final exams are only about 4 weeks away. Boy this semester has slipped by fast. I can't seem to keep up with the time anymore.
I sure will be glad to get home though it seems about 2 or 3 years since I was there last. I guess that the place has really changed.
I got a post card from Australia and a letter from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii all in one day from Roddy. He was in that group of destroyers and cruisers that went to Austria [ I bet Dad means Australia ], New Zealand and other down-under places. He said that the hospitality those people offered was tremendous. He even went out with Brigadier General Craven's daughter. Quite a kid, this boy Roddy.
Well Pop hoping to hear from you soon and asking again for forgiveness at such a long time between my letters.
Your one and only,
P.S. I change my type of signature everytime to deceive people.
I forgot to put this in -- We leave on June the 3rd, but don't expect us home before the 10th or 12th because we are taking a trip up through South Dakota to see the Mount Rushmore Memorial and the Black Hills. Then coming back through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. None of us have seen that area so that it ought to be a pleasant trip.
Well you old reprobate did you have a good time up at Boston last weekend? Were all your old buddies back this year? [note: I imagine this was Gramp's Supply Train reunion that Dad mentioned in his last letter-- David]
You told me to tell you how much I'm going to need to come home on this summer. Well I wrote you about when we are leaving for home and the route, etc. Well we figure it will cost us between $20 and $25 so if you could send me the last named figure that would be excellent. It is only 3 weeks from yesterday that exams start here. Boy will I be glad when they are over.
We have been having a good time lately. I had a test in government the other day and I got one of the highest marks in the class. Boy do I feel good about that. All the other courses but Plant Morphology are going pretty good, but I'm afraid I won't be able to do very well in that.
Pop, don't think it would be possible to slip about $5 in your next letter do you? I had a little extra bill come up this month that I didn't expect and I'll be a little short so if it is possible I would appreciate greatly. I'll be able to pay you back for it as soon as I get the job this summer.
Well Pop it is just about a month before I come home and boy that month can't go by any to quick to please me. Write back soon.
Well in 21 days from today we leave this hell-hole, at least it's hot enough out here to be hell. That's the big trouble with this place, it can't hit a happy medium. The week ends it rains and during the week it is sunny and hot.
The money was for laundry and also a formal that I went to last Friday nite. I had a very nice time. Thanks a lot for sending the money. I appreciate it more than you think.
Well one week from Wednesday finals start and two weeks from tonight they are over for me. That day will be a great day because that means a whole week of relaxation and getting ready to come home.
Did Grandma get the Mother's day telegram down there? Mother said she sent it in care of Mrs. Maxson. I hope that she got it. Did you people have a good time that day?
I don't know much about the government courses offered here, but I probably won't be able to know much more about it until next year after I finish the first semester of the course I am now taking. I really like it a great deal.
You asked me in your letter where my room-mate lives. I trust you mean Bob though you didn't say in the letter. He lives in Greenwich, Conn. And Jack the one coming home with me lives out here in N.M.
How has Uncle Raymond been since you saw him last? Do they think that he will recover or what?
I cant think of much to write except that I was good to Mother yesterday sending her a Mother's Day telegram and taking her for a long ride yesterday.
I had better close now so as to get this in the mail.
Well the first bit of news that I have to tell you is that Jack isn't coming back there this summer. He thought everything was set but his mother vetoed the idea at this date so he has to go to summer school instead. So that it will be just you and I to keep up the home fires burning.
Finals started today. I had Spanish and Government today. Didn't do so well in the Spanish, but better in the Government. Tomorrow I have History of N.M. Friday History of the Americas and Monday Plant Morphology. Boy will I be glad when they are over with.
Also I've made up my mind finally not to come back to school next year, but try to get on in the E.B. [Electric Boat in Groton CT] as an apprentice machine or some such job. When I go into see Jones, I'll see if it will be possible to get hired on. The reason for this is the fact that school is getting under my skin and also this war is getting closer and rather than get caught in the draft which I found out today will be probable even though I wear glasses, I'd rather work in the E.B. or some other such plants doing some constructive work rather than destructive business. I know that you don't or won't like this. I believe that you will agree with me. After the war is over maybe then I'll be able to think about coming back to school somewhere.
In about a week and a half I start for home and about two weeks from Friday I should be home. If you see Fuz in the next few days or so, tell her to save that white dress so that we can go to the Commencement Dance together on June 6. [In the margins Dad has written something that looks like "supposedly" but it is rather shakey]
You are getting to be quite a traveled man with all these trips you are taking. Did you have a good time while you were in Washington?
When Mother comes home I'm going to meet her in either N.Y. or Bridgeport. Because she doesn't want to drive from there on. That won't be so bad because it will be on Sunday and it will make a "nice" trip for me after that long one in the Model A. Another thing we are not going way up to S.D. because we are all in a hurry to get home, but send the full amount anyhow and any left over I'll have to use when I get home and before my first paycheck.
Well Pop, be good and write soon.
This next letter is after Dad Joined the Merchant Marines. See full list of the ships he sailed on.
Well here we are down in the south again. This will make me about 3 states ahead of you now. I'll make all 48 of them yet if it kills me. I'm writing this out at sea so I can't tell you what the place looks like, but when I get there I can.
Have you been able to find out what my order number is yet? [in pencil someone has written 10284] I'm not much worried about being drafted though because there is a nasty rumor going around that all these ships in the merchant marine are going to be taken over by the navy anyhow. It would be hard for me to get home to take the physical also.
When I don't come home when we come into New York it isn't because I don't want to it's just because we have such a short time in port anyhow that it seems useless to just get on the train come home and have to turn right around and come back to the ship on the next train.
Boy has it been hot coming down on this trip. Especially hot down in the parts of the engine room where we were working. We've been doing the same old routine on this trip as the last; painting, soogeeing and various other odds and ends[soogeeing has to do with washing the soot and dust covered bulkheads (walls) in the engine rooms on the ships. It was fun doing that on a swinging stage high above the engines. Yes engines as there were two engines on the ship. A person doing this should wear rubber gloves, but these are not a necessity on the ships. You were supplied with a bucket and strong!!! soap powder. Needless to say your hands were quite red when you had finished. --Dad (Sewall)].
It will probably be about three weeks before we get back to New York. I'll call you up at that time and let you know all about because I won't be coming home this time either, but when I call maybe we can arrange a rendevous in New York someplace.
How has everything been going along in Groton along with all the new additions to schools, new housing projects, the Groton Irons works being built up again, and all the many other things that are going on and up there? How is everybody that I know up there? Please remember me to the Mitchells, Averys and anybody else that you can think of right away that I can't seem to get the ambition to write down.
Oh I got a letter from the prodigal daughter of the R. S. B's. [That would be aunt/cousin Dot, daughter of uncle Ralph and aunt Winnie.] Telling me all about her love life, etc. It really was swell of her to write me. Because it is sure swell to pull into port and have a half-a-dozen letters waiting for you.
Well I guess I'll close to write a few more letters,
Sewall met Jacqueline Williams in September 1942. The next two are very brief: One is a post card from both of them and the other a half page letter.
Mr. Sylvester B. Butler
A mural by Anton Refregier at
CAFE SOCIETY Uptown
128 East 58th Street, New York
Dear Mr. Butler-
Another super evening with Sewall. This may be the last evening so we're going "hi-hat." -Jackie
Got your letter today. Thanx loads. I'm sorry that this visit was such a short one with her but there is always next year after the trip. Will see you when the time comes. - Sewall.
Dear Pop -
Received the money Friday afternoon late - Thank you again for sending it onto me.
I'm glad to hear that you are up and around but don't try to do too much yet because you'll be back right where you started if you do.
As soon as I get the further info on that Army Government Administrative deal I'll send it to you.
I have to run now to meet Jackie and Jean at Penn Station to go to Philly.
Loads of luck,
In July 1943, Sewall and Jackie were married in Woodstock, VT.
In April 1944, Jacqueline Ann Butler was born.
This will have to be a very short letter as it is very late and I have two more letters to write. I got your note a couple of days before we sailed and was very sorry that everything has worked out the way it did, but I guess that is has been worked out in the best possible fashion. I saw mother the last two days I was in port, but didn't get too much chance to talk to her about it.
Let's get off that subject though. Things have been going along fairly smoothly, but I have seen much better times. Especially those when I am at home with my wife and baby. Boy I really miss those two. It is extra hard to leave just at this season of the year.
Oh yes before I forget. What is going to be done about the Plymouth? Are you going to be using it this winter or is it being stored? Please let me know about this because I don't want it left hanging around up in Ledyard detiorating (I had to spell that by guesswork).
This isn't much of a letter Dad, but it will have to do for the time being. I join with my wife and baby in wishing you a very Merry Xmas and a prosperous New Year. These will be late, but you understand.
Next are a series of letters from Mom to Sylvester (her father-in-law)
Just a note to go along with some snaps that I finally got back from the photographers. The back of each gives a flowery discription of each. Read and be enlightened.
Your nice card came today and the picture of you on the back made it twice as nice. I've sent it right on to Curly. Also your Christmas package came yesterday and Dec. 25th seems just years away. I can hardly wait. Wish Curly were here to share it with us. How unfair and unjust war is -- How I pray that the new year will bring us peace -- And one that will last.
Thanks alot, Dad, for sending that other package about 3 weeks ago. I've been meaning to write to you every day. But I have been awfully busy with Christmas cards and gifts to get off.
Where will you be for Christmas? Are you going to Grandma and Grandpa's?
Lots of love and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Jackie and Jackie Ann.
Dear Dad --
Your letter came this afternoon and it was nice to hear from you. I'm so glad you liked the photo. We thought you might.
Jackie Ann enjoyed Christmas very much. We had the playpen that Curly & I & Mum & Dad gave her, near the tree and she lay in it and helped pull the papers off her gifts.
Thank you very much for the cute little stocking doll you gave her. It's such a nice soft toy that she will be wanting to take it to bed with her soon.
The Babee-Tenda chair affair arrived yesterday and she was put in it right away. She just loves it 'cause she likes to sit up so much and it's easier to play with her toys without toppling over. Thank you very much, Dad, for your share in that wonderful gift that I wanted so very much to get, for her.
How I wish Curly could see her sitting in it and playing and eating her meals. She's too adorable for words and I'm sure that I'll spoil her terribly if her Daddy doesn't hurry home so that I can spoil him some of the time.
I'm glad you all sent Curly a Christmas greeting he'll be very much pleased.
I do wish that I'd hear from him soon. I'll let you know when I do.
Jackie & Jackie Ann
Dear Dad --
Just a note to send with the latest snaps of Jackie Ann and her first Christmas tree.
Isn't it grand to hear from Curly again. He said he'd written you. I hope you've got his letter all right. The mails are much slower now then they were the last time he was gone. I wonder if Sicily is much warmer than we are? Probably don't have as much snow anyway.
You should see Jackie Ann when I give her the big picture, I have, of Curly to hold. I tell or rather say to her "Da-da, kiss da, da," and she puts her wet little mouth on his face then pats the picture and yells with delight. Sometimes she'll kiss him without my saying anything to her.
I spoke to Mum about it if she happen[ed] to be in Groton, but if she isn't I might as well ask you if you could send me, C.O.D, Curly's and my radio? Ours up here is on the blink and it's so hard to get anything repaired these days.
By the way, Dad, I was just wondering if you'd happen to know wheather [sic] Uncle Ralph and Aunt Lucinthia had got their photos that we sent them for Christmas? I haven't heard from several people and I wondered if by any chance the photos never got there.
Lots of Love from the two
P.S. These pictures will give you an idea of how fast your grand daughter is growing up.
Maybe Curly has written to tell you all ready. I told him that he could if he'd like to. You seem to like being a grandfather once so Curly and I thought you might like to see how it feels to be a grandfather twice. This time we hope it will be Sewall T. Jr. And we expect him to arrive about the first of July.
[ Now we know how Sue got her name. They wanted a Sewall Jr. so they named her for Dad's nickname: Suzie -- David ]
If Curly comes home about the middle of Feb. as he says he might, I'm very much afraid he won't be here when his son arrives. But I won't think about that until it actually happens. Maybe he will be here. I hope.
Jackie Ann was 9 mo. old yesterday and looked too lovely, and adorable for words in a sweet little white dress that I bought her last week. She weighed 20 lbs 12 oz and after you've held her for a few minutes you realize every single oz of that 12 lbs 12. [h'mm seems a bit of a disparity there -- David] Her two top teeth show quite a little now and they indicate that she's going to be wealthy 'cause they are so awfully far apart. Maybe the second teeth won't be that way.
Minty called, as you know and she and Bob are coming up on Wed. for a few days.
[ Minty, at least some of us know, is Minty Mitchell. I believe she was a friend of Dad's from school. ]
Lots of Love, Dad,
Jackie and Jackie Ann
Dear Dad --
You may be at Grandma's and hear before you get this letter but I want to be sure you know that Curly is back. He called from Norfolk, VA this morning. He got in last night but couldn't call me cause he had to work. As he doesn't get payed [sic] off until Friday he won't be able to get up here before Sat. or Sun.
If we can get an apt. or place to stay in N.Y. I will go down with him (and J.A. too) while he upgrades. It will be so much nicer then his having to run back and forth every weekend.
Grandma wrote and told me that Dot had had a boy. That certainly is nice. I've been wondering since the 1st of Feb. if the baby had come and what it was. I'm going to try and get a gift off to her tomorrow.
Lots of love from all of us,
Jackie and Jackie Ann.
Dear Dad --
Your package arrived the day before J.A's birthday and it was so hard to wait to open it. The doll is dreadfully cute and made a big hit. She took it upon herself to kiss the dolly right off with no prompting from us. Thank you ever so much, Dad, it was swell of you.
J.A. was darling that day and blew the candle out on her cake just as nice as you please. She walks herself around now, holding onto things and is getting very good at it but I don't think she'll be really walking by herself for another month or two.
Thank you again for all you did for us when we were there. I hope you've been able to run your car since we took your gas and tires away from you.
They didn't have a ship for Curly so he was back again until last Mon. night. He has a ship now but hopes he may get up this weekend.
Lots of love from us all,
Dear Dad --
Your card came today and I thought I'd better write right off while I still have a few seconds.
His address now is:
(Lt (jg.)) S. T. B. (2nd Eng.)
S.S. William Eaton
C/o Postmaster, NY
You can use either one of the other titles for him, it doesn't make any difference.
He called me Tues. noon to say they were putting out into the stream. So I don't expect to see him again much before Oct. or Nov.
He's been fortunate to have been here so long but it is hard to have to go before his 2nd child is born and just when his first has reached such an adorable stage. She got a cold last week from all this horrible weather but it seems to have cleared up now. (The cold not the weather.) Did you get that awful snow storm last week? In some of the colder sections around here 22" of snow fell. Some fun.
I am keeping well, but my size make me pretty uncomfortable most of the time. It's just as well that any intense heat holds off for a while -- I would like to see a little sun though.
Give my love to Grandma and Grandpa when you write or see them and please tell Grandma that due to my aching back about the only letters I'll get written will be to Curly, for the next two months of so.
Lots of love, Dad,
Dear Dad --
Just a note to go along with the photo of Jackie Ann that we had taken in N.Y. just before we left. It's her "first birthday" picture and we kinda thought you'd like it now -- instead of waiting 'til Father's Day, on June 17th. Curly was kneeling down beside her and making her laugh so that is who she is looking at, if anyone should ask you.
Curly must have put into some port about the 23rd because I got a letter from him on the 27th with the post mark of the 23rd. It gave absolutely no information but he said the trip was young yet. No further word so I guess he didn't stay there very long.
I'll let you know when I hear from him again -- and naturally someone will telegraph you when the new infant arrives. Probably within the next month.
Lots of love, Dad.
Jackie Ann & Jackie.
This will be just a short note to let you know that we are still on top of the water and not underneath as yet. It really hasn't been such a bad trip so far except for the terrific heat. It promises to get even hotter though before we reach our destination.
What I wouldn't give to be up in Vermont for the next month or so. I really feel pretty bad about having to leave home just before the baby is born. It's unfair to the Affiliated (spelling questionable) Order of Father's-to-be. But that is war for you, it doesn't think of anybody, but its own greedy self. I wish I could find out the same that it happened, but that will be impossible although I'm going to try and find out at least 2 or 3 days after it happens.
By the time this letter reaches you, school should be out and you be starting on a nice vacation, but knowing you it will only be a two or three days at a time for several time. [sic] Why don't you get wise to your self and take a real vacation of a month or so like we did in 1936 or 37. That was some trip we went on wasn't it. I think about that quite often. Boy when this work is over and I get home for good I'm going to get a job on which there are 364 days vacation and 1 day of work and that day only to get paid. The pay will be about $3500 a year.
Well Pop say hello to all the fellows at the Legion Hall for me and also everyone else around town who I know that should be told. Have the Gromes moved out of my little house yet?
I must close now as it is supper time and I must write several more letters after chow.
P.S. I'm going to write Grandma and Grandpa tonight. I think that I had better write Uncle Ralph to. How is Dorothy's little fellow getting along?
Susan Edwards Butler was born of June 17, 1945
Happy Birthday Dad
It was a great day two years ago tomorrow wasn't it?
I got a letter from Curly today from India written the 10th of July. He had gotten 2 letters from me that day and the announcement card of Susan's arrival and also a letter from you and one from my mother. He said the officers were kidding him about being a 2nd Eddie Cantor. He was awfully glad to finally get word of Susie's arrival and couldn't believe his eyes when he saw she weighed 9 lbs 2 oz. She weighs 10 lbs 6 oz now.
Lots of love to our Dad and Grand pa, from
Jackie and Curly
Jackie Ann and Susan
Dear Dad --
Got a cable from Sewall, sent from Santos (probably Brazil) saying that he expected to be home about the 15th of Oct. I'm up in the clouds now. Mum B. left today for Burpee Hill -- then to Boston next week. We had lots of fun this passed month.
Dear Dad --
Your package to Susie arrived safe and sound. The big elephant
is too wonderful for words and the little doll is dreadfully
cute. Susie naturally didn't show much interest but that will
come with time. In the mean time J.A. was too over come for words
when she saw the elephant.
Got a letter from Curly today, too. He'd just got to Trinidad, B.W.I (Oct. 5) and said he'd probably be in N.Y. the 15th. He's going up to Groton to get the car before coming here. He's crazy about Brazil.
I'll thank you for Susie but I'm sure she'd give you a lovely smile if you were here.
This is one letter I've been meaning to get off for quite some time, but just never have seemed able to find time to write. The ports that we have hit so far have mostly all been pretty good liberty ports, and then we are at sea, I have to catch up on all the sleep tha I lost while in port.
I don't seem to place the Fechette boy that you sent me the clipping about. Even the picture doesn't look familiar. He must have just been entering high school when I left for college. I'll try and remember to enclose the clipping in this letter.
I guess that by this time quite a few fellows have started coming home after being mustered out. Has Fritz Dutton come home yet? He is in a pretty hard outfit to get out of, the Army Transport Service. I know that I'd never sail with them.
I know for sure though that is going to be my last trip. I hope to be able to go out to New Mexico and take some Engineering course. I'm [not] definitely sure what kind, but I have one or two in mind. I was wondering if it might not be a good idea to take that Yale Vocational Guidance test again. When I get home, I mean to New York, I'm coming up home to pick up the car, and maybe then we can talk more about this.
Talking about the car reminds me of one of the reasons for writing this letter. Do you suppose that if tire rationing is over with that you could get me four new tires either real rubber or synthetic? Just don't let the Basterd that sells them (I hope, I hope, I hope) to you gyp you that's all I ask. Even if rationing is still on, give the boys at the ration board a sob story about your son who was in the service, etc and that he needs the car in his business (monkey). If you can do that, I'd appreciate it very much then when I come up to pick up the car I can pay your for them.
Boy has this trip been too tong to suit me. I would have to pick my longest trip as my last one, By the time I get home it will have been five months since I've seen Jackie and Jackie Ann and little Susie Q will be almost 4 months old. It still doesn't seem possible that I have another daughter whom I have never seen. You other peeples, grandparents et al, make me jealous because you've all seen her and I haven't.
If you ever do any more travelling, Pops, you should go down to Brazil. Boy what a lush country that is. We have just spent a little over three weeks down here, about 16 or 17 days in Santos and 4 or 5 days in Recife (Pernambuco). Boy oh boy what places, I'll tell you all about when I come up to Groton.
I must close now, but will be seeing you before to long,
[ Another 3 cards from Mom to Gramp. Looks like Dad's pronouncement about it being his last trip was premature, as Mom talks about Dad being in Georgia and heading for England. --David ]
Dear Dad --
Got a tel. Call from Curly this evening. He's in Georgia now. He sailed from N.Y. at 5 A.M. Thanksgiving Day. Went to Baltimore then to Georgia. He's going to England. Probably will be home by the middle of Jan. His address is: S. S. Edmund Fanning, c/o P,M, N.Y. City. Isthmian S. S. Co. (put down at the bottom of envelope). Dad, could you give me Whip's address here in the states and do you know definitely if he is home? Also what is the Prescott's address now. It was so grand to hear that Bob Butler is home, how happy Joyce must be. Theirs is another address I'd like to have. Hope you had a nice trip.
Dear Dad --
Got a new address for Sewall. He called from Savannah Ga. tonight. Where he's been all this time. He sails tomorrow for England. Will be at sea for Christmas. His address is:
S. S. Edmund Fanning
Isthmian S. S. Co. Ltd.
138 Leadenhall St.
He said air mail letters should get to him in 2 or 3 days if not less once he gets there.
Dear Dad --
Sorry to bother you but I was wondering if you know if Whip is back in the states and if you could give me his home address. Sewall didn't sail on the 10th as planned but either on the 12th or 13th. Hope you have a very happy Christmas. Mum said that Grandma Lutz has asked you there.
Susie has one tooth and almost 2.
Dear Dad --
Your letter came today telling of your Christmas and thanking for our gifts. My! But you were quick. I manage to get 8 of my 19 thank you notes written on Christmas day. The children got quite a few things from friends and relatives therefore the large correspondence.
You were sweet to do so much for the children. The Doll House is dreadfully cute and J.A. played a long time with it today. As for the toy telephone that is about her favorite toy at this point. She always wants to speak to my Dad on the phone when he calls and we have caught her several times sitting on the stairs with the real tel. up to her ears saying "Hello" (in her own special way.) I don't know what the operator thinks but maybe she's used to it. So now I can tell J.A. that she has a tel. of her own and we go off and find it. Once I heard her having a long, dish [?] of conversation over her phone.
Susan's blanket is lovely and so warm and comfy. I'll be putting her in the big crib soon and it certainly will be nice to have that blanket for it,
As for my super-soft fur mittens they are positively yummy. I love them Dad, and this is just the state for such things.
Thank you very much for all your nice gifts. We have put all Curly's gifts away and we'll have another little Christmas when he gets home. The Darling, that he is, sent me a lovely nylon slip (pink) and a 3 gardenia corsage. Wasn't that sweet of him?
Thank you for your News Years wish and we all hope that the new year will be a very happy one for you.
Love from us all,