This is the eighteenth of 87 letters exchanged during World War II between Nicholas Salvatore and Elizabeth Galloway.
For more see Nicholas and Elizabeth.
January 25, 1944
Enclosed please find a photo, it is as intended. I think people look so much more interesting when you can’t see their entire face. It gives one something to guess at. Plus, it was the only one I could find that I liked. I’ll try to send a better one soon.
Mother looks so old. The first time I saw her I almost didn’t recognize her. That’s how it goes. We hold onto an image and what happens so gradually that we don’t notice it when we’re around is shocking when we see it all at once. I wonder how different I’ll look to you when you return – and you to me. She’s doing better though, all considered. I think we’ve both accepted that father isn’t coming back. The police continue to search but have nothing to tell us. He could have at least stayed around for Bern’s funeral. You would think he had that much respect in him, but maybe the shock simply broke him.
My father began grooming Bern in his image (well, the image of what he wanted to be) ever since he was born – “the All-American boy:” a rugged individualist who excelled in everything he tried, anything that was a competition, especially physical ones. And it worked. Bern was my polar opposite. He could make friends with anyone and wasn’t afraid of anything. He took to life out here well and father had his successor to take over this place. Despite all his accomplishments and friends though, I’m not sure how close he felt to any of them. It was one of the few things we had in common. And no matter how busy Bern was he would find time for me. Just us two. I think I was the only one he could confide in, I know that’s what he was for me.
Oh Bern. Bern! I miss him so much. He was the only one who wrote when I was in Texas. He talked so much about flying, said one day he would take me up and we’d go anywhere I wanted. I’d dream up wonderful places we could go, but really it was about being with him.
Other than mother, you’re the only person I feel close to. And we barely know each other. I thought my roommate in Texas and I would get close, but we had little in common and were always working opposite shifts anyway. My best (only) friend growing up here was Helen. I came back to find her engaged to Hector, the only boy I ever dated. Why him? It’s strange and makes me feel like less of a person. I feel like I’m in competition with her and I don’t know why. I have no feelings for Hector. When we got together Helen kept telling me how Mexicans were no good and couldn’t be trusted. I’m ashamed of it, but that’s why I broke up with him. Helen was the only one I had to look up to and I didn’t want to lose her. Hector was handsome and kind but I was dumb enough to think she knew better than I did. And now they’re engaged. He’s off in the South Pacific somewhere and she has no idea why their being together would upset me. She was my stronghold and I was very disappointed to see how she had changed. No longer genuine, no longer innocent. There’s nothing I can say to her anymore.
Next letter – February 14, 1944