Willis didn’t write a post on September 12, 1943, so once again, we will post an old family photograph. I know that some Reed descendants have been on this site, so if you are able to shed any light on this picture – please share! This photograph would have been taken at the 1927 family reunion in Hampton, Nebraska. James Willis Reed was Willis’ grandfather and he had eight sons and six daughters. Based on a picture of James and his sons, we have been able to identify the following people:
James Willis (Willis’ Grandfather)
Earl (Willis’ Father)
Donald (Willis’ brother)
If you know who any other people are in the picture, just post in the comments below.
Another week of work is completed and you’ll never know the joy that topped it off by the coming of your very sweet letter. I look forward more for the coming of the mail than any other thing, and especially your precious letters. You always write such newsy letters which make me feel I’m there with you. I started writing this letter in my room all alone and was looking forward to writing you a letter in peace and quiet, but my rabbi roommate just came in like thunder, for when he talks it’s in a half-shouting fashion, and he’s liable to burst out at anytime with something making it hard to concentrate on writing. Besides this, I have to sit in clouds of smoke he puffs my way. Distraction to say the least. I’m convinced more and more a cigarette smoker is one of the most inconsiderate persons there are. If I could find privacy somewhere else I would surely go there, but such cannot be found.
The loose living among the Chaplains just makes my heart ache. Praise the Lord for the fact that I know better than that. I only realize how far short I fall of being what God expects, but by his matchless Grace I’m going to try and live more closely than I ever have before.
This evening my friend from Pennsylvania and I were invited out again for dinner to the same home we were before. We had a wonderful dinner. It is surely a wonderful Christian family. The father is dead, there are five children – 3 girls and two boys. One boy is in the Army and the other is a chemist in a government Chemical Company. We met them at Tremont Temple Baptist Church.
I forgot to tell you about the service at Tremont Temple Baptist Church last Sunday night. The main Auditorium was filled with 3,000 people by 6:30 P.M. (Note the bulletin, service not scheduled to start until 7:00 P.M.) And Larimer Hall, another big room sitting around 600, was filled and they heard the service by loudspeaker. The service was underway by 6:35 P.M. I sat on the platform along with seven other Chaplains. It was surely a great inspiration to hear such a great gathering sing “He Lives.” As long I live I’ll never forget it, “Charlie” Taylor led the singing. By the way, the theme song of the young people at Tremont Temple is, guess what? “Wonderful Jesus.” It just thrilled my heart to hear them sing this great Chorus. It made me think of our young folks at East Moline and how we use to sing it.
“Charlie” Taylor’s brother Bob is going to Northern, or at least I think he’s still there. If you see him tell him I had a quite a visit with Charlie and told him about Bob at Northern.
Send my love to Julius Robert and Mrs. Mantry for me. Tell them I often think of them.
By the way, I got a very lovely letter from Nettie and she told all about Charlie applying for the Chaplaincy and being turned down. I would be so glad to see them. They’re the kind of friends who are very few and far between.
Thanks for sending the pictures of Paul and Genevieve, they are very good. They sent me the same ones so I’m going to return them to you. I cut them down in size and carry them in my Bill-fold. By the way, the people who had us out to dinner tonight took a picture of me which is no good, but I’m sending it to you anyhow.
Louise Davis and her mother wrote me a very fine letter and they seem to feel that Rev. Calas wasn’t the man for the place either. Mrs. Davis said she thought they were in too big a hurry to call him, although they didn’t say how they voted. To be frank with you Dear, I’m a little skeptical about it myself but we’ll pray about it and perhaps everything will work out all right.
So the new insurance policy came through, does it look O.K.? As soon as you can conveniently get it paid and the loan all paid on the $3,000.00 policy be sure and do it. But by all means don’t run yourself short on funds. You mentioned the fact that you paid an insurance premium, was that the $1,000.00 Mutual life? My $2,000.00 Guardian Life Insurance policy comes due I believe Oct. 13. If possible, change this from semi-annual to annual payment, for this is the anniversary date of the policy. That’ll save us some money paying it that way. But please don’t run yourself short on money. As soon as I find out where I’ll be stationed after I leave here, I’ll try and send you some more money. As it is I have to hang onto some extra to buy my ticket when I find out where my new station will be.
Well Darling, it is growing very late and I must close but let me remind you that I love you more all the time and continually praise the Lord for such a wonderful wife and co-worker in God’s great Kingdom program.
It was so good to have your letter waiting for me after drill, and I was so glad to see your proofs. I will pick them and send them right back to you so you can get them as soon as possible, for I’m pretty lonesome without a good picture of you. After having your other picture so long that I carried with me everywhere, I find it pretty hard not having one of you to look at and have my heart say to me, “Willis there is your greatest possession this side of Jordan.” Darling, words fail me when I attempt to describe to you how much I really love you. All I can say is each parted hour only leaves a bigger place in my heart for you. These words like the waters that go cascading over Niagara Falls keep resounding in my heart, “Oh, such wonderful Love and such a wonderful Lover.” Concerning the pictures, I like #3 the best because it’s so very natural. And then I would like to have one of #2 finished in black and white.
On guard duty, I do not have to carry a gun. Here are some of courses of studies thus far, Chemical warfare, Army Administration, Military Courtesy and Discipline, Infantry drill and Army formations, Army Morale, Practical Duties of a Chaplain, Map Reading and Military Law or Court Martial.
Concerning the picture that was in the times: Write to Mr. David Gordon, The Daily Times, East Moline, Ill. I’m glad you are going to be able to go with Ruth and Joe. Remember us, we are going to be drilling and studying, no time off whatsoever.
Earl likes the army, of course there are a lot of problems.
Paul and Gen have a hard decision to make but I feel definitely Paul should now prepare himself for the ministry. Of course it’s hard with the children, but Darling you would realize more than ever the need of Godly Men if you could see, hear and know what I’ve found out thus far in my short time here at Harvard. Paul and Gen have just what God can use to be a servant of influence and power because they are willing to trust in the Lord.
Forget the application about the girl to Augistana, I never heard of her.
Give the rear view mirror to the Chief as a gift from us, he might as well have it and use it.
If the Chief is going to investigate about a watch, be sure to remember it must be shockproof – waterproof and a dial to be read in the dark.
Well sweetheart, I must close for now, get something to eat and get to my studies.
Yours Forever in Our Savior’s Love,
Psalm 11 and 12
Written on the side:
P.S. I got a nice long letter from Mrs. Frank Powell. I also got a card that my pictures are ready. I’ll send them to you soon.
I’ve just finished reading your two lovely letters, you can’t imagine how I appreciate your very newsy letters. The pictures are pretty good, thanks for sending them. I will return the one of me alone in this letter.
Dear, if you want to go up with Kenyon feel free to do so with my approval, for after all we are in God’s hands and if you want to I’m sure it will be all right unless the Lord constrains you to do otherwise.
No, Dear we do not have to drill on Sundays. We are free for worship and whatever we want to do, as long as we are in the Boston area. Yes, the winter uniform is all right. I’ve been wearing my Cheenos most of the time since my arrival here.
By the way, I got my travel allowance pay check today, it amounted to $95.76. I was getting pretty low and needed it for things they require us to have. How are you fixed financially? Are you coming along O.K.?
I surely hope you have a good time at Lake Geneva. I’ll surely be thinking of you.
Enclosed find the signed slip John enclosed for insurance application. And I don’t want the dividends on my insurance changed.
Glad to hear things are going well at the Church in East Moline. I hope they get a man soon.
We really had a day today, besides our classes all morning, this afternoon we had a 8 mile march and then a lot of physical exercises. You should hear the grunts and groans of the cigarette puffers and the beer guzzling men of our ranks. I walked down the hall a few moments ago and most of them are in a heap.
Really I feel fine, I’m a little tired but not done up like most of the boys. I’m going to get something to eat and then come back and do some typing of notes I have taken in classes. Then I have a lot of reading to do in our course in “Military Court Martial and Law.” Well Darling, I love you more than ever. May God’s riches blessings be forever yours.
Always and forever yours,
In His Wonder full-time Love,
(Written on the side)
Tell Kittie and Olga I love that Bible very much and read it all the time, it’s just the right size – give them my love.
We just finished drill and I hurried up to my room – took a shower and by the time I was dressed the mail orderly brought the letters from you. They were so very sweet and my Darling, I appreciate all the news you send because it helps out even though we have little time to think of anything but our work. I love you more all the time, and I continually praise the Lord for you and your love and devotion.
I’m sorry that the “Chief” had such a hard time while away. I hope he gets better very soon. Evidently, the Chief thinks I need a course that will help my stubbornness.
We take map reading because we got to be able to locate graves that we have buried men in during the battles. So if they move them later to a single burying ground they can be found.
This morning we had our first examination in Military Courtesy, as far as I know I only missed part of one question.
I didn’t get a chance to write to you yesterday because I went again to Park St., and after the service one of my friends and I were invited out to dinner in a very lovely home. The folks were very nice to us, and home cooked food really hit the spot. We didn’t get back here to Harvard until 4 P.M., and I started to work on a speech for our class in “Army Morale.” It was to be a “Sex Morality Speech.” It was not to be sociological, ethical or sermonic. And I tallied on it until midnight when I finally called it quits, but I had finished. As I told you I was on duty (guard) from 2 A.M. Sunday morning until 7 A.M., I was very tired but was determined to finish that speech. You should hear the grunts and groans during our drilling – it doesn’t bother me very much, in fact I like it. If I am called to active duty over seas I want to know how to do what my soldiers have to do.
Dear, I mentioned in a letter before about trying to find me a watch in Chicago. If you can get a Hamilton, Elgin or Langine, that will do the job. Don’t spend a lot of money just for me. When I get my uniform allowance I will send you part of it, but that will be a week or so yet. By the way, I will have to endorse this check and return it (written on the side of the letter) to you because I cannot get away from here to the post office to register this letter, we will have to trust that you’ll get it all right.
We have no letter from Willis on August 29, 1943. Instead, we will share a picture from his youth. This one was most likely taken in Nebraska on the family farm after Earl (his father) moved with the boys back to his native state. The move came after problems between Earl and Mildred (Willis’ mother).
Correction: This post had previously identified the boy in the picture as Willis. It is actually his younger brother Donald.
Drill and inspection are over and I’m surely glad for that. They moved our inspection time up a half hour so I didn’t have a chance to get anything to eat this noon. I’ve just finished reading your letter and you’ll never know how glad I was to hear from you. Somehow or other it makes me feel I’ve had a good talk with you.
We surely have a heavy schedule, of course one could slip through, and plenty of them do, or at least are trying. If you do all the work required it keeps you very very busy. My hardest course so far is Map reading, but I’m determined to know it, so you can see I have a lot of hard work. Math was always very hard for me anyhow.
It’s really a good feeling to know that one week of school is over. Only four more to go. We have two examinations Monday morning.
I’m on guard duty tonight from 2 A.M. to 7A.M. in the morning. I’m quite tired now so I suppose I’ll get pretty tired. I’m to guard “Conant Hall” here on the campus. They call it “officer of the day.” At least it sounds dignified, even though it is guard duty.
It’s good to know that you are having a such a good rest and that you are able to read so many fine books. I’m sure it will help you much as you near time for entrance into Northern.
Dear, I tried to locate a good wrist watch here in Boston, but it’s out of the question because of so many Navy and Army men around. This is the headquarters of the first service Command and all of the quota of watches are snapped up immediately. If it’s possible to get a Hamilton or a Langine I would prefer having them, if possible see if you can locate one that has a sweep second hand, and by all means a dial that can be read in the dark.
This morning we had rain but it is clear now and really beautiful outside.
I’m writing this letter to you looking out the window of my room which faces west, there are 36 tennis courts directly west of our building and they are about all filled with players. The Navy has a school here at Harvard besides the regular summer students of the school.
Have you heard from Bob lately? If so, how’s he getting along now?
Well Darling, I’m going to sign off for now and go get something to eat and sleep for a while so I won’t get too sleepy while on duty. Remember I love you more and more because you’re so very very sweet and you’re my beloved wife.
In Our Savior’s Matchless Love forever,
John 15th chap.
P.S. Yes dear, I read “The Secret Place” every morning. Give the folks my love.
I’ve just finished reading your very sweet letter Darling. I’m beginning to appreciate how the enlisted men feel when they don’t get any mail. As I said to you in my letter yesterday, the thing I look forward to the most is for mail time at 5 P.M. after we have finished drilling for the afternoon.
I wish I could take time to write a long letter to you, but I want to do well in my courses. We have to have notebooks with notes taken in each lecture hour, besides problems and written assignments for each day, so you can see we are very busy.
Briefly this is our daily schedule:
1. Up at 5:30 A.M.
2. Roll call for Ch. School 5:50 A.M.
3. Breakfast 6:15 A.M.
4. Clean up rooms for inspection 7:00 A.M.
5. Devotions for Protestants 7:30 A.M.
6. Then Classes straight through till noon.
7. 1:15 report in unionalls for drill.
8. Drill until 3:45 P.M.
9. Lectures again until 5 P.M.
10. Study and eat, but all the lights must be out by 11 P.M.
I’m sure you can see with such a heavy schedule that there is little time for anything but routine work and preparation for the next day’s classes. And a thing that also helps to handicap one, is the problem of finding a place to eat that won’t rob you. “Oh, for one of your meals Dear.”
No. You keep the Watchman Examiner’s until I tell you to send them. I’m not sure whether I told you or not, but over 1/3 of the entire group of Chaplains here at Harvard are Roman Catholics.
Yes Darling, I would appreciate your sending me the bulletin & newspaper from North Shore. As I remember, the Greek books are in the bedroom. Sure, I would be glad to have Stan use our books.
This is all for now, but I love you more now than when I started to write this letter.
Your sweet letters arrived today and you’ll never know how glad I was to hear from you. They were so filled with news, please pardon me if I don’t get to write very newsy letters to you. Today has been a busy one with classes all morning, drill this afternoon and then I had to go to the quartermasters which took most of all my time. I also went down to Boston to pick up the typewriter which works like a new one.
We have to have the lights out in just one hour and I got several problems to work for my course in map reading. This is going to be plenty tough because of the math involved. Well, I’m going to make this very short and will try and write you more tomorrow. Remember sweetheart, I love you more all the time.
Forever yours in His matchless Love and
Handwritten at the bottom:
Darling, pardon my typing this but I have to hurry. I love you truly Dear. My prayer is this, “that you’ll be able to love me more all the time because I’m growing more in His grace.”