A Letter to My Family

dad bThis is Dad as a young merchant marine. He graduated from Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1943 and went into service shortly thereafter.  I have learned of his earlier life through his sketches and letters that Mum and Nana preserved.  I did not know this side of him.  I knew only a broken man; struggling with alcoholism, a shattered career, and the loss of his great love to cancer.  It has been a privilege to travel through time with him and bare witness to the musings of a man at sea, declaring his love and contemplating his future.  I have found it to be a bitter sweet experience; conjuring sadness for what came to be, but also, a warmth in my heart that has long been cold; a salve to the wounds that our family endured.

I created this blog for us, to preserve our history and sense of place in the world.  I’d like to think he is glad I am sharing his letters.  He loved Mum so much and that is a nice feeling.  We all came from a great love.  Enjoy.  I love you all.



P.S.  Start reading from the oldest post.  Scroll down and read your way up to Nov. 2, 1948


1 November 1948



Dearest Wife,

Thank you for the lovely cards.  Honey, if you don’t mind my being to familiar, your a peach!

Gee, I’m sorry about not writing more often, this voyage, my darling.  It seems that all I do is think of coming “home” for good and I only write mental letters.

I met Mr. Tierney’s wife in Buenos Aires, this trip.  They took me to a cocktail party and then to Martinez, their home, for dinner.

I had a gay old time at the cocktail party, chatting with Mr. Clarendon, who is head of the South American branch of Moore McCormick.  I also met some very prominent oil men, and a Mr. Clark, Foreign Correspondent of the New York Times.

Mr. Tierney was, I think, paving the way for me to get a position ashore in Buenos Aires.  He was very surprised and tickled about my going to work for Dad.

For over an hour, I was in a corner with Mr. Steamship, Mr. Oil, Mr. Lead, and Mr. Newspaper, and they couldn’t hear enough about Dad’s houses.  I could describe them accurately, even though I have never seen them finished, because I worked on the drawings.

Darling, I’m so happy about going to work for Dad.  I realize now that it is what I want.  My time at sea has served it’s purpose.  We now realize how much we love each other, and I think we both want to work hard with the same end in view. 

You have a lovely ring, all paid for, and now, it’s time for me to come ashore.  

Oh darling, we shall be very happy.  Everything is indicating that.  You haven’t had time to say too much about after our marriage.  But, regardless of the usual remarks that you will hear, like, “My man doesn’t kiss me the same as he used to”, “I don’t think Johnny even knows I’m alive”, “My husband hasn’t taken me out dancing for three months, etc…”  You know the kind of talk I mean.

Darling, I’m going to be your future.  Together we are going to succeed in keeping our love full of life and increasingly enjoyable, after we are married.

As for not being able to go out dancing, after our marriage, I mean if we feel that we should be saving for a chair or a table, or some thing, it won’t be any excuse.

We can always go dancing at that Navy Officer’s Club in Boston, and it’s a lovely place to go.  What I’m driving at is, I can go to sea and save a little more money than I can working ashore- but why?

My future is with you ashore, working with Dad.  I wouldn’t have loved you nearly as much, I don’t think, if I didn’t think that you had the qualities I need in a wife.  A wife who is lovely, desirable, and sweet to love to be sure, but a buddy and a partner too.  So that after we turn out the lights at night, we can talk and plan, in bed together for the success of our task in life, to raise a good Catholic family, and to keep our love alive and burning, as God meant it to be.

All these things I guess I can tell you better in person.  It just doesn’t sound very clear in a letter.  Think of all the wonderful talks we can have between now and our wedding day!  I can scarcely wait to see you.  Tell Chop to get the wet freshly painted furniture out of my bedroom, I’ll be home in two weeks!


Love, (and you know how much!)


2 November 1948, 13 Days from Home!


Hi Cyclone!

Darling, if you ever feel like getting me very angry, it will be very simple.

All you will have to do is, insist, as you did once before, that you have no talents.  Oh! that makes me boil!

What matters is how you feel towards me, your religion, your outlook on life, your amazing ability for making love, and your gladness of your capability, which you will soon discover.

A man doesn’t marry someone because they can paint, make trays, or hook rugs.  A man marries someone who can make his home and family into something so dear to him that without them he’d be lost.  

You say you like to rest your head on my favorite spot.  You’ll be the most talented girl in the world when, on nights that I am tired or worried, you draw my head to the lovely, comfortable, corresponding favorite spot of yours.

When, as I rest my head there, maybe you run your fingers over my forehead a time or two, and draw all the troubles out, leaving a happy, contented husband and pal.

Now, I ask you, are you talented?  Oh lady!  You have the talent to make our life a thing of lasting beauty, and to bring up children who shall be a lasting monument to our love.

I have to catch the mail with this, so I’ll say, “Home” soon darling, forever,