|Ashley Chapman and his favorite car. Naturally, he got it used and fixed it up.|
Here's Father's Day rolling around and you off and busy somewhere else in the Universe. I have a confession to make to you this year. I read all those love letters you wrote to Mom during World War II.
Boy did I learn a lot of things about you. Aside from the scorching details of your lust for Mom--which I hurried through as being too oogie for words--I loved the part where you read Lust for Life and said you'd never heard of Vincent Van Gogh and called him a screwball.
He was indeed!
And when FDR died, which you learned about on your 52-day journey from Seattle to the Battle of Okinawa, you said you didn't know who Harry Truman was. I think you had a lot of company there.
And I found out that you didn't think Abbott and Costello were funny. Me either!
You didn't wear a wedding ring at the beginning because you said your father didn't wear one and you didn't know men were supposed to. But Mom asked you to so you said you'd get one first thing when you got home. She was smart, was Mom.
The funniest part was that, with the bombs dropping all around you and you living in a hole under a poncho, the first thing you thought of when the Germans surrendered was: when will America start producing Fords and Chevrolets again! You always did like cars, but where was that historical perspective, eh?
Ernie Pyle said every soldier's war exists within just a hundred yards around him, so I guess Fords and Chevys were good distractions from the conditions in which you were living. A good old American car must have sounded pretty nice to a man surrounded by jeeps, and land mines, P-51s catching fire on landing, nightly air raids, and enemy dead. You didn't write home about any of that, but I found it in your unit history in the Air Force archives.
The war was much worse where you were than you ever told us about. I was sorry to hear that, Dad. You were much braver than I ever knew, and kept absolutely silent about it. Anyway, now you don't have to worry about it anymore and you've gone up even more notches in my admiration.
And we found the pin you made Mom from shells you found on Ie Shima. What a thoughtful thing that was for you to do. And it's like everything you did in your life: good engineering. It is really well-made.
You wrote that you had always been lucky in all the things that counted, and I think you really were. All the dreams you had for "after the war" came true. You built your own house, you found a job you liked, you had the family you hoped for--though I think it was the fun of creating the children you liked best but that is how we kids come about, after all! You never did "pin a rose on the baby and take him to church" since you never did have a "him" baby. That was supposed to be me, I guess. Sorry about that. I did the best I could to make up for it by trying to excel at everything, though I'm not sure that really endeared me to you.
The main thing you wanted most was to come home and be with Mom and never, ever leave her. You must have said that about a thousand times.
And you never did.
So you really were lucky in all the things that counted.
Oh, and I still miss you an awful lot.
P.S. Wish you had kept the Jaguar. I know you wanted to see how much of a profit you could make on it after all those years you pampered it. But I'd sure love to be driving it now. (Oh Good Grief! I just realized in inherited the car nut gene!)
Subscribe to Robin Chapman News